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How to Build a Beautiful Neutral Living Room

neutral living room

Parents busy with all the responsibilities of family life may feel like they have very little time to devote to interior design. No one knows this better than me, a mom of seven who’s helped hundreds of busy families create spaces that are every bit as beautiful as they are multi-functional, and my new Downtown Collection is the perfect marriage of the two.

Downtown to me is where I raised my kids. It’s a lot of grit, a lot of heart, a lot of flair and so much to be inspired by. Here are my top tips for creating a neutral living space that is as beautiful as your family.

Cortney’s Take on Neutrals

Based on the style of the iconic New York neighborhood, the Downtown Collection takes the guesswork out of designing for the modern family. This collection is a true representation of my life and what inspires me. When I’m designing, I think about how an individual family lives, entertains, retreats and finds solace. With this inspiration, this collection aims to offer great style and real function for families.

Picking timeless, quality, neutral pieces will give you the background you need to create spaces that reflect who you are as a family. Investing in quality furniture means every piece lasts longer and is more versatile, fulfilling your family’s need to evolve the space over time. With the Downtown Collection, you can have stylish, luxury designs on a family-friendly budget.

Neutral Living Room Ideas

The biggest design trap I see clients fall into is thinking that neutrals lead to one-dimensional spaces with little room for your personality to shine. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Instead, neutrals allow you to build up layers of texture and interest throughout the room and give the family heirlooms and one-of-a-kind pieces you already own a chance to step into the spotlight.

Start with a Neutral Backdrop

Paint your room with neutral colors — soft grays and whites are Cortney’s go-to’s for a timeliness and endlessly functional look. Don’t be concerned that the room will be cold. The warm wood tones, textures and pops of color you’ll add with accessories and decor objects will create an inviting space.

Once you’ve got paint on the walls, think about which parts of the room you’ll want to be the focus, and consider everything else as part of a neutral backdrop. Cortney’s favorite trick is to use neutral brown tones as a way to unify pieces like coffee tables and sofa tables to keep the entire space feeling cohesive. The chestnut wood veneers featured in the Downtown Collection are particularly versatile, not to mention a more forgiving surface for busy families while providing warm, earthy richness to your living room space.

Though sofas tend to be the single biggest piece of furniture in a living room, Cortney recommends thinking about them as part of this neutral backdrop as well. A neutral, quality sofa like the Downtown Collection’s Hudson Park Stationary Sectional with Chaise is elegant enough as a statement piece, but the understated lines and greige upholstery allow it to be as versatile as your life demands. 

Add your Personal Style with Patterns, Accessories and Finishes

A blend of neutrals is a classic way to create a beautiful living room with a sense of calm. Next up comes layering in your unique style with patterns and pops of color. Add splashes of color with art, accessories, rugs and cushions to express your unique tastes. You can change these up as often as you like.

To ensure the space stays cohesive as you layer in these pieces, I recommend keeping a color palette in mind. For example, pick a single statement piece — like the Round Ottoman and Pillows Set in Auburn Bloom — and use that as the foundation for your supplementary color palette. In this case, you could incorporate the warm rusty orange tones featured in the upholstery throughout your art, accessories and accents. Look to complementary deep greens and blues to add even more visual interest. 

In addition to incorporating color and pattern into neutral designs, I also recommend looking for pieces that feature tasteful metal accents. The brass and champagne gold featured throughout the Downtown Collection were inspired by the sparkle of Downtown New York, where I raised my kids. When I think of sparkle, I think of Downtown. It’s the lights and the energy, and so that’s what I love to use in a lot of the hardware for the collection. That mix of materials reminds me of Downtown — it’s a mix of characters and a mix of people that is so special to me.

Focus on Functionality

When it comes to designing a living room, the most important thing is that everyone feels welcome. We’re a family of nine, of course, so I always make sure there are enough seats and spaces for everyone — but we also know that not everyone has a huge living room. I really tried to think of function, size and style when it came to sofas and coffee tables in this collection.

With that in mind, I recommend focusing on a multi-functional space with some carefully chosen items. For example, the Wooster Sofa Table with stools from the Downtown Collection tucks in neatly behind your sofa and can serve as the perfect place for homework, a game station or a snack station that keeps food off the couch. Games, remotes, and books can be tucked away in a coffee table with plenty of storage when not in use.

Similarly, the Wooster Storage Coffee Table can offer a central hub with ample storage in front of your entertainment space. Four sleek hidden drawers are perfect for hiding away remote controls, coasters, movies, magazines and other daily items. The glass top raised by champagne gold metal bars lends more than a classy edge to your room. It protects the wood veneer from wear and tear, and it offers a coveted spot to showcase treasures like vintage pieces, candles or other trinkets you want to display.

Your living space should also serve as a natural hub for entertaining. Think about picking pieces that are chic, but can transition easily from snuggle time with the family to a sophisticated evening with friends. Your space needs to look sleek, modern and fresh, not sloppy and messy, but it does need to be comfortable when you have family movie night!

Design Starts with You

Though the design principles we’ve outlined here will certainly help you create a space that feels as good as it looks, my design philosophy ultimately boils back down to the individual. I think the standards of design are ruled by your own life. What are your standards and moral compass? Bring that to your own living room. The Downtown collection is the perfect embodiment of this ethos, as it brings together the elements that made my family life in Downtown New York so special. These pieces are from my home to yours.



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