One of the most common problems we see arise when clients begin styling their own homes is the dreaded ‘clash of the neutrals’ – because they haven’t had experience combining colours before, often the furniture and accessories they purchase won’t come together as they’d imagined. It’s usually around this point they’ll come to us crying out for help!
Today I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks for successfully combining neutral shades – after all, neutrals provide the colour foundation for your entire home, often appearing on walls, floors, utility areas and anchor furniture pieces – boring I think not!
1. Pick your colour ‘family’
This is where most home owners make their first mistake. They attempt to combine neutrals from a range of colour ‘families’, resulting in a visual clash rather than a harmonious symphony. I recently had a client come to me with a near-complete lounge room: she had purchased a beige sofa, a silver grey rug and some neutral cushions all arranged within ivory-hued walls, but couldn’t quite figure out why it felt so “off”… it was the dreaded clash of the neutrals! Each item had a different colour base (blue grey, yellow ivory, stone beige) so weren’t working as a team. If she had ensured that all of the pieces were from the same colour family, she would have achieved the glorious colour harmony we all strive for.
I’ve recently re-painted my own home and have gone for a contemporary blue-based grey colour scheme which I’ve carried through in various forms; my primary living walls are a crisp, grey-based white (which make the spaces feel open and airy), my master bedroom is a soft dove grey and my home office is a commanding deep charcoal (chosen to create an intimate cocoon effect). Although I’ve used three different colours, they flow seamlessly as they all have the same blue-grey colour base which I will then apply to all anchor furniture pieces and surfaces.
2. Get your hands on some samples
So, you’ve chosen your colour family… but how the heck does that translate into actually selecting paints, flooring and furnishings? Even for professionals, it’s absolutely impossible to simply memorise the colour of something so you know it will work with future purchases. Get your hands on as many samples as you can (paint, flooring, tiles and large fabric anchor pieces are your top priorities) so you have something to compare. Then, when you’re holding up your neutral colour sample against your next potential purchase, you’ll be able to confidently identify whether it fits in with your cool grey/stone taupe/yellow beige, etc. colour scheme.
3. Create contrast
It’s also important to remember that choosing neutrals from the same colour family doesn’t necessarily mean that everything in the room has to be ‘matchy-matchy’ – if everything was exactly the same colour, your interior may appear flat and lifeless due to the lack of contrast. Ensuring that you have both dark and light shades of your chosen neutral is key – this could be in the form of cushions on a sofa which are various shades of the same neutral, or deeper-toned walls which contrast against crisp white architraves, skirting boards and window furnishings. Light and shade is your friend!