But aren’t neutrals a bit… well… boring? Not at all, say current designers, who are turning to new neutrals such as greys and the palest of blues to create a subtle backdrop for exquisite interior design.
The trick with neutrals is to be sure of your shading. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever puzzled over a paint colour chart, but even white can come in a surprising array of shades.
Study them carefully, and try a matchpot or two, because they may look similar but the results will be distinctly different.
Neutrals such as taupe, string and grey are highly useful in our homes because they are soothing, unbusy and create a pleasant ambience without being too distracting.
Taupes and beiges have been with us the longest, and work well in any sort of room, from the living room to the bedroom. Gentle and even-toned, they add a hint of warmth even to north-facing rooms and work wonderfully well with this season’s favourite leather and hide accessories.
Use beiges to highlight a feature wall such as the chimney breast picked out in striking wallpaper – the pattern will sit well against the smooth flow of the rest of the walls without being dominating.
And if you still think taupe is dull, take a look at this cool Plain English Love Seat from www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk. Comfy and welcoming, it’s given a smart touch with a pinstripe and matching scatter cushion. Note, too, how well it works with the wood floor and the natural-finish rug – this is neutral turned organic.
For a new neutral, though, this season you should check out grey. Smart and simple, it comes in a wide variety of shades to create different effects, from the lightest of pearls to sturdy elephant and striking charcoal.
Naturally, we’re loving striped carpets in shades of grey – not only do they look incredibly sophisticated, they make a hallway look more spacious and also wear well in this high-traffic area of the home.
In the bedroom, greys are totally soothing and look fantastic with crisp white Egyptian cotton bed linen. We like the waywww.unitedcarpetsandbeds.com have dressed their stylish Georgia Nickel bedstead. The shaggy rug adds interesting texture against the plain floor and walls, and the throws make the whole co-ordinated scheme look inviting and cosy.
A similar effect is created in this loft room designed by Barker and Stonehouse, but this time a little extra contemporary snap is added by teaming greys and whites with lots of natural wood accessories and flooring – how cool is the giant & sign?
We mentioned earlier how useful neutrals are in hallways, and wanted to show you how using the same easy-on-the-eye shade can make a complicated space look harmonious and appealing.
In this hallway, there’s a lot of pattern from coving, cornices and wood panelling, but the neutral shade tones them in together and paves the way for a contemporary pop of colour from the ultra-modern chair and the warm tones of the Pinehurst Bureau from www.fishpools.co.uk
So don’t be afraid to use your neutrals lavishly, snazzing them up with dashes of bright colour, warm woods and pearlescent finishes. It’s a great way to fill your home with harmony for the eye.