Adding pops of color to a neutral room can instantly transform the space. Whether it’s through accessories, artwork, fabrics or greenery, even the subtlest use of vibrant hues makes a dramatic impact. Here are eight ways to sneak color into an otherwise neutral room.
Incorporate Colorful Artwork
One of the easiest ways to inject color into a neutral space is through the artwork. Paintings, prints, photography and mixed media pieces in bold shades are an ideal choice. Scatter smaller works throughout the room or make a statement with a large colorful canvas as the focal point.
Gallery walls filled with a mix of colorful art are another great option. Try clustering pieces with similar bold hues or create an eclectic display with a wide array of vibrant works. Abstract paintings and geometric prints tend to pack the biggest graphic punch. Go for landscapes or still-lifes featuring plenty of richly colored elements as well.
Key Tips for Using Artwork to Add Color:
- Choose colors that complement your existing decor. Accent colors drawn straight from fabrics or furnishings will seamlessly tie the space together.
- Favor frame colors that contrast or match the art. Black and white frames keep the focus on brilliant hues in the artwork itself.
- Rotate pieces seasonally if your collection is extensive. This allows you to refresh the look often.
- Add whimsical sculptural or ceramic art for a three-dimensional pop of color.
- Opt for large statement pieces behind sofas or beds so they really stand out.
- Salute colors in artwork through accents like throw pillows, vases or curtains.
Introduce Colorful Fabrics
From pillows and poufs to curtains and rugs, fabrics are another excellent vehicle for sneaking more color into neutrals. Swap out solids for patterns and prints featuring bold, vibrant hues. Updating toss pillows and window dressings is one of the easiest ways to instantly enliven a room with color.
Richly colored area rugs are ideal for adding a wash of color to drab floors. Use a lively print or bright border rug to infuse color throughout an entire seating area. Try a sumptuous velvet pillow or cozy traditional quilt in dazzling jewel tones draped on a bed or sofa. The tactile dimension of fabrics paired with gorgeous colors makes a stunning impact.
Tips for Working Colorful Fabrics into Neutral Rooms:
- Stick to smaller pops of color like pillows and don’t overwhelm with too many fabrics.
- Tie colors in fabrics back to artwork and other accents in the space.
- Layer multiple prints in similar colors for a coordinated collected look.
- Use neutrals as a buffer between big colorful fabric statements.
- Add colorful lampshades to inject just a touch of lush color.
- Drape vibrant textiles over chairs and sofas to also lend softness.
Display Collections of Colorful Objects
Gatherings of colorful objects are an artful way to sprinkle multiple hues throughout a room. Collections of pottery, glassware, coffee table books or boxes in an array of colors make an eye-catching display.
Arrangements of vivid objects clustered together on shelves, side tables and windowsills create captivating little color stories. Try incorporating colorful everyday items like baskets, trays, vases, bowls or even colorful books.
Groupings of colorful candles, floral bouquets or decorative bottles can also add a vivid pop. For a coordinated look, opt for items in similar shades. For more contrast, include objects across the color wheel.
Designing Colorful Object Displays:
- Curate colorful objects that tie into the rest of your decor.
- Style items against a colorful background like a patterned wallpaper.
- Incorporate bright white and metallics to allow colors to really shine.
- Play with height, shape and size variations for interest.
- Refresh displays seasonally by rotating new colorful items in.
- Avoid overwhelming existing colors by sticking to just a few eye-catching items.
Infuse Color Through Your Furniture Choices
While large furniture pieces tend to skew neutral, occasional chairs, stools and side tables offer the perfect chance to introduce vibrant color. A single pop of color goes a long way in an otherwise understated room.
Painted wooden furniture, like a bright teal buffet or sunny yellow sideboard, injects a fun retro flair. Glossy lacquered furnishings in high impact jewel tones or citrusy hues also pack a serious decorative punch. Consider vibrant furnishings with colorful eclectic patterns for a bohemian vibe as well.
Tips for Using Furniture to Liven Up Neutral Rooms:
- Limit colorful furniture to one standout piece as the focal point.
- Choose colors that complement existing wall colors and furnishings.
- Pair vibrant furniture with other high contrast accents for maximum impact.
- Use a brightly colored desk or credenza to infuse an office with energy.
- Allow colorful furniture to contrast with soothing neutrals like off-white walls.
- Avoid overly matching color furniture to other elements for a more layered look.
Floral Arrangements Provide Organic Color
Nothing brings the vibrancy of nature into a room quite like floral arrangements and potted greenery. A bouquet of fuchsia roses or clustered bowl of orange and pink tulips will enliven even the dullest schemes. For long-lasting blooms, opt for paper flowers in vivid colors.
Potted orchids, succulents, flowering plants and leafy greens also introduce organic pops of color. Try orchestrating arrangements in a spectrum of colors for maximum impact. No space is too neutral for the injecting the energizing colors of nature inside.
Designing with Floral Color in Mind:
- Select seasonal blooms and plants with color palettes that complement your space.
- Refresh flower colors often and swap plants in and out for variation.
- Place floral pops against colorful backgrounds for a striking composition.
- Coordinate vase colors with flower hues for cohesion.
- Allow colorful leaves on pothos, prayer plants or pilea to make a vibrant statement.
- Use restrained neutral pots and planters to keep the focus on the plants.
Infuse Walls with Vibrant Color
While all white or beige walls are a hallmark of many neutral rooms, painting an accent wall in a vibrant shade instantly shifts the energy. Try a moody navy blue dining room wall or punchy persimmon orange accent wall to liven things up.
Wallpaper in colorful prints, murals or geometric shapes works beautifully as well. For a more cost-effective pop of color, hang a brightly patterned wall tapestry. Framed colorful fabric pieces can act as an accent wall too.
Effective Ways to Use Wall Color in Neutral Rooms:
- Choose accent colors that tie into existing decor and furnishings.
- Pair vivid walls with neutral furnishings and decor to allow the color to stand out.
- Use deeper shades like emerald, sapphire or eggplant for dining rooms and bedrooms.
- Reserve bright citrus or coral walls for kitchens, home offices and kids’ spaces.
- Add whimsical wall murals or colorful geometrics to a nursery or playroom.
- Float colored frames grouped together to form an abstract “wall” of sorts.
Vibrant Accessories Complete the Look
Because they’re small and versatile, accessories give you limitless options for sneaking color into neutral rooms. Take a color cue from fabrics and artwork, then complement them with related decorative objects.
Try brightly colored glassware, sculptural bookends, ceramic table lamps, patterned trays and lacquered boxes. Wall mirrors, picture frames, vases and bowls also come in a rainbow of shades.
Display vibrant books on coffee tables and shelving for a subtle colorful touch. Or choose eye-catching colorful candles, kitchenware and table linens.
Strategically Using Accessories to Enliven Neutral Palettes:
- Avoid going overboard with colors. Limit brightly hued accessories to one or two statement pieces per room.
- Group colorful accessories together for maximum visual impact.
- Use vivid objects like trays to pull colors around a space and tie the look together.
- Balance brightly colored accessories with plenty of quiet solids and neutral textures.
- Refresh accessories seasonally by putting some color pops away and bringing new ones out.
- Make sure colorful accents complement each other across the color spectrum for harmony.
Vibrant Kitchen Appliances Add Retro Flair
The kitchen is a prime place to splurge on appliances finished in gleaming reds, blues, greens, oranges, pinks and yellows. Retro colored appliances inject playfulness into an otherwise neutral kitchen. Support brightly colored appliances with coordinating accents for a pulled together look.
For a more budget-friendly hit of appliance color, pick vivid red toasters, Stand mixers, blenders and coffee makers. Or opt for a colorful backsplash tile behind the range. Just a few punches of appliance color go a long way.
Adding Vibrant Appliance Colors Successfully:
- Choose appliance colors that complement your existing kitchen color palette.
- Pair brightly colored appliances with neutral countertops and backsplashes so they really pop.
- Coordinate appliances with kitchen decor. For example, tie in red appliances with cherry accents.
- Reserve appliance colors for smaller accent pieces, not major cabinetry or finishes.
- Allow colorful appliances to contrast with understated metals and natural wood cabinetry.
- Avoid overwhelm by limiting yourself to one or two brightly colored appliance pieces.
Vivid and Vibrant Outdoor Color
From patio furniture and front doors to planters and outdoor accessories, the exterior offers ample opportunity to embrace vivid color. Paint your front door a cheery yellow or opt for turquoise adirondack chairs on the patio.
Incorporate patterned and colorful outdoor rugs and patio umbrellas. Use bright cushions and ceramic garden stools to inject color all around the exterior as well. Vibrant flower pots, planters, ceramic gnomes and glass lanterns all lend eye-catching color outdoors.
Strategies for Adding Outdoor Color:
- Choose outdoor color accents that complement your home’s existing exterior colors.
- Opt for weather-resistant pieces in colorful materials like metal, weather-resistant plastics and concrete.
- Swap out pillows and accessories by season to refresh the exterior palette.
- Pair colorful accents with weathered wood and neutral foundations for balance.
- Paint smaller exterior architectural details in vivid colors as accents against subdued siding.
- Use restrained color on larger investments like patio furniture but go bold on pillows.
FAQ About Enlivening Neutral Rooms With Colorful Accents
How much color should you add to a neutral room?
Aim for just a few colorful accents in each room. A single bold painting, an accent chair, a vibrant bouquet and a colorful tray create a livelier scheme without overwhelming the serene neutrals.
What are the best neutral wall colors?
Popular neutrals for walls include soft whites, warm taupes, dove gray, light beige, pale yellow and subdued blue-grays. White allows colorful accents to pop.
Should you avoid bright colors in a small room?
Surprisingly, vivid colors work beautifully even in petite rooms by adding life and personality. Just opt for one colorful focal point against lots of quiet neutrals.
How do you choose accent colors?
Consider existing fabrics and materials like wood tones. Color cues from artwork and florals in a room are helpful starting points too.
What are examples of neutral color palettes?
From soft to crisp, popular neutral schemes include: white, cream, tan and brown; white, gray, black; white, tan, navy; white, sand, pale green; and white, light wood, off-white.
The beauty of incorporating vibrant color pops into neutral rooms is that it’s endlessly flexible and customizable. With art, fabrics, greenery, accessories and accents, you can layer in exactly the right dose of color to create a personalized look and feel. The result is a cohesive space with just the right amount of liveliness layered into the calming neutrals. With so many ways to thoughtfully weave in punches of color, a neutral palette needn’t be dull or flat.