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I am a huge fan of neutral interiors. Huge. Those people who say beige is boring can’t have seen it done right. To me, nothing is more soothing and elegant than a beautifully balanced scheme with whites, grays, taupes, chocolates and charcoals. So this post is both a defense and a celebration of neutral interiors. Here (in no particular order) are my top ten all-time favorite neutral interiors.

1. Contemporary cool

Neutral modern living roomModern living room with tan leather sofas

My number one room is actually two adjoining rooms, designed by Charlie & Co Design in Minneapolis (via Houzz). Each has a slightly different feel but the overall effect is very cohesive. I love the concrete fireplace, tan leather sofas and mixed material cabinetry.

2. Eclectic organic

Hallway with neutral Moroccan tiles

Entry halls are difficult to make interesting because there’s limited space for furniture and accessories. So making the most of the surfaces is important. This hallway uses an eclectic mix of Moroccan-inspired tiled floors, period molding and organic materials and shapes such as the branch mirror (and the woodblock table and Jonathan Adler lamp in the adjoining room)  to make a stunning neutral space. Apply the same lessons to other spaces and use pattern and texture to liven up a neutral interior. Via The Marion House Book.

3. Modern lodge

Contemporary ski lodge

I’ve featured this room before but had to include it here because it’s such a great example of neutrals done right. The only splash of ‘color’ is in two tiny pillows, but this space is anything but drab. That’s because the color actually comes from the use of lots of honey-hued wood. Interesting shapes and lots of tactile materials such as linen, rope (or cane?) chairs and felt. House designed by John Maniscalco Architecture via Houzz.

4. Fashionable classic

Collette Dinnogan living room

Here’s a neutral space with a completely different vibe. This is the former living room of fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, featured in Elle Decor (via LiveBreatheDecor). There’s virtually no color here at all (unless, is that a pale lilac throw…?) and yet the space is both interesting and beautiful. The pale furniture lets the period fireplace take center stage, while the modern floor lamp keeps it all from looking too saccharine sweet. If you have a strong feature like this mantelpiece, an uncluttered neutral scheme – with plenty of negative space to let it breathe – is a good way to make the most of it.

5. Upscale artistic

white living room

This space is a work of art – and not just because of the huge canvases. I love the herringbone wood floors, gently curving staircase, uneven turned wood floor lamp and the balance of black, white and beige. This is a great example of how unique shapes can enliven a very straightforward color scheme. The bentwood ball, on the other hand, just makes me think of tumbleweed… Via Canadian House and Home

6. Urban luxury

Klly Hoppen loft

No neutral round-up would be complete without a room from the Queen of Taupe herself, Kelly Hoppen. This designer is renowned for her stunningly luxurious interiors, characterized by acres of taupe linen, black wood and polished crystal. I personally like her own London loft (above) best as it’s more accessible and yet still inspirational. This is one room to study if you want to know how to make beige sumptuous.

7. Nature-inspired

white living room with plants

One way to bring a neutral interior to life is with lots of plants. The greenery adds color without it actually ‘counting’ as color. I love the way this contemporary space uses frothy ferns, a hide rug and sequined pillows to make a more industrial loft friendly and inviting. Via Apartment Therapy

8. Understated glamor

Neutral living room

The thing about neutral spaces is that you can go completely OTT on glamor, but it will never look kitschy. Take this stunning apartment, featured in Lonny Magazine. Opulent chandelier? Check. Herringbone hide rug? Check. Faux antlers? Check. Both Bertoia AND Calvin chairs? Of course. This is the epitome of glamor and yet it’s tasteful (and gorgeous) because the palette is so subtle.

9. Relaxed Californian

White and wood living room

Well, if you know me, you know I love this room and come back to it time and time again. OF course, it’s the living room of Julie from Remodelista. What do I not love about this space? White cathedral ceilings, wood shelves, an Eames rocker. But the reason I think it’s a great example of a neutral room is that it shows how the right layout and the emphasis on a few key features (in this case the shelving) can make all the difference.

10. Hamptons classic

Thomas O'Brien Hamptons living room

Where else to search for the ultimate neutral interior than a designer’s Hamptons retreat? This is the home of Thomas O’Brien, via Habitually Chic, and is a great example of how different warm whites, layered expertly, with a little dark brown or black to anchor it, can create a casually-styled look. O’Brien is a collector at heart and his rooms always have an inspiring mix of pieces – from stacked books to unusual lamps. If you want to make a neutral space warm and personal, start here.

So, what have I missed? Any other stunning neutral spaces that should make it into the top ten list?

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Ok, it’s time for another round-up of all-time favorite design pieces. This time: mirrors. When I was compiling this list I realized that I lean toward more ornate, glamorous mirrors. Perhaps its because of their ability to transform an otherwise ‘safe’ scheme into something altogether more fanciful and exotic. Perhaps it’s because I believe a fabulous mirror doesn’t just reflect light and create the illusion of space, but can also be a work of art in its own right. All of the following have a magical quality to them that tells you something about their owners.

Coco stick mirrors conjure up images of beach huts, sandy feet and easy living. At least, that’s what this space below says to me (from House Beautiful, via Ill Seen, Ill Said).

Ever on-the-ball, West Elm has just brought out its own version. Not too bad, eh?

Now, the ultimate luxury mirror in my opinion is the peacock feather mirror – this one’s from Wisteria. You only have to check out my blog header to know how much I love this look. The mirrored circles sparkle like over-sized sequins, while the textured metal surface gives the whole piece that vintage appeal. What’s more, it works equally well in a modern space as a traditional interior. Whatever the space is like, this mirror lends both glamor and charisma.

Bone inlay (and mother of pearl inlay) mirrors are another favorite because of their spectacular craftsmanship. Many of them are made in India and bring the romantic aesthetic of that country to a space. Graham and Green has an amazing selection of bone inlay mirrors and furniture.

For something altogether simpler, I like a round mirror like these below. It pulls a room together so effortlessly. I’ve used the image below before and don’t recall the source unfortunately. But I love how the clean lines of this mirror offset the ornate fireplace. I used the same technique at home by adding a simple round mirror to balance out a display of photos and ceramics on our dining room sideboard.

Here’s the same technique used again: an ornate bed and stools (more bone inlay!) contrasted with the simple mirror. From Domino.

At the other end of the scale, Venetian glass mirrors are anything but simple and clean-lined. But these mirrors are so pretty, almost like lace, they add a luxe element to any room. And what is it with Venetian glass and pink bathrooms? Maybe it’s their sugar-plum quality, but this has to be the perfect pairing! The first image here is from Domino.

And this one’s via A Life More Fabulous.

A more homely, toned down version of this look is the shabby chic white-framed mirror. Just one stand-out piece works well in a mostly-white scheme (via The City Sage):

Or an entire wall of smaller ones (via Kika Reichart).

Finally, what better way to add polish to a space than with a starburst mirror? These have a more upscale look but are anything but staid. Their shape adds energy and movement to even the most tailored room.

Via Dwellings and Decor.

Now it’s your turn. Anyone got any other favorites that should be on this list?

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