What’s Neutral, anyway? Try these tips.

What is “Neutral,” anyway?
A multi-use color that is complementary in many settings. Many colors can be made serve this purpose. They don’t have to be taupe, beige, or gray. Depending on the look you want, even vivid or highly contrasting colors will make a harmonious statement.

The key is balance. Warm, cool, light, dark, saturated, pale…you have an entire spectrum to choose from.

What to look for in a ‘mutable neutral?’  That will be a color that functions as a neutral but actually looks very color-rich.  One way to discern the colors that will be most flexible in your surroundings is to look for colors that will create the most comfortable background. Colors that are more “complex,” having multiple tints in their paint mix formula, typically fit this requirement.Using Full Spectrum Paints is one sure way to gain this effect.

Full Spectrum Neutrals

A few neutrals that are full spectrum colors: no black or gray in the mix!

Have you heard the terms “Clear” colors; or, “Dirty” palette, and wondered what that means?
Simply put, “dirty” is not a negative word! In the world of color it refers to a more grayed, complex combination of hues that look ‘toned down.’
“Clear” colors are usually more crisp, bright, even sometimes brilliant.

paint fandeck
Colors that work as “neutral” can be of either type; their function is typically to provide a unifying background, to “neutralize” potential discord created by excessive contrast or pattern. In creating comfortable living spaces, the goal is to have a dynamic balance between neutral and accent. This is possible even in a more “tonal” environment where colors are within a particular color family or range of brightness, as in ‘tones or shades’ of a certain

type of color. Usually this means something in an earthy palette but technically “tonal” can mean any relatively monochromatic palette.

EcoHues Fieldstone-and-Pewter

Neutrals in various hues.

Introducing textures can provide the dynamic interest and prevent monotony where a more ‘tonal’ palette is preferred.

With the current trend for using one color–even a white or gray–through the home, you can still keep it interesting with finishes; for example, flat on the wall and ceiling and the same color in a semigloss or even gloss finish on the trim.

So, think big in the sense of looking at your space from a wide view. It’s not just about deciding what color to paint a wall to be “neutral.” Look at the elements of harmony for a dynamically neutral result.


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