The beauty of beige - tips for decorating with neutrals
How neutral colours can help you create your very own ideal home...
If there is one single interior design phenomenon that can be spotted almost anywhere around the world, it has to be the neutral palette. From pewter at one end of the scale, via lighter greys, browns, beiges and creams, to ivory and white at the other, the global love affair with neutral colours shows no sign of abating.
The name we tend to associate most often with this well-established approach to interior design is Kelly Hoppen, often referred to as the Queen of Taupe – a soubriquet that she’s been happy to embrace, according to this 2011 interview with the Huffington Post. But neutral settings have long been the preference for many interior designers not just across the chillier north – think Scandinavian design – but also in Japan, the USA’s west coast, Australia, and Kelly’s own birthplace, South Africa.
Neutral colour schemes have, in fact, been a firm fixture of UK interior design since the 1980s, so this makes them much more than a passing trend. But what is it about neutrals that ensures their enduring charm? Think of them as a key that unlocks a door, revealing so much more than might, at first, be expected. What neutral colours offer interior designers and homemakers alike is the opportunity to create room settings that are both pleasing and welcoming, while still providing plenty of opportunity to add stylish individual touches. Your neutral palette home doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s.
One of the great advantages of choosing a neutral décor is that it bucks the trend so, if you invest in a top quality statement piece, such as a sofa with neutral upholstery, it will see you safely through any shifts in interior fads and fashions. You can always update the look of a room or reflect the changing seasons with new or different accessories, including throws, rugs, cushions, mirrors, baskets and planters, without breaking the bank.
We need to talk about beige
Although there’s no disputing the fact that neutrals are thoroughly embedded in contemporary interior design colour schemes, that doesn’t mean that specific neutrals don’t have their moment. Right now, it’s beige, according to Raft’s Head of Interior Design, Tamara Frye, a view echoed by designers, paint companies and art directors in this Daily Telegraph article. Beige brings a touch of warmth and comfort to a room and definitely doesn’t have to be boring. As with any colour, beige comes in a range of lighter tints and darker shades, so if a predominance of beige appeals, you can vary its intensity, for example, on walls or upholstery.
It’s worth taking a look at the work of leading interior designers, including Sophie Paterson, Laura Hammett, and Jeremiah Brent – all of whom have inspired Tamara – for inspiration and to see how versatile neutral colour schemes can be, from high end, luxury developments to family homes.
(Follow Tamara’s interior design trend tips on Raft’s Instagram feed.)
Make the most of neutrals – 5 top tips on what works and what doesn’t
- Think warm or cool but don’t mix in one room: warm colours (cream, beige, brown) work best in areas that get less light, such as north-facing rooms; cooler colours (grey, taupe) are ideal in south-facing spaces that get plenty of light.
- Think space: if you are trying to maximise the sense of space in a small room, choose lighter, brighter neutrals, such as ivory or silver grey. If you want to create a cosy, snug space, opt for warmer, darker neutrals.
- Think tints and shades: try to avoid too many solid blocks of the same tint or shade, which can be oppressive, and make the most of the full range of a single colour, from light to dark. For example, ring the changes on walls – try making one wall lighter than the others – and aim for subtle variation between, say, upholstery, walls and paintwork, and curtains, blinds, and shutters.
- Think texture and pattern in accessories: if you have neutral walls and your sofa or chairs are upholstered in plain, neutral material, textured or patterned accessories definitely help to give them a lift. Take a look at Raft’s hand tufted grey willow rug, with its striking geometric pattern, or our lambswool herringbone throw, or concrete floor planter.
- Think eye-catching splashes of colour: a neutral setting lends itself to carefully chosen brightly coloured pieces, such as artwork for the walls, or Raft’s limited edition Java cushion designed by Amelia Graham – its vibrant colour palette means that it works equally well in cool or warm neutral rooms.
Need a little help with neutrals?
If you’re looking for ideas to help you develop the perfect neutral approach for your home, you’ll find plenty of inspiration on Raft’s Instagram feed.
And don’t forget that, here at Raft, we offer a first class interior design service, whether you want help with a single room or an entire home. Our designers and craftspeople will work with you to create something that not only reflects you and your own unique lifestyle but that works for you and your family too.
At Raft, we make beautiful and enduring furniture for your home, office and garden. Browse our complete range of furniture and accessories here.