Curtains and Colour: Neutral Tones 2

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
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In recent years, it seems the psychology of colour has risen in prominence as something to be considered when decorating one’s home.

It is obvious that certain colours resonate with certain individuals, and this can in turn dictate what we surround ourselves with in our home environments.

I have collected many opinions and observations from over 26 years in the window furnishings industry, and will speak here of the neutral colour palette.

We all know that neutrals are made up of whites, beiges and greys, with accents of black, navy and one or two other tones. A neutral palette generally signifies a monochromatic scheme, which means a scheme with very little colour, or maybe just one or two “pops” for a bit of interest. Neutral tones are especially requested in Sydney, which is where my business is located, so I can speak from experience as to its popularity. Neutral tones are generally sought after by conservative clients, who are somewhat influenced by magazine images, but are possibly afraid to commit to something stronger than a mid-beige or grey colour.

Whilst window coverings are available in virtually every colour, shade and hue known to mankind, many of the blind fabrics available in my palette seem to be neutral tones ranging from white, through to varying beiges, lattes, greys and charcoals. I assume these colour ranges have been selected based on suppliers’ knowledge of the Sydney market. Curtain fabrics of course are far more varied in colour, pattern and texture.

However, time and again, my clients ask for white or neutral window coverings. These tones match most decors and furnishings, and will certainly not date as readily as some bold colours. However, these tones are definitely not user-friendly if children are involved, as they show dirt readily. They also seem a tad boring, and don’t really say much about the personality of the client. In fact, neutral tones are very non-committal; there is no drama, no personality, just blandness. Neutrals are the ”safe” alternative, when we don’t want to make a decision or are too afraid to show our real personalities by using the colours that attract us.

I believe the trend towards neutrality is inherent in our search for distance socially and our desire for others not to see who we really are.  I have worked with a number of wonderful interior designers and colour stylists, who have tried to introduce colour into the décor of their clients with varying degrees of success. However, there is a definite section of the client base that are too scared to take the plunge and use more colour in their homes.

In the past few years, there has been a resurgence of greys. To me grey represents dullness, such as a grey sky. It can be depressing. It was said that the dominance of grey was a direct representation of the fear felt by the population after the onset of the GST (yes, colours can reflect world events.) Whilst I believe there is a place for grey tones, particularly charcoal, utilising greys everywhere (without any pops of colour) makes for a very dismal home indeed.

Of course, one could argue that clients are simply following trends, as neutrals are indeed one of the big trends in recent years. However, bold colours in home furnishings is also a major trend, but we are not seeing it in practice as much. Many will only dare to introduce colour into a feature chair or cushions.

It has been scientifically proven that colour can instantly lift our mood and if we utilise it in our homes, we can create a wonderful oasis that is separate from the toils of the outside world, and immerse ourselves in a tailor-made environment that makes us sublimely happy. Choosing colours for our home based on fear of colour (or what others think) is absurd when one thinks about it.

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  1. Phyllis Lim

    Others, like myself, may tend towards neutral color schemes because they are inherently cooling and calming. In a stress-filled world, coming home to a neutral scheme is very relaxing. In my own home, I incorporate color by using accessories, linens, etc.that can be changed by season or mood.

    • Lucia van Gerwen

      As long as your colours lead towards the cooler end of the spectrum Phyllis, you might find it helpful. However it has been proven that lots and lots of clear whites/neutrals are glarey and clinical. Humans were designed to live with colour!!! There are many colours that would relieve your stress, such as cool blues or greens. They dont have to be strong or bright either.