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New neutrals have touches of color added to a gray base

September 05, 2013

Hardwood FloorsGray is everywhere these days - home magazines, TV design shows and stylish movie sets for romantic comedies. But have you considered taupe, a derivative that Style at Home calls gray's "friendlier cousin?" Taupe goes beautifully with warm wood tones like the ones in Anderson's Eagle Lodge floor collection. And that's just the start of its versatile place in home design.

Taupe is one of several colors that are considered new neutrals. They have a touch of color added to a gray base, from silvery sage to delicate lilac. They can be warm or cool depending on the particular shade chosen for a room design. And they have taken home decorators beyond bland beige and flat gray to give wall colors more depth than their simpler neutral relatives ever did.

The new neutrals also allow homeowners to create new combinations with brighter accent hues and finishes that make the most of these colors.

Finishing touches
Whether you're choosing a vibrant warm color or a cool one that evokes peace and relaxation, the finish on the color can influence the personality of the final product on walls, ceilings and trims. Just as interior designers have stepped up their use of oyster hues, variations of gray and more colorful neutrals, a new range of finishes have been developed to give surfaces a unique sheen.

While most people know about the basic levels of gloss - non-shiny flat, eggshell and glossy paints - they should also ask at their local paint shop about those that fall between. These include a matte finish that's a midway point between flat and eggshell and contains porcelain dust for easier cleaning. Likewise, pearly finishes fall between eggshell and semi-gloss, and stand up well in kitchens and other areas that retain moisture.

For casual spaces
For a casual look in family or children's rooms, there are versions of greens or blues – touted as the reigning favorite colors by designers - that are toned down from pure primary colors, according to Debbie Zimmer, the Paint Quality Institute's paint and color expert.

"There are the greens that gravitate toward blue, which just happens to be projected as the other popular paint color this year," she said. "Bluish-greens like teal, turquoise, aquamarine and cyan are hot designer choices."

Zimmer suggested that homeowners also consider the greens and blues that appear in great variety within nature. These shades are versatile enough to act as both stepped-up neutrals or toned-down accent shades.