Creating a Neutral Living Room

May 29, 2007 § 5 Comments

Neutral doesn’t need to be blah. A neutral color scheme can have color, from tans to greens to blues to light yellows. The big difference between “neutral” and other color schemes is that neutral schemes do not use accent colors that are opposite on the color wheel. For example, in a room with sage green walls, a complimentary color scheme might include a red chair or red pillows on the sofa whereas a neutral color scheme would replace the complimentary color with texture.

Another difference between a neutral scheme and other designs is that neutral rooms tend not to have a mixture of lots of large patterns. Neutral schemes do not want to attract particular attention to one piece of furniture but create an overall restful look.

When you are creating a neutral living room:

  • Add Texture. If you are keeping a monochromatic color scheme, whether it’s beige, white, green or blue, you need to create visual interest in the room. And texture is a great way to do that. By adding nubby pillows and a soft mohair throw on the sofa, woven wood blinds on the windows, and a sisal rug on the floor, you have added various textures to the room and created not only tactile but visual interest. The textures stand out against the neutral backdrop.
  • Keep your large furniture pieces solid. A large flowered, multi-colored sofa does not lend itself to a neutral color scheme unless the pattern is tone-on-tone (various shades of the same hue). The fabric on the furniture can have lots of texture, however, and even a small pattern. But the sofa needs to read as one color when you stand back. Keeping the large pieces in a solid color allows for maximum versatility. You won’t get tired of them either.
  •  Use colorful artwork as your focal point. Instead of using color in your furnishings, let colorful art attract all the attention. Just like an art gallery has white walls to highlight the color in the artwork, a neutral background is ideal for featuring an art collection in your living room.
  • Add color with your accessories. As a decorator, it’s really fun to use a neutral color scheme and add color with pots, baskets, art, vases, flowers, candles, and collectibles. Then you can change the color with the seasons or when you get tired of it. I like to have winter pillows and summer pillows. My winter pillows are a red Ralph Lauren floral print (kind of stuffy but warm) and my summer pillows are beige and light yellow striped with fringe (fun and carefree looking). And with my neutral living room, I can change the accessories as new colors come into fashion. Much cheaper than redoing the living room every few years.


Consider neutral when a) you’re selling your house (neutral schemes allow buyers to see themselves in your home); b) you live in a small house without much light (a monochromatic color scheme will make the room appear larger); and 3) you like to change your mind about color frequently (instead of repainting and recovering the furniture every few years, change out the accessories only). Neutral color schemes never go out of style. You can add to them and subtract from them as your tastes and home interior styles change.

§ 5 Responses to Creating a Neutral Living Room

  • Is wallpaper and border going out?

  • I work at a wallpaper and border store not much bussiness. Wonder if people are wallpapering and putting border. Or is going out of style. Thank Marcea

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Marcea,

    See my reply at the other blog post (Reviving old furniture…)


  • Jayne says:

    hi barbara —

    I am ordering wood interior shutters for my newly renovated master bath. It has two large double-hung windows on the front of the house, which is a traditional Georgian brick, so we need consistent privacy but i’d like to let in as much light as possible. I’ve priced both traditional and plantation shutters. The traditional ones would be double-hung so we could open the upper portion. The plantations would have a center rail that would allow the upper portion of louvers to be opened for light.

    Any thoughts on which you would recommend?


  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Jayne,

    I like the look of the plantation shutters as they always seem more substantial than the traditional narrower shutters. And since they’re on the front of the house, I would opt for opening louvers instead of the whole top set of shutters. But I’ve seen both on bathrooms and the idea of shutters is perfect for maintaining privacy without sacrificing light.

    Since you asked, I would go with the plantation style for your traditional Georgian brick.

    Your Home & Color Coach

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