A Color Story... Neutrals

Did you know that there is more to color than what you can see? There are reasons why people are attracted or even repelled by various colors and why certain colors are used in designs. Colors evoke emotional responses and specific shades convey different meanings. In this blog series Interior Designer, Macy Smith, will dig deeper into the colors of the spectrum and expose the history and meanings behind each. Welcome to the newest J & M blog series!


For the month of January, we will be focusing on….. Neutrals!

Let’s start it off with the perfect neutral, gray. Grays can be complicated, as a true gray is infrequently found in nature. From a distance, you may spot a stone and it looks completely gray, but as you get close and inspect the stone, there may be a mix of colorful traces that are revealed. Most people and animals with gray fur/hair do not just have one definitive shade a gray, but a complex mixture of different shades. Occasionally the perfect shade of gray is found whether in a fabric for a sofa, a finish on a table or in a paint sample. There is endless beauty of neutral gray.

Due to this alleged neutrality about gray, the color has interesting psychological associations attached. A good example to portray these associations is with the man or woman in a gray suit. They are deemed accountable, responsible, resolute, steadfast, solid, staunch and they use their wisdom, gray matter (referring to the brain), cautiously. These traits all translate well into the corporate world. Even though they seem dull, they are traits that are most looked-for in that world. If those images are desired, neutrals make for the best backgrounds for more intense shades. So, for branding images and company logos, a vibrant shade like orange or green, for example, can create exhilaration against a soft gray.

Gray leaves an impression of mystery as gray lingers as mist or fog and overwhelms shade and shadows. This gives a sophistication to deeper grays as they begin to approach black. Just as the acclaimed statues, monuments and historical sights age they acquire a gray tinge, which is seen to be very tasteful and classic. Many shades of gray are seen as this.

Silver is the more exhilarating metallic parallel to gray. Like gold has a strong connection with the sun, silver is paired with the light that is emitted from the moon. Silver was called Luna by ancients and alchemists. Silver has an established perceived value to it as it has been used for a wide variety of jewelry, coins and pricier décor items. In the world of design, silver has an old world, vintage elegance to it. Simultaneously, silver speaks a sleek and modern design as well. In today’s world, clientele lean towards silver in their designs as it reflects a classy, streamlined, chic and clean look.

A fellow neutral color that shares characteristics with gray is taupe. This color is another shade that can be hard to define.  The perfect taupe would be a balance of warm and cool tones of a mid-beige and gray. This is where taupe received the name greige. Taupe is a very adaptable neutral color that is very flexible and appeasing in usage. Most of the names that are associated with the color come from many natural sources like…

   Sand, mushroom, fawn, sepia, camel, otter, café au lait, oatmeal, etc.

Taupe is a very versatile and authentic color and it is thought of being very organic in nature. In this era of people becoming more environmentally aware, taupe is the color to consider using as it is very organic. It carries a timelessness with it and a lack of being trendy but being more of a staple.

When speaking neutrals, you cannot forget the creams, wide array of off-whites, ivories, bones and beiges. These are the classic staples in every type of design element. They carry a soft elegance, keep in style and are soft, subtle accents. These colors gained vast social significance with the environmental concern that started growing widely in the early 90s. With ridding of the damaging chemical treatments and bleaching processes, these organic non-colors became popular. They are very symbolic of sustainability which is shown with using natural fibers and recycled paper products.

Beige is a color that lacks in giving excitement but carries a warmth and is very pleasant. There is a saying that is often heard, “he leads a rather beige life”. This suggests a very uncolorful, dull and uninspiring life. But, there is something about beige that invites us. Just like sand on the beaches on a nice warm summer day or tasty cookies fresh out of the oven. It is the warmth the color carries that presents a very comforting feeling.

When dealing with neutrals, there are both positives and negatives. Positives include that neutrals are…

Classic, timeless, modest, sophisticated, natural, subtle, warm, comforting, soft, organic, authentic, versatile, etc.

The negatives are that neutrals can be…

            Dull, bland, boring, conventional, basic, detached, etc.

Looking to introduce and bring some of these feelings and colors into your home? Stop into our showroom and consult with our designers, we would love to assist you!

Stayed tuned for the continuation of the color series in February: introducing the color, Red.