Could a Neutral Palette Work in Your Home?

row of coloured plants in white pots

Many people think that a neutral palette would ‘wash out’ their home or business, making it feel bland, boring and characterless. But this is far from true and here’s how to make a neutral palette work.

It’s a common phrase that anyone interested in interior design will come across time and time again but a neutral palette is often considered the ‘safe’ option. Thus, we tend to think of it as bland, boring and innocuous.

And yet, so many of us hanker after a neutral background to the home and office that you think more of us would take the plunge.

The key to an interesting neutral palette is detail – and this doesn’t just mean bright coloured cushions to lift the spirit of a room.


What does ‘neutral’ mean?

Immediately we hear the word neutral we think magnolia walls or whitewashed rooms. We think of a non-descript colour that couldn’t possibly distract the eye or clash with anything.

But this isn’t always the case. If you want to avoid white, cream or magnolia, then try…

  • Grey – the on-trend colour for some seasons now, it seems that grey is here to stay. Choose one with a slightly mauve or lavender base for a true grey colour rather than one that takes on too much of a pinkish tinge once on the wall. But when it comes to a neutral colour against which everything looks fantastic, grey is certainly a top choice.
  • Chalky white – white is considered neutral although it is, of course, all the colours of the rainbow whipped into one shade. If glossy white is too much, consider a chalky white, perfect for making a statement without too much on the eye.
  • Powder blue – another great light shade that is emerging onto the interior design scene this year is a pleasant baby blue. Crisp and clean, it is the perfect backdrop for any room, even north-facing ones.

What does adding detail mean?

The washed out look comes when there is no personality to a room. Adding character means adding detail in the shape of texture, a spritz of colour and hidden elements that pop out when you least expect it.



Add a spritz of colour is a great way of adding detail but remember, against a neutral background what looks a light green in the showroom could turn out to be an overly-vibrant green in your home or business.

When choosing a colour to add detail to a neutral room, consider how the background will play on the shade and hue of your chosen colour.

In other words, dark colours will appear darker and lighter shades vibrant. More ‘washed out’ shading will look well in a neutral room.

Brighter colours can look too stark in a room to consider how you are going to integrate them into a neutral colour room so that they don’t just look thrown in.



Adding detail doesn’t have to mean big or obvious detailing. In fact, the more hidden it is, the more detailed it is;

  • Turn ordinary to extraordinary – from personalising your handrails to adding hidden strip LED lights, turning the ordinary and functional into something extraordinary is a superb way of adding layers of detail to a neutral palette.
  • Lighting – in fact, lighting is a great way of adding texture and detailing. LEDs can be slotted into any nook and cranny, simply because they don’t release hint. And they are energy efficient too.
  • Highlight fixtures – by doing this, you can detract from other areas of the room or space but also create a focal point. This too stops a neutral palette from being characterless. Add lights to glass balustrades, for example, or in the home, use flickering candles in storm glasses, clustered in a key area of the room during winter to add a sense of warmth and luxury.


Another means of adding detail preventing a room from looking flat is to add texture. In fact, this works in any room, not just one with a neutral colour scheme.

But adding texture doesn’t mean adding fluff and faff…

  • Wool texture is always welcome in a room. it can have a soft texture or a knitted texture, although the oversized knitted throws and cushion covers are a little passé.
  • Fleece is also a good texture to add too, perfect for adding warmth in the winter. Refer back to how colour plays out in a neutral room when deciding on throws and cushions.
  • Different shapes and sizes also add layering and stop the room looking and feeling too uniform. Mix and match sizes of cushions and add the occasional different shape such as a round cushion in the mix.
  • Rugs add warmth and depth to a room but again, consider how colour and pattern will play out in a neutral room. And when adding a rug, make sure you choose the right size rug for the room.

A neutral palette can be warm, exciting, bright and refreshing, a welcome break from a pattern or colour-heavy interior.


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