Neutral usually means without colour. Neutral colours such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, grey, and white appear to be without colour, yet they often have undertones of colour. Be aware of these undertones as you match colours or choose paint. For example, beige might have an undertone of pink, tan, or gold. White might be slightly ivory, yellow, bluish, or peachy.
The true neutrals
“True” neutrals are classified as the colours black, white, and grey (all the shades in between black and white ). Also called “non-colours”, they don’t appear anywhere on the colour wheel. They are, essentially, a combination of all the colours in the spectrum.
Sometimes described as “every colour’s friend” and “the diplomats of decorating”, neutrals go with everything and clash with nothing. Essential in décor, they can be used to create a sense of visual relief in a strong colour scheme, or used alone to create a subtle, calming, monochromatic palette.
Neutrals are far from boring. Used together, black and white can create stunning visual contrast without a drop of colour.
For a sophisticated, modern look, paint walls a crisp white, and fill the room with sleek black furnishings. To soften the look, add accents like pillows, fabrics, and other accessories in varying shades of grey.
The new neutrals
Most of the colours in this room are within a narrow range of colour value, exemplified by the tones seen in the bedding. Pale gold, tan, and apricot blend easily.
Neutral schemes have been a feature of decorating for thousands of years. These tones come from pigments used by the earliest artists such as ochre, charcoal, umber, and sienna, to create soothing, restful colours.
The design community has reclassified neutrals in recent years, breaking free of the constraints set by the traditional neutral definition. These “new” neutrals are actually very low intensity colours.
All colours are created from the three primary colours — red, yellow, and blue. Even though the “new” neutrals have only the smallest hint of colour, they are still a combination of the three primaries.
Red-toned neutrals are comfortable and traditional, from light beige to deep russet browns.
Yellow-toned neutrals are fresh and quietly uplifting, and range from subtle creams to deep golden browns.
Blue-toned neutrals offer unrestrained elegance, from ice blue or a hint of grey to smart charcoals, to deep blue-blacks.
How to use neutrals
Decorating with neutrals allows you the freedom to add other colours, patterns, and textures to your space. Neutrals are a great choice for interiors, because they are comfortable yet understated. Their subtlety makes them versatile, simple to use, and very easy to live with.
Decorating a room with light, neutral, shades, without much contrast, can help to make a small room appear much more spacious and airy. Using deeper neutrals for the main wall colour, or adding more contrast, can make a large room appear more intimate and cosy.
To avoid having an all-neutral scheme look bland, make sure to use a variety of different values (light to dark ) and different patterns and textures to give the room visual interest.
Use colourful accents to bring unexpected punches of colour to a neutral room, or use colour to highlight an interesting architectural feature, or bring attention to a focal wall, in an otherwise neutral setting.
La Maison Chic interior design www.lamaisonchic.ie