Anyone who has ever picked up a paint chart will be familiar with the overwhelming choice of neutral paints available. Yet neutrals remain a popular choice for interior designers and homeowners. Thanks to their understated, relaxed and timeless aesthetic they “make few demands on the eye” (Elle Decoration June 2016) and allow furniture pieces and home accessories to take centre stage.
Elle Decoration June 2016’s ‘Beyond the Pale’ article, with guidance from Farrow & Ball colour gurus Joa Studholme and Charlotte Crosby offer professional guidance on tips on how to decorate with neutrals... They say...
Light plays a huge part in how neutrals appear, which is why Farrow & Ball divide neutrals into four distinct neutral groups – architectural, contemporary, traditional and yellow-based. Choosing a group is the easy part – simply decide which you are most drawn to. You can then build a decorating scheme around this.
Modern settings benefit from the harmonious greys of the contemporary and architectural neutrals. Meanwhile, older buildings, as a rule of thumb, tend to demand softer effects from colours and are best suited to traditional and yellow-base neutrals.
- Architectural neutrals – according to Farrow & Ball, “with the addition of almost imperceptible quantities of other pigments, these greys take on a completely new personality, creating a sense of spaciousness while avoiding a clinical look”. Cool with a blue undertone, these are a great alternative to pure white.
- Contemporary neutrals – have an underlying lilac tone which brings an element of warmth which prevents them from looking too severe. They also have a cleaner, more urban feel. These neutrals can be used throughout the entire house “so you can drift from room to room hardly noticing that there has been a change of shade.”
- Traditional neutrals – as the name suggests, this group has its roots in the past. They create calm, restrained spaces with richness and depth. Their underlying grey-green tones create an air of ‘old world’. These shades are viewed as sophisticated and have been used everywhere from the decorative plaster ceilings of 18th century houses to Parisian apartments.
- Yellow-based neutrals – according to Farrow & Ball, these are the prettiest and simplest of the neutral groups. Their tradition stems from the addition of a minute amount of black, and the shades work well in any rustic home.