Designing With Color: Neutrals

Interface

Color choice can evoke mood, communicate subtle messages—even boost productivity. Where warm colors excite and cooler hues are calming, neutrals can provide a canvas for either, giving designers a wide array of options.

neutral color infographic

Meaning
Most people perceive neutral shades as “subdued” or “reserved”— more subtle than attention-getting blues and reds. Neutrals often connote stability, especially the cooler greys. Imagine the solid feel of stone or concrete. Depending on what’s around them, some neutrals (like beige) are chameleons, taking on characteristics of neighboring warm or cool colors.

Follow Interface’s board Colour | Warm Neutral on Pinterest.

Mood
Neutral colors evoke different types of moods. Using a grey palette can lend an air of formality to an environment. Depending on execution, it may suggest confidence or conservatism. Lighter greys and off-whites can be a good choice when you want a look that’s fresh, clean, refined. If a calm, relaxed vibe is desired, neutrals with warmer hints from the orange or yellow family may do the trick. At the cool end of the spectrum, notes of blue add an air of elegance, especially the darker hues.

Follow Interface’s board Colour | Cool Neutral on Pinterest.

Uses
To aid concentration and reduce eye-strain in a work environment, choose neutrals as a base and add narrow accents in brighter colors. Use neutrals as the foundation when designing around colorful furniture or accent walls. Neutrals in the darker grey family can form a sophisticated backdrop if not overused. Mood-lighteners may include whites, warm hues or both. Warmer-temperature neutrals (taupe, ecru) impart the organic feel of the natural world. Use them to instill a space with calm and quietude.

neutrals installations

Use neutrals to instill a space with calm and quietude.

Palette
The neutral color trend shown in this palette is calming and peaceful. Shades are chalky and light in texture, creating a watercolor effect and resulting in colors blending and merging together. Neutral colors may be used in a tonal manor. In commercial spaces, neutrals can flood fill or zone off particular areas.

tinted neutrals collage

Resources:
WGSN
Neutral Color Symbolism
About Beige
Can’t Focus? Your Office Paint Color Might Be To Blame
Decorating With Neutrals
Gray Color Meaning
Wikipedia article on Grey
Warm Grey vs. Cool Grey
The Hidden Power of Neutrals
Interface’s Design With Purpose blog
Neutral Color Schemes & Neutral Paint Colors: How To Put Neutral Color Palettes Together

 

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