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Extreme Neutrals

I am so excited by the design trends I'm seeing with natural materials and textures: weathered wood, twine, galvanized metal, linen, chunky wool blankets, wicker, whitewash.... It's like seeing my inner spirit come alive. Yet, I find that living with the extremely neutral palette that is part of this trend feels somewhat lifeless and bland, however much contrast and texture there is. Have you noticed how there is usually some sort of greenery styled into the design to liven it up? Since I love gardening and nature so much, I try to find ways in my own home to bring in the green.

Below is the (mostly practical) centerpiece of our dining room table. A bowl of dried nuts and bark in neutral tones adds a natural, decorative element that matches the coasters and napkin basket. It is visually well balanced and has a lot of texture, but it’s lacking something.

Here I replaced the dried arrangement with a live succulent garden. I don't know about you, but I am much happier sitting down to a meal with some greenery on the table.

Another example from my home is our dining room hutch, which is an arrangement of high-contrast neutrals. Textural interest comes from the mix of polished silver, china, sea grass, bamboo, wood and glass.

Look at the difference it makes when two potted boxwoods are added. There is now life in the design, literally and figuratively.

Live plants aren't the only decorative element that brings a design to life. It can simply be an accent of green. Our living room has two sets of corner windows, which means forty linear feet of curtains. When I first hung them, I loved the soft layers of neutrals, but it felt flat, especially when the curtains were closed and surrounded a good part of the room.

To fix this, I added some more texture, some contrast and some green. I applied a trim I made from dark green grosgrain and white burlap ribbon. Now the design is grounded and I think it is fresher than if I had added a dark brown or black trim.

Here is a close up so you can see the detail. To learn how to do this yourself, see my post Make It Monday: Curtain Detail.

One last example is the arrangement on top of my great-grandmother’s dresser, also in our living room. In the before and after photos, I simply swapped out the cream vase for green ones. Are you feeling a little more emotionally connected to the green? I am.

Next time you want to freshen up your space, think about how adding a bit of green will change how you feel being in the room. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference. Plus, check back on Monday to see the details about how I made the curtain trim.

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