Thursday, July 25, 2013

Creating a Neutral Palette

           The shabby chic look is a popular design style, and furniture with “chippy” paint, tea cups, and rose quilts are best sellers in today’s vintage market, but before accessorizing a room, it is important to prepare a palette that will show off shabby treasures.  People often think they should paint their rooms pure white to achieve a shabby chic look, but white by itself can come across as stark or sterile.  Consider instead painting woodwork such as floor and window trim or wainscoting white and using a neutral color on the walls to make the whites pop.  An example would be Benjamin Moore’s #1515 Natural Elements.  You might be surprised at how many shades of white are available.  Experiment with linen, antique white, creams, and even light tans, and don’t be afraid to mix shades.  Other complimentary colors could include soft mint, pink, or grey.   Neutral carpeting or whitewashed wood flooring complete the basics.

            Dress your windows in white or cream lace or sheers for an airy look.  White smocked curtains add texture and layering lace and sheers can add interest.  Work white textiles into your décor and cover darker upholstered furniture with white slipcovers to achieve a quick change.  Remove any pieces with busy fabric or rug patterns; a neutral palette is calm, and busy patterns can overpower that look.  Use soft white or cream pillows and throws liberally.

            Place mirrors on the walls instead of artwork.  Mirrors make a space look bigger, add sparkle, and will reflect the whites for a lighter look.  White tin panels, sconces, and white architectural salvage add visual interest.  Hang chandeliers or use table lamps accessorized with clear beads, lace, or crystal pendants.  If the room you are decorating is a bedroom, hang white or cream netting over the headboard for drama.  Add white fairy lights for whimsy.

            If you have dark furniture, try painting it white or a light grey.  Grey will blend into a neutral palette rather than disrupting it like brown does.  If you are stuck with dark furniture or upholstery, use white pillows, throws, quilts, or even sheers or tablecloths to soften the dark colors.

            Don’t overlook your bookcases and how virtually busy the covers of the books can be.  Stack the books backward on the shelf to create a more restful display and accessorize the shelves with white or light pastel glassware or knick knacks.  Some designers cover their books in coordinating decorative paper.

            The lovely thing about a neutral palette is that if you tire of the look or want to change it for a new season, it is easy to add accents with bold color to completely transform and energize your room.  If you like the white look all year round, spray paint leaf garlands white or cream and use in place of a valance or in vases for autumn.  Incorporate holiday décor that is pastel or white, and add silvers for a festive sparkle at Christmas. 

          The shabby chic look is versatile, classy, and pretty, and compliments most styles, so try some whitening and lightening if you need a restful change.