Neutral color palettes are versatile, chic and simple.
But to understand neutral color combinations - and create neutral color schemes that work - you may need to tweak the way you look at your home.
Purely neutral color palettes are made up of nothing but white, grays, and black.
If you relax this rule a little, neutral color schemes can also include browns, as well as mixtures of all of the above, including cream and beige.
You won't find neutral wall color on the color wheel, but most neutral paint colors are not entirely 'neutral' either - they carry a hint of color. They go beautifully with more saturated, "real" colors in an accented neutral color scheme.
This page is rather long, so if you're in a rush, here's your ...
1. Look at your room as if it were a black-and-white photograph.
2. Make sure the dark and light values are well balanced.
3. Most neutrals carry a hint of color, so check all neutral paint colors and fabrics under different light sources to make sure they really form harmonious neutral color combinations.
4. Make your neutral color palettes interesting by varying textures, patterns, materials and finishes. Think of texture as light-and-shade patterns.
5. Beware of the effects of too much white and too much black.
6. Use neutral colors as a 'base' for your decorating, and add subtle color for variety, warmth, and interest.
There, that was your summary. For the full version, please read on!
A black-and-white photograph is a neutral color palette; and with no colors to distract you, you can focus entirely on the play of light and shadow in the room.
So try pretending that your room is a photo, by squeezing your eyes half shut.
That blurs your vision and helps you see the darker and lighter areas as blocks of, well, dark and light. This way, you don't notice clutter so much (if indeed you have any :-) - anyway, you see the big picture in more or less neutral color.
Alternatively, just get a camera out and actually take black-and-white photos of the room during the decorating process.
Then ask yourself:
The usual suspects are
You may find that a part of the room is just too dark, or that there is an area with too much going on.
If you want to brighten areas up, or bridge the gap between very dark and very light areas in neutral color palettes, textiles and paints are your best friends.
You can always
Now, let's take a closer look at the colors.
A 'neutral color wheel' doesn't exist, but on closer inspection you will find a lot going on between neutrals and the color wheel. Of course, if you mix pure titanium white with pure black you will get various shades of seriously neutral gray. But these shades are hard to find in the 'real world'.
Most white fabrics in the shops have a slight tint - of blue, pink, yellow or cream. This is easy to see when you hold all the whites next to each other.
And the grays - don't get me started. Gray is a wonderful color, and extremely versatile, but there are more bluish, greenish and yellowish hues of gray than you can shake a paintbrush at.
This is true for black as well. It comes in green, blue and brown hues. Particularly when you buy your decorating fabric it's important to look at it in different lights (natural and artificial), and see it together with the other colors you want to use in a neutral color palette.
Brown has people wondering about its membership in the neutral color clan. Is brown a neutral color at all? No and yes. It's usually included in neutral color palettes, sometimes as a 'near-neutral' color, but you can get browns that are quite biased - deeply red or orange or greenish/gray.
Brown can play an important role in neutral color palettes because it comes in so many subtle and complex hues. It can pull the whole scheme together and give it depth. The patina of worn leather, the vividness of beautifully textured wood can add as much life to neutral color palettes as patterned fabrics do.
And speaking of patterns - they don't have to be printed or woven
patterns. Shadows create patterns as well. So you could use textured
materials to add interest to simple neutral color palettes.
Most surfaces are good candidates for adding texture:
Apart from these options, textured fabrics are a fairly inexpensive and interesting way to add sensory richness to a combination of neutral colors. For an elegant look and feel, mix
If you prefer a relaxed living space, create neutral color palettes with
Some people claim that any neutral colors work together. I don't think that's true. Here are a few points to be aware of when you create a neutral color scheme in your home.
Even if you're one of the purist crowd, it can be quite difficult to keep color out of the black-and-white picture that is your home. Some blue sky outside your window is practically enough to ruin your efforts!
Adding 'real' color to neutral color palettes is a bit like adding spice to a meal. You don't need much, but what you do add gives your composition a distinct flavor. So how about an "accented" neutral color scheme?
Here are some of the points to consider when you inject color into a combination of neutrals:
If you're looking for more information about finding great color schemes for your home, do check out some of the following links:
Return from Neutral Color Palettes to Room Color Schemes.
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