Ode to Neutrals

September 3, 2021

2021’s Most Comforting Canvas.

Sanctuary, and the search for calm, was once an every-now-and-then spoil. A special treat. But now that we’re more than 500 stress-filled days into the Pandemic, the hunt for soul-soothing solutions has become an everyday activity. The Sanctuary Trend with its cocooning aesthetic of tangible comfort has arrived and we don’t see it hopping on a bus any day soon. Just breathe!

Creating a calm space around us goes beyond lighting a few scented soy candles; it requires a careful and considered curation of tones and textures that link each room in a continuous song of gentle joy. We like to call it The Stress Relief Palette, and it stars our all-time favourites. Neutrals. 2021’s most comforting canvas.

We love neutrals for their plush elegance, and their pleasingly elastic personality – perfectly suited to urban, classic, modern or natural mood boards. From traditional to cottagecore, to contemporary and minimalist.

So. What are neutrals? Traditionally speaking, neutral interior design means putting together a look ‘without colour’. Neutrals can be defined as all those hues that are not on the colour wheel (the colour wheel is populated with reds, blues, yellows, greens, oranges, pinks, purples). However! In almost every instance, a neutral has an underlying hint of colour. And that’s what makes this palette endlessly fascinating when putting a room together. It also means we need to watch which neutrals we layer together, to create soothing, multidimensional magic.

The traditional neutrals. Black, whites, greys. Browns and beiges can also sit here.

Blue occasionally plays here, too. And metals. You may have heard of the term achromatic? Traditional neutrals are achromatic. Not to be confused with monochromatic interior design, which means the use of varying shades of one colour. (For example, a room entirely populated with shades of blue is a monochromatic room design.... but that’s a story for another day.)

But won’t a colourless room be... dull, or even worse... depressing? Far from it. An achromatic room is calm personified. Uplifting. Cleansing. And, if you like, it can be accented with pops of colour. Pattern and texture also add layers of loveliness. But remember, we’re looking for restful, no razzmatazz. We need to quiet the mind, not get the bees buzzing.

The new neutrals. We’ve been watching with interest and curiosity the rise of new neutrals. The murmur of tea rose or palest peach, or a sigh of lavender, a breath of blue, or a kiss of sage, or a hint of yellow. Then there are the taupes, the glowing ivories, the terracottas, the chocolates, the honeyed woods and greiges. There are gentle earth tone poems that reflect dry grasses, an antelope’s tawny flanks, meltwater after winter snow, sea sand, rocks after rain, clouds with the sun shining through. Bleached driftwood. Eggshells. Calming, nature-inspired palettes. The new neutrals are naturals.

How to put your neutral palette together. There’s no one way to create your cocooning aesthetic. Let’s look at some ideas.


Dark and light neutrals. You could pair dark and light neutrals. Darks anchor the room, like an accent wall or headboard in rich brown, a dark charcoal floor tile (très trendy, like our Klif Dark stone-look tiles), a deep gold rug, a navy sofa, a black splashback in the kitchen (our Black Glazed Mini Mosaics or Spearhead Black Mosaics). Dark neutrals play best with light neutrals in the same ‘temperatures’. Warm with warm, or cool with cool. A delicious warm espresso brown loves a lighter tan, or honeyed wood (ooh, have you seen our Exence Italian oak look range?), but also plays beautifully with a cool, light, neutral pop, like aqua or blue.


Get the dark and light neutral look. How about the cool neutral of Aria Green as a bathroom feature wall? This decorative Spanish wall tile rocks a calm, pale meltwater green. Just a whisper away from fresh mint. Use a herringbone installation pattern to add a twist. Browse our incredible collection of Victoria and Alberts baths and basins (black and white available). Consider a seamless, silvery grey marbled look with Olympia Grey Glazed Polished Porcelain mega tile (600 x 1200). Then, create dark contrast with matt black Prato taps and shower mixers.


Be mindful of the details when constructing your dark and light look... right down to the little things, like our Oceania Mia Flush Plate. This little marvel allows you to cut the tile of your choice (speak to us about our waterjet tile cutting service) to create the front face of your flush plate. This ensures the flush plate matches your neutral bathroom palette. How nifty is that?

Create some monochromatic mood enhancement. If you want to seek everyday solace in a sophisticated sanctuary, the monochromatic mood board is on point. How to start? Begin with the shade you truly love and could easily live with. Let’s say it’s brown. (Good choice!) Balance out your layering with every tone... espresso, to chocolate, to praline, tan, right through to ivories and warm creams.

The warm dream-creams are have-to-haves here. Soft stone colours, gentle terracotta and clay. “I love warm creams and lovely stone colours- colours that leave me feeling grounded. I’ve also found myself leaning into terracotta tones. I love washing an entire room in the same colour and finishing with linen or stone. I expect to see a lot of these natural, earthy tones...”, says Jade Joyner of Metal + Petal. We couldn’t agree more. Read more about her signature aesthetic here.


Get the monochromatic look. We’re thinking rich browns into tans, creams and ivories. Start with ultra-deluxe Intarsi, unique patterned tiles by Ceramica Sant’Agostino that feature a fusion of rare, rich fruitwood looks and cooler marbles. If you’re a traditionalist, perhaps our Cotto Patchworks in tans and greiges will soothe your soul. Both options are eco-chic to the bone. Then, layer up with the worn stone look of Aix, by Atlas Concorde.

Neutrals with pops of colour. If you love the idea of neutral walls and furniture but still want to express your creativity, a neutral colour scheme with pops of colour can be a wonderful choice. With a neutral canvas as a starter, you have the freedom to add brighter or heavily saturated colours. But. Choose only two or three accent colours or you could turn your sanctuary into a screech fest. This can get pretty out of hand without guidance. While you can pair a cool grey with warm accents, or a warm neutral with cool accents, mixing both cool and warm accents with neutrals can create stress and tension in your design. And that’s the last thing you need when building your soothing sanctuary. Care is needed. We’re standing by to assist.

Get the neutrals-with-colour-pops look. Let’s look at a delightfully Boho Natural Neutral mood board. Start with our warm, touchy-feely Tesla Urban Taupe on the walls. Beautifully textured and varied. Then how about considering our ColorArt worn wood look tiles for the floor? This exquisite range offers many colourways: Carbon (a burnt mid-brown wood feel), Light (with those bleached beach house vibes), Desert (taupe) and Bone (the grey-brown many designer's term greige). If you’re more of a honeyed wood lover, then Exence by Atlas Concorde is your go-to. Of course, you can always look at Barkwood in Burnt (a warm, espresso-hued look). Top of the ‘pops’ is our stunning Mosaics: from cool tones to warm hues, from subdued to bright, in geometrics, mini subways and microspheres.

Texture, texture, texture. Shape, shape, shape. Pattern, pattern, pattern. The curves with the geometrics. Circles, spheres with squares. Ripples with zigzags. Botanical and organic. Curvy, sensual art nouveau shapes. Art Deco geometry. Dots and spots. Stripes. Symmetrical. Asymmetrical. Create the story, then, add textures. Layer upon layer. Glass. Metals. Corduroy. Velvet. Nubbly wool. Raw linen. Faux fur. Cloudy sea glass. Wicker, rattan, jute, coir. Leather. Wood. Stone. Steel. Natural stone cladding. Stippled terrazzo. Mosaic work. Put the glossy with the semi-gloss satin. The matt black with the silky veined marble.


Get the textures, patterns and shapes to complete your look. Italtile’s got it all. We’re a one-stop natural-neutrals shop. Go NewDeco for stippled, sparkly terrazzo. How about our Black and White Patchwork – a monochromatic black, white, greige delight with its floral and geometric patterns. Space Neve Satin Ceramic Wall Tiles with their 3D sculptural look that light loves to play with. Even more texture? The Affirmations Black Stallion Mirror – brilliant clarity in a circular mirror with a leather strap that’s bang on-trend. OK, one last thought... we can’t think of anything more textural than our gorgeous ranges of Natural Stone Cladding.

Calm your farm. Creating your cocoon should be a trouble-free process from start to finish. Don’t stress for even a second... we are standing by to help you in so many ways. Ask about our sample tiles, which you can take home. While you’re browsing the ranges in one of our showrooms, reach out to one of our design-certified sales assistants. You could also pop online and use the easy-peasy, step-by-step uView service, or our new Digital Showroom. If you’ve got a query we can’t answer, we’ll pass it on to design diva Melanie Ewing, the CEO of Chapter Interiors, and get back to you. Then, once you’ve selected your knockout neutral looks, speak to us about our professional delivery and installation services.

Beautiful living begins when peace breaks out all over your home. We’re here to help make it happen. Go neutral, naturally. Cocoon your way through September, into summer, and beyond.