Modern & Neutral

modern-neutralWhile modern interiors are certainly trending right now, the adjectives that describe them aren’t always very attractive: sleek, streamlined, lines, cold, hard, glossy. They don’t necessarily make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and modern interiors are often criticized for not being comfortable or inviting.

I have found, however, that the key to designing a comfortable, inviting and soothing modern interior design is to keep neutrality at the core of it all.

Use a neutral mantra when creating a modern design

Here is how to keep a neutral mantra running through the core of your modern design, so it’s pleasing to the eye and welcoming to the heart.

Opt for a monochromatic look with warmer tones

There is a huge difference between an all-white or an all-cream interior, and the same holds true between a chocolate brown and a black interior. All of the above are considered “neutral” and yet the cream or chocolate brown versions are almost always going to have a more warm and welcoming energy – especially when paired with other modern design elements. Grays also work as a neutral, monochromatic theme that can create an intimate and cozy atmosphere.

And, did you know that almost all color hues can become “neutral” in their expression when they’re pared down to their softest and most subtle shades? If you like color but are looking for more graceful and discreet ways to express them in your home design, consider exploring the use of soft, pale shades as your monochromatic backdrop or as your secondary color theme.

The low profile mid-century modern couch

The look of a low profile, mid-century modern couch works in just about any home – including traditional ones, believe it or not. Sure, you can go with some of the bolder and swankier colors that the 1950s and early-60s were known for, like burnt orange, marigold, greens and reds – but you can just as easily choose your couch in a paler color that blends in – or stands out slightly – from the rest of your neutral décor.

Add a bit of shimmer, shine, and reflection

Look for textiles, fixtures, and finishes that have a little shimmer, shine, and reflection. Those who are interested in a neutral décor won’t be attracted to standard, reflective metallic finishes. However, you can find brushed or satin versions in golds, bronzes, and silvers that have a much softer approach and land more like a soft bell than a piercing chime.

Do use mirrors to capitalize on this effect, and mirrored furniture offers another way to magnify existing décor or to enhance light play in a modern and neutral design.

Think about elemental variation

Enhance your neutral and modern design motif by varying the elements used in each room. Consider the basic elements – stone, wood, metal – and then see if all three are represented in each space. Hardwood floors or beautiful wood trim may be all you need in the wood department, an exposed brick wall or naturally finished pottery or ceramics can cover the stone department – as does a stone hearth or stone tiles on the floor or around the perimeter of the floor. Metal is easy to incorporate via drawer and door pulls, mirrors, and the metallic accents we discussed above.

Use area rugs

Don’t forget to use area rugs to anchor your spaces, add color or pattern where needed or to provide a richer, textural component. Since modern designs tend to lean towards harder and glossier, softer or woven textiles – including throw rugs – can be a great way to soften things up. Plus, they’re easy to move or replace as tastes or styles evolve over time.

One of my favorite things about neutral and modern decors is that they are timeless. I have clients who’ve inherited their modern couches and furniture from grandparents or great grandparents and -when well-made, or reupholstered – these pieces look right at home in their contemporary homes.

Are you interested in designing a modern interior that errs on the side of neutral? Contact me here at Kristina Wolf Design so we can begin to explore the possibilities.

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Kristina Wolf Design creates memorable interiors in harmony with your personal vision, with minimal stress. Whether it’s a new home interior or the perfect color palette for a paint project, we'll deepen the connection between you and your home while honoring your objectives, schedule and budget.

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Kristina Wolf Design, Inc., Interior Decorators & Designers, Berkeley, CA