How to add interest and depth when decorating with a softer neutral palette


How to add interest and depth when decorating with a softer neutral palette

In my previous blog, I took you through some of my favourite interiors with a calming, neutral colour palette, and also discussed why using a neutral palette can be beneficial and beautiful for interiors. Today, I’m excited to share with you some tips on how to add interest and depth to your home when decorating with softer, neutral colours.

Use a Variety of Shades

Neutral colours, in general, cover a wide palette, including ivory, grey, beige, white, taupe and brown and black. Each of these colours also come in a large variety of shades, which when being used as the predominate palette for an interior should be mixed and used in variety to add depth.

Dark colours tend to recede, and lighter colours highlight. This is why using several shades creates interest and depth. You should also consider this when choosing which shades to use where – use lighter colours to emphasize interesting architectural features or other beautiful elements you want to stand out. Black, however, or other dark neutrals, can be used almost like punctuation in a room when specified sparingly.

neutral palette styling tips

Boronia House by Marylou Sobel, photography by Maree Homer

Layer Textures

Using a neutral palette means that your eyes aren’t guided by colour. Instead, your line of sight will be guided by finer details and distinctions, such as texture. Layering different textures creates contrast, and thus areas of interest.

A really beautiful room can be created by purposefully layering lavish textiles that make an interior feel welcoming and warm, and a variety of high-quality textural elements to create distinct areas of detail and others of relief. This planning and consideration in a room shows great attention to detail and provides a feeling of luxury too.

Neutral Palette Styling Tips Texture

Image from Kelly Wearstler

Use Different Materials

A great way to decorate your room with a variety of textures is to use furniture and furnishings made from different materials. Natural materials like woods and linens are warm and earthy, and used in combination with matte, polished or metallic finishes provides contrast and distinct differences to catch the eye’s attention.

Different materials also catch light in unique ways, adding an extra element of interest during various times of the day. A room designed with a neutral colour palette also gives you an opportunity to specify unusual materials without it feeling over the top.

Materials Neutral Palette Interior

Design by SJB and photography by Studio FF

Experiment with Shape and Pattern

Removing colour from a room also brings shape and form into the foreground. Use beautiful or interesting shapes to capture attention, or use shape repetitively to create pattern and draw the eye to a larger area. Pattern is also a fun way to make a contrast between otherwise similar elements and to show consideration of placement and well-thought-out design.

Neutral Interior - Shape and Pattern

Image and design by Yana Svetlova Wall Coverings


There are many ways to accessorise a room, but in a space with a neutral palette it is particularly important to add accessories. Whether you choose beautiful pieces of art, oversize or grand-scaled fixtures, playful or unexpected pieces of furniture or lighting to create mood, drama or elegance, you need to add some sort of accessorising elements to make the space special.

Neutral Palette Interior Design Accessories

Design by DE&DE Studio


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  • Glenice Lightly
    Posted at 14:26h, 12 April Reply

    Having moved from a large home with a lot of colour into a newish small home I am having difficultly in choosing a sofa or I should say finding one. The flooring is marri and have a round table, white underneath.
    Chairs cross back white wood. All other furniture is also white. The blinds and window frames are black. The lounge area has a high lofted ceiling. Until I can find the sofas I am unable to choose a rug. Any ideas?
    The walls are painted in solver smoke pearl half strength, white skirtings and the wall that sofa to be placed has Taubmans Watertower. Dark Green. Would love your input re colour to use on sofa and chairs. Grey,Taupe,
    Tobacco, or natural linen and where to purchase them and rug. Would absolutely love your input, Glenice.

    • Marylou
      Posted at 23:13h, 23 October Reply

      Hello there Glenice, thank you for your comment.
      Have you downloaded my free paint colour selections guide?
      It might help you here, otherwise, feel free to email me if you would like to book in a colour consultation.
      You can download your free guide here:

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