Neutral paint colors have always been in style and always will be. But defining a "neutral" color can be more difficult than you imagine. By the traditional definition, a neutral is any color that doesn't fall into any of the standard families associated with the color wheel. These include the gray, brown, and white families. Neutral colors such as taupe, off-whites, and light grays do not have a deﬁnitive color, so they almost never cause discord with furnishings and other color schemes. These "none-colors" are virtually foolproof since they easily support all other colors.
More recently, interior designers have broadened the definition of "neutral" to include shades that have definite undertones of a definable color. Most color families will now include a neutral or two that is predominantly taupe, off-white, or gray, but with a very subtle hint of color.
Whether a classic neutral or a subtle variation within a color family, a neutral paint color has many advantages in a room design:
- They are flexible, classic colors that are always in style.
- They are perfect for people who are unsure of their color preferences, or who change their minds a lot. A room's color scheme can be changed merely by switching accents against the neutral background.
- They are ideal for people who prefer bright, colorful accents and furniture.
- The overall effect of neutral paint is to make a room restful and relaxing.
- Color Family: Varies and can lean into grays, taupe, beiges, greiges, and even whites
- Complementary Colors: They work with virtually all colors because they're neutral
- Pairs Well With: Most colors pair well with these neutrals
- Mood: Calming
- Where to Use: Great for living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, offices
Here are seven of the best neutral paint colors for your home's interior walls.
01 of 07
Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak (OC-20) is a go-to paint color for any room where you want to add warmth and serenity. It’s a complex and layered color that can appear gray, oak/taupe, or off-white, depending on the time of day and other colors in the room. Pale Oak lends the same quiet peacefulness that a thin layer of early morning fog bestows on an early morning valley.
"This color is versatile with any design style—from coastal to contemporary to traditional," according to Noelle Micek Interiors. "We have used it in bedrooms, dining rooms, and even bathrooms!"
02 of 07
Revere Pewter (HC-172) from Benjamin Moore is always at the top of the "Best Neutral Paint Colors" lists. According to Caroline Lizarraga, interior designer & decorative artist, "My go-to neutral is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. I love using this color for several reasons. It is a warm gray and tends to look great with pops of color, black, and of course white. I also find that it works in every light, a room with tons of natural light or small windowless space. Lastly, it is a color that has a lot of depth, so it goes in a lovely direction, no matter what you pair with it."
03 of 07
Designers have recently coined the term "greige" to identify a marriage of gray and beige neutrals that combine the best qualities of both.
"The new go-to neutral is GREIGE!" says Lisa Lorino, of LJL designs. "Greiges have a wonderful softness to them with subtle undertones of beige, keeping them from falling flat. There are so many good greige colors out there but my go-to favorites are Benjamin Moore's Gray Cashmere (2136-60), Sherwin Williams' Repose Gray (SW 7015), and Farrow and Ball's Pavilion Gray (242)."
04 of 07
Whites are a classic favorite neutral. There is a warm white paint color appropriate for every room. "Every designer swears by white and while I've tested and sampled plenty of the classics, I still gravitate towards my favorite, Dunn Edwards Swiss Coffee (DEW341)," says Irene Lovett, of designstiles. "Its creamy undertones keep it from appearing too cold and flat. It adds the right amount of warmth while still feeling crisp and clean in a kitchen with modern appliances."Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Elissa Morgante, a co-principal at Morgante Wilson, has a favorite pairing of a white and a cool neutral.
"Benjamin Moore's White Dove (OC-17) is my favorite white. It seems to provide a gentle contrast and pop to any color your put with it, so it is my go-to trim color," she says. "My go-to cool neutral is Benjamin Moore's Balboa Mist (OC-27). The great quality about this color is that different tones come through at different times of day, or as you change the light source, so it works well with a variety of color palettes."
When painting baseboards and trim, beginners might find painter's tape useful to help prevent mistakes.
06 of 07
Designer Bea Pila of B. Pila Design loves incorporating dramatic colors in her projects. However, one of her go-to colors is Benjamin Moore's Cloud White (OC-130), whether for a full neutral look or to blend with vibrant hues. "It's interesting because of all the colors out there, I find the most difficult to choose is white," she says. "Either it's too grey and cold, too yellow, too pink, or picks up too much of some other hue. Cloud White is the perfect neutral. On a wall, it creates a beautiful airy effect, but it's also a great accent against other colors and I tend to use it on ceilings, trims, and molds as well."
07 of 07
A fresh white paint color can be ideal for highlighting woodwork and stone features. As Morgan Farrow, senior designer at Tatum Brown Interiors observes, "The benefit to finding a great, classic neutral is the flexibility it gives you. Essentially creating a blank canvas to work with. I love Sherwin-Williams' Alabaster White (SW 7008)—it really freshens up a room, while giving it a touch of warmth. Alabaster White helps create a warm and inviting feel, and provides a neutral base that art and furnishings can really pop against."
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