House Tour: Decorating With Neutrals

Oceanside Bedroom
See how one San Francisco designer centers her home on a neutral, coastal-inspired palette to create a soothing style statement that's anything but boring.

Coastal Calm

Colors can be softened with gray or brown to create neutrals that are easy to live with. The living room walls are painted a pale green-gray, reminiscent of a foggy sky, which creates a calming backdrop for dark woods and creamy linen upholstery. A step beyond beige, these colorful neutrals are an easy cure for white walls.

Subtly Stylish

To bring home the beach without going overboard, the homeowner chose to bring in subtle, ocean-inspired details. The home features a soothing color palette with the colors of the sand, surf, and sky. In the living room, a woven side table and a seagrass rug add textures often found on a trip to the beach. These references to the beach capture the essence of the setting, without becoming theme-driven.

Sand & Fog

The warm, creamy colors of the linen sofa and curtains have the same intensity as the light green-gay hue of the living room walls, creating a seamless flow while offering a slight variation. A large bank of windows welcomes almost endless amounts of natural light, emphasizing the outdoorsy, coastal character of the entire home.

Waves of Change

To keep things fresh and interesting, the homeowner switches out throw pillows seasonally. Foggy greens, natural stone colorss, and sandy yellows alongside accents of chocolate brown and ocean blue appear in playful patterns against the neutral sofa. While decorating with neutrals, pattern and texture are strong decorating allies that will bring visual interest to the space.

Carved Out Character

In addition to the color scheme, architectural elements help give this living room its charming appeal. A curved niche above the fire place creates a unique display space for a small watercolor print and collectibles, all in neutral tones, as not to distract from the rest of the room's neutral palette. Two more large niches flank the fireplace and offer space for pretty artwork and storage for magazines and books.

Earthy Appeal

Contrast and texture keep a neutral palette from falling flat. Vintage-style letters and black-and-white surfer photographs stand out against dining room walls painted in a versatile beige hue. A plain- Jane chandelier hung above the table was replaced with a drum shade inspired by coral -- another nod to the home's subtle coastal theme.

Notable Neutrals

Beige anchor pieces, such as the living room sofa or this upholstered headboard, allow the homeowner to change the look of her rooms easily by rotating accessories. In the bedroom, she's reversed the living room color scheme by using a sandy yellow on the walls and ocean blues as accent pieces. Keeping the intensity of colors consistent allows them to become the background to artwork and furniture.

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