Kendra Murphy


How to Design with Neutrals


March 11, 2022

While I love a colourful space, there’s something about layers of neutrals—with plenty of texture, shape, and interest injected—that is forever a favourite for me. And as with any design project, the magic is in the details and it’s where your space will really come to life.

Layer Your Neutrals

There are endless shades of white and layering a variety will add depth and dimension to your space. A bright, crisp white against a slightly warmer wall feels soft and timeless. Generally, I like to do a slightly warmer white wall for most projects as it feels less stark and mixes well with both antiques and contemporary pieces.

Mix in other neutrals to add more dimension. In the image above, the column lamp and wicker lampshade provide a spot for your eye to travel to first because of the height and the way the wicker stands out against the white wall behind it.

Think about Shape

If you’re choosing to design with a neutral colour scheme, one way to add fun and interest is through shape. In this room above, I included scallop detailing in two of the pieces. The white pillowcases with black scallop trim are unique and add a bit of whimsy to the room. The scallop detailing is also carried through in the terracotta planter on the nightstand. Part of why I love designing spaces with a minimal colour palette is that you can introduce different visual languages without fear of it getting too busy. The restrained palette holds it all together.

Texture is Your Best Friend

Layers of beautiful texture can add so much to your home. Whether it’s a chunky knitted throw, a boucle pillow, or a wicker lampshade, there’s so much design fun to be had with texture. Mixing shades of neutrals in plenty of different materialities is a pretty surefire way to make your home interesting, cozy, and timeless. Some of my favourite textures to include in projects are plaster, wicker & rattan, terracotta, linen, stone, and boucle.

Don’t Forget to Include Vintage

Adding a handful of vintage pieces adds a level of depth that is difficult to create with contemporary pieces alone. In the space above, the lamp, shade, and table are all vintage and they each come with their own special details (and happy flaws!). I love the storied feeling that creates.

There you have it. Designing with a neutral colour palette can be a great way to explore the use of texture, shape, and layers, so enjoy!

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