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, elegant, and yes, even high contrast if done correctly.
So just because you are stuck with apartment-rental-beige, 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.
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Do you 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 walls, such as with the room here, adding plenty of soft fabric accents keeps the look cozy and romantic, rather than spooky or cave-like. Beautiful.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Clean and Serene
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, well-chosen artwork, and furnishings that keep the look friendly, not sterile.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Go With a Theme
Do you 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 decor, but you could just as easily use a palette of neutrals with almost any other decorating theme. Neutrals are a natural for rustic styles such as farmhouse, Mediterranean, and country, but also work very well with romantic or glamorous looks such as Hollywood Regency or French style.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Turn to the Walls
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 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 5 of 10 below.
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Neutral colors and rustic decor 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, forget about of the day, and stretch out for a much-needed rest. Note the several small touches in this modern rustic bedroom: light fixture, bedside lamp, a clock over the bed, and a metal bed frame. That’s the secret to keeping a rustic room looking intentional and stylish, not rundown or uncared for.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Are you looking to add a little glitz and glamour to a neutral decorating scheme? 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 such as 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 words, when you are working with a lot of shine, keep other accessories and artwork to a minimum.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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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 floral, geometric, and stripe or a medley of global patterns with a classic stripe or polka dot. And just like that, your bedroom instantly looks more polished and professionally decorated.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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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 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 the queen of her domain.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Add Some Wow
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 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 10 of 10 below.
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Texture Makes It Interesting
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 all ways to add shots of texture into the space.