Decorating with Neon: Can It Ever Be Tasteful? (Yes!)

October 23, 2013

Decorating with Neon: Can It Ever Be Tasteful? (Yes!)

Once filed under “Things From the 80’s We’d Just as Soon Forget,” neon has been staging as serious a comeback as shoulder pads and Donnie Wahlberg. And like a boozy New Kids on the Block cruise, here’s why you should hop on board this trend. It’s a super-simple way to make a tired room feel fresh and modern. Plus, neon plays nice with a broad range of styles. (Who knew?)

Ready to try decorating with neon? Since a little bit of the bright stuff goes a long way, use neon in small, carefully measured doses. Keep things sophisticated by playing it against softer colors, like pastels; neutrals, like beige and linen; or classic black and white. And experiment with placement — neon does especially well when it pops up in unexpected places, like the inside of drawers or as a knocker on the front door.

Need some inspiration? Here are some of my favorite ways to work eye-popping colors into any room.

On the Walls

Few things can spice up a stretch of blank wall like a frisson of neon. Look for swaths of it in wall hangings — think everything from a Pop Art-inspired poster to on-trend word art to an intricate tapestry.

Or, play around with the art you already own. Paint an ornate frame an irreverent, playful color, or swap out a white or black mat with a neon one. Just be sure it’s a piece you want to draw attention to, of course.

On Furniture

Feeling ambitiously crafty? Perk up an armchair or ottoman with neon piping, or reupholster a seat in an electric color. Choose high-contrast combos, like navy and lime green or off-white and hot pink.

Dip dye is perfect for beginners, especially if you’re still on the fence about this whole neon thing. Just pick a funky shade of paint you like and cover half of a vertical surface, like legs of a chair or table or a tall plant container.

Accent Pieces

Since they’re already small, accent pieces are an especially easy way to inject neon into a room. They’re also easy to replace when you’re ready to try another trend.

Throw pillows and comforters are obvious spots to show eye-popping shades some love. Unless you’re decorating a kid’s room, stick to ones with a neutral background and neon in the pattern. Lamps are also a great place to experiment with color — paint the base or glue a neon grosgrain ribbon border around the shade.

Some other ways to play with neon? Pick up brightly colored lacquered trays, placemats, servingware or even drinking straws to add a whimsical touch to home entertaining. Or, brighten up the home office by filling up a cute cup with a bunch of neon-colored pencils of the same shade.

Have a neon decorating suggestion? Let us know in the space below.

Bonnie Vengrow


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