Color Q&As: Mastering the Neutrals
When it comes to decorating, it's OK to go gray. Color experts Mark McCauley, ASID, and Barbara Jacobs help you navigate the neutrals.
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I want a neutral palette for my living room and I was thinking about doing everything in the brown family. What other colors could I add so it wouldn’t look bland?
—In Love with Brown
Dear In Love with Brown,
Like other color families, the browns are hot and cold. Some warm browns have undertones of yellow or red, while cooler browns can even go more toward the bronze tones. You’ll even find deep golds in the "brown family." So, whether you’re thinking of walls that are a deep chocolate brown or a rich, "saddle-leather" kind of color, you can use a wide variety of fabrics and other accessories to introduce many other hues. This color scheme definitely does not have to be bland!
In fact, just about anything will complement browns: the deep browns are great with colors like turquoise, lime green, sea-blue/green and a whole range of oranges/pinks/fuschia/purples. The golden browns match well with colors like cinnamon, deep red, plum and teal. Mix and match to your heart’s content — and experiment! Use those accent colors in un-equal amounts for the most dynamic, decidedly un-bland environment.
—Color consultant Barbara Jacobs, Integral Color and Design
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