20 Ways to Make a Neutral Space Pop With Color
A well-curated neutral palette is timeless and creates instant unity. Energize your scheme by introducing a splash a color — these 20 rooms show you how.
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Photo By: Design by Sarah Richardson
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Max Out Your Hues
Grounding a room in a neutral palette gives your eye a place to rest, while purposeful pops of color move the eye throughout the room to find new and interesting elements. In this historic 1930s home, white walls, a tan leather sofa and pale hardwood floors are offset by Kelly green armchairs, graphic-patterned pillows and an ocean-blue area rug.
Better With Purple
This open kitchen is a study in striking contrast with black ceramic floors and textured chevron wallpaper against an alabaster quartz backsplash and clean white cabinetry. The glossy plum kitchen island with brass accents not only brings a welcome shot of royal color to the space, but it also adds a touch of metallic glam.
Color With a Story
Recycled plastic bottles find new life when Colombian weavers transform them into these one-of-a-kind PET Lamp chandeliers. The style-making fixture not only adds exciting color to this all-white dining room, but also combines artisanal traditions, earth-saving conservation and makes for a great conversation piece.
Take an empty wall from background to centerstage with a prominent piece of art that brings color and life to the room. This modern country breakfast nook combines a glossy natural wood table with traditional ladderback chairs. The built-in banquette features a teal cushion, reflecting hues from the gorgeous abstract art. Terracotta tiles add warmth and ground the kitchen and breakfast area.
The Element of Joy
Designed to welcome the most playful members of our families, nurseries are a natural space to infuse with fun. Shades of gray are used for the foundation of the room, from the textured wallpaper and clean-lined dresser to the comfortable glider and ottoman. Pops of color are found in the striped yellow bands around the lamp shades, blue and yellow polka dot shades and of course, the most eye-catching element — the striped blue-and-yellow ceiling.
Warm Hues Evoke Coziness
Pillows are one of the simplest ways to add color to a neural space. Designer Sarah Richardson knows how to add the just-right touch with pillows in deep, rich tones. The key to a neutral palette is incorporating texture. Grasscloth walls, striped curtains and pale exposed wood ceilings bring tactile appeal to the space.
Highlight One Shade
Immersed in natural light, this sweeping living space is a harmonious blend of indoors and out. Comfortable teal velvet armchairs add a concentrated dose of color to the living room while pillows in the same fabric are strategically placed on adjacent sofas and the window seat to carry the accent hue throughout the room.
A Dash of Blue
Classic architecture is painted a neutral taupe in this cozy living room to create a cohesive look. Everything thing from the walls to the rug to the furniture is a varied hue of the subtle shade, except for one piece — the blue sofa. With comfortable cushions and nailhead trim, the piece adds color while maintaining the timeless feel of the space. Pale flowers in the stained glass windows add a stream of tinted light to the room, while an abstract painting nods to a modern aesthetic.
Look Up to a Vibrant Ceiling
Take the color overhead with an eye-catching ceiling. Groovy 70s-inspired wallpaper adds playfulness between the exposed white ceiling beams. Picking up a note of color from the wallpaper, bright red chairs surround the streamlined black dining table.
And, Take It Underfoot
This eclectic dining room embraces tone-on-tone texture through the canopied porter's chairs and side chairs with woven cane seats. The sisal area rug is injected with blocks of vibrant color. Two-toned curtains anchor the room, while at the same time bringing height to the space.
Small yet Mighty Accents
Shades of white, khaki and taupe set the scene for this light and airy bedroom. Small moments of color can make just as much impact. Multicolored graphic-printed throw pillows brighten up the crisp white bedding. Pale pink pillows and a yellow throw pop on the window seat, and red gerbera daisies add one final bright touch.
Strike a Balance
Shades of gray, found in the wallpaper background, bed and rug, are a central character to this contemporary bedroom. Yet color is infused throughout this soothing retreat in the romantic pink and yellow flowers of the wallpaper. Streamlined furniture balances the feminine wallpaper and textiles, from the fluffy stool to the nubby area rug, bring in much-needed texture.
Posh yet Practical
White-on-white trimwork and walls never go out of style and contrast against the dark hardwood floors in this home office. A variant area rug in tans and browns brings in texture. But the statement-making piece is the emerald green built-ins, which anchor the wall and infuse the space with color. A Lucite desk paired with a leather chair boosts available workspace without adding any visual weight to the room.
Create a space that makes you happy. Find an element that adds energy to your room, like the Orla Kiely wallpaper behind the bar in this mostly white kitchen. A bright orange oven and light blue Eames chairs pull hues from the wallpaper while floating shelves combine with a glass tile backsplash to lend an airy quality to the contemporary kitchen. Stainless steel accents, like the oven backsplash and farmhouse sink, mix with the sleek white cabinets.
A Welcoming Hue
This farmhouse mudroom mixes country charm with antique furniture. Trimmed in white, the closet doors are painted a lively red taking the entryway from neutral to colorful. A vintage cabinet sits between the two closets for added storage, and a striped area rug adds an extra note of red to the stone tile floors.
Say It With Art
Bold color. Eye-catching design. Striking contrast. Check. Check. Check. Abstract art is the perfect way to incorporate beautiful hues into your space. The glass top table lends an airy quality to this chic, contemporary dining room. Bright white walls are warmed by wood trimwork while a blue-gray floating buffet adds another subtle touch of color.
Amp Up the Color
A jade green bed has maximum impact in this eclectic bedroom. White bedding and curtains balance the rich tones of the bed, but also showcase tactile appeal that brings a tone-on-tone pattern to the space. Metallic elements, like the table lamps and sculptural art above the bed, add a note of glam.
A La Cornue oven is known for its stellar reputation and handcrafted design, but what makes it a stand out in the kitchen is the variety of color choices. For this traditional kitchen, a classic navy oven fits in perfectly. Creamy cabinets pair with slate gray countertops, and an ornate range hood mimics the sophistication of the La Cornue.
A Touch of Teal
A burst of color doesn't have to be dramatic. Muted teal dining chairs surround this farmhouse-inspired table. A wall of windows bathe the room in natural light, transforming the soft neutral walls and warm woods into a bright, inviting atmosphere.
Cherry Red Contrast
Sliding glass doors are trimmed in bright red to inject bold color into this rustic meets contemporary dining room. Industrial-style pendant lights wrap around red powder-coated steel beams for an unexpected light fixture that brings controlled chaos to the design.