Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What every neutral colour scheme needs

I love serendipitous events that add to my thoughts on an interior decorating topic.  I recently experienced this  as I was preparing to write about neutral colour schemes.  Just like a gift  La Dolce Vita, one of my favourite blogs, appeared  in my inbox with the perfect visuals to support  several of the points I wanted to make.  Paloma always finds the best spaces to present to readers! Check out her blog, you won't be sorry.

 Making a neutral scheme work requires skill.  Once you  remove colour from the equation you have to make the most of the  other elements of design especially: pattern, texture, value/contrast and form.  Of course the principles of design remain in tact. Every successful space  has  good balance, harmony, emphasis, scale/proportion and rhythm.

Sounds great, but what does that look like in a space?

Check out all takes of this  living room  by Bill Ingram & William McLure of Bill Ingram Architect.

 Quiz time:  Jot down what  you think makes  the space  work.  If you are used to colour being your main decor element you might need to shift gears for a moment to see the beauty in neutral schemes.

living room,  neutral scheme, pattern, texture, contrast

living room, neutral scheme

living room, neutral scheme

living room, neutral scheme


The first element that jumps out at me is contrast.  You cannot have a successful room without good contrast, even when you have lots of colour.   It's the same way in art.   I wrote about this  topic in depth here.  You get contrast by manipulating your values from light to dark.  This space goes from black to white and has every conceivable value in between.


This space also gets an A+ for texture.  Not everyone can have the stone work evident in this space but you might have a stone  or brick fireplace   Check out the wood stacked in the open hearth, the tree stump table and the rough wood planters.   A variety of textiles are used from the subtly textured obviously wool carpet to the white smooth fabric on the drapery and chair.  The knit pillows are perfect by the stone,  nothing like the garter stitch for obvious texture. But the coffee table is the show stopper with its reflective high gloss.  Don't miss the folded fur throw on the chair.   There is also subtle texture on the frame of the gold chair, the doors of the armoire and the statue.


Geometric motifs predominate with diamonds, stripes  and circles repeated around the room.


This can be a hard one if you like everything matched in furniture style.  I think use of a variety of forms make this space.

My own element that every space needs -- organic elements 

Imagine this space without the two fig trees.  I rest my case.  You need organic references in every space and this one has it in spades.

Only one thing

If I could change one thing about this space it would be the scale of the artwork between the windows.  Love the art work, but it needs a little breathing space around the edges.  Too much competition with the grids in the window. Sorry, it's the artist in me.  On the other hand I love the large scale fig trees and they might account for the scale of the art!

True, this space might not be your cup of tea, but it is interesting; it invites the eye to move around and to touch the various elements in the space.

Now it's your turn...
What are your thoughts on this space?  Could you live here?

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