Designer Talk: Neutral Colors Make Basic Beautiful

by | Bathrooms, Design & Remodeling, Designer Talk, Kitchens


Mosby Building Arts Designer, Laura Powderly, sees life as a big box of crayons, and imparts that joy of color to her remodeling clients. Laura shares some of her thoughts about the colors that surround us.

After several seasons of personality colors, get ready for monotones and earthy hues to steal the scene in the kitchen and bath world. The newest design trend is incorporating a tonal pallet that features several different neutrals all rolled together. However, this is a stylistic choice that can stand the test of time.


Choosing the Right Neutral Color

There are so many neutrals available that it can be tricky to pair the right ones together. If you are considering this look, use neutrals that have the same tonal qualities. Some neutrals have cooler tones or hues of blue within them, whereas others are warmer with yellow or gold highlights.

An example of choosing the right neutrals in the kitchen would be if your kitchen cabinets have a warm honey tone then stick with a warm neutral for the tile. In the bathroom, slate grey flooring begs for a cool-hued neutral so they share the same tone.

If you have a hard time deciding whether a material is a cool or warm neutral, select two different paint chips that you know for a fact are warm and cool colors. Not that you will necessarily use these colors in the space – they are for decoding purposes. Place the chips next to the neutral materials you’re selecting and note which color it best matches in tone. This method can help determine what products carry a cooler tone and which are warmer.


Highlighting Nature

Nature is full of neutral colors. Think of the colors and textures of rocks, tree trunks, or beaches and you’ll see the beauty of nature’s neutrals. We are now seeing a wider range of tiles, flooring and countertops that are inspired by natural aspects and when artfully combined, they bring a calming influence to kitchens and bathrooms.

Examples of using natural neutrals would be a stacked stone accent wall in a bathroom or kitchen backsplash (though make sure this wall doesn’t come into contact with a lot of water or grease, respectively). Or in a kitchen, you can use wood flooring instead of tile; this will warm up the space while adding a natural material that can bridge together other neutrals based on the wood’s tones and colors.

When looking into natural materials it’s important to keep function in mind as well. For example a quartz countertop in either a bathroom or kitchen that looks like concrete or marble can be a great choice. Both designs are natural looking with neutral colors of white, grey or tan, while still offering a realistic surface to use in a wet and high traffic area allowing it to last a long time.


Balancing is Key

Every room needs contrast to give it life, so a perfectly blended neutral bathroom or kitchen will still need some pops of color to give it a dynamic energy.

A good rule to follow is using neutrals for the major and permanent surfaces – like cabinets, countertops and flooring – and use pops of color in places that are easily replaceable so that over time they can be changed out for a new look. A good example is the neutral kitchen shown above, which gets a lift from orange leather bar stool tops, and it is much easier (and cheaper) in the future to change the upholstery color than the cabinets.

Accent colors can show up in wall paint, light fixtures, area rugs, towels and serveware. A bold accent color can be used in a few strategic spots to draw the eye to a key feature, while a softer accent color can be placed in several spots across the entire room to create a pleasing flow and balance.

Neutrals are considered basic colors, but they are anything but. What I’ve shared here is just the tip of the iceberg – which reminds me of white! White can be a neutral as well as an accent color, but that is a whole other story.

If you would like to explore the options for incorporating neutrals into your St. Louis kitchen or bathroom remodel, I would love to help. Give me a call at the Mosby office (314.909.1800) or contact me here.