New Year, New Neutrals

Colour23 01 2020, by Josh Schumann


After the chaos, sparkles and over stimulation of Christmas, what better way to see in the new year than to strip everything back and go back to basics. I know we’re still thinking how we are ever going to get rid of the glitter in the carpet?!

Starting with a neutral, simple colour palette is like taking all the clutter away and giving you the best fresh start. The perfect way to set the tone for the rest of the year.

If you’re a colour addict and the idea of going ‘neutral’ is as appealing as dry January, look at it like a challenge. The first challenge of the year, if you can pull It off then surely you can conquer anything! Starting from a neutral place will give you more scope to be creative with future projects.


It is an easy trap to fall into thinking that neutral means limited options, but you still have lots to play with, from ivory, taupe, grey, tan and beige. With neutrals, layers and textures will be your best friends and something to experiment with. Instead of having colour, you’ll have to be more inventive when trying to make a dramatic design. Don’t forget you can offset your neutrals by using lots of plants to bring everything to life and act as a contrasting colour. You might even find working with a neutral palette is an easier task as you don’t have unlimited options like you do with colour. You can really focus on what tones go together, using textures and fabrics maybe you normally wouldn’t.

Another positive aspect of exploring a neutral colour palette is that a lot of materials and fabrics you can use are often from sustainable sources, as these lend themselves best to being simple and clean. You would be challenging yourself and helping the environment at the same time.


A very popular material to start with is rattan. It often creates statement pieces, such as lampshades, cabinets and scallop chairs. You can often tailor your whole room or house around a statement piece. If you are going for this approach, a great tip for visualising whether things will go together or not is to print out your main piece and put it in the middle of a big piece of paper and create a visual mind map. Doing this will also give you a clear view on how well everything else you want to use fits in and goes together. This might seem like a simple exercise, so you can take it or leave it, but it is easy to get muddled when using lots of the same tones and shades with only subtle differences. It is also a good way of seeing which textures work well with each other before purchasing.

Woven/wicker baskets are a nice touch to tie into the design, they also make good plant holders.


Going back to the earlier point of layering, it is easy to create depth in a living room by using different cushions, try going for ones with an interesting trim like pom poms paired with a fluffy tactile texture. You can also build up layers on coffee tables by getting a few candles or coasters on a nice tray or using dried flowers to create a delicate centre piece. Accessories like these will really help you achieve a finished look.

For a neutral and sophisticated bedroom, the number one tip is to invest in good bedding. Time to treat yourself! When going for a white or simple colour of bedding, quality really shows. Pair this with a textured throw and some decorative cushions. If you want to spend a bit more money, finding a new headboard or complete bed frame either in rattan, as mentioned earlier, or in a different wood will make a big impact on the whole room.


For an extra touch of luxury, you could buy or use what you already have, and select a few high-end sculptures or decorative elements, keeping within the theme of course. But this will really make your home unique to you and will showcase your fantastic eye for art without any loud colours going on around it.