Neutralize It

I’ve been noticing a big change in my decorating style as of late. I’m not sure if it’s an awareness of new trends, my maturing taste, or the result of gradually improving and upgrading our home.

It’s probably a combination of all of the above, but I’m surprised to find this change both exciting and frustrating for me as a designer.

When we first moved in, my apartment decorating goals were:

  1. Fill the space, so it looks less depressingly empty and feels like a home.
  2. Distract from any and all unattractive features and details.
  3. Energize the apartment to create interest, personality, and inspiration.

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My first big purchases for the apartment were these lime green bar stools, bright throw pillows, and bright blue and green candles for the table. At the time, it truly felt like a MAJOR improvement.

It’s completely uninspiring when I look back at it now, but I was doing my best with a tight budget and mostly inherited furniture.

 

As the space filled up, I found myself needing many of the brighter and busier items to disappear, or be revamped.

Gradually, I bid farewell to the warm tones: the oak cabinets, the red lamp, orange throw pillow, sisal rug, putty countertops, and crimson window frames.

 

I replaced those with all my favorite grays, blues, whites, and a few greens: blue and white cabinets, marble-esque countertops, a navy rug, a grey chair, cool-toned throw pillows, a grey bookcase, a blue lamp, a coat of paint on the TV cabinet, a new pouf, and white window frames.

 

I’ve found the effect of the cool colors and more neutral palate to be extremely calming. (Which is pretty much VITAL to my sanity and survival as a stay at home mom these days).

This calming effect is most noticeable, when coming home from vacation. I’m typically pretty exhausted and slightly dehydrated from traveling (who isn’t?!). I usually have a headache from the stuffy, jerky taxi ride, and I’m always HUNGRY!

I walk through the warm yellows, reds and oak tones of our lobby and elevator. In the hallway I traipse across the hotel inspired patterned carpet, and notice that my eyes need to adjust to the dim yellow overhead lighting. At last, I’m at our building mandated (a thoroughly odd choice) terra-cotta colored door.

The door opens and white and blue light (usually sunlight too!) floods through the doorway and spills into the hall. My eyes relax as the wonderfully cool tones soothe them. The whole apartment washes over me like a glass of ice water.

I feel refreshed in this place. This must be the feeling of home.

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It took me 4 years to create this little haven for myself and my family, and I’m so delighted with it. Just when it feels practically perfect, it’s already time to move on!

I’m interested to see how my style will develop in the new house. Will I go back to my Fill/Distract/Energize method? Will the new house welcome any new colors to my blue, grey, green, palate or will I retreat further into my new neutral tendencies? And most interestingly, is this whole neutral palate thing Chip and Joanna Gaines fault?!! And how long will it last?!

The new house certainly doesn’t require any “distracting” that I’ve noticed yet, and most of its paint is already delightfully cool and neutral – so I have an idea as to which direction my style is heading: FILL! FILL! FILL!

Just kidding. Well…mostly.

Life is all about finding the right balance. I’m still learning to find the right balances between these key themes:

  • trendy vs. timeless
  • neutral vs. bright
  • cozy vs. cluttered
  • pristine vs. livable (as in…with toddlers).

I’m sure I’ll make a many new mistakes along the way…and although it’s always a bit amusing (and embarrassing) to tell you ALL about them, I hope I don’t make too many horrendous choices this time around!

What do you think of this new neutral home design trend? Are you loving it or waiting for it to pass? If you’re all in on the white couches, how on earth do you keep them CLEAN?!

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