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The Hidden Power of Neutrals


The definition of what exactly a neutral is can be confusing. It seems as if every designer has a different take on which colours, or “non colours” qualify as neutrals. The truth is that this category of colours has gone through a perception transition which has widened its breadth. The “traditional” neutral colours still remain part of the family; however subtle hues with a definitive colour presence have now been added to the category. Though these new shades are recognizable as colours, they can still be used much like traditional neutrals.

Neutral colours have many advantages as a paint colour choice. They are colours which are livable, flexible, and classic. They are as ideal for individuals who are unsure about colour choice as those who are. For those that prefer colourful décor pieces or want to visually balance a strong accent wall, neutrals are a perfect choice. Neutral colour palettes are subtle and stylish, and can create spaces that are both restful and soothing or warm and energizing.

The traditional definition of a neutral was a colour which didn’t fall into any of the standard colour families typically associated with the “colour wheel.” These included the grey, brown, and white families. Colour such as taupes, off-whites and light greys lack definitive colour and therefore have little-to-no risk of creating discord with your current furnishings or colour schemes. These subtle “no-colour” colours could also easily support bright, deep, or subtle accents, making them virtually foolproof.

Taupe instills quietness and calm into a room, creating a space that is harmonious and peaceful. Accessorize your taupe palette with subtle combinations of textures and colours, such as olive and chocolate.

Off, or “dirtied,” whites work well with other light neutrals and brighter whites. These colours are often preferred in smaller rooms or those with softer lighting.

Pairing perfectly with the room’s elegant décor, this soft palette, accented with rust and coffee tones, creates a room that is tranquil, elegant, and subdued.

Cooler palettes utilizing grey tones can have a sophisticated, modern feel to them. Lighter greys are similar to white and can create spaces that are fresh and refined. Darker greys have some of the grounding qualities of black, though with less weight and dominant presence.

The new neutrals consist of a softer, muted, often lighter version of a colour. They are regarded as complex colours because of their colour make-up. These neutrals are made by mixing together multiple colours to create new hues, rich in undertones yet with a reduced vibrancy. For example, begin with a true green, add some red, yellow, a touch of white and black, and you end with a toned, light olive with warm undertones. Another way these colours are made is through a mixture of grey and white. For instance, that same true green mixed with white and black becomes a soft grey-green sage colour with cool undertones. The subtle colour presence these neutrals impart makes them a safe and livable option for creating atmosphere and for coordinating with current décor.

A new ideology regarding neutrals has swept over the design world. This new neutral perception has dissolved the traditional boundaries to encompass all colour families. The new neutrals—often referred to as complex colours—have emerged.

Incorporating the warm and comforting neutral orange hues, this colour palette enhances the relaxed atmosphere of this rest area. Paired with the low, Asian-inspired furnishings, these colours create a space that is pure and soothing. The warm color scheme brings a calming influence, as well as a clean, uncluttered appearance. The use of white on the trim and accents adds an airy freshness and blends perfectly with the serenity created by the neutral palette.

Because of their versatility and universal appeal, neutrals can support all decor styles from contemporary to traditional. Your furnishings and accessories will fit perfectly with a neutral scheme. Neutral colour schemes work in any type of room or style, creating spaces that have an organically pure sensibility.

Modern Loft Living

Neutral colours work well together to create a comfortable, elegant, and understated appearance in your home. They are independent of style and trend, making them great for an individual who wants a look that is flexible and long lasting.

Tasteful and timeless, neutral colours are a wonderful choice for the exterior of your home. Just as in your interior, neutrals are exceptional colours for the exterior of your home. They transcend style and harmonize effortlessly with brighter colours. They can blend into a neighborhood colour scheme, or create tasteful distinction. Mediterranean homes look beautiful painted in neutral colours with warm undertones such as red or yellow.

Distinguish your home by pairing a
neutral body with a bright accent colour.


Home decorators have long appreciated the flexibility of working with neutrals. They are excellent to use if you want a more subtle colour presence, or are not sure how to balance colour. Neutrals also coordinate with virtually every colour, working as either a main or accent colour. The hidden power of neutrals is they are easy to use and allow you the freedom to add other colours, patterns, and textures to your space, making your decorating choices almost endless.