How to Decorate a Neutral Living Room

  • 01 of 10

    Have Fun with Neutral Colors

    Neutral living room with luxury touches
    Caiaimage/Martin Barraud/Getty Images

    Think neutral color schemes are boring? Nothing could be further from the truth. Neutral rooms can be calm and relaxing yes, but they can also be fun, energetic and full of life. The key is to use a variety of complimentary tones, mix materials, and play with patterns​—just like you would with any other palette. 

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  • 02 of 10

    Pattern and Texture

    Patterned pillows on a neutral sofa
    Cultura Exclusive/Matelly/Getty Images

    When decorating with a neutral color scheme, it's really important to bring in a variety of patterns and textures. By offsetting rough with soft, shiny with matte and coarse with smooth,  it's possible to create depth and interest, making the room more dynamic. Think about using textures such as linens, suede’s, velvets, cable knits, sheepskins and more. When it comes to using textures in a neutral living room, you can almost never have too many. Patterns are similar in that you need...MORE some to create contrast, but try to stick with the regular rules for mixing patterns.

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  • 03 of 10

    Create a Relaxing Atmosphere

    A neutral sectional sofa in a large living room
    Skit Inc.

    If you want to create a relaxing retreat, a neutral color palette could be the way to go. In this fresh yet soothing room featured on Income Property, a large linen-colored sectional fills one corner and is enhanced by a collection of throw pillows. Notice that the pillows are all different shades of similar, light neutrals - just enough to create a little interest without causing visual clutter. Even though there is a shade of blue included, it's soft enough that it reads as neutral (a...MORE clever trick that can be accomplished with almost any pastel shade). A taupe area rug sits on a foundation of dark wood, creating a little bit of contrast, and the walls, window treatments, and accessories are all various shades of ivory, beige, and taupe. Together they create a calming environment that encourages rest and relaxation.

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  • 04 of 10

    Add Sophistication with Grey

    Grey living room with luxury details
    ED REEVE/Getty Images

    Sophistication is easy to achieve when using neutral tones. In this photo, it works particularly well due to the use of a single grey tone that has been accented with luxurious details. Floor-to-ceiling drapes, button tufting, and reflective surfaces contribute to the luxe look and create an atmosphere of elegance. Even though grey used to be thought of as dreary and dull, in the last 10 years or so attitudes about grey have changed, and it's currently the hot go-to neutral. More...MORE elegant than brown and more versatile than taupe, grey is a flexible shade that can work in just about any room.

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  • 05 of 10

    Include Architectural Details

    Neutral living room with reclaimed wood details
    Benjamin Moore

    There's more to decorating neutral rooms than just furniture and wall colors. To add interest to a neutral room think about including architectural details such as ceiling beams, shiplap, wainscoting, decorative columns and even simple crown molding. These things can have a significant impact on rooms that are without a lot of colors. Remember also that neutral doesn't have to mean white. The reclaimed wood beams in this room provide some contrast to the all-white decor making the...MORE room visually dynamic.

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  • 06 of 10

    Create a Family Friendly Atmosphere

    Transitional living room with a neutral color palette
    Skit Inc.

    A neutral living room can be very livable and family friendly, as evidenced here by Sidra's living room. Part of the reason in this room is due to the use of darker neutrals such as brown and black, and the use of patterns. So many people associate neutral with white, and there's still quite a bit of debate about how to define “neutral” when it comes to colors, but they are generally considered to be those that don’t make an appearance on the color wheel. So a neutral living room can be...MORE white, black grey, or shades of brown and taupe. Unlike an all-white room, a room full of dark neutrals invites people to kick back and relax without fear of getting things dirty.

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  • 07 of 10

    Create a Luxe Look

    Luxurious white living room
    Pinterest (original source unknown)

    Despite some prevailing opinions, a neutral living room does not have to be bland. In fact, all-neutral rooms can be super chic and even glamorous. This room uses a combination of elements to create the effect. Applied molding on the walls, button tufting on the sofa, and the use of reflective surfaces such as glass, mirror, chrome, and silver all combine to create a luxurious atmosphere. Just because a room has a neutral color palette doesn't mean it can't have a little sparkle!

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  • 08 of 10

    Make it Modern

    A modern, neutral living room
    Skit Inc

    If your decorating style leans towards modern or contemporary, a neutral color scheme is something you should seriously consider. Black, white beige, and grey lend themselves very well to the simplicity of contemporary and mid-century modern decor. But as always, remember to include a variety of textures and tones to keep it from falling flat.

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  • 09 of 10

    It's All in the Details

    A cozy living room
    Westend61/Getty Images

    Neutral living rooms can be just as warm, comfortable and cozy as their more colorful counterparts. But if you don’t pay attention to the little details, you run the risk of ending up with a bland and boring space. Even though this room has very little in it, the subtle details, such as the textured feature wall and springbok pillows prevent it from being boring. It retains its simplicity but is still very comfortable.

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  • 10 of 10

    Comfort and Warmth

    Comfy neutral living room
    Patti McConville/Getty Images

    Every neutral room, no matter whether it's light or dark, needs a little warmth. There are a few ways to accomplish this. One is through the use of soft textures that feel nice to the touch. Think about using velvets, wools, chenilles and even microsuedes. Another is through using neutrals with warm undertones. For example, if grey is your neutral of choice consider something with brown undertones instead of blue undertones. And finally, to add warmth, you want to include some wood...MORE tones. Wood adds depth to any space so pop in some wood tables or side chairs with wooden legs. A little bit can go a long way. However, if the wood isn't your style warm metals such as brass and bronze can also help add warmth.