How to Infuse Your Neutral Décor with Pops of Color

Over the last two decades of interior design trends, it can feel like we have gone from one color extreme to the other!

In the early 2000’s we saw a lot of saturated color on the wall. Entire rooms were bathed in solid paint colors. In the 2010’s gray took over in a big way! It was certainly the neutral color of choice. The “gray decade” overlapped with the Modern Farmhouse trend. The epitome of Modern Farmhouse was light and bright, with lots of black and white contrast. Now we are ready for (and embracing) a middle ground by using neutral décor foundations with pops of color throughout.

Here at Allison Smith Design, we are strategically incorporating accent colors throughout predominantly neutral interiors. A little color can go a long way!

Neutral vs. Color

A neutral is generally understood to be a hue that appears to be without color. These typically aren’t shown on a traditional color wheel. Most people accept things like white, cream, beige, taupe, brown, greige, gray, and black as “neutrals.” The truth is, that even though they appear to be without color, they still have undertones of red, yellow, or blue.

You’ve probably experienced this with paint colors in the past. White shades tend to have the most noticeable undertones. They can shift and almost seem to change color throughout the day as the light changes.

Neutrals are an attractive option in décor because they don’t tend to clash with colors. Neutrals are also the color of nature and hardscapes. People gravitate to neutrals because they can create an achromatic backdrop and provide flexibility for the rest of your décor.

When you use neutrals as your base, your seasonal décor can really sing. You can even experiment with different sub-palettes throughout the seasons, seamlessly moving between cool and warm palettes.

People love neutrals because they are gentle on the mind and brain. The psychology of color is something that we as designers understand well and take into consideration as we design interiors to fulfill our client’s dreams. Color psychology is one reason why committing to color can be intimidating to many people! Enter: the pop of color.

Where to Put Pops of Color

When you think “pops of color” most people will go straight to pillows, throws, art, and accessories. These are simple and dependable ways to incorporate color.

A primary bedroom with neutral wood furniture and rust colored textiles.

However, we like to get creative! Paint is only a slightly more permanent solution that can really add a wow factor. At the end of the day, it is just paint! Here are some examples from recent projects.

Paint the Ceiling in an Accent Color

The southern United States has a popular tradition of painting the ceilings of porches “haint blue.” Explanations for this charming tradition vary, ranging from the idea that it prevents birds from roosting in your rafters to the belief that it wards off evil spirits. Either way, we love this for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Here, the ceiling of the sun room in Allison’s personal home is painted blue.

A sun room with victorian setee and a pale blue ceiling.

In this home, we applied this same concept by painting the ceiling of this home office in a dark, moody green.

A modern, black and white office with a dark green shiplap ceiling.

Paint Specific Rooms in Color

For instance, you can paint all the bedrooms in color, but keep the main areas of your home white. Since bathrooms are often on the smaller side, they can also be fun to experiment with. We are seeing lots of fun wallpapers and dark, bold paint colors!

Modern children's bathroom with teal walls and black and white tiled floor.

Color Built-ins, Doors, or Trim

Think “outside of the wall!” In this home, the walls stayed white, but we used a beautiful green color to make a statement with this built-in bookcase.

Neutral home office with green built-in bookcase

You can apply this same idea to the interior doors of the home as well. In this complete remodel that we did, we opted for black doors (not a pop of color, we know! But also, not white or wood!)

Gray and white primary bedroom with shiplap ceiling and black door.

Our Go-To Whites

If you are sold on creating a neutral backdrop for your home, picking the right white is an art.

Not all whites are created equal! You probably have had an experience where you thought you were using “white” … only to realize later that it had an unwanted tint: pink, yellow… whatever!

We find ourselves going back to two whites again and again. Both are from Benjamin Moore.

Two swatches of white paint colors. White Opulence and Decorators White by Benjamin Moore.

These are both winners! They don’t look too dirty or come across as too polar. They are neither too cool nor too warm and can go either warm or cool, as far as the rest of the décor and fixtures go.

Are you ready to dive in with some color? Do you have a ceiling begging to go bold