Decorating Against A Neutral Palette


Deciding how you want to decorate your home is a choice that should reflect who you are as a person, and potentially where you live in the world. Whether you’re a minimalist that lives in California, or a New Englander with a passion for antiquing, deciding what aspect of your decor will be the focal point is an important first step in putting together a room. The next step is to settle upon a color palette that suits your style and complements (not competes) with your decor. In this article I am going to share my knowledge on what I know best, using a neutral color palette as a backdrop to showcase your prized possessions.

As a collector of Contemporary art, every home I have ever lived in has had interior walls painted in neutral color palettes. Soft neutral tones create a zen environment. These colors also create the perfect opportunity for your art to be the showstopper. My husband and I realized this once we began collecting art.  Neutral colors serve as the perfect backdrop to make any piece of art in your home stand out. It enables you to buy any piece of art because you truly love it, not because it “goes with” or matches your furnishings.

Embrace Neutral Furniture Colors

Fifty shades of grey is literally “a thing” because there are a zillion shades of beige, white, taupe and grey. Decorating your home in a neutral palette is really quite easy nowadays. Have you been to Restoration Hardware or Crate & Barrel recently? I recently made a trip to the Restoration Hardware Gallery on Melrose Ave in West Hollywood and what I saw was hundreds of neutral colored pieces of furniture, fabric swatches and rugs. These pieces are the perfect neutral-colored items to build your room around. Quality furniture is not cheap. If you invest in furniture that you like in neutral tones you will get many more years out of them. If you’re in the middle of a remodel, or in the market for new furniture, go to one of these stores and take a look. Selecting neutral furniture will allow you the freedom to take creative liberties with the throw pillows and other items that you can cycle through every few years as your taste evolves and changes.

White Furniture - “You’re So Brave”

Some people might think I’m crazy for filling my home with all white furniture, however my husband and I are now empty nesters who do not own any pets. When our boys were young, there is no way that I would have ever had any white furniture in our house. Our home was an active one filled with dirty hands and muddy shoes. Back then taupe was my go-to color of choice. It was that perfect neutral; not too light and not too dark. Taupe gave me enough of a neutral palette that it didn’t interfere with my artsy aesthetics and was forgiving to the mess that accompanies teenage boys and their friends. At this point in our life though, white furniture is a realistic option for us.

As empty nesters with no pets, white furniture is a reality for us.

As empty nesters with no pets, white furniture is a reality for us.

Opting for a Pop of Color With Accessories & Art

When it comes to fashion or home decor, the same rules apply. It’s much easier to accessorize a neutral outfit than it is an outfit with a heavy print. With a bold print you really are limited when it comes to accessorizing. However, with a neutral colored outfit, you can have fun with the accessories. Any color of handbag, earrings and shoes are sure to make your outfit have some personality. Whatever color you choose will immediately pop and stand out. You don’t have to match anything. The same thing holds true when decorating your home, and this is the reason why I like to stick to a neutral color palette in my house. Brightly colored pillows can add some pop and pizzaz to neutral shades and so can art. It is significantly easier (and more cost effective) to change out throw pillows and drapes to change the tone of a room, than it is big ticket items like furniture. By using this neutral color scheme, any piece of art that we fall in love with will fit the vibe of our home and be the focal point.

Pro Tip: Cost Plus and West Elm have amazing options for throw pillows and knicknacks.

Choosing the Right Shade of White For Your Walls


In addition to neutral colored furniture, the color of your walls serves as an important backdrop to your art as well. In our home, our walls are a soft shade of white, which is the perfect neutral wall color to showcase our art. Choosing that perfect shade of white can be very tricky. You really have to be careful because you don’t want a white that’s too blue, too yellow, or too grey. There are hundreds of different colors of white in a paint deck, so it does become confusing. When it doubt about wall color, I seek the advice of others.

My decorator and dear friend, Leslie, is a master at choosing color. She was a huge source of  help when we moved into our Santa Monica home. Her best piece of advice to us was to be aware that when you are choosing a color, no matter what color it is, that it can change throughout the day. Before settling on a color make sure you look at your fabric samples and paint samples during the day, and also at night. Colors will look differently in the sunlight than they do at night in the glow of artificial lighting.

Pro Tip: When choosing paint colors, ask your painter to paint samples on the wall before choosing a final color. Seeing how a color actually drys on your wall will help you make a better assessment than relying on a one inch sample on a paint deck.

As I’ve moved from home to home, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that any neutral color that speaks to you is the perfect foundation the build the rest of your room aesthetic around. No matter what kind of personality you want your home to take on; traditional, transitional, modern or eclectic, working with neutral colors creates a background that will compliment your art and collectibles.


xx Barbara