New Neutrals: How Constraining a Color Palette Can Bring Your Space to Life

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Image: Dwell

Friends who see my home for the first time are often shocked to find that all of my interior walls are painted yellow. Before you start picturing bright lemon hues, the paint color is actually called (and really looks like) “butter”. The first time you see it, it’s surprising; by the third time, you don’t even notice it any more.

That’s the true beauty of using a limited color palette throughout your home (or even throughout a single room): if it’s found in the entire space, it fades into the background and becomes a neutral tone off of which all of your pieces can be shown. The gorgeous and rich white above allows the table, the chandelier, and even the windows to stand out like jewels in this dining space.


Image: coco+kelley

Much like my butter yellow, the calm natural beauty of the Mediterranean Sea-colored aqua room above has real impact upon first view. In combination with items like the banquette pillows and centerpiece as shown, a color like this can be both a sign of your individuality and a neutral background. I’d advise painting the ceiling to match though – because my ceilings are all painted butter, the whole space is brought together in a much more restful way.


Image: Plastolux

My favorite neutral is probably grey. The shades employed here work to artfully play up the other hue used in the space: tan. Used extensively and shown together, these two neutrals have as much impact as two primary colors would – but to a much more sophisticated effect.


Image: Dwell

Why not paint the walls, floor, and ceiling of single room or space in a bold color? It’s a great way to create a vibrant – but still neutral within the confines of its space – juxtaposition to the rest of your home. Your friends may be shocked, but only the first few visits – then they’ll start asking you how they can do it too.

What color would you like to turn into your neutral?

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Dave Hime, founder/curator of, has been an interior design addict for as long as he can remember. In 2005, he bought a house-in-progress and missed several opportunities to have an influence on his own home decor–leaving him wanting more. With design heroes such as Blake Dollahite ( and Robert & Cortney Novogratz (, Dave began seeking out online resources that would exemplify the interior design practices he's most drawn to: using color, texture and simple materials well. Bringing all of this together, along with his specific focus on providing interior design inspiration from a man's point of view, is Dave's mission: masculine design.