8 Steps to Color Confidence: Step #3 Lessons on Making Neutrals Work from Real Life Rooms

8 Steps to Color Confidence: Step #3 Lessons on Making Neutrals Work from Real Life Rooms

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Jennifer Hunter
Jul 2, 2015
(Image credit: Sponsored Post)

The first two steps in our series working toward color confidence involved zeroing in on the colors you love. If your results from those exercises pointed toward a more neutral palette, you probably already know that what sounds simple (neutrals!) when it comes to color isn't always that straightforward in practice. As much as we sometimes aspire to simplify our spaces, sometimes minimalism seems out of reach; restraint is hard to pull off.

So often the homes we admire are staged for magazine spreads or designed by people who won't actually have to live in the space. Not this time. Gabriel and Grant (Real people! We met them!) recently shared their Chicago home with us and taught us a thing or two about pulling off a clean mostly-neutrals look without nixing color and fun. Here's how they did it.

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Invest in neutral basics

A good quality neutral sofa will last you a long, long time. Long enough for your taste is colors and patterns to completely change. The best investment is something you know you'll be able to live with long term. Grant and Gabriel didn't worry so much about their neutrals matching up — they're rocking a range of greys, blond and dark woods and plenty of black and white — because they know that everything will come together once they add in their accent color.


(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Pick one great color to highlight

If you want to keep some color but still want your look to be super simple, you need to get strict. Gabriel and Grant chose green as their accent color and there are echoes of it everywhere: the walls, their art, plenty of plants. Notice how everything in their home is either a neutral or a shade of green. Now that's editing.

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Explore shades

Now, just because they're sticking to one color group, doesn't mean they can't have some variation. See how their walls have a hint of olive but their art has lots of aqua? Those are very different shades of green but it works because the color palette is so limited; they can get away with a huge range within that one color family.


(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)
(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Add interest in other ways

You may be thinking, "Mostly neutral? Blah!" but just look at all the interesting things in this home that are not colorful. Like this photo mural wallpaper in their bathroom or that great, geometric chandelier. They're working with a limited color palette, but not a limited style. All those little extras make their space feel layered without relying just on color.

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