HOW DO YOU ~ Make a Neutral Colour Palette Interesting?

neutral decor stylish contemporary modern farmhouse

Now that you’ve committed to redesigning a room in your home, and you’ve chosen to paint it grey (like all of us have), how do you make the room interesting?  Grey is great, but there is a tendency for it to take on a cold, austere look if you’re not sure to add enough white, cream, and pops of colour for interest.  Grey is great with yellow, orange, red, purple, pink, kelly green, cobalt blue…the list is endless.  Perhaps this is why we like it so much, since its such a ‘team player’, we can all put our own stamp on an otherwise very common colour palette.

Choosing a neutral colour for the walls like grey or cream or white lends itself to a perfect backdrop that fades into the distance, and allows other elements in the room to shine through.  Opting for all of your fixed elements (floor, ceiling, tiles) to take on a neutral hue is wise, since these things don’t get changed often.  However, there is a risk of turning a room into one dull, bland space if you don’t jolt it awake with some fun colour and verve!


In our family room, which continues to be a work in progress, we painted it a warm grey (read…red undertones as opposed to blue), and kept the trims, ceiling,and crowns white.  The room gets a ton of natural light so it could take this mid-grey hue.  It’s warm, and neutral, and dark enough to hide the imperfections on the wall and to make you feel cozy on those cold nights!

film festival para paint benjamin moore white dove
Film Festival by Para Paint; White Dove by Benjamin Moore


Prior to that, when we laid new flooring, we choose a family friendly hardwood.  It is a brushed white oak – brushed because it is not shiny on the surface, and therefore the scratches (and dirt) does not show up as much.  It has proven to be unbelievably durable and sensible in a home where we invite the mess and chaos of family life!  It’s not too precious, and can take some wear and tear!

brushed oak ashland ketwood flooring contemporary hardwood
Brushed Oak ‘Ashland’KENTWOOD FLOORING


Since the room is one big rectangle, separated by a fireplace in the middle, we sectioned the room into two zones.. a tv zone, and a lounge zone.  TV zone has a sectional and the media equipment, and the lounge zone has four chairs and table.  We visually highlighted these two rooms by laying down neutral and textural rugs.  These were 8×10″ each, and are perfectly indestructible, which is excellent for a family room that sees a lot of wear and tear!

owen herringbone jute rug pottery barn neutral textural decor family room modern farmhouse
Owen Herringbone Jute RugPOTTERY BARN


Next up, we needed chairs for the seating area.  The fabric has to be easy to take care of (no linen!), durable, not too fancy, but fun and fresh and contemporary.  In addition, since we needed four, they had to be budget friendly.  These were the steal of the century, found on sale.  What we paid was nearly criminal!  Since the fabric was a quick ship option, we didn’t have to wait too long to get them either!

west elm chairs neutral decor stylish contemporary modern farmhouse orange accents neurtral family room decor stylish contemporary modern farmhouse mixing materials neutral decor modern farmhouse
Everett Armchair in Steel/IvoryWEST ELM


Once the neutral decor is out of the way, it’s time to have some fun!  We opted for drapery side panels for the window and sliding door in a punchy grid-like pattern (an element repeated through-out the room), with a creamy white background.  Found on Etsy, the fabric has orange and grey in it, but it’s not loud, and serves to add a pop of colour in a subdued way.  We also used a dash of orange pillows and accents to add some fun!

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Opposite to the tv wall, on the other side of the family room, we filled the wall with a gallery style wall of art.  All of the art came from inexpensive books…I ripped out our favourite pics (the ones with oranges and blues, since these are the colours we like to accent with) and filled the wall with fun, pop art finds!  Best part is that it’s graphic and contemporary, and repeats the pattern in the drapes!

contemporary gallery style hanging family room mixed colour frames2 contemporary fractal gallery wall close up stylish trendy designing details decorating gallery wall close up contemporary wall art


Neutrals are a wonderful starting point – not every wall needs to be painted a ‘colour’.  And on to a grey or cream canvas, be sure to add just the right mix of bold, fun colour, and fresh styling to keep it looking interesting.  Have fun with it!  This family room perfectly typifies our family and our life – subdued yet loud, warm and comfy, big and bold!  It’s entirely kid friendly (and wine friendly!) and is just as stylish for a playdate as it is for cocktails!

 neutral decor stylish contemporary modern farmhouse close up neutral decor stylish contemporary modern farmhouse

Make it Your Own and You Make it Your Home.


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