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Natural Beauty: Decorating with Neutral Colors

California decorator and mom of two Lisa Price has more than a few down-to-earth ideas for making a house a home.

By Sarah Stebbins

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Living room
Edmund Barr
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Awash in sandy shades of cream, khaki, and chocolate, Lisa Price's Cape Cod-style home feels as carefree as a day at the beach. "I like to think of all the rooms as a neutral whole, as opposed to jolts of different colors," says Lisa, an interior designer and mom to Madison, 17, and Hunter, 14. "It's a comfortable way to live, and the palette also makes any home feel more spacious," she says. Dark woods and white or ivory overstuffed furniture create the backdrop for Lisa's favorite accessories. She combines lively patterns—bold animal prints and graphic medallions—with glamorous elements, like a crystal chandelier found at a flea market. Layering tones and textures, such as linen with leather, ensures that beige is never boring. Lisa's strategy also lets her change the look of a room with little effort. Need extra seating in the living room? Pull in an upholstered bench from the bedroom. Tired of last year's look? Punch it up with contrasting throw pillows. Piles of shells arranged in sophisticated mercury glass containers pretty much sum up Lisa's theory of decorating. "I love to mix casual with elegant," she says. "But mostly, I want my home to be peaceful, a place where we can all relax."

Comfort Zone

Lisa created a living room that's day-to-day relaxed, yet pretty and pulled together enough for entertaining. Her signature elements include buff-hued walls, seagrass carpeting, and generously proportioned furnishings. White denim slipcovers are durable and easy to wash. Against this blank canvas, she layers lively accents like a playful vintage advertising poster and a colorful abstract painting.

Lisa's Little Hints

—Choose an oversize area rug. "I like when all the furniture in the room touches the carpet," says Lisa. A floor covering that stops short of the sofa tends to break up and shrink the space.

—Use contrasting textures, fabrics, and shapes to keep the neutral look dynamic. Introduce hits of color in the artwork and accessories.

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