Neutrals Done Right: Creating Depth and Interest in Your Home

Neutrals Done Right: Creating Depth and Interest in Your Home

For me, there’s something about a well-done neutral room that just feels like an exhale: a space that feels intentional without being fussy, balanced but not boring. Over the years, I’ve really shifted my decorating style toward a more neutral palette in terms of furniture and wall colors, and then I bring sparks of color with my abstract artwork and small accents like throws, pillows and greenery. I love to switch things up, so I’m finding that building on top of a neutral foundation is ideal: I can change art, lamp shades and throw pillows with the seasons (or just when I’m ready to mix things up) and it gives my small-and-stylish home an easy and affordable refresh!

It’s also true that a neutral decorating scheme runs the risk of looking bland if you’re not careful in how you do it. Fear not! With the right approach, you can create a stunning, dynamic space that is anything but dull. Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you master the art of decorating with neutrals while keeping your room lively and inviting.

Here. cool gray undertones in the carpet and furniture take center stage, with touches of warmth in the room accents. My original painting is “Hanami” 30” x 40” mixed media on canvas - available here

1. Embrace Stained Wood for Warmth

One of the easiest things to overlook when designing a neutral space is the undertones, but they matter. Whether you prefer cool or warm undertones, I find it helps to have a clear dominance of one or the other so they don’t “fight” with each other. For instance, if your primary palette is warm with beige and cream, use cool undertones sparingly through accents like grey or soft blue. This will help the space feel more cohesive. In our home, we used Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly lace for most of the interior walls - it’s a soft, bright white with a very slightly cool undertone that works well with the soft blues and taupes around our house. I have scattered some blush and light coral accents through the house, but the preponderance of my neutral palette is built on cooler undertones, so it all flows. If you’re unsure of whether a tone is cool or warm, hold a sample of it up to a sheet of white printer paper. Warm paint colors generally have yellow, beige, or pink undertones, while cool paint colors typically have green, purple, or blue undertones. For off-the-shelf paint colors, the manufacturer’s website will usually tell you in the product description if a color leans cool or warm. Here's a helpful visual guide from


Photo source:

Lots of yummy textures in this space! Painting: “Kiss the Girl” 36” x 36” mixed media on canvas (SOLD)

3. Layer Textures

Adding varied textures is key to keeping a neutral room visually interesting. Mix and match textiles such as velvet, jute, silk, and faux fur. A velvet sofa paired with jute rugs and silk throw pillows creates a layered look that is rich and inviting. This combination ensures that each element stands out and contributes to the overall aesthetic. I love adding texture to the walls, too, by placing original art that has layers, displaying African wall baskets, or combining both!

I love how art can bring whispers of neutral color into a space! My original painting “Hanami” is a 40 x30 mixed media painting on canvas, framed and available to purchase here.

4. Explore Blush, Taupe, Dusty Blue and Sage Green

If you crave a bit more contrast, consider integrating blush, taupe, dusty blue and sage green as part of your neutral palette. These soft hues act as neutrals while adding a subtle hint of color. Blush tones can bring a gentle warmth, taupe offers a sophisticated touch, and sage green introduces a refreshing, earthy vibe. Artwork that has these tones can be a beautiful way to integrate soft color and visual interest while maintaining the calm aesthetic of a neutral room.

It doesn’t take much color to amp up a neutral space - here, a muted copper pillow and a textured painting with a spark of magenta bring the energy to a quiet palette. My painting is “Confidence Boost” 30” x 40” mixed media (private collection)

5. Introduce Small Pops of Color

A small spark of color in accent pieces like throw pillows, artwork, or vases can give a neutral room personality. Neutral walls really let funky original artwork shine! In pillows, try opting for “washed-out “or muted colors that blend seamlessly with the neutral tones, yet provide just enough contrast to catch the eye.

Loloi Rug from Amazon

6. Utilize Tone-on-Tone Patterns

Subtle tone-on-tone patterns can add depth and interest without overwhelming the space. Consider a cream rug with a delicate ivory pattern or grey wallpaper with a soft silver design. These patterns create visual intrigue while maintaining the room's cohesive look. I just purchased the above-pictured area rug from Amazon for less than $100 and love it!

7. Incorporate Animal Print

A small amount of animal print, (around 10%), can really add a touch of sophistication and playfulness. Think a leopard print throw pillow, a cozy sofa blanket in a fawn print, a zebra-striped rug, or even a subtle cheetah print in your curtains. Animal prints can act as a chic focal point without overpowering the room. They don’t have to be in their natural colors either…some animal prints look really pretty in pastel shades! My daughter found cheetah print throw pillows in seafoam blue and they’re gorgeous!

A leather sofa adds patina to a room. Artwork “All the Paths We’ve Taken is a mixed media collage 36” x 36” (SOLD)

8. Add Leather Pieces

Leather adds a rich, textural element to any space. Consider a leather armchair, ottoman, or even leather-accented pillows. The natural texture and warmth of leather can complement the neutral palette while adding an extra layer of sophistication. In our coastal home, we have leather poufs that we brought back from our trips to Spain and Morocco - they add an eclectic global touch that I love!

Sculptural soapstone elements bring smooth visual texture. Artwork “The Music in You” is a mixed media painting 25” x 21” framed. Available here

9. Use Polished Stone and Metal Accents

Incorporate polished stone elements like marble or quartz, and metal accents in brass, chrome, or matte black. These materials introduce varied textures and degrees of light reflectiveness, adding depth and dimension to your space. Think marble coffee tables, brass lamps, or metal-framed mirrors.

A touch of black in a room is instant chic! Mixed media artwork is my piece “Confidence Boost” 30” x 40” (Personal collection)

10. Ground with Black

Touches of black can ground your space and give it a sleek, modern edge. Consider black picture frames, a black coffee table, or even black hardware on cabinets and furniture. A bit of black looks gorgeous in a neutral color palette and can anchor the room and add a chic flair.

Our breakfast nook opens to the hearth room so we opted for elevated coastal casual. The ferns are faux - I love how they bring the lush outdoor greenery views inside!

11. Bring in Natural Elements

Natural elements like plants, woven baskets, or stone decor can enhance the organic feel of your neutral space. A few well-placed plants can bring life and color - and when you think about. it, green is Nature’s neutral! The leathery leaves of a monstera plant paired with the delicate foliage of a fern can enhance the textural interest and depth of a room, as can baskets and stone accents.

12. Play with Lighting

Lighting plays a crucial role in highlighting the various textures and tones in a neutral room. Use a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Think table lamps, floor lamps, and pendant lights to illuminate different areas and add a cozy feel.

I hope these tips help get your creative juices flowing and help you see there are so many ways to create a neutral room that is anything but boring! By incorporating stained wood, balancing undertones, layering textures, and adding original artwork and natural elements, you can create a stunning, dynamic room. Remember, the key is in the details – each element should contribute to the overall harmony and warmth of the space.

Have you tried any of the above? Do you have suggestions of your own to add? Let me know in the comments!


Back to blog

Leave a comment