URBANARA

Fall for easy neutrals

 
The latest neutral schemes aren’t about wall to wall beige. Instead, think natural wood finishes, touch-me textures, curvaceous accessories and the contrast of a few industrial-style pieces for a home that’s relaxed and beautiful. Discover the essential elements with our guide.

WALLS

Create an airy backdrop by decorating walls in white or off-white shades that’ll recede from the eye to make even compact rooms feel more spacious. When you’re choosing paints, go for flat matte and chalky versions rather than those with sheen for a laid-back effect.

Want to up the impact a little? If you have an exposed brick wall, it’ll suit this scheme perfectly. Wood panelling also works well to add detail without shouting. Give it a painted finish in an ultra-pale tone. If your home doesn’t have fabulous features, and putting up panelling is too onerous, you can create the look of wood or brick on the wall with a trompe l’oeil wallpaper instead.

If a scheme in soothing neutrals or the purity of white is more to your taste, look to textural contrast rather than accent colour. Different weaves and fabrics will lift your room from fine to fabulous.

FLOORS

For the floor, pale weathered floorboards or aged parquet are perfect whether you uncover existing wood, or buy genuine reclaimed or new lookalike designs. Soften either underfoot by adding a textured rug in a neutral finish – it’s more welcoming to step onto in the bedroom, and helps delineate a seating area in the living room.

If you prefer the luxury of carpet, stick to the neutral palette and a pick a wool-rich design. Don’t rule out natural floorcoverings either: coir and sisal are both hard-wearing options for living spaces, while jute is softer but best kept for bedrooms or living rooms that don’t see a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as it doesn’t react well to high foot traffic.

FURNITURE

Choose mid-toned woods that show off the unique natural grain of the timber for furniture pieces. Imperfect finishes are fine – a little character rather than immaculacy is intrinsic to the relaxed vibe of this look.

As well as designs entirely made in wood, pick those with an industrial-style combination of wood and metal in one piece. Whichever you prefer, though, keep the lines clean and unfussy and avoid heavy or chunky elements.

Upholstered pieces with loose covers will suit the look, but sofas and armchairs with fixed covers can work equally well if you select casual plain fabrics.

SOFT FURNISHINGS

Throws, blankets, cushions and window treatments in a palette of soft greys or a combination of taupe, ecru and stone will bring detail to your easy neutral room schemes. Create variation with a touch of pattern: checks, stripes and textured weaves will prevent this subtle look feeling flat.

Don’t overdress chairs, sofas or beds: aim for a look that’s casual with just a row of cushions, or a gently draped throw. Perfectly symmetrical layered arrangements and precise angles aren’t required.

LIGHTING

It’s easy to continue the neutral palette you’ve chosen with simple lampshades. However, you can up the industrial element with your choice of lighting. Metallic shades in warm copper or bright gold-brass will create subtle highlights in your scheme. Prefer a more pared-down effect? Exposed bulb pendants suit this relaxed look down to the ground.

ACCESSORIES

It’s easy to continue the neutral palette you’ve chosen with simple lampshades. However, you can up the industrial element with your choice of lighting. Metallic shades in warm copper or bright gold-brass will create subtle highlights in your scheme. Prefer a more pared-down effect? Exposed bulb pendants suit this relaxed look down to the ground.

Opt for scaled-up designs to make an impact and think of the space between the pieces as well as the overall arrangement. The effect should be uncluttered, cool and restful to complement the laid-back style.

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