Neutral colors can tend to have a bad rap. They are too soft and simple. Basic -not bold and beautiful- and they have even been known to have been called ‘Bland and boring. But I don’t see them like that at all. I see just the opposite. I see ‘Layers of Lovely’ and so much more.
There is Just Something About Neutrals
If you were to look in my linen closet- you would notice 2 things.
- I have a BIG love of those ‘shades’ of white, linen, and soft pastels.
- I have a BIG love of those neutral shades of linens and should probably do a bit of a sort -and share them with the thrift store. haha.
What is it about neutrals that I love? There are a lot of things- but I guess to sum them up- they are colors that speak quietly and yet- they have a delicious impact in a room. I kind of equate them to batting your eyelashes. Beauty, layers, elegance and charm- and speaking so softly like a butterfly – it is like an eyelash ‘whisper’.
They play a complimentary role rather than center stage. They accent and support the main pieces in the room- and also add the perfect finishing touch.
But… soft colors are boring
Debatable I suppose. It really depends on what speaks to you- and what speaks to me. And what speaks to each person before you can put a blanket statement on something. I completely understand if you think they are boring and even if after reading this post- you feel the same way. No worries- while your sofa may look more bold and different- soft & natural is what works for me in my home. We can still be friends. I think Everyone should go with what makes them happy. That is perfection.
For me- I start with a neutral base. In our living room- that is our white linen sofas & white walls. It is easy to completely change the look of a room when you start there- bring in jewel tones for the holidays or a piece of furniture wearing a bold color and jazz the room up. And on the contrary- it is also easy to decorate in a more serene and quiet kind of way with just a neutral palette. Out in the cottage- I walk on the wild side and indulge those saturated colors more. The black bookcases with colorful books for example. And my love of tufted sofas and chairs that always seem to want to be vintage color rather than a neutral. Each space, home and person are different- so go with what talks to you.
But if you are going to go with neutrals- just How do you keep neutrals from feeling ‘cold’ and ‘boring’ ?
Side note: Patina!! Stay tuned for more!
What to look for when decorating with neutrals
Everyone knows those all white, very cold and chilly feeling spaces that are more modern and seem to be popular. The ones that make you feel like you can’t sit down – let alone want to sit down and stay awhile. That is not the goal here. I am allllll about warmth and a welcoming feeling in a room. My go to formula looks more like natural linen and chunky knits than crisp and ‘sterile’ and clean. And there are three things I look for when decorating with neutrals that I feel are Key to creating that feeling:
1. Bring in the Texture
Delicious nubby bits like linen, grasscloth, woven fabrics, velvet, etc. Those textures can take those soft colors and tones and send them into a new realm of deliciousness. In our living room, I recently added the most beautiful velvet pillows- I am quite literally obsessed with them. They are soft with that delicate velvet texture, they are squishy like old well loved pillows that have been enjoyed for years and they have the most amazing shade that is perfect for my style.
2. Shades of Neutrals
On that same note- I have searched high and low for the perfect shade for the throw pillows. Do you know that I actually found some that were amazingly close to perfect in March of last year? I was at HomeGoods for work- and was focused on just what I needed for the job. But I found 2 pillows with gorgeous basketweave texture and in store- they looked like a lovely ‘vanilla’ color. I grabbed them and brought them home- and in my living room- they were THE most perfect shade of linen with a hint of blush. No other way to describe them. Funny how color changes depending on the lighting in the room, right?
I was ready to go back and search for more- and everything closed down. I searched online- nothing. I ordered pillows from the same manufacturer int the same color on the tag that I thought might be the same- nope. When HomeGoods finally opened up again- I kept fingers crossed they might have a few more that sat on the shelf through the months – but they didn’t.
Then I ordered a random velvet lumbar pillow from Marshalls for a chair- and it was INCREDIBLE. THE perfect color of champagne velvet- that leaned ever so slightly blush. Of course, they only had lumbar pillows. And the quest went on and on …until I saw these big champagne velvet pillows from the same maker come up available one day. I ordered 8 and am completely in love. So the key here- it was the shade is what spoke to me. These pillows have a two-fold appeal- they have the texture (velvet) and the shade that make them perfect.
3. Add the Layers
Last but not least- bring in those layers. Something to remember when decorating with neutrals is that layers are like adding personality. One layer is quiet, the next makes a bit more noisy with a subtle pattern, and the third is just adding a touch of cozy. Or something like that. Basically- bring in ALL those layers when you are keeping the supporting roles neutral. I like to have at least 2 different styles, sizes or types of pillows. Maybe a simple plain linen. Maybe a floral tossed in for a touch of whimsy. You get the idea. The key is just to not have 6 or 10 or 12 or whatever pillows that are all exactly the same. Add some personality with the layers.
Something else you might have noticed- I have a ‘layer’ on the back of the sofa. Any idea what this is? It might surprise you. It is actually a vintage Turkish rug. I know- so random. But I don’t use all the rugs on the floor all the time (hardly ever actually) and this was one I loved the pattern and colors and small runner size on- but had nowhere to put it. I have learned to grab something when it talks to me- so I did knowing I would find the perfect spot. And the sofa was it. BTW: All cleaned and sanitized BEFORE bringing in the house- so no worries there.
I love the interest and ‘texture’ it adds- and that even though it has so much interest and texture- it is incredibly quiet in color and tone. So it is a a layer with personality- but not one that makes you feel overwhelmed. Bonus? If you have furry friends that like to climb on the back of the sofa- it is great protection.
But…what about the ‘pop’
Well sure. There should be something in the room that adds that pop of pretty and makes a statement. I think you might already have a great idea of what some of my favorite things to use for a pop of personality and color are- but we will delve into a few ways to bring that pièce de résistance into your room next week.
To sum it up- don’t be afraid to decorate with neutrals and soft colors if you love them. Bring in the texture and details and when you find the perfect shade of whatever color pillows you are looking for- buy them. And if you want to add a tad of sass with a touch of bold too? Go For It.
Happy Wednesday all.