How To Use Color As A Whimsical Pop In A Neutral Space




“People think of our work as colorful, but if you actually look it’s quite neutral and restrained in a way,” insists designer Beata Heuman. Take for instance this London snug, where orange tigers prance across the walls and a theatrically canopied azure sofa stares down a moss green rug. Somehow, the tone is serene.

“Generally, I do neutral backdrops with flashes of color where you wouldn’t expect it,” explains Heuman, whose whimsical portfolio shines in her new book, Every Room Should Sing. “In this room, the traditional order would have been plain walls and pattern on the furniture, so we tried to invert that,” she says. Another trick: Using the same white paint across a home’s ceilings and woodwork, a move she deems “really important to tying things together.”

Heuman credits her philosophy to a deep-seated passion for art, citing Vermeer’s color mastery in particular as aspiration. “Think of his paintings. They’re all dark and neutral, and then you’ll spot these flashes—a white collar, a red lip.” Similarly, “every room needs a pop of color,” she says. “Here, it’s the red beak of the bird on the pillow, and I have to say, that pillar box red is great. If a room doesn’t feel quite vibrant enough, adding a tiny splash of it can really lift things!”


beata color palette

From left to right:

Teal: “Blue is a really nice way of adding color without it feeling too dominant.” Naivasha Cotton /

Off-White:“I almost always use this particular white on the ceilings, which has a bit of gray to it.” Strong White Paint /

Hay: “This fabric is a good balance of ‘out there’ and natural with the sandy background.” Tiger Silk /

Emerald: “I love doing green rugs—they feel like a lawn!” Hemp Dhurrie /