Section 4: Neutrals: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Neutrals are amazing colors. They are the colors that provide balance to a room. Although these colors are easy to use, they are also very easy to screw up. So I wanted to take a few minutes just to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to neutral colors.

The Good:

As I said before, neutrals are what keep your designs in balance. If you were limited to bright and vibrant colors such as purple, when you walked into a room you would be overwhelmed with the amount of color. It would create a strain on your eyes and make you feel fatigued and depressed. Neutrals are an integral part of any design and they are easy to understand, if you take the time to learn about them. Neutral colors are exactly that: Neutral. They compliment almost every other color. Most furniture, flooring and cabinetry are created in neutral colors. Neutrals include beige, brown, black, white and grey. It’s generally a good idea to have anything that is expensive to replace be a neutral color. The reason for this is that its much easier to update your paint colors and accent decorations than to completely replace your flooring or cabinetry. It also helps your retail value when you go to sell your home!

The Bad:

Because neutrals are relatively safe colors, they can be taken advantage of. Just because they are neutral does not mean that you don’t have to apply the same principles of light and color we’ve already discussed in this mini series. For example, never use a dark neutral color in a small dark room as it will still feel small, even though it is a neutral color.

The Ugly:

The most common mistake I see with neutrals is overdoing it. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into a home where the amount of brown in the house is overwhelming. The carpets are brown, the walls are brown, the furniture is brown and the decorations are all shades of brown. When you enter these rooms, you feel nothing but boredom. There is nothing interesting to draw your eye, it’s just boring! It lacks style! Your house makes a statement about you, do you want that statement to say “I’m safe and boring!”? You should always have some colors outside the neutral color palate. Remember, color is the most powerful tool of a designer, and you should make it your best friend.

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