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Minimal & Cosy? Here's How, by Toby Turnbull

Neutral colours are timeless, sure. But the variety of shades available makes choosing the right one a bit tough. That said, warm neutral shades of beige and greige (it’s a thing) are both timeless and bang on trend. It’s no surprise that they’re COAT’s most popular shades then.

With the help of COAT pal Toby Turnbull and his minimal mid-century style flat in Manchester (@theroomathetop on Insta…) - we’re taking a dive into warm neutral schemes and how to create a minimal look that feels anything but sparse.

Shop Japandi Neutral schemes 

Stylish young man sitting in front of a warm neutral wall painted in Sunday Soul by COAT paints

Toby’s @theroomatthetop flat in Manchester is perfectly pared back and timeless to a tee

Toby is a teacher by day, and interior-obsessed designer by night. His top floor flat in Manchester city wrote the rulebook on neutral mid-century style. The small space meant choosing colours, furniture and accents carefully and the result is a timeless space that’s both minimal and inviting.  We’ve loved working with Toby to give some colour to the walls. Or no colour. You’ll see...

“My interior style is a blend of others” says Toby. “I love mid-century furniture with its sleek shapes and solid materials, but I’m a sucker for classical details and rustic touches, just to soften up the edges. All of this is bound up with a love of neutral, earthy tones.”

Shop beautiful Neutral COAT colours here.

Morning sun casts a shadow on warm neutral wall with soft bedding in the foreground

Rich beige ‘Pudding’ by COAT natural accents help soften a minimalist scheme, making it feel cosy

Toby’s the first to admit that he’s not keen on being labelled as a “beige lover”, despite his apartment being something of a neutral showcase. But when you walk into Toby’s place it’s really hard to argue that beige is boring. It’s somehow striking in a classy way, and purposeful without being loud. That’s pretty much what minimalism is about.

Minimally Styled living room with mid century furniture and the evening light on the warm beige painted wall

Warm neutral colours like Sunday Soul come to life with a few darker accents

“I like that warm neutrals can really make a space feel serene and welcoming, but also cool and nonchalant, depending on the shade” says Toby. “My friends like to joke that I’m obsessed with beige, and they’re partly right, but it’s more than that. I love so many vibrant colours, but for me these neutral, earthy tones both elevate a room and give it a cool but sophisticated softness at the same time. They’re subtle, but powerful.”

Pro Tip: choose a neutral colour to paint your walls, and a bolder accent colour for artwork and soft furnishings. It’s easier to change these over time.

Shop Warm Neutral COAT colours here.

Minimalist Living Room wide metal sideboard and bright window flooding the room with light

Toby’s style is minimal, but anything but clinical thanks to warmer colours and natural materials

When you think of minimalism, it’s often images of sparsely furnished white rooms that spring to mind. Harsh lines, bright light and not much of a homely feel. But thanks to the warm neutral colours and natural woods, Toby’s flat feels quite the opposite. It’s a small space so furniture is carefully chosen and accessories are pared back so as not to overwhelm the place. It’s minimalism, done right.

Rattan basket and beige rug against a warm neutral painted wall

Less is definitely more. Sunday Soul is a warm taupe shade on the walls here

“I think a neutral colour palette can work in different ways. I like that it can really make a space feel serene and welcoming, but also cool and nonchalant.” says Toby. “Mid-century style is my go-to because to me it’s just effortlessly timeless. I try to keep things minimal because it gives the flat a bit of grandeur. That and it stops the place from being quite so messy.”

Neutral Living room with mid century furniture

Keeping things tonal keeps the scheme tight, without feeling “matchy matchy”

“My favourite room in the flat has to be the living room. I think the colours in here tie together really well, and the mixture of different textures and tones all with the warming backdrop of Sunday Soul just makes you feel like you’re getting a hug when you walk in” says Toby.

Shop Japandi Neutral schemes

The living room really is a masterclass in keeping things tonal - meaning everything from walls to accents is a shade variation on beige or brown. It keeps the scheme looking tight and together without being “matchy matchy”. Choosing different shades from the same spectrum (rather than looking for complimentary or contrast colours) can help create a softer, more uniform space that works really well to create calm bedrooms and living spaces.

Pro Tip: choose different paint shades of the same colour, instead of contrast colours, to create a cohesive scheme

Sunday Soul, Good Intentions and Mindful from COAT are all shades of Taupe from the same spectrum, so work really well together for walls, ceilings and woodwork in a tonal scheme.

Mid century style kitchen with mid blue painted wall and stylish accents

That looks suspiciously like a colour on the wall Mr. Mid-Century Neutrals…

“One of the trickiest parts of the flat to design was the kitchen space” says Toby. “It’s not a full room, just one wall along the other end of the living space. To try and give the kitchen its own feel and separate it from the other areas, we painted it a deep, petrol green-blue colour and tied it in with the living area with neutral and wooden accessories. It’s not our dream kitchen, but for a rental, we’re pretty pleased with it.”

Here are some Top Tips to consider for decorating and furnishing smaller spaces:

Choose warm paint shades: forget bright white or anything blue-y grey. It’s a myth that white shades make a room feel magically bigger. Warm greige like Sunday Soul, or earthy off-white like Mindful are much better options.

Use the room’s height: Placing items or objects at different levels around the room will also draw the eye to their different heights and away from the size of the space” says Toby.

Less is more (kind of): A common mistake with minimalism is having so little on display that it feels sparse. As a general rule, try to have a focal piece for each wall (could be furniture, or artwork), and soften 2 edges with floor-level accessories. “There’s a fine line between having so little that the room’s small size is glaringly obvious and having too much which makes the room feel cluttered and, ultimately, smaller” says Toby.

Get a rug: Rugs can help mask the harsh edges of a small room by expanding the space in the middle. But choose the right size. “if it’s a small living space you’re furnishing- BUY A BIG ENOUGH RUG! We had a small rug when we moved in and it just brought the walls closer together; the much larger one we have now makes the living room feel like a spacious, sprawling grand hall… almost” says Toby.

With COAT’s range of warm neutrals you pretty much can’t go wrong - we promise. 

Shop beautiful Warm Neutral COAT colours here. 




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