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How to Add Color to a Neutral Palette

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Neutral color palettes can be very soothing and quite versatile when done correctly. You can even make some bold choices when using a neutral scheme! And neutral doesn’t just mean beige. In reality, it includes a range of colors such as gray, brown, black, white, greige, and more! A neutral palette also helps showcase texture and architecture, all while being timeless. But many neutral lovers tend to be a little color shy, and the addition of color to a neutral palette can be quite powerful! So how can you incorporate color into a neutral palette if bold colors make you a bit nervous? Here are 5 tips for how to use color in a neutral palette.

French master bedroom with wingback bed and crystal lamp and chandelier

1.  Keep Your “Base” Neutral

Classic Blue is the 2020 Color of the Year. Does that mean you should run out and paint your kitchen cabinets a gorgeous shade of blue? It depends!  If you’re new to using color in your home and are a bit apprehensive as to how to incorporate it, then maybe not. 

Instead, opt for neutral colors for your base objects like furniture, flooring, walls and window treatments.  These tend to be the more expensive items in a room and are therefore, more costly to buy should your tastes change.  And on the plus side, neutral pieces make a great backdrop to highlight accessories and tend to match with most colors, so they’ll work no matter what your color du jour!

2.  Start Small – Think Accessories

Instead of brining color into your space through furniture or other expensive items, try bringing it in through your choice of accessories.  Accessories are easier to change out should you decide that your your “favorite” color is no longer your favorite color: Examples inlude:

  • Toss pillows
  • Throws
  • Vases
  • Rugs
  • Candlesticks
  • Picture frames
  • Plants/flowers
  • Art

Toss pillows, throws, vases, candlesticks, baskets, wall decor, planters and picture frames are all relatively inexpensive and are easier to change out should you decide that your “favorite” color is no longer your favorite color.

3.  Consider Muted Colors and Patterns

Go Soft with Muted

If you’re nervous about going big and bold, go soft instead!  You don’t have to jump right into using primary colors but instead, can use their more muted counterparts. 

Instead of using a bold blue, maybe try a gray-blue. 

Instead of a fire engine red, try a cranberry. 

Try Blending with a Pattern

But what if you love those bold colors?  In that case, try adding your new favorite color in a pattern instead of a solid.  Patterns allow the use of multiple colors that can blend better than solids. If your sofa is taupe and you want to add blue to the room, you don’t have to pick a solid blue toss pillow but can opt for a patterned pillow that contains both the taupe and the blue and that way, the blue will blend more easily into the sofa.

4.  Pick Your Color and Use it Throughout

One of the most common mistakes when trying to incorporate color into a room is to add it through one object or in one spot in the room.  For example, if you add blue toss pillows to your sofa, don’t let that be the only blue in the room or the pillows (and the color) will seem out-of-place! (Unless of course, you’re going for an abstract look!  And that tends to work better with a larger piece of furniture or art, not a small toss pillow.

When you introduce color to an otherwise neutral room, be sure that you use it consistently throughout the room.   Including color throughout the room helps your eye easily moves around the room and that the color looks like it has been incorporated, not just added, to your design.

via Milieu Magazine

5.  Use Varying Shades

When adding colors through accessories, it can be hard to find lots of pieces that match perfectly.  But don’t let that deter you because they don’t have to be an exact match!  In fact, using varying shades of a color gives a room more depth and more interest. Think of color usage much like the sample paint strips at the store.  Within one color, there are many shades ranging from light to dark.  All of these different shades can work harmoniously in a space together. Just be sure to pay attention to the undertone when choosing shades.

White family room and kitchen with pops of blue and baby blue tufted ottoman

It’s okay to take baby steps if adding color is new for you.  And when you’re feeling more comfortable, then the sky’s the limit!  Mix and match your colors and patterns, paint your walls and buy that blue sofa you’ve always wanted!

French master bedroom with wingback bed and crystal lamp and chandelier

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