How to Create a Neutral Color Scheme

A kitchen with a neutral color scheme

Quick Tips to Create an Awesome Neutral Color Scheme

  • Neutral color doesn't always mean beige
  • Don't forget dark neutral colors
  • Use an accent wall to update a boring neutral color scheme
  • You can add cool color accents to a warm color scheme
  • You can add warm accents to a cool color scheme
  • Know your warm versus cool colors.
  • Always sample paint in your home
  • A Monochromatic neutral color scheme is the easiest to create

Think Outside the Beige Box for Neutral Color Scheme Inspiration

When you’re creating a neutral color scheme for one room or your entire home, your first choice may be beige. While there are hundreds of beautiful beige colors out there, there is so much more to a neutral color scheme than just one color. 

To create an interior or exterior neutral color scheme, it's more about the way you combine the colors than the colors you’ll ultimately choose. The key to any color scheme is balance. With some simple yet creative neutral color strategies, you can transform your home into a beautifully neutral space with these tips.

Pair Dark Neutral Colors with Light Neutral Colors or White

There is no rule that all neutral colors must be light. If you’re asked to name a neutral color, your first answer would most likely be beige or tan. Dark colors can be considered neutral, too. Dark neutrals include charcoal gray, dark brown, deep gold, navy blue, and black. See the 10 gray paint colors that will make you forget about beige.

Use dark neutral colors for furnishings like sofas, chairs, and headboards. Dark neutrals can anchor a room with an accent wall, area rug, or window treatments. If you’re putting together a color scheme using a dark neutral, that's the first color you should choose. Dark neutral colors look best with light neutrals with the same undertones, or the same color temperatures like warm with warm and cool with cool. Learning about warm versus cool colors can give you a solid color foundation for building any color scheme.  A cool charcoal gray looks best with cool and light neutrals, but can be accented with pops of warm non-neutral colors.  A warm espresso brown look great with warm light neutrals, but can be accented with pops of cool color like aqua and blue. 

Simple Tips for Creating a Monochromatic Neutral Color Scheme

A monochromatic scheme is one of the best ways to create a stylish neutral color palette. If you’d like a sophisticated look in your home without stressing about matching anything your colors, a monochromatic neutral scheme is a great choice.  The monochromatic color scheme starts with a color that you truly love, and could easily live with. If deep espresso brown is your favorite color, and you've bought a sofa and chairs in that color, you could build a monochromatic color scheme around your furniture. 

To create a monochromatic color scheme for a dark neutral like espresso brown is to match that color on a paint fan deck or sample strip. In the majority of paint fan decks, the colors on one strip are simply lighter or darker shades of the same color. The color on the paint strip that would match a dark neutral would most likely be at the bottom of the strip. When you are creating a monochromatic scheme, you will use any of the colors that are varying shades of your dark neutral. To keep the monochromatic scheme balanced, you would use a mix of shades from the top to the bottom of the paint strip.

Try an Easy Neutral Color Scheme with Pops of Color

If you love the look of neutral walls and furniture, but still want to express your creative side, a neutral color scheme featuring pops of color is a wonderful choice. The beauty of a neutral color scheme as a backdrop is that you have the freedom to easily add brighter or heavily-saturated colors. 

There are a few secrets for creating this simple neutral color scheme: Choose two or three accent colors. Things can get out of hand pretty quickly if you add too many colors to your neutral scheme. Choose colors from your favorite accessories, and build from there. By sticking to a simple color palette, your home will feel more balanced.  

When adding pops of color to your neutral color palette, your room will look more relaxed if you know how to use cool and warm colors. While you can pair a cool neutral color like gray with warm accents, and warm neutral like beige with cool accents, mixing both cool and warm accents with neutrals can look awkward. Experimenting with accent colors is essential to get the right balance.