Neu­tral power

They may be the building blocks of most dec­o­rat­ing schemes, but pale colours can be a chal­lenge to get right. Here’s how to make them work harder at home

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Decorating - Words AMY BRAD­FORD

Find­ing the per­fect neu­trals for your home isn’t al­ways straight­for­ward – as you’ll know if you’ve ever stud­ied a paint colour card, with its dozens of nu­anced op­tions for white. Get the com­bi­na­tion right and your room will look mag­i­cally larger and brighter; choose un­wisely, and it could end up feel­ing too cold, slightly too warm or just flat and mo­not­o­nous.

When dec­o­rat­ing with neu­trals, it helps to think of them not as sin­gle shades, but as tonal fam­i­lies. So it’s not just a mat­ter of paint­ing a room in one colour: layer dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of the same hue to­gether and you’ll cre­ate some­thing with much more depth and in­ter­est. The My­lands paints shown here (£46 for 2.5 litres; my­lands.com) are a use­ful case in point, with sev­eral paler and stronger neu­trals skil­fully com­bined to form palettes that are any­thing but one-di­men­sional. ➤

It is also vi­tal to re­mem­ber that neu­tral doesn’t just mean beige. In these pic­tures, there are barely there pinks, li­lacs and peaches, as well as soft greys, putty hues and even the odd hint of blue and green. You can com­bine them in any way you like – al­though of­ten it’s best to stick to ei­ther cool or warm shades so they work in har­mony.

The best way to dis­cover what goes to­gether is to buy tester pots and be­gin ex­per­i­ment­ing on your walls. Some brands make paler and darker ver­sions of the same colour, de­signed to match ef­fort­lessly – Lit­tle Greene and Paint & Pa­per Li­brary are great at this.

Lastly, don’t think of paler shades as dull; it’s pos­si­ble to have a lot of fun with neu­trals. Pro­vided you’re think­ing in terms of warm or cool fam­i­lies, there’s po­ten­tial for lovely con­trasts. Look to Ellis Paint, which not only or­gan­ises its neu­trals into groups of five sam­ple pots to try out, but also com­bines shades in thought­ful ways (grey-brown with soft pink or al­most-yel­low, for in­stance).

Turn the page for our sug­gested pale pair­ings – ideal for adding ef­fort­less in­ter­est to neu­tral rooms. ➤

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