10 Fresh Ways to Decorate With Neutrals

Black and white living room

Laura Brophy Interiors

When any trend gains enough popularity to cement itself as a foundational part of interior design, it also becomes harder for it to feel fresh and updated. A perfect example these days is the much-loved neutral color family. While neutrals have been around forever, there has been an uptick in rooms and homes exclusively using these subdued palettes in the last several years.

But, as mentioned, it's easy for things to feel repetitive after a while and to fall into the same patterns when using them to decorate. If every neutral room is beginning to look the same to your eyes, you wouldn't be the first to think so.

The key is finding design ideas that involve neutrals but express them in a fresh way. If you love what neutrals can do for a space and are set on having them throughout your home, there are plenty of options that won't feel redundant or blah.

  • 01 of 10

    Pick a Pattern

    Patterned front entryway

    Desiree Burns Interiors

    A pattern that might be loud or a little too bold for your liking instantly becomes chic when it's rendered in a neutral color. It's the best of both worlds—visual interest from the pattern and a quiet overall aesthetic from the neutral color. This is also a clever way to play with the same color throughout a room and not have it feel completely monochromatic.

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  • 02 of 10

    Make Neutrals the Accent Colors

    Green room with neutral accents

    Marie Flanigan Interiors

    Try keeping neutrals off the walls and foundational pieces. If a room were a stage play, neutrals are often front and center. But send them upstage and give other shades a chance to shine. As this room exemplifies, neutrals can be great accents. In doing so, a space will have more personality and stand out among rooms that went down the subdued route.

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  • 03 of 10

    Play With Shape and Dimension

    Neutral console area

    Alvin Wayne

    Save for the neon books, this nook completely embraces neutral colors but does so in a way that's not cookie-cutter. It breaks away from the norm by playing with different shapes and sculptural pieces, natural materials, and plenty of different tones. The end result is fresh and unique.

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  • 04 of 10

    Dial Up the Texture

    Neutral dining room

    Kurated by Kris / Instagram

    A beige wall has much more potential when its finish is changed from flat to textured. As this mod dining room proves, reconsidering the way a color is expressed in a space can make a huge difference. Refresh any neutral by selecting a different paint finish or even a patterned wallpaper.

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  • 05 of 10

    Opt for Metallics

    Navy bench in front entryway

    Ursula Carmona of Home Made by Carmona

    Swapping out matte frames or wooden accents for metallic pieces is an easy trick to add more movement and eye-catching detail in an area that's decorated in a neutral palette. The way the light catches metallics also gives them dimension—something a monochrome or matte neutral space might often be missing.

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  • 06 of 10

    Implement Pale Tones

    Light pink bathroom

    Cathie Hong Interiors

    Pink probably isn't the first neutral that comes to mind, but in its paler hues it can easily stand in for a gray or tan. Subbing in pink (or a light blue or green) for a true neutral adds an extra pinch of saturation and livens up the powder room or bedroom it's added to. Colors like this will make the accents and hardware really pop, too.

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  • 07 of 10

    Move From Modern to Cozy

    Neutral bedroom with cottage influence

    House Nine Design

    Neutrals seem to always go hand in hand with minimalism and modernism. But cottage-inspired spaces and those of a cozier nature can also benefit from the quiet of neutral colors. In homes with Cottagecore or modern farmhouse themes, it's also easier to blend different textures and make an eclectic mix of neutrals look stylish and intentional.

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  • 08 of 10

    Go Darker

    Brown and black kitchen area

    Gray Space Interiors

    Light wood and bright white marble countertops are lovely, but their dark wood and masonry counterparts aren't nearly as common. These moodier tones are still technically neutral but feel more powerful and really make a statement thanks to their shade alone. Airy spaces that feel like they're lacking parameters can be defined with mahogany, espresso, and charcoal cabinets, countertops, and shelving units.

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  • 09 of 10

    Don't Fear Dots

    Room with polka dots on the wall

    Kate Marker Interiors

    In a rather stylish turn of events, this room proves that patterns you may have dramatically steered clear of in the past can work in your favor—even if minimalism has captured your heart. Classic prints like polka dots and stripes don't necessarily have to be in neutral colors themselves, but they easily zhuzh up rooms without feeling overwhelming thanks to the quieter hues surrounding them that buffer their repetition and busyness.

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  • 10 of 10

    Bring Back Black

    Black and white living room

    Laura Brophy Interiors

    Infusing black as a primary color in a room's palette can be intimidating, but it shouldn't be. It's the perfect way to add some edge and contrast to a room full of whites, tans, and beiges. Many neutral rooms are bright and airy, but using darker shades with abandon (or at least incorporating it in a way that's more than an accent color) takes plain, expected neutrals to another level.