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#1 Thing to Keep in Mind with a Neutral Color Palette

Neutral palettes are all the craze right now, but after working with numerous clients on all sorts of projects over the years, I’m sharing the ONE thing you must keep in mind when working with a neutral color palette.

Interior Design with a Neutral Color Palette
Olive Tree: Design Build Co for Columbia Orthopedic Group

We're getting close to completing a project for an orthopedic clinic that was no small task. Any time you work in a pre-existing space, it always requires a little more creativity to determine just how a design can seamlessly integrate into what is already there. Unlike some medical spaces, this one already had a pretty clean interior, design-wise, without any distracting patterns, and best of all: a neutral palette.

For this project, we designed a full build out for a coffee shop in their surgery center. With the existing neutral palette, we were able to continue the same color way into our designs. Here's where we really began to focus:

In working with a neutral color palette, something that is so very popular these days, you always run the risk of the design falling flat. This is mainly due to the fact that in a neutral palette, you don't have the "pop" of an accent or complimentary color. Because of this, we have to find a way to create visual interest and balance in another way.

The #1 thing to keep in mind when working with a neutral palette is to always include a variety of texture. Neutral spaces live and die by texture.

Knowing this, we took our palette:

Neutral color palette

And brought it to life using texture:

Neutral color palette with texture
Isn't incredible how the entire palette "pops"?

Keeping Texture in Mind with our Neutral Color Palette

With the mix of selections, the eye is drawn to multiple details throughout the space due to the various dimensions each material brings. Take a closer look here:

Matte black tile with black grout in a neutral color design

Matte black tile with a tone on tone grout. The matte finish holds interest on its own, while the shape of the tile also provides a pattern for the background of the space.

Variation in a neutral quartz countertop

The quartz countertops offer a bit of shine, but the veining in the slab is what really brings the interest, providing a variety of tones in the same cream/white family.

Texture within a neutral color tile

Even the slightest of variations in materials can offer additional texture. We were able to bring even more interest to the space with the white tile choice - zellige is wonderful for this.

A black pendant light hangs over a coffee bar

And finally, don't forget about your hardware and metals. These finishes have the ability to fine tune the warmth and character of the space all on their own, so they are not to be overlooked in a neutral palette.

There's a reason why neutral palettes are popular. They are incredibly timeless and age well in nearly every way. As you pull your designs together, make texture your priority. Ground your design in your color way and polish it off with your selections. Here's to designs that will stand the test of time!

#1 Thing to Keep in Mind with a Neutral Palette: Texture

  1. Consider your finish: mix a variety to enhance the play of the lighting.

  2. Look for natural materials that contain variations within the same tonality. Countertops and flooring are often the easiest spots to do this.

  3. When going for a tone on tone look, find a way to make it unique. We love utilizing patterns here.

  4. Hardware and metals play an important role. Consider how these two can energize your design.


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