Decorating with Neutrals & Washed Color Palettes

If you’ve been convinced by glossy magazines that neutrals are boring, we’re here to buck that longstanding myth! Our Ballard Designs stylists prove every day that neutral and washed color palettes can be cozy, warm, and inviting, and we’re going to share with you a few ways we give some of our favorite neutral rooms extra personality and interest!

Mix Metals

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the dining room above, while it feels inviting and  serene, it actually mixes together gold and silver metal finishes. Our new Verona Chandelier has a blue-gray painted frame with gold arms and accents which mixes beautifully with the bold, brass nailheads on our Capistrano dining chairs. While the chairs and the Verona chandelier relate nicely, the drapery rods on the far wall and our ever popular Grand Palais mirror bring in a silver accents, proving that yes, you can mix metals and still create a serene and cohesive space! If you’d like to introduce both warm and cool metal finishes in a room, it should look intentional, so use each finish at least twice and be sure your use of both is balanced.

Decorating with neutral color palettes

Balance light and dark

Another rule of thumb when working with a primarily neutral color palette is to balance the light and dark elements. In the living room above, most of main elements are in varying shades of white, from the wall color to the upholstered sofa and chairs. In order to create balance, we used dark accents throughout the space, like a wooden coffee table stained in a rich hue to ground the room and a dark iron chandelier which pops against creamy walls.

Washed color palettes

Introduce Colors in Washed Shades

If you’re itching to introduce color into a primarily neutral room, we love the serene, tailored feel washed colors give to creams and taupes. Though the foundation of the space above is built around creams and tan, but a few touches in washed shades of blue give this bedroom extra personality. Our Jardin Toile bedding in spa brings in just the perfect touch of personality, and light blue mats on a collection of botanical prints tie everything together.

Incorporate varying wood tones

 Incorporate varying wood tones

Wood is a staple in any space, whether you have a media armoire in a family room, a large farmhouse table in the dining room, or an upholstered bed with exposed wooden legs. Wood finishes bring a warmth to every space, but one of our favorite ways to up the personality of a room is to mix wood finishes together. In the office above, we’ve blended three different wood finishes, creating a space that while neutral, feels interesting and inspiring. The exposed legs on the Upholstered Couture Chair have a driftwood finish, the Isabella desk has a lighter, washed Belgian Oak finish, and the Antoinette Bench on the far wall has a cream painted finish.

Living room with neutral color palette

Keep it open and airy

We love the way the room above has an openness about it. One way in which you can accomplish this in your own space is by incorporating furniture pieces that have exposed legs. In the space above, our new Clervaux Tufted Ottoman, our Cecily Armless Chair, and our Olivia Mirrored Side Table all have an openness to them which gives the room an airy feeling.

For an even more open look, choose draperies that are either the same color or just a touch darker than the walls. The effect is modern, open, and effortless!

Embrace simplicity

Embrace simplicity

We often find that some of the most impactful rooms from our catalogs are the simplest. The room above graced our cover, and we love how pulled together yet effortless it feels. Taking its cue from the gorgeous span of windows and leafy canopies it overlooks, this space highlights the view by keeping the main elements clean and crisp.

Browse more decorating inspiration on our Pinterest boards.