Discover colourful possibilities in a neutral space

Patterns, from polka dots to stripes, add visual interest to a neutral space

Ali Budd debated between becoming a lawyer and studying interior design before realizing home was where her heart is.

“I always loved interior design, and this is really what I wanted,” Budd said from a café on Avenue Road near Old Orchard Grove in a recent interview with the Town Crier.

The Ledbury Park resident graduated from the University of Western Ontario and the International Academy of Design and went on to work with interior designers and architects before launching her own company, Ali Budd Interiors, in 2010.

The North Toronto-based boutique design firm focuses on residential and commercial spaces.

“I want to create spaces that are beautiful and timeless,” she said. “That’s really important — that our clients don’t call us back five years from now and think that their spaces look really dated.”

Budd says she often receives requests for spaces to be decorated with neutrals, but clients are sometimes afraid it will feel one-dimensional. Here are some pointers she offers to ensure a neutral home remains interesting and rich:

Use different textures

“One of the biggest faux pas people make is they go out and buy a matching set,” she said. “The chairs, the couch, everything is in the same fabric and that’s what makes a space feel flat.”

She suggests incorporating a variety of textures, like linens with velvet and chenille, for some visual interest in a monochromatic room.

Add some flora

Greenery brings life into a neutral space, she said. Whether people treat themselves to fresh flowers every week or incorporate a tree or plant into a room, adding some flora compensates for a lack of colour in a living space.

Incorporate interesting art

Even if the main pieces in a room are neutrals like grey, taupe, white, cream, black or navy, Budd suggests going a little bolder with a piece of artwork that showcases more vibrant and bold colours.

Mix up the finishes

Budd said a common misconception people have is thinking that all the finishes in a room have to be the same. But having a coffee table made of wood does not dictate that everything else also has to be wooden.

“We like mixing lots of different finishes, so in one room we could do a mirrored table, with a brass lamp, with a wood coffee table,” she said. “Layering different finishes makes a space feel interesting.

“We never want a space to feel like you bought everything from one store.”

Play with patterns

Budd also suggests incorporating different patterns, from polka dots to stripes, to add visual interest to a neutral space.

“We’re doing a living room right now and everything is monochromatic in the big pieces but we did a stripe on the chairs and a really cool small dot pattern on the ottoman,” she said. “It’s all neutral but the patterns make it feel inviting and interesting.”

The plus side

When the main pieces in a home are neutral, home owners can bring in coloured accessories and art to easily change up the look of a room as they desire, Budd noted. Another benefit of a monochromatic home is the longevity of the look.

“I don’t think that you get sick of it as quickly,” she said. “You have this [neutral] palette that you can introduce new things to all the time if you want to make your room feel different.”

Trending tips by Ali

To incorporate trends into a home, Budd recommends scaling it down. Rather than doing two large chairs in a chevron print, which is popular right now, she would use it in a few pillows or accent pieces instead of for a living room.

Budd suggests targeting areas of the house where people don’t spend a lot of time, like the powder room or laundry room, to have more fun with trends by adding funky wallpaper or being bold with paint colour.


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Posted: Jun 9 2014 11:04 am
Filed in: Home
Edition: Toronto
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