How to Decorate With Neutral Colors

Think Beige Is Boring? Think Again

Living room decorated in neutral colors
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Neutral interiors are just as popular as ever, and there are several good reasons for it. Neutral rooms are elegant, classic, and they never go out of style. But there are several factors you have to take into account when decorating with neutrals.

What Is a Neutral Color?

There’s 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 show up on the color wheel. They’re soft, subtle, and blend effortlessly with other colors. Traditionally colors such as white, beige, grey, taupe, khaki, and ivory are considered neutral, but be aware that all of these can have different undertones and can be considered either warm or cool (which doesn’t make them any less neutral).

Neutral colors tend to be calming and easy to decorate with which is why so many people flock to them. Unlike stronger colors that can be difficult to match, neutral colors work with pretty much every other color.

Decorating with a neutral color scheme is usually considered “safe” but if you’re not careful a neutral room can be very bland and boring. If you’re going to decorate with neutral colors make sure you do it right.


When decorating with a neutral color scheme one of the most important things to do is bring in as much texture as possible. Offset rough with soft, shiny with matte and coarse with smooth. Texture is what will create the most interest, albeit subtly. Think about using textures such as linens, suedes, velvets, cable knits, sheepskins and more. When it comes to using textures in a neutral room you can rarely have too many.


Layering is what creates the greatest sense of depth in a space, and in neutral interiors, it’s more important than in any other. You can always layer fabrics such as throws and pillows on top of sofas and chairs, but don’t stop there. Try layering area rugs on top of one another, and layer pieces of art in front of each other.


When all of the colors in a room are almost the same, shape is what takes center stage. Don’t just buy furniture haphazardly; give serious thought to the shapes of your furniture and accessories because they will be very noticeable. A grey sofa against a grey wall becomes more interesting if it has a camelback or shapely cabriole legs.

Architectural Details

To add even more interest to a neutral room it’s great to have some architectural details. Think about things like wainscoting, chair rails, panels, ceiling medallions, and even simple crown molding. These details can have a significant effect in all-neutral rooms, more so than in their colorful counterparts.


Every neutral room needs some warmth. Part of this will be provided through various textures, but including materials such as wood can greatly help. Pop in some wood tables or side chairs with wooden legs. Warm metals such as brass and bronze can also help add warmth.

Seasonal Changes

Every neutral room can benefit from seasonal uplifts. When the weather gets colder, roll up sisal rugs and replace them with a plusher and darker neutral piece; switch out linen drapes for velvets (even if they’re the same color; and replace light summer pillows with heavier, darker versions.

Neutral interiors can be just as warm, comfortable and cozy as their more colorful counterparts. But if you don’t give them the proper amount of thought and attention you run the risk of living in a bland and boring space.

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