How to be creative with a neutral colour palette

Transform your living spaces this season with these versatile shades of brown, midnight blue, caramel and grey

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Indulge with neutral brown tones

It’s a welcome return for this warm, heritage colour that suits both contemporary and traditional room schemes. ‘Take a restrained and simple colour palette of brown and white, then use layers of tones to play around with mood and emphasis,’ says Crown colour consultant, Judy Smith. ‘Team chocolate and dark wood furniture with clay or grey to establish your base colour layer, then work in sculptural pieces, such as lighting and textured bowls and vases, to add depth and detail to the palette.’

Make it grand

Try the brown trend with a bold wallpaper and create a statement wall in your living or dining room. Keep the look fresh with white wood rather than dark, and plain lighter-coloured curtains.

Linwood Lifestyle Memento paper

Memento wallpaper in Tawny, £79.90 per roll, Linwood

Heritage vibe

When it comes to choosing brown upholstery, mix traditional tweeds and checks in soft browny-grey tones with earthy chestnut shades, and keep other furniture and accessories simple, erring on the Scandinavian side of style.

Mix old with new

Make a classic brown leather sofa and dark wood floorboards look contemporary and inviting by teaming them with a 1970s-inspired shag-pile rug in a complementary creamy-beige colour.

Land of Rugs Amazon AM 10 Beige

Amazon beige wool/viscose-mix pile rug, from £99.95 for W90xL150cm, Land of Rugs

Simple shapes

Combine different shades of brown in an on-trend geometric wall-covering. Mixed with whites and greys, the browns look really modern and will work with many furniture styles and colours.

Brown Geometric Wallpaper 2

Cool Brown Geometric Pattern mural, £23.50 per m², Murals Wallpaper

Make a statement with grey tones

Grey is both pale and dark this season. ‘It is such an elegant colour, and can be warm and inviting when used in the correct way,’ says Scandi Living interiors managing director, Linda Swarbrick. ‘I often advise breaking it up with exposed wood.’ Trevor Brinkman, product designer for Roper Rhodes Bathrooms, adds: ‘A slate-grey finish can pack a real punch, particularly when mixed with crisp white, while a light pebble colour is a much softer approach and makes for a perfect bedroom hue.’

Luxe-look living

A practical dark grey modular sofa is easily softened up by layering lots of cushions and throws in varying fabrics and grey tones, complemented with a plush rug.

Country cool

Lay flagstone-style slate grey tiles in the kitchen or hallway, and team with pale grey walls for a modern rustic look.

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Monmouth slate with Mirabelle Creme stripping, W30.5xL45.5cm, from £37.50 per m², Spacia collection at Amtico

Clean slate

Get the trad-meets-modern look in the bathroom with sleek painted cabinets in dark grey. Finish with mosaic tiles in lighter grey shades, industrial-style lighting and furniture.

Burford basin unit in Slate Grey, H82xW60xD35cm, £355.50; City basin with integrated worksurface, W36.5xL160cm, £499; back-to-wall WC unit, H82xW60xD35cm, £354; floor cupboard, H82xW30xD35cm, £211.80; tall twin-door cupboard, H190xW30xD35cm, £420, all Roper Rhodes

Timeless elegance

Greys are great as they work with a wide range of décor eras and styles. Try mixing old-fashioned floral prints with contemporary matt wall paint and linen curtains.

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Abbey collection large sofa, H95xW223x D102cm, £1,399, and Harper collection footstool, H42xW132xD51cm, £279, both in Monceau charcoal; navy velvet cushion with feather inner, £35; New Orleans pendant lights, H35xDia.26cm, £129 each; Madeline wool-mix rug in grey, W80xL140cm, £75, all Marks & Spencer

Create atmosphere with deep blues

Everyone in interiors is raving about this colour palette because it feels, and looks, so new. ‘Dark, inky midnight blues have a lustrous quality that plays with different elements of light at different times of day and night, combining to create a tranquil and mysterious living space,’ adds Dulux creative director, Marianne Shillingford. ‘The beauty of dark palettes is the effect you can create with dimmable interior lighting.’

Statement look

Dark or midnight blues will look fresh and airy when teamed with light, natural timbers. Try the trend with a feature rug in a large, open-plan space.

Moorish 2 Jennifer Manners

Moorish handwoven New Zealand wool rug in Royal, W180xL200cm, £900, Jennifer Manners

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IKEA PH125677

Undredal Luröy double bed frame, W143xL200cm, with solid birch headboard, H154cm, and solid beech or birch footboard, H43cm, £299; Undredal black wardrobe with grey glass, H203xW102xD62cm, £295; Undredal black two- drawer chest, H60xW57xD49cm, £95; Kustruta blue check cotton quilt cover and four pillowcase set, £35; Aröd grey metal floor/reading lamp, H180xDia.30cm, £50; Joxtorp dark blue paper lampshade, H30xDia.82cm, £5, all Ikea


Cantera 46470 flooring, in Dryback, W33xL66cm, or Click, W32.5xL65.5cm, from £19.99 per m², Moduleo

Easy glamour

Create a luxurious bedroom with satin and silk bedlinen, faux fur and soft velvet accessories, all in rich caramel tones, with a hint of copper.


Below Camber double headboard in Dalton Natural, H105xW139cm, £475; Garrat chestnut side table, H61xW45xD40cm, £225; Goblet-headed polyester curtains in Marshall Gold, £28 per m; Eaton Stripe Copper wallpaper, £40 per roll; Alexander Jacquard Gold bedlinen, from £25 for a pillowcase; Dartmoor faux-fur chocolate cushion, £60, and throw, £160; Nigella truffle bolster cushion, £40, and antique gold cotton-mix throw, £100, all Laura Ashley

Club room

For an inviting, warming look, re-cover a footstool, chair or sofa in textured, patterned leather fabrics in caramel and copper colours. Keep the look modern by pairing with a mixture of dark wood furniture and white painted woodwork.

Linwood Lifestyle Memento

Chair upholstered in Memento recycled leather fabric in Havanna; footstool upholstered in Memento recycled leather in Rock, both £73.90 per m, Linwood Fabrics

Laid back look

Mix together subtly different patterns in co-ordinating shades on furniture and soft furnishings, and team with touches of dark wood to create a chic, but relaxed living room.

JAB Cool Mix M03

Curtains in Groovy linen fabric, £64.90 per m; sofa upholstered in Croco viscose fabric, £59.90 per m; cushions in Cool Stripe cotton/wool-mix fabric, £87.90 per m; footstool upholstered in Freaky Stripe viscose/cotton/linen-mix fabric, £89.90 per m, all from the JAB Cool Mix collection, JAB Anstoetz