Artzenflowers’s Blog

Every Good Color needs a Great Supporting Cast

Posted on: November 28, 2009

Have you ever stood in an open field on a warm summer day and closed your eyes just to drink in the gentle touch of the breeze swelling around you wafting away the suns heat while bringing with it the scent of fresh grass crushed under foot leaving you inspired and refreshed?

That, to me, is the definition of subtle. So light a touch it picks up and carries a little hint of whatever it passes by, around or through.

Which is exactly what I expect of a good neutral. Like that fresh breeze it takes concentration to appreciate or even notice it but without it things just wouldn’t be the same.

For months now I have been on a search for the perfect NEUTRAL. Every home needs one, or two, perhaps three; it all depends.  In the process I have fallen victim to the subtle allure of the sultry simplicity of the Perfect Neutral!

Wouldn’t it be great if there were one that worked in every circumstance? But that fantasy is smashed by the array of  possibilities!

When it comes to cream not many colors can compete with “Manchester Tan”, one of the Benjamin Moore Historic selections #HC81. As an interior wall color or trim it is rich option to the proliferation of whites & off whites commonly seen. Manchester Tan also offers a beautiful choices as an exterior trim choice.

Two lovely interior neutrals I have been smitten with this season are Affinity AF95 “Hush” and the offwhite selection OC16 “Cedar Key”.

For the main color for your living room, halls and adjoining spaces these are three that you can bet your money on time and again to perform in a wide variety of lighting and style conditions.

For more thoughts on neutrals and their uses in home decor contact me by phone or email or you can post a response here as a blog post.

In a world where everyone has an opinion; Let’s talk Neutral!


5 Responses to "Every Good Color needs a Great Supporting Cast"

Hi Nancy, Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment. I love the subject of this post, especially as I’ve just done our apartment over in a completely neutral palette. I like Farrow & Ball paints and the combination of their Stony Ground and Shaded White has garnered many compliments. However, these are more taupe than tan. — Jane F.

Jane, First of all thank you for visiting my blog! I have yet to figure out how best to promote it so I have been very lax in posting here, but use Facebook (ArtZenFlowers Color & Design) instead, etc, etc. So it is a treat to receive your note. I am unfamiliar with F&B palettes. My experience is almost exclusively with Benjamin Moore decks. I am currently studying the pratt & lambert decks since the retailer that supports me carries their product line. Recently I was gifted a set of Donald Kaufman Color which are stunning, but too expensive for most client’s budget.
From within the BM decks the Affinity color AF 95 ‘HUSH’ is a show stopper. I have had so many clients return to tell me how glorious it worked for their home as a main color. The other one that I have learned to love is OC16 ‘Cedar Key’. Of course the designer ‘go to’ when all else fails HC99 ‘Abbington Putty’ a green based neutral that is hugely popular in the industry!
BTW. Don’t you just LOVE color? Have a Colorful Day and keep up the great work on Attic Mag!

Good morning! So happy I have come across your blog. I am doing an addition and have been looking at swatches for months! I really love cedar key for my living room (it has a pink undertone but everything turns green on me so it becomes perfect taupe color) and was thinking pashmina for my adjacent foyer (live in a split and so the foyer/main hall has two stairways in the center, to each level). Do you think these colors complement each other? My kitchen/family addition will be Huntington beige (HC-21), at end of foyer. Up and downstairs halls off foyer will be Hush. What do you think of this neutral palette? do you think I should just do hush throughout foyer/halls and skip pashmina? Maybe hush would work better near kitchen and cedar key in living room? Utterly confused! Emma in central nj

HI Emma, First of all Bravo! You are really doing a great job processing!
Yes, the red in Cedar Key off sets the green light probably reflecting through trees or other greenery around your windows. I have pulled the five colors you’d mentioned and though I can’t speak directly to placement sight unseen I do have a couple thoughts I will share with you;
Regarding color, of those you identified; Hush, Pahmina, Harmony, Cedar Key and huntington beige the one I think to eliminate from the group is Harmony, there is a bit too much red in it at least in the lighting of my home, to make it flow seamlessly with the remainder.
For the most part I think you have gotten things pulled together well, the gray and beige combination is such a soft soothing and neutral yet rich palette I think you will be very satisfied.
The first suggestion I have is not to break up the entry hall with multiple shades.
I find it most often is best to use the ‘less is more’ philosophy with color changes where there are many challenging walls angles to consider.
Think about it like this; stand at your front door looking into the home, take note of the overlay of the structural elements and ask yourself where would I start/stop each color?
Determine in your mind which in the most ‘dominant’ space (I assume the living room)and give it a higher priority. You don’t want to allow the secondary colors to access into or interfer with the continuity of the dominant room’s color as it moves around corners etc. Cedar Key is your super star, the others are supporting cast!
Also consider, as you stand at the front door, the ‘vistas’ ie. what is the most distant wall seen?
Is it the kitchen?
If you actually see the kitchen from the entry consider this; if Pashmina, which is only slightly lighter then the proposed kitchen color of huntington beige, is the foyer and stairwell color moving both to the lower level and upper levels, Pashmina would be separated from the kitchen color by Cedar Key which is the lightest and brightest of the three the ‘distant view or vista’ would be huntington beige.
In this arrangement you have the two deeper shades sandwiching the lighter Cedar Key, which is a perfect way to showcase and emphasize the distance from the front door to the kitchen thereby augmenting your actual square footage with additional percieved square footage and vice versa from the view of the entry from the kitchen.
I hope that is clear?
I mean who doesn’t want a larger more spacious feel to their home? This is one simple way to get it.

On that same note, if your living/dining room space seems a little truncated, too short or too narrow, you can extend the Pashmina into these rooms on one or more of the exterior walls to visually push out that wall surface.

Well, I do hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with information I do admire the trio or possibly quadrant of colors you have chosen, they are some of my very favorite to work with.
I will leave you with this final thought; how about using the HUSH as the ceilng color throughout all of these areas? Another trick to unify an open floor plan such as we find in the split level home!

Emma, have fun and enjoy the process, it is a process. But keeping it simple will allow you so much more flexibility in your other decor elements!
Warm regards, thank you for your post and Happy New Year 2012!

This is so helpful, THANK YOU! I think I will do pashmina in bedroom since it is a cooler color and may not work as well in the main area. Hush throughout foyer and halls and cedar key will take center stage in living room. Huntington beige in kitchen/family room at end of hush colored foyer. Now for a bright, fun red in the dining room, adjacent to cedar key in living room? Something more pink than orange since I have cool reds in my Persian rug in living room. Was thinking something from the Benjamin Moore classics? Happy new year to you, too!

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  • artzenflowers: Hi Loribeth, Thank you for taking the time to view my post and the feed back noted!
  • Loribeth: Interesting info about red. I think it takes a lot of daring to use it in decor...something I don't have a lot of. But I might consider adding little
  • Emmakins: This is so helpful, THANK YOU! I think I will do pashmina in bedroom since it is a cooler color and may not work as well in the main area. Hush throu
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