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Psychological effects of neutral colours in home interiors

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
от Deborah Garth Interior Design International (Pty)Ltd
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Deborah Garth Interior Design was established back in March 1992, making this interior design firm one of the most experienced companies in the industry. Located in Johannesburg, Deborah Garth Interior Design specialises in the high-end residential, corporate, and retail sectors of the market. 

In addition to top-notch resources from all across the industry, the firm has also ensured great business relationships with numerous suppliers and vendors throughout its 27 years. Relying on a trusted team of contractors, sub-contractors, and related industry professionals has definitely enhanced the precision with which the firm approaches a client’s high-end project – not to mention the first-class results. 

Some of the services available include full-turnkey interior design, design consultation, project management, brand-new builds, and renovations. The company is continuously working on an ever-expanding portfolio and flaunts a wealth of projects for clients throughout Gauteng, KZN, Cape Town, Knysna, and even abroad in Cornwall, England. 

Let’s take a look at some of Deborah Garth Interior Design’s committed to neutral colour palettes – and what colour psychology teaches us about neutral colours…  

1. What defines neutral colours?

Breaking it down, a neutral colour can be defined as any hue to which one can’t give a definite colour name. Thus, if it is not a blue, pink, yellow, orange, red, etc, then you more than likely have a neutral tone on your hands. 

And just like any other colour under the sun, neutrals also sport thousands of different hues. The names of some of the more well-known neutral tints include beige, cream, ivory, white, grey, brown, and natural wood.

A full-on neutral colour palette for interiors means that everything from the walls and floors to the fabrics and furniture must be neutral in colour. But it doesn’t mean everything has to be in the same neutral hue – a variety of different tints can be used. 

If 90% of the room is neutral, then the mood will be neutral. However, if you have just used a couple of neutral items mixed with other brighter colours (such as ocean blue or daisy yellow), the room isn’t predominantly neutral.

2. What defines neutral colours? (part 2)

Just like blues, greens, reds and others, neutral colours can also be light, medium or dark. The best description of neutral is natural, with these colours appearing often in nature. Think of examples like the trunks of dead trees, the bark of most trees, and in the dried stalks and vines of other plants which have been bleached by sunshine, in driftwood on the beach and in various timbers.

But what does it say about you if you’ve opted for a neutral mood in your home? Colour psychology suggests that you are then probably someone who likes to play it safe and not stand out from the crowd. It denotes that you are not prepared to make a bold statement in the decoration of your home, or yourself and your personal needs. 

What this means in your personal life will depend on the room which flaunts a neutral palette – but more on that in a little while…  

3. Designing with neutral colours: A safer option

Neutral colours are, more often than not, a safe choice for homeowners who are worried about choosing colours which don’t complement one another – thus, a neutral scheme becomes the alternative. 

But once we delve deeper into colour psychology, this fear of taking colour risks can also translate into a fear of displaying intimacy and emotion, too. Even though neutral colours can create a classic European look, they are usually associated with a lack of enthusiasm, passion, opinion or sentiment.

And once we move onto the darker tints of neutrals, we find spaces that create heavier moods.

4. Designing with neutral colours: People who love them

Consider yourself a neutral colour lover? Then you might be seen as a fence-sitter of the world; someone who is very careful about making decisions and sharing their feelings. You may be known as someone who prefers the safety of having a non-committed view of things, able to swing to whichever side you wish at the time – and the side you swing to will, more often than not, be the least confrontational at the time.

But don’t misunderstand: there is absolutely nothing wrong with living in a neutral-coloured home or room and loving it. It just means that you are subtle in decorating your comfort zone, and could even signify that you prefer a less-is-more approach to life. 

5. The meaning of neutral colours in your rooms

An all-neutral colour scheme in a bedroom? The psychological message could be that your intimate life is ruled by neutrality. It might even mean that you are neutral about the relationship you are in or about committing to a relationship at all. And when it comes to love, you prefer to play it safe instead of taking risks.  

For a bathroom, an all neutral-colour palette could mean that you don’t easily show your emotions and prefer to keep them contained and private. 

And a neutral living room could mean that you present a conservative and neutral face to the world and prefer to hide your true emotions. 

6. Changing your neutral mood

Of course colour psychology does not designate the same meaning to every household and/or room – people are considerably different in personality, lifestyle, etc. 

But should you wish to change that neutral atmosphere in any room of your home, simply splash some colour into it. Neutral tones can still be kept for the floors, walls, even the furnishings and decorations, but a touch of colour in a painting here and scatter cushion there can definitely go a long way in how one perceives a space. 

Since we’re dishing out colour advice, have a look at Dark colours in small rooms? Give it a try!


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