The Subtlety of White as a Striking Backdrop

Accentuating neutral-hued walls and spaces with statement pieces that offer touches of unexpected color creates interiors of an elegant style and nature.

To pull off this decorative endeavor, an eye for balance and harmony is always a good idea. Otherwise, it is all too easy for a room to end up appearing disjointed and “thrown together.”

Colors in the soft white, egg shell and taupe families that cover the walls in each of these blog examples help the rooms themselves serve as the backdrop and focus, all at once creating a sense of clean, simple and understated design.

For this blog article, I looked to a few other designers to view their takes on neutral spaces with touches of color, and I found it fascinating the design parallels between us. It was fun to see a like approach in these gorgeous neutral interiors that have been emboldened with eye-catching color. You will see in each space that the subdued walls remain the grand takeaway.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Victoria Press)

This gorgeous library (above) is an excellent example of how to rely on furniture and books for injecting color against off-white walls, without being overly drastic. The desk and chair pair together flawlessly to offer blue-chartreuse highlights against a creamy-taupe floor, walls and bookshelf. They pair prettily with the other blues found in the porcelain vases along the top row of the bookcase.  

My favorite part is the multi-colored books scattered throughout the bookshelf. They play a collective role, delicately leaving their colorful mark on this room.

The featured array of objects in the library proves that when it comes to designing with a neutral background, often, less color is truly more.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Simone Soares)

As can be seen in the bedroom above, the flashy, hot pink pillows are unquestionably the right jolt of color this room needs to keep from feeling washed out and overly relaxed. The nice, white backdrop features well-selected monotone decorative pieces. Oh, and the crisp, white comforter and pillow cases fabulously function as a clean, blank canvas for the lively fuchsia shade.

In this white bedroom, more color-play would be out of place and cause this room to lose its sleek, sophisticated integrity. The room’s special touch of color-on-white gives plenty reason to indulge in a cozy nap.

As a designer who caters specifically to customized styles, I have learned that minor colorful elements - like seen in this pretty room - add just that something special.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Ballard Designs)

The design and color infusion used in this living room (above) are decidedly different from the previous two examples. The off-white backdrop connects well with the other subtle color elements to pull off a pleasant combination. From the selection of botanical artwork and print and solid upholsteries to the various furnishings, this room has it all.

Boasting its soft, nondescript off-white walls and casings, this living space features blues so soft, they could be thought of as beautiful baby blue. The beige sisal area rugs provide the neutrality for the setting. This room’s elements, combined with the comfortable couch and footrest of the same creamy shade, are an easy-going, creative style spin on the notion of having a neutral foundation.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Ty Larkins Interiors)

The dining room pictured above takes a different approach in featuring color against a beige-colored surrounding. I adore the two-toned color scheme as an excellent choice, since it strikes a chord as being conventional, but is still filled with cheerful character and personality. The candy cane-esque color aesthetic allows for rich reds to steal the show, but also positions them in such a way their cream counterparts aren’t overshadowed.

I believe the dark eggshell accents connect the furniture so smoothly with the equally mellow walls. The neutral continuity helps shape the room, and the flare and framework of this setting make it a gorgeous example of whimsical subtlety with dashes of color.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Boscolo)

The living room pictured above is perhaps the most literal way to achieve the concept. The room relies on sizeable statement pieces to do the trick. So, so beautiful, the substantial sofa and dramatic art piece equip the room with a sense of boldness. Though, dark blue and silver are not always paired together frequently, I find that here, they make quite a nice duo.

Everything about this room resonates with me, mostly because it is a more modern take on tradition, and far from ordinary.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Nuco)

This room has many elements I appreciate, which make for an ideal example for this blog. An apparent aspect is the painting at the back of the room; the fiery orange and yellow make for unlikely mates to the chocolate browns incorporated of the pillows and table chairs. This combination is in every way outstanding, and not only does it accomplish the task of balancing out the nude walls and furniture, but it fills the room with added dimension.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Stonewood, LLC)

The kitchen above fuses a stand-out color with a neutral-themed backdrop and timeless elegance, as the emphasis is on the charcoal-hued chair backs and oven overhead finish. My eye caught the charcoal accent color as the focal point among the clean-white cabinetry and harmonized ceiling.

It is a clever spin on the ever-popular combo of black and white. The oven hood also works especially well to match the crisp, clean-cut style of the island and surrounding interior. Doesn’t this cook’s kitchen make its very own statement?

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(Photo Courtesy of: Arthur Rutenberg Homes)

This charming and elegant setting makes attractive use of eggshells and beiges. The design space offers an eye-catching splash of bold color as a result of the pretty ocean blue area-carpet. This was a stylistic choice, and it works so very well in this room. I love it!

Mixing in non-traditional hues, such as the blue, along with an overall traditional feel, can create the most inviting of interiors. Not to mention, the yellow-cream walls and white framing work of this room are a wonderful foundation to set the stage for entertaining.

In looking at these examples, it is clear there is no single way one has to enhance a soft, neutral space. Bearing in mind that no two neutrals are alike, and knowing when or where to add elements of color, ultimately leads to a beautiful space all your own.

xoxo, Ami

Daniel Hicks