Interior Design

Designer Bobby Berk shares his secret to using neutrals – and creating a dynamic scheme

This is how to master the art of neutrals, the Bobby Berk way

Neutral living room with cream chairs
(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell)

With soft grays and earthy hues at the forefront of the interiors industry, the topic of neutrals remains ever-popular amongst designers – and Bobby Berk is no expectation. 

The Queer Eye guru has gained Emmy recognition for his expertise – and his most recent advice is amongst his most helpful to date. So, what are Bobby Berk’s tips for using neutrals?

In an exclusive interview with H&G, Bobby shared neutral living room ideas – including how to create a refreshingly balanced palette – and how to give your room an organic feel. 

Below, he shares his interior design tips – and everything else you need to know for a beautiful scheme. 

Neutral living room with pattern sofa and rug

(Image credit: James Merrell / Future)

Bobby Berk’s tips for using neutrals 

‘Even a room that’s lacking in color can still be bursting with visual appeal. In fact, I love working with a neutral color palette because it can really translate into any design style. But the key to doing it successfully is to embrace a variety of elements that will add interest,’ Bobby says. But how do you add interest? 

1. Layer statement neutrals  

living room with cream backdrop and gray sofas and patterned cushions in Edinburgh Georgian townhouse designed by Jessica Buckley

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

‘Think about pieces that draw your eye, like sculptural vases, patterned pillows, or a graphic rug. Layering these items will make a room come to life, even when using only neutral shades,’ he explains. 

The designer continues, explaining how to mix patterns in a room in a way that adds instant interest to your room. ‘These pieces can also bring in an array of tones and patterns that will make the space feel much more dynamic, too.’ 

Bobby also suggests interrupting a neutral scheme with artwork, which, he says, is another ‘excellent way to add interest. ‘Consider using a mix of different media, scale, and framing styles,’ he adds. 

2. Combine contrasting materials  

Living room pictures neutral-living-room

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

‘You’ll want to combine materials and textures, which will create contrast and a sense of dimension. A room without a lot of color can tend to look really flat when you stick with similar materials,’ Bobby explains. So, which textures does he recommend using? 

‘That’s why I like to bring in warm wood tones, stone, and textured accessories that will create a sense of depth.’

3. Create a varied scheme with upholstered furniture 

Neutral colored chair in a contemporary living room

(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell)

‘Upholstered furniture is another way of varying a scheme, by pairing smoother fabrics (like velvet or leather) with chunkier, woven knits,’ Bobby suggests. He recommends adding natural accessories such as woven baskets, plants, and a dried branches for an organic aesthetic.  

Where to shop for neutrals 

I love Zara Home’s bedding and linens – as there are always lots of lovely textures and materials in simple shades. Room 365 is great for ceramics, trays, candles, and other accessories that will ensure plenty of interest in an understated room. 

As the power of neutrals shows no signs of wavering, we expect Bobby’s neutral home ideas will save our schemes for seasons to come.  

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.