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Interior Design 101: Working with neutral colours

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Tshemba Lodge, Hoedspruit by Metaphor Design Rustic
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Metaphor Design is the professional team steering today’s inspirational piece. Located in Johannesburg, this interior-design company offers clients a full range of interior services, including layouts and picking out accessories for relevant projects. 

Metaphor Design was established back in 2012 by Lane Reeves. Since day one, the company has been committed to top-class results and meeting clients’ expectations, which is evidenced by the firm’s growing portfolio. Although Metaphor Design operates from its Johannesburg office, the company is fully committed to completing customers’ projects to the value of R250 000, and above, in Cape Town, Durban, and even overseas (on request).

Today, we delve into the much-loved neutral colours to see why they have remained so popular all these years (and how to use them the right way in your interior-design project) while being inspired by some of Metaphor Design’s neutral colour schemes. 

1. What is classified as a neutral colour?

The rule of thumb is that a neutral colour is any tint that doesn’t show up on the colour wheel. Traditionally, neutral colour schemes include white, grey, taupe, khaki, and ivory, yet it’s important to remember that all these colours consist of numerous tints and tones (Daisy White, Cappuccino Beige, etc.) that can be considered either warm or cool. 

One of the reasons for neutral colours’ popularity is that they tend to be calming and easy to decorate with (neutral hues pretty much work with all colours). 

But although it’s usually considered “safe” to decorate only with neutrals, this can easily result in a bland colour palette. Which is why you need to remember the following as well…  

2. Neutral colours and texture

Main Bedroom by Metaphor Design Modern Solid Wood Multicolored
Metaphor Design

Main Bedroom

Metaphor Design

Want to add some detail to your neutral colours? Texture can be your solution! Try contrasting rough with soft, coarse with smooth, shiny with matte, etc. But also take into account the room that you’re decorating, as that will also influence the type (and amount) of velvet, suede, linens, sheepskins, and other type of textures you can experiment with. 

3. Neutral colours and layering

Speaking of adding detail, layering is what helps to create a sense of depth in a space. Sure, layering fabrics like throws and pillows on a bed or sofa is easy, but consider other ways (like layering area rugs atop one another, or a collection of potted plants on a windowsill). 

4. Neutral colours and shapes

It can be easy for those neutral hues to blend into each other, which is when ‘shape’ can save the day. Never consider your furnishings and accessories as an afterthought. Those pieces’ shapes (and colours, and textures… ) can make or break the rest of your interiors’ look.

Thus, a grey sofa in front of a grey wall becomes that much more noticeable if it flaunts a curvy design as opposed to straight lines, for example. 

5. Neutral colours and architectural details

Look around to see how that room can add to its style personality via architectural details. Are there exposed ceiling beams? An eye-catching fireplace? How about a focal wall (exposed brick, perhaps?) or a stunning window ushering in an amazing garden view? All these details can have a tremendous impact on an all-neutral colour scheme! 

6. Warming up neutral colours

Entrance Hall: modern  by Metaphor Design, Modern Wood Wood effect
Metaphor Design

Entrance Hall

Metaphor Design

A room needs to present certain warmth, especially here in South Africa where we’re entering the chilly season. And although textures can play a great role here, opting for the right materials is also a vital factor.

Think about popping in a wood table or a rattan chair. Or how about warm metals like brass and bronze for a cabinet’s new hardware, maybe? 

7. Neutral colours and the seasons

We love the idea of keeping a room’s neutral palette pretty much the same while only switching up some features and finishes according to a new season. Take our South African winter as an example: would you consider rolling up your home’s sisal rugs and laying down plusher ones? Or replacing flimsy linen drapes with thick velvet designs? 

Up next: 6 factors that can affect your house-building timeline.

Would you try out an all-neutral colour scheme in your home or do you prefer something more vibrant?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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