Color Trends 2012 – Naturally Neutral

Naturally Neutral Color Palette by Benjamin Moore – image from Benjamin

The Naturally Neutral color palette compels me to talk about monochromatic color schemes – color schemes derived from a base hue extended by use of hue modified by the addition of black or white.

An inspirational image from BM Shades of Gray; image from Benjamin Moore’s website

I used the pear image from my article about Shades of Gray to demonstrate the similarities, and how effectively these two palettes can be used co-morbidly in the same space – grays and beige neutrals combined amount to a monochromatic color palette – but more on that in a moment.

While seemingly subtle differences seem to separate Naturally Neutral from Shades of Gray paint colors, the two palettes work very differently in application.

Grays are created by using equal parts of two complimentary colors of equal value, or intensity to create nearly endless grays. For this reason, the grayer and khaki tans are the easiest beige neutrals to work with. For this reason, the most versatile shades of the naturally neutral palette are those in the grayer range, which are nearly perfectly neutral chameleons.

Contrary to popular belief, some of the neutrals in the warm brown / tan range are not that neutral. Many of these so-called neutrals contain a great deal of red. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) proportions reveal a much wider gap between the Red, Green, and blue mix that composes warm tans or beige shades than in their truly neutral gray counterparts.

Tan vs Gray RGB

So what does this mean to you?

Tans shades can create very dull and monotonous rooms, that feel imperceptibly at odds with certain accent colors. Sometimes, the only way out of a box is going over the top. Rather than expound on design  tricks and color rules to create a beige room that won’t bore you to sleep, I propose instead running straight into the arms of neutral design by using Shades of Gray and Naturally Neutral as a monochromatic partnership to get the best of both worlds.

Interior Designer Muriel Brandonlini Chelsea Project – detail from her website

To guide you on your design  sojourn with in using a monochromatic palette, I suggest looking to inspirational guides to model great results, rather than explain concepts. The designers that spring to mind are Interior Designers Muriel Brandoloni, and Frank Roop.  I will qualify that I would never presume to pigeon hole either Roop or Brandonlini as monochromatic themed designers – both have cultivated personal aesthetics as varied and their extraordinary portfolios. But where they do demonstrate monochromatic design, the result is the perfect out-of-the-box role model for those of you with difficulty relenting from that neutral comfort zone, or who just love neutrals in the face of any other choice.

A monochromatic mix between shades between Shades of Gray and Naturally Neutral color palettes provide the foundation for the adding other monochromatic colors that create a neutral design guaranteed to work!

frank roop interior design dining room

The lightest and airiest grays and beige set the stage adding luminosity, particularly with a glossy paint finish. Mix in punches of color to lift the style bar.

ID Muriel Brandonlini Upper West Side Manhattan Apartment – image from her website

Metallics (see the lighting pendants above) of any color and Rich browns are made to go together!

Interior Desin by Frank Roop from his website

Glass is the jewelry that creates neutral couture, as seen here in combination with gray floors and the neutral tones of petrified wood. Glass adds dimension like no other accent, with the exception of mirror.

ID Muriel Brandonlini Upper West Side Mahatten Apartment – image from her website

This dining room is a monochromatic symphony, setting the tone and the table for conversation, comfort and ambiance. I almost never encounter a space in which I would reinvent nothing, but for this elegant yet approachable space I would make an exception!

Monochrome neutrals can be every bit as dramatic as combinations of neutrals and bright pops of color – yet there is a peaceful ambiance that welcomes the eye in its journey to discern every detail and surface, from the glass vase, to the nail head upholstery detail to the intricate inlay of the antique side table.

A vignette of a Frank Roop design, from his website

Want the look?

Here are a few suggestions to create your serene neutral monochrome design:

I love this gorgeous canopy pendant in the naturally neutral range!

This cloud is novel and priced to include as a feature at varying levels in your neutral dining masterpiece!

A neutral rug with a natural theme is the perfect foundation for a naturally neutral or shades of gray color scheme.

lamp works glass lamp