Warm tones and textures keep a neutral palette lively


Neutrals are the well-loved, time-tested heroes of the decorating world.

Following a few simple principles, neutral spaces can create an inviting, serene and enduring environment at home.

“Neutrals are calm, quiet and welcoming – like a warm hug,” said Leia Ward, founder and principal of LTW Design.

Hue harmony

Although using bold colors at home does have a certain flair, in Luxury Portfolio International’s May 2022 State of Luxury Real Estate report, which surveyed affluent consumers around the globe, the majority of respondents said they preferred a neutral color palette.

Neutrals are not only a bit easier to work with but create a calmer feeling and never go out of style.

“I like to make our interior spaces feel relaxing and like a refuge for our clients,” per Ms. Ward, whose firm provides both interior design and luxury home staging services.

LTW Design’s South End Project in Southport, Connecticut. Photo by Andrea Carson

“Neutrals provide a solid base and foundation that is timeless and can be built upon to fit the client’s specific taste,” she said.

Neutrals never have to mean cold, impersonal spaces. Ms. Ward recommends keeping the tones warm.

“We are loving warm sandy tones right now – think camel,” she said.

The designer even calls her signature look “warm minimalism.” To pull it off, texture is key.

“Texture, texture, texture – combining linen with velvet and wools or mixing chunky with smooth,” Ms. Ward said. “Creating that contrast and juxtaposition makes a room feel warm and layered.”

A neutral backdrop also means punches of color can be safely added to a space on a whim without having to do a major décor overhaul.

LTW Design’s South End Project in Southport, Connecticut. Photo by Andrea Carson

“Any color can be layered in, and also removed if in the future a client changes their mind,” Ms. Ward said. “However, the neutral foundation will always remain.”

Whether using neutrals in a bedroom, bathroom or main living space, there are a few tricks to keep in mind.

“A mistake is using too many different neutrals in one space,” Ms. Ward said. “I recommend picking a palette with three neutral colors and sticking to it – then adding depth with various textures layered throughout.”

Ms. Ward also avoids small, fiddly furniture and objets, which can make a room feel messy.

“I prefer fewer items in a room, but ones that are bold and hold their space,” she said.

“For accessories, I love an oversized vintage pot with three-to-four-foot-tall branches on a coffee table – think bold and statement-making and uncluttered.”