Believe it or not, I really do like rooms with neutral color palettes, but the key is finding a way to make the neutral palette look fresh and exciting rather than drab and boring. This can be more difficult that it sounds, as Tabitha in Indiana has learned. She writes:
What is the best way to add color to the living room; curtains, throw pillows? Right now my living room and office (connected) look like a brown paper bag; brown walls, brown rug, cream furniture, brown throw pillows, you get the point! Please please please help me!
Here are the rooms that Tabitha is working with…
Kristi’s Two Cents:
Those things that you mentioned–curtains and throw pillows–are definitely good ways to add color to an otherwise neutral, monochromatic room. You could also add artwork, accessories like vases and picture frames, fabric (or wallpaper, or paint) to the back of built-in bookcases, chandeliers and lamps, etc. But besides adding color, there is another element that must be considered when trying to add excitement to a neutral, monochromatic room. Let’s take a look at some examples.
This first room by Jennifer Brouwer Design is a beautiful example of a mostly monochromatic palette that is well executed. The touches of yellow definitely add excitement to the room, but the real key here isn’t the addition of color, but the beautiful combinations of textures and finishes: the linen-look texture of the sofa fabric, the monochromatic lattice pattern on the chair, the draperies that appear to be dupionni silk, the throw on the chair with the furry look. In addition, you see glass, chrome, and ceramic. These different textures and finishes keep this monochromatic room from being anything but boring and allows the small touches of yellow to go a long way towards adding excitement in this room.
Now let’s look at another example…
This next room by Jennifer Baines definitely utilizes more color than the previous room, but you can see that the main things in the room are still neutral–the walls, the sofas, and the area rug. Here again we see the use of different textures–chrome, glass, a linen-type fabric, rustic wood, etc. Then color was added in small doses throughout the room–pillows, throw, lamps, artwork. Again we can see that all of the wonderful textures plus the touches of color here and there create a really amazing space.
And now let’s look at the last example…
So the important lesson here is that when you have a monochromatic room that looks dull and lifeless, adding color with throw pillows, window treatments, accessories, throws, flowers, etc., is definitely a good start, but it’s not really the whole formula. To get that really beautiful, finished look in your room, also consider the textures that you’re adding. Think in terms of textured and patterned fabrics (even if they’re neutral or tone-on-tone), glass, chrome, ceramic, wood, etc. Even a completely monochromatic room can look like a gorgeous high-end designer room as long as it’s filled with exciting and varying textures.