Neon Colors: Bright Idea or Decorating Overkill?

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Neon Colors: Bright Idea or Decorating Overkill?

Staff Writer · Jan 6, 2011

Using neon colors in interior design is a bit of a judgment call. Some people think the only place for neon is in the local tavern, while others enjoy the retinal delights of these ultra-bright hues. Selecting neon colors for an interior space can be a cool idea or a decorating “epic fail.” Often, the difference lies in some thoughtful matching of interior materials, colors and furniture setups rather than a scattered, distracted approach.

Consider Lit or Unlit Neon Colors

When people think about neon colors, lots of them think about neon lights, such as those on advertising signs. There is another alternative for neon, though. Some interior design elements include a neon look that’s made not from lights, but from paints that seem to have been mixed with some kind of uranium goo. Lit and unlit neon have different appearances and affect interior design in different ways. Either of these are an option for making a space more lively.

Evaluate Alternatives Like LED Lighting

If you are simply wanting to give your interior space a brilliant, dazzling feel, you might want to look at some new kinds of lighting that rival neon in functionality, safety and ease of use. LED lighting is a top choice. This electronic type of lighting uses much less heat energy than incandescent bulbs, making it much less of a safety risk and more of a versatile interior design choice. For instance, you can string LED “rope lights” (many small LED lights inside flexible plastic tubes) around without spiking your homeowners or renter’s insurance, (though there’s still the issue of safe wiring). LEDs can be an effective choice where neon might be too hard to implement in a space.

Ask Your Roommates (All of Them!)

Some kinds of interior decorating nightmares are victimless crimes. If you want your house or apartment to look like Miami Vice, that’s your prerogative, unless it makes somebody else miserable. Before you implement your groundbreaking neon color improvements, check with everyone in your household to make sure they are at least ambivalent, or passively on board. As some of your cohabitants might point out, neon is usually used in commercial, not residential design, but you might be able to bring skeptics around by sharing the details and rationale for your plan.

Think About Collectible Neon for Themed Rooms

One of the best uses of neon colors, according to lots of fair-minded decorators, is the use of collectible elements where they contribute to a theme for a space. An additional benefit of collectible neon items is that most of them can be turned off to save energy. Having a neat collectible branded item in an interior rather than an indiscriminate sea of neon can be a more balanced choice for your home.

These are just some of the finer details of selecting color choices that can attract a lot of controversy from all of your fiercest critics. Use your best judgment in finding what looks good for your space.

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