When it comes to decorating with neutral colors, there are two sides: Those who are obsessed with them, and those who consider them a snooze. If you resonate with the former, you'll be glad to know that some of this year's fall decor trends follow a muted palette; and if you're a fan of punchy colors, these subtle surroundings make a perfect backdrop for a bold pop. (A win-win, if you will.)
Love 'em or hate 'em, neutrals are timeless, versatile, and allow for you to change the vibe of your home from season to season (which is especially important when it comes to decorating for the shortest season of all). So whether you're a minimalist, a maximalist, or you can't wait to deck the halls for the holidays, these go-with-anything colors mean your style can transition for months and years to come. Better yet, they pair seamlessly with another autumnal trend for 2019: a handful of splashy shades that are unexpected, to say the least.
Ahead, designers weigh in on this year's in-demand neutrals and offer tips on incorporating them into your space. Whether you're overhauling your decor for a remodel or you're looking for less-comital ways to stay current, these expert ideas prove that muted colors don't have to be dull.
This Fall's Neutral Color Trends
Matte Black: "Matte black has been the most popular of all trends in recent months, and when it comes to decor, the options don't fall short," says Lauren O’Donnell, in-house interior designer for Build.com. "The colorway is definitely trending because it seems to complement almost anything."
Further, she assures there are plenty of non-permanent ways to get in on the trend. Picking up small matte black accents, like vases, lamps, picture frames, and fixtures — even pillows and throw rugs — can make a big impact, she says.
Natural Woods: Weaving hints of nature into your home is a welcoming way to bring the outside in. "Everyone loves the natural beauty, texture, and warmth that utilizing natural wood brings to a space," says O'Donnell. "It can be as simple as a rustic beam over a fireplace, floating shelving out of white oak, or a full kitchen of warm wood with a clear coat or light wash finish."
Looking for something a little more more temporary? "For commitment-phobes, try filling a big wooden bowl full of pumpkins and gourds on your island or table for fall, stack a few wooden cutting boards on your counter, or use a wooden tray to organize your counter clutter for a warm, unique, and refined look," she says.
Taupes and Greiges: "They. Are. Back!" O'Donnell says, explaining that cooler neutrals are on their way out. "Less grays and warmer, earthy tones are on the rise [and] the natural feel of these homey tones on kitchen cabinets, as well as upholstery and walls, is perfect for autumn. And don’t think for a second this is geared only toward the traditional aesthetic; it can complement a range of styles of and looks."
The designer adds that she gravitates toward neutrals in her own home, since they're timeless and provide a clean background for seasonal updates including holiday decor.
Unconventional Neutrals: The word "neutral" may bring earth tones to mind, but Mélanie Berliet, general manager of home lifestyle website The Spruce, suggests thinking outside the box. "Don’t just stick with the go-to beige or tan. Lightish grays, blues, and yellows can work as neutrals, too." For instance, "Lilac Sand and Sundream from The Spruce's Best Home paint collection come to mind as examples of beautiful, less typical neutrals that we love."
And while warmer tints are making a comeback, as mentioned, she says the most important thing is to be conscious of the undertones. "Consider whether you're painting with warm neutrals or cool neutrals — and don't be afraid to mix things up," she says.
Focus On Texture
If you're worried about decorating in too many muted shades, O'Donnell gives a pro tip for making sure your space doesn't become monochromatic. "The key to decorating with neutrals is using a mix of textures and patterns," she shares. "Add a textured grasscloth wallpaper behind your bed, or create a pillow combo of fur, stripes, and a mudcloth print with a textured solid to ensure your neutrals don’t run together." (Bonus: Now's the time to add comforting tactile touches like flannel and faux fur.)
Shelby Greene, studio stylist for Living Spaces, agrees, and suggests using knit blankets and pillows to encourage coziness. As texturizing walls — without doing anything permanent — she recommends using removable stick-on wallpaper. And for those who appreciate a sleek aesthetic, "leather never goes out of style and it's in season year round," says Berliet.
Add A Splash
Perhaps the best part about a versatile palette is the ability to get creative with the rest of your decor. "Neutrals are calm to the eye and won't distract from the actual color highlight," notes Greene. "[They're] a subtle base for any room design." This is especially true if you're hesitant about committing to changes; in this case, start with interchangeable items like throw pillows, area rugs, tablescapes, and candle holders. If you're feeling more adventurous, you can design a painted or art-covered accent wall or invest in furniture pieces with bright patterns and hues. "I love to see a statement-making chair, a gallery wall, or an interesting piece of artwork against a minimalist, muted backdrop," Berliet shares. "Also, metal accents work really well with neutrals. Bronze or gold legs on an otherwise toned-down coffee table look stylish and clean."
The designers share a few more ideas for bringing personality to a versatile canvas. For a rustic-chic look, "place some dried wheat in a vase on your coffee table or atop a shelf," advises Berliet. "We've also seen some really creative DIY garlands recently featuring dustier colors rather than the typical bright orange or red."
Further, she notes that plants add (literal) life to your home, no matter the season (certain varieties can provide detoxifying benefits, too). "Fiddle leaf fig trees are hugely popular and can really transform your space," she says. "It's important to remember that houseplants can thrive all year round if you know how to care for them."