Here's What You Need to Know About Decorating With Neutrals

  • 01 of 11

    Decorating the Bedroom with Beautiful Neutrals

    Beautiful neutral bedroom.
    There's nothing boring about neutrals when they are done right. Daines; Mike/Getty Images

    Step away from the warm side of the spectrum – red, orange and yellow – and pass by the cooler hues of green, blue and purple, and you enter the decorating world of the neutrals. Embracing all the shades of brown, gray, black and white, neutrals are both loved for their safety, versatility, ability to play well with others, and soothing vibes, and yet reviled for that same tendency to be “too safe,” “unexciting” or “drab.” In reality, however, neutrals can be every bit as beautiful, dramatic,...MORE elegant, and yes, even high contrast, if done correctly.

    So just because you are stuck with apartment-rental-beige, or housing tract Swiss coffee, or simply prefer a palette that speaks in a whisper instead of a scream, there’s no reason to settle for boring. For proof, check out the gorgeous bedrooms featured here. All are predominantly decorated in neutrals, but not a one is boring, overly safe or without style. These are neutrals done right.

    Continue to 2 of 11 below.
  • 02 of 11

    High Contrast

    Romantic dark brown and white bedroom..
    Use gauzy fabric to create a bed canopy. Fotosearch/Getty Images

    Think the only way to create a dramatic, high-contrast bedroom is to decorate with bright colors or moody blues, reds or greens? Well, think again, because if you choose them well, neutrals can be every bit as dramatic and eye-catching as the purer colors of the spectrum. Picture charcoal gray or chocolate brown (as in the room featured here) highlighted with gauzy accents of creamy white. Dreamy, dramatic and romantic, yet not a bright or primary color in sight. When you decorate with dark...MORE walls, like the room here, adding plenty of soft fabric accents keeps the look cozy and romantic, rather than spooky or cave-like. Beautiful.

    Continue to 3 of 11 below.
  • 03 of 11

    Clean and Serene

    Beautiful minimalist bedroom.
    Even a simple hanging light is dramatic if it's large. Richard Powers/Getty Images

    The minimalist decorating style is free from clutter and unnecessary furnishings, with a clean and serene vibe that makes it perfectly suited to the bedroom. While often associated with a stark, cool palette of black, gray, and white, a palette of earth-tone neutrals also works very well with this tranquil decorating style, adding some warm welcome. Note that minimalist does not mean without personality, style or any adornment. The best minimalist rooms have interesting touches in the lighting,...MORE well-chosen artwork, and furnishings that keep the look friendly, not sterile.

    Continue to 4 of 11 below.
  • 04 of 11

    Go With a Theme

    Southwestern bedroom
    Just a few touches of cheery color light up this neutral bedroom. Jon Lovette/Getty Images

    Want to keep an all-neutral bedroom out of the doldrums? One way to add lots of pizzazz is to use a decorating theme, rather than a generic bedroom style. The gorgeous bedroom shown here is a fine example of Southwestern country décor, but you could just as easily use a palette of neutrals with almost any other decorating theme. Neutrals are a natural for rustic styles like farmhouse, Mediterranean, and country, but also work very well with romantic or glamorous looks like Hollywood Regency or...MORE French style.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Turn to the Walls

    DIY painted stripe walls.
    Stripes are an easy DIY painting project. Dana Hoff/Getty Images

    If you’re looking for an easy way to shake up a neutral bedroom, then turn to the walls. Solid wall color is safe and expected, of course, but sometimes you’re looking to add an edge. If so, grab a can of paint and a paintbrush, and cover up your furniture with drop cloths. In an afternoon, you can bring a neutral palette to life by getting creative with your walls. You won’t even need to mask off your stripes to re-create the idea shown here; at first glance, it looks like log walls with heavy...MORE plaster between the boards, but actually, it’s nothing more than imperfectly painted brown lines across a backdrop of white. But you’re only limited by your imagination, of course. Paint perfect lines, if you prefer a more contemporary style, or add dots, leopard print, geometrics, or a simple mural of silhouetted figures. Don’t trust your freehand artistic abilities? Then check out your local craft supply store or Amazon.com for a great selection of stencils in just about any design you can think of.

    Continue to 6 of 11 below.
  • 06 of 11

    Get Rustic

    Modern rustic bedroom
    The modern rustic style mixes old and new for a fresh look. Michel Arnaud/Getty Images

    Neutral color and rustic décor go together like peanut butter and jelly; each is good on its own, but mixed together, the whole is better than its parts. The beauty of rustic style is its inherent imperfection, casual comfort, and endless texture in the cracks and crevices of aged wood. Neutrals are easy on the eyes, soothing, and warmly welcoming. Put those together, and you get a bedroom that practically begs you to come inside, lay down the loads of the day, and stretch out for a much-needed...MORE rest. Note the several small touches of shine in this modern rustic bedroom: light fixture, bedside lamp, clock over the bed, and metal bedframe. That’s the secret to keeping a rustic room looking intentional and stylish, not rundown or uncared for.

    Continue to 7 of 11 below.
  • 07 of 11

    High Shine

    Romantic, glamorous bedroom
    Ornate metallics don't overwhelm when the palette is neutral. Abode/Getty Images

    Looking to add a little glitz and glamour to a neutral decorating scheme? Well then, just add some touches of shine in the form of mirrors, glass or crystal lighting fixtures, gold or silver frames or furniture trim, shiny fabrics like satin, a polished wood floor, and a few reflective accessories. The key to keeping the look glamorous – not tacky – is to keep the shine confined to small areas throughout the room, and to let the metallic or reflective surfaces be the stars of the space; in other...MORE words, when you are working with a lot of shine, keep other accessories and artwork to a minimum.

    Continue to 8 of 11 below.
  • 08 of 11

    Pattern Play

    Gorgeous contemporary bedroom
    Play with patterns to liven up your neutral bedroom. Eric Hernandez/Getty Images

    Along with texture and shine, there’s another trick up your decorating sleeve when it comes to livening up a neutral bedroom: pattern. Choose a variety of patterns with different scales; you can’t go wrong when you have a mix of large, small, and in-between designs. Because the entire palette is neutral, your patterns should all work well together, but you can add more interest by combining different designs, such as a floral, a geometric and a stripe, or a medley of global patterns with a...MORE classic stripe or polka dot. Bam, your bedroom instantly looks more polished and professionally decorated.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    So Romantic

    Romantic bedroom with canopy.
    Pin up soft fabric for an easy DIY canopy over your bed. jimkruger/Getty Images

    A romantic bedroom doesn’t have to mean lots of pink or red – in fact, soft, creamy, and dreamy neutrals -- such as the peachy beige, bare blush, and creamy white in the room featured here -- can be the most romantic of all. The trick to taking a room from attractive but nothing really special to classy romance is to use soft fabrics as accents throughout the space, along with touches of gold, glass, or crystal. Drape a length of gauze across the wall over your bed, as shown here, or pin up a...MORE pretty valance over the windows for an extra touch of romance. The metal crown artwork over the bed in this room is a fun touch that lets everyone know the owner of this bedroom is queen of her domain.

    Continue to 10 of 11 below.
  • 10 of 11

    Add Some Wow

    Oversize headboard in contemporary bedroom.
    An oversize headboard adds a lot of wow to a bedroom. Abode/Getty Images

    Sometimes, the best way to take a neutral bedroom out of the safety zone is to add one definite shot of “wow!” to the space. The form that wow takes is up to you: an oversize, eye-catching headboard does it here, but it could just as easily be a large piece of exceptional artwork, a fantastic hanging light fixture, a boldly patterned window treatment or area rug, or a piece of furniture that’s out of the ordinary. Whatever it is, however, it needs to suit your personality and decorating tastes,...MORE because otherwise, you’ll likely start to feel like the room isn’t really yours. So choose your statement piece carefully; you should really love it and feel like it was meant to be yours.

    Continue to 11 of 11 below.
  • 11 of 11

    Texture Makes it Interesting

    Warm and cozy bed with lots of throw pillows.
    Pile your bed high with textured blankets and pillows. Hero Images/Getty Images

    Texture is important in any room, of course, but when you are decorating in a subdued or limited palette, it takes on even more importance. When color isn’t used to add interest and contrast, texture needs to step up and get the job done. Luckily, it’s quite easy to work lots of varied textures into a bedroom. Knit and nubby throw pillows, faux fur blankets, rustic wood furniture or accents, touches of glass or metal, area rugs or wall-to-wall carpet, fabric window treatments, and wallpaper are...MORE all ways to add shots of texture into the space.