Designing with neutrals doesn’t mean designing without color. It’s actually quite the opposite. The word “neutral” can encompass a wide variety of tones and hues–all complimenting, accenting and harmonizing the space at hand. We are delighted today to have legendary Charlotte, North Carolina-based designer, Anita Holland of Anita Holland Interiors, share some of her experiences (and exquisite pictures!) on designing with neutrals. Enjoy!
BACKGROUND: Anita Holland Interiors is Charlotte’s leader in high-end residential interior design. Offering a full range of services throughout the Southeast for over 25 years, the design firm specializes in classical, traditional and transitional interiors. Anita Holland has repeatedly been recognized as one of the region’s leading interior designers. Recent projects in the Southeast include Linville Blowing Rock, Highlands and Lake James, NC; Fripp Island, SC; and Jupiter, FL.
A Passion for Neutrals
Regardless of style, preferences or trends, the one thing all professional interior designers have in common is their passion for design. We live it, breathe it, and think about it all day long. In the course of one day, I am often designing in the shower, in the car, in my studio or on a plane. It can wake me from a sound sleep with the answer that eluded me earlier in the day. Design simply follows me. It’s crazy, ever changing, ever challenging, and I love it.
One of my favorite elements to work with for design projects is neutrals. Not all neutrals are beige and taupe tones. If the goal of a project is to focus on the architectural details in a room, neutrals provide a beautiful backdrop when adding furnishings, rugs, and art. Muted, soft color palettes can have the same unifying effect and I often repeat tones from one room to another for flow.
Shown here are some of my favorite rooms from several projects. As a designer, I consider the importance of applying balance, scale and proportion to each space. I recognize, however, that my clients don’t generally think in terms of design principles – they want classic and elegant design that allows them to live in every room of their home.
These first three images – the dining room, entry and living room are all part of the same Georgian residence. The hand painted mural in the dining room, entitled, “Marlin” is from Paul Montgomery Studio. By removing the chair rail, I was able to accommodate the full length panels of the mural. I think that hand painted murals are the epitome of sophisticated elegance. And the neutral tones in this mural complimented the rest of the room beautifully.
The entry is flanked by the dining room on one side and the living room on the other. For the walls, I selected a softer neutral tone than the tobacco in the mural – Putnam Ivory HC-39. (Note: all paints specified are Benjamin Moore). The loveseat, in a Venetian silver finish is an elegant accent with the crystal chandelier.
The warmth of Philadelphia Cream HC- 30 on the walls is repeated in similar tones in the pale buttery silk draperies, the embroidered pillows and woven fabrics on the furniture in the living room. A landscape over the mantle is by Geoffrey Johnson who specializes in landscapes. The luster of the lacquered arm chairs, mirrored coffee table and a pair of carved chairs with an antique gold leaf finish are surprising touches with the mahogany antiques in the room.
The dining room in this penthouse with no windows posed a challenge. It needed light and life. I started with a gold leaf striae wallpaper for three walls and then mirrored the wall with the sideboard, installing an antique gold leaf mirror on top of it. The crystal chandelier and mirrored lamps reflect beautifully against the 3 walls. Each of these elements, plus the spectacular contemporary painting worked together to achieve just the effect I was hoping for.
This heavily trafficked living room started with a wonderful Stark rug and an over-sized French chandelier. The client’s handsome burl chest added warmth to the space, and the luster of its black marble top worked well with a black lacquered grand piano that also found its home in this room. Philadelphia Cream – HC-30, one of my favorite neutral paint colors, was selected for the walls. You’ll note in this living room and the previous one that I like to custom make end tables from striking antique boxes. They can be just the right size at the end of a sofa.
The design of this lovely living room was inspired by the client’s collection of Rose Medallion porcelain. Both the silk stripe fabric of the draperies and the Rose Medallion properly reflect the client’s affinity for blue. The lamps were custom designed using antique Chinese hat stands. The coffee table was fabricated using an antique paper mache tray with gold accents. The rich cream of neutral Navajo White on the walls blended the elements of the room beautifully together, while creating a feeling that was warm and inviting.
It’s my pleasure to design rooms like these that are a beautiful self portrait of the people who live in them. My belief as a designer is that every house has a story, yet the story they tell should never be mine.
Thank you, Anita, for such beautiful examples of working with neutrals in a variety of landscapes! For more information on Anita Holland Interiors, see below:
Anita Holland Interiors, Inc.
601 S. Cedar Street Suite 106-A
Charlotte, NC 28202
704.372.6369 (ph) 704.372.6695 (fx)
(All images courtesy of Anita Holland Interiors)
Charlotte Interior Design Blog