Designing with a Neutral Palette

As colorists, we feel challenged when asked to design rooms with a “neutral” palette. Rooms that achieve the desired effect of monochromatic textiles in a large space must have art (however valuable) on the walls to give the environment interest and life. We’re currently designing a large, formal living room in a pre-war apartment for a lovely couple who crave a calm, neutral palette with hints of blue. The inspiration images from the clients were of rooms in beach and country homes featuring white walls, neutral linen upholstery fabrics, and an eceltic mix of antiques and art. The client shared with us that she feels happiest at her weekend beach house. Manned with this information, we set out to create a furniture scheme that includes interesting furniture shapes (neutral fabrics crave interesting/detailed/sculptural upholstered furniture), vintage and antique pieces with interesting lines, and neutral fabrics that won’t fall flat but give their Park Avenue living room a fresh look that feels a little bit glamorous but still like home. Designer David Kleinberg’s Manhattan living room, recently featured in the new book The Parish-Hadley Tree of Life: An Intimate History of the Legendary Design Firm was an inspirational guide for us.david-kleinberg-9The art curation and introduction of nature makes this neutral scheme (the other side of the room above) come to life.Kleinberg_LivRmTwo_RightOfFpl_AD_TheDevotedClassicistIn the Jacques Grange interior below, the color scheme is simply tints and shades of cream, butter and, of course, animal print, yet the room still fells layered and sophisticated with luxurious velvet damasks and silk velvets.629ace08122201a85bc6e1a3a69d783aBelow, palest of white and soft robin’s egg blues prevail. Note that the ceiling is painted blue to add an element of continuity while the dining room is painted a stronger blue to ground the light and airy living room. The upholstered pieces themselves are all very tailored, yet different from each other.fba89ab7159dd42b3867c9e8abbbb95aAs you can see, not a lot of color here, except for the art on the walls. Note the painted silver ceiling above, amping up the luxuriousness of the neutral palette.dam-images-ad100-2012-ad100-david-kleinberg-room-h670For our client, we are proposing a wonderful damask in a soft blue green in the dining room which opens up into the living room. The larger of the two sofas will be upholstered in a warm, camel color velvet that has a slight sheen to it, while the pair of square arm lounge chairs will be in a small scale dotted woven silk fabric in muted tones. For the Jansen style sofa on the opposite wall, we’re proposing a subtle geometric print for the Jansen sofa and a large scale Greek key motif custom designed rug. The end result should prove to be very sophisticated, but not too serious. The clients are very warm and inviting, and they want their apartment to reflect their personal style. And it will!parkavefabricsBelow you can see the furniture plan for the living room. Our clients love to entertain and the husband plays the piano every night when he gets home from work so it was important to be able to incorporate their piano into the furniture plan even if it meant there was slightly less seating in the room. LIVINGROOM-RENDERFLOORPLAN-SCALE1-4RENDER 4The clients already have a collection of art, so in this scenario, we have worked with the colors and the orientation of their pieces. A grand piano has a prominent place in the room. We found a way to work with it so that we could still find ample seating for entertaining.RENDER 4On either side of the fireplace, we added a pair of demi-lune tables, one of our favorite furniture pieces. Aside from adding soft lines to the room, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce additional lighting to a large room.RENDER2

DINING ROOM-RENDERFLOORPLAN-SCALE1-4In the dining room, the client prefers a skirted table on her the large extended oval piece. We saw this as an opportunity to introduce an elaborate damask textile pattern (see above in the fabric scheme).RENDER 5At the far end of the dining room, we’re planning on including a pair of interesting architectural lamps on this classical console table, again to introduce more light, but also interest. Every piece needs to add a bit of drama when the color scheme is so serene.RENDER 6In the coming weeks, we’ll be finalizing decisions on all of the furniture pieces and corresponding fabrics. Looking forward to sharing all of the elements with you. In the meantime, hope you all have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Holly Josephson

    That swirl suspension piece in the first image is absolutely
    beautiful! Unique chandeliers are such a wonderful design option. I agree that neutral
    can often be a real challenge, but hints of color and interesting textures can
    still creating a warm, inviting feel and prevent a space from looking like a
    waiting room. I also love your painting choices on the ceilings. They add such
    a level of sophistication.

  • Dee

    Absolute love the leopard couches. It goes perfectly with my new area rug. Thanks for sharing.

  • Team Havenly

    I know, right?! I appreciate the golden ratio making an appearance in a light fixture, and with light shades that slightly resemble conch shells, the entire piece is very oceanic. I’m sure the client appreciated that elegant nod toward the beach.

    Then again, they also look kinda like ice cream cones. yum.