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INDESIGN NEUTRAL WITH PERSONALITY OR…BLAND NOT BORING! BY DANN FOLEY

A room done in all neutrals is universally appealing. I have worked with clients across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and more times than not they have asked for spaces in a neutral palette. The common belief seems to be that neutral spaces are more soothing, I don’t dispute that claim, in fact, I am in complete agreement (although I would make the point that I can use any color and make it a neutral in the room, depending on the design). My point is that successfully executing a neutral room is the most difficult of all design styles. The sad truth is most neutral rooms fall into the bland, lifeless category, lacking any true personality or the kind of subtlety of shading that they need to entice and entertain the eye. The question always is, “how do I get it right?” I can help! If you are a regular reader of my articles you know I am here with some words of wisdom, honed from my more than 30 years as an Interior Designer, writer and lecturer on the subject of, Design & Living Well. I am not going to leave you high and dry. I am going to give you some tips and tactics for doing it yourself. Let’s start with a few basic concepts…

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Neutral can quickly devolve into bland and boring if you don’t play with shading. It is vitally important to mix multiple shades of neutral colors to allow them all to “visually speak”. I cannot think of any neutrals that do not work together. That means that I want you to work the entire breath and spectrum of shading of each color you select. Neutrals together never clash! Contrast is the most important element of a successful neutral space. I never design a neutral room without a strong contrasting element to set off the neutral. My favorite is to paint any doors in the room black or a rich paint/stain in brown. But, only the doors, not the trim or frame, they stay neutral. The door color makes all the neutrals sharper. When using neutrals, texture is also very important. Don’t just think in terms of which shade of taupe, ivory, white or grey. When selecting fabrics always consider how many textures are available to you. Layering textures as well as shades of neutral gives them more visual appeal and interest. Think beyond one wall color as your base selection. Creating visual interest with neutrals takes imagination. Try using different colors of neutral together. The walls, trim, doors and ceilings are all opportunities to elevate your neutral room with subtlety by layering neutral colors.

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