In the past, neutrals have often had a bad rap. Synonymous with magnolia paint and estate agents’ advice to paint homes cream, neutral decorating schemes have sometimes resulted in rather bland, characterless spaces. But times are changing and after a number of years of embracing our dark sides with deep cocooning colours in our homes, we’re starting to see a return to lighter, brighter hues.
Get your bearings
The amount and type of light in a space has the most significant bearing on how neutrals look, so it’s important to establish which way your room faces and then select your colours accordingly.
In the Northern hemisphere, North-facing rooms have a clean, consistent light but don’t receive any direct sunlight. Colours tend to look cooler and harsher, and these rooms can suffer from a lack of light. Often, the advice is not to fight this and instead create intimate, cosy spaces with strong, dramatic colours. However, if you’re keen on a lighter look, opt for warm neutrals with a touch of yellow or red in them. Avoid those with a green or grey base.
East-facing rooms get the morning light which is fresh and a little blue. Neutrals with a green or blue base will work in harmony with the available light and look great.
West-facing rooms are more muted in the morning and get the evening light which is warm. Yellow and red based neutrals will enhance this warmth but greyer neutrals will also work well, looking cooler earlier in the day and warmer later on. The light in East/West-facing rooms changes dramatically throughout the day. It’s often best to decide when you spend most of your time in these rooms and choose neutrals to suit. So, if the room is used more in the morning, go for cooler neutrals; if it’s a place to relax in the evening, choose neutrals with a warmer base.
South-facing rooms are a decorator’s dream and any neutrals will look good in them. To really enhance the feeling of warmth and light in these rooms that are bathed in sunlight for most of the day, opt again for yellow or red based neutrals. To create a crisper look, choose neutrals with a cooler base.