So many home trend magazines, catalogues, and retail stores feature
furnishings and décor on the lighter side of the color palette – a look that is
very a’ natural. But how can you keep these “calming” and “restful” spaces
from being, well, boring?
Designer Lauren Oviatt with Oviatt-Pratt and Associates shares five no-fail
tips to keep that natural look hip!
Today so many home trend magazines, catalogs and retail stores are
highlighting furnishings and décor that feature the lighter side of the color
palette – giving the spotlight to more natural features that seem to eliminate
all the fussiness of high-drama decorating. These spaces are often called
‘calming’ and ‘restful’ but sometimes border on, shall we say, boring? Today
Designer Lauren Oviatt gives us five no-fail tips to creating fabulous and
memorable spaces when heading into “neutral territory.”
In neutral décor, details become the color
When we think about cleansing the palette of a room, so to speak, we are
taking away any colors that are too vibrant or strong. Where does the eye go
now? The best designers know that design is truly in the details, especially
when it comes to neutral spaces. Focus in on the smaller elements of your
furnishings and accessories… a leading edge banding on your drapes, the
nail head detail on your sofa or the pleated skirt on your accent chair. It can
be a beautiful tassel or fringe on a pillow, the ribbon banding on a
lampshade or a subtle placement of ‘found’ objects arranged on a coffee
table tray. Paying attention to these details will be the greatest payoff in your
**Tip to keep things hip : try to pick details that continue your
aesthetic – this will make the details noticeable and not jarring.
Beware of the various shades of neutral
Ever tried to find the color called “white” in a paint deck or the store display??
Doesn’t exist. Just like there are a thousand shades of white, there are also
many shades and tints of neutral colors like tan, camel, tobacco, khaki and
dove grey, French grey, cool grey, etc. The list goes on. I absolutely believe
that layering different neutrals will enhance the character of your room,
however, you must pay attention to the undertones of these colors. Adding
too many layers of non-harmonious neutrals will muddy your color scheme
and defeat the idea of creating calm in your space.
**Tip to keep things hip: A bold and trendy color combination is
warm camel with cool grey… you can mix cool shades with warm – the trick
with this is that the camel color is rich and deep and the cool grey is a much
lighter shade. Contrast is key.
Use nature’s neutral
I am so into greenery! It works in every space no matter your style
preference. If you have a love affair with cut flowers like I do, keep a small
vase on your sofa table to make the room inviting. More lasting investments
would be potted houseplants in your favorite watertight basket or ceramic
container. Ever consider a live tree in the corner of the room…? I love this
idea because you can only place so many objects in a room or on the walls
before it becomes cluttered. Fresh elements like trees, plants and flowers
are a terrific way to soften the objects around them while only enhancing
**Tip to keep things hip: don’t let your photos swag across
multiple pieces of furniture! Keep stems and leaves clipped and neat near
the container’s edges.
Think natural elements
With the exception of synthetic fibers, most home décor fabrics come from
nature… linen, cotton, velvet, silk, wool, jute and many other readily available
fabrics and materials come straight from the ground. Again, think about the
details here and get creative using natural, textural elements. Using these
different textures will add layers of interest and depth to the space that
nothing else ever could. Soft wool broadloom underfoot, silk or taffeta
drapery (a personal fave!), cotton velvet pillows and every woman’s bare
necessity, a luxurious cashmere throw over your sofa … can you see where
I’m going with this? We are creating a space you’ll never want to leave, and
we’re only talking texture so far!
** Tip to keep things hip: Edit down to the details and keep things
looking neat. It’s like taking off a piece of jewelry before you leave the house.
Light isn’t just the palette here
I always like to inject a bit of glamour into my clients’ spaces, and when it
comes to rooms where the palette is neutral, special consideration must be
paid to how light comes into the space. If you have floor to ceiling windows
and ten-foot ceilings, lucky you, but many spaces have few windows, natural
light coming only from one side of the room, standard eight-foot ceilings
and other normal obstacles we all face. I am a huge proponent of
incandescent secondary lighting like floor and table lamps, wall sconces and
any other light fixtures that have dimming capabilities. Usually when a room
“feels good” it’s because it’s well lit and inviting, no matter if the furniture
budget was $1,000 or $100,000. Another way to bring light into the space is
to bring in mirrors. This tip is as old as the book and works wonders
especially in small spaces. Not just wall mirrors but mirrored trays, mirrored
furniture or decorative glass objects can instantly add detail and that sparkle
factor to a room while visually brightening and expanding the space.
**Tip to keep things hip: Place mirrored accessories directly under
or near the light in the room – it creates a stunning look and shoots more
light across the room.
Lauren has always had a love for interior and landscape design, floral décor,
and all things beautiful! Having lived in the South and also on the west coast
before settling in Utah, her design instinct is to combine traditional elements
and furniture with updated style and current color palettes. She is constantly
looking for ways to infuse glamour into her projects while bringing a fresh
perspective and an eye for tasteful, classic design. Lauren has degrees in
both Public Relations and Interior Design and worked in wedding/event
planning before transitioning to residential and hospitality design.
Oviatt-Pratt & Associates is a full-service design firm in business for over 25
years, specializing in high-end residential and commercial design. The
scope of their projects ranges from simple home renovations to large-scale
construction projects where design is implemented from the first color
choices to the final finishing touches. With direct access to over 75
upholstery, accessory and furniture lines, Oviatt-Pratt’s designers are able to
provide each client with pieces that are particular to his or her taste and
style. Their showroom is open to the public Monday through Friday.