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Which are the neutral colors?

Which are the neutral colors?

Neutral colors are timeless shades that transcend trends. They provide a soothing, calming backdrop to anchor more bold and vibrant hues. Neutral colors are extremely versatile and can work in just about any room. They create a clean, crisp foundation upon which you can layer other colors and patterns. This article will explore the most popular neutral colors and how to effectively use them in your home.

What are Neutral Colors?

Neutral colors are defined as hues that are not warm or cool. They fall somewhere in the middle of the color wheel, between the warm and cool spectrums. Neutrals include beiges, browns, whites, blacks, grays, and ivories. They are considered neutral because they complement both warm and cool palettes.

Neutral colors act as a bridge between the other hues in a space. They provide balance and visual relief from brighter, bolder colors. While neutrals may seem “boring” at first glance, they are incredibly versatile and can be used in sophisticated ways. The right neutral shades can create an elegant, timeless look in any room.

Benefits of Using Neutral Colors

There are many benefits to decorating with neutral colors:

Versatility – Neutral hues are extremely versatile. They work with any style from traditional to modern. Neutrals can be dressed up or pared down to be casual and comfortable. Their adaptability allows you to change up accessories, art, and fabrics without having to completely redo your space.

Tranquility – Neutrals promote a sense of calm and relaxation. Soft beiges, warm taupes, and soothing grays create a peaceful ambiance. This makes them well-suited to bedrooms, spas, and other retreat-like spaces.

Lightness – Lighter neutrals such as ivory, cream, and champagne open up and brighten a room. They make small spaces appear larger. Darker neutrals like charcoal and chocolate brown have a cozy, intimate feel.

Unity – Neutral walls, floors, and furniture provide a unified backdrop. This allows you to layer on personality with art, pillows, throws, and accessories. A neutral foundation ties everything together.

Flexibility – Neutrals are extremely flexible. You can mix patterns and textures since neutrals complement most styles. Feel free to pair antique furniture with modern neutrals for an eclectic look.

Longevity – Whereas bright colors come in and out of style, neutral hues stand the test of time. The investment into neutral furniture and decor pays off because it doesn’t need to be updated often.

Popular Neutral Colors

Here are some of the most popular neutral colors used in interior design:

White – Crisp, clean, and light. White makes spaces feel open and airy. It also allows other accent colors to pop. Use it sparingly in small spaces to avoid a clinical feel.

Beige – Warm and calming. Works well in traditional settings. Pair with navy blue and crimson reds for contrast. Too much beige can feel dull so mix in textures.

Cream – A rich, soothing neutral that isn’t quite white. Provides depth without darkness. Pair with metallics and deep greens. Avoid in north-facing rooms as it can read dingy.

Grey – Extremely versatile ranging from cool light greys to dramatic charcoal. Grey mixes well with any color from pastels to neon brights. Adds a contemporary edge.

Tan – Earthy and natural, reminiscent of sand and almond shells. Inviting warmth to a space without being overpowering. Compliments blues, greens, and warm metallics.

Brown – A hue associated with nature that comes in a variety of shades like mocha, caramel, and espresso. Grounding and stable. Works in literally any design from modern to farmhouse.

Ivory – Has a hints of warmth so it’s not as stark as bright white. Provides an airy, elegant feel. Beautiful in bedrooms, weddings, and vintage spaces.

Black – Dramatic and bold, black adds a modern edge as an accent. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly. Pair with metallics for contrast.

Neutral Color Hue Types Design Styles
White Bright white, antique white, paper white Modern, coastal, farmhouse
Beige Camel, sand, tan, stone Traditional, cottage, bohemian
Cream Buttercream, ivory, creamy white, oatmeal French country, romantic, shabby chic
Grey Charcoal, pewter, silver, ash Contemporary, modern, eclectic
Tan Khaki, golden tan, taupe Rustic, industrial, mid-century
Brown Chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, mocha Traditional, boho, eclectic
Ivory Eggshell, creamy off-white Vintage, shabby chic, romantic
Black Ebony, charcoal, raven Modern, contemporary, industrial

This table shows some of the most popular neutral shades along with the different hue types and design aesthetics they work well with.

Tips for Decorating with Neutrals

Here are some tips and ideas to make the most of neutral colors in your home:

– Texture is key – Don’t be afraid to mix up textures and materials like woods, metallics, stone, and velvet. This adds subtle visual interest against neutrals.

– Layer in color – Use pillows, throws, art, and accessories to layer in pops of color against your neutral foundation. Turquoise, coral, and chartreuse work well.

– Play with proportions – Pair a large neutral sectional with boldly colored armchairs. Or do a feature wall in a saturated hue against neutral walls.

– Patterns and prints – Don’t be afraid to mix patterns against neutrals. Florals, geometrics, and abstracts, oh my!

– Metallic accents – Brushed gold, rose gold, nickel, and copper introduce glamour against subdued neutrals.

– Natural materials – Woods, rattan, jute, leather, and stone complement neutrals for an organic feel.

– Soft furnishings – Use neutrally upholstered larger pieces and then layer in colorful pillows, throws, and rugs.

– Artwork – Black and white photography, graphic prints, and colorful paintings pop against neutral backdrops.

– Personal touches – Display favorite mementos, books, and travel souvenirs to make neutrals feel personal.

Choosing the Right Neutral Tones

With so many neutral shades to choose from, it can be tricky finding the right hue for your space. Here are some tips:

– Lighting – Check colors in both natural and artificial light. Cool overhead lighting can wash out some neutrals.

– Undertones – Do you prefer warm, rosy neutrals or cool, grayish ones? Identify undertones you’re drawn to.

– Space size – Dark moody neutrals can feel cozy and intimate in large spaces. Lighter neutrals open up small rooms.

– Purpose – Active family rooms and kids’ spaces are better suited to durable, darker neutrals that conceal scuffs.

– Stylistic goals – Modern spaces shine with gray, beige and black. Traditional interiors come to life with warm creams, taupes, and brown.

– Existing elements – If your architecture or permanent fixtures lean warm or cool, continue that tone in your neutrals.

– Combinations – The grey-beige combo is popular for a reason – it’s soothing and chic. Black and white reads classic and timeless.

Where to Use Neutral Colors

Wondering which rooms are best suited to decorating with neutral colors? Here are some recommendations:

Living Room – As main gathering spaces, living rooms benefit from the versatility of neutrals. Keep walls, larger seating, and flooring neutral then layer in personality through decor.

Dining Room – Formal dining rooms take on an elegant, sophisticated air when designed with neutral colors accented with metallics and art.

Bedrooms – Peaceful, calming neutrals help bedrooms become private sanctuaries. Use bolder colors in moderation for accent walls and bedding.

Offices – Crisp white trim and neutral grey or beige walls create a motivating, focused workspace. Add colorful organization tools as needed.

Bathrooms – Neutrals paired with materials like stone and wood flooring give bathrooms a spa-like ambiance. Introduce color through towels and accessories.

Kitchens – Kitchens tend to have enough color from appliances, tilework, and countertops. Neutral cabinetry and walls provide balance.

Outdoor Spaces – Natural hues like tan, brown, and beige complement the colors found outside. Accent with greenery and floral brights.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

When working with neutrals, there are a few potential pitfalls to avoid:

– Sheer lack of color – Don’t go overboard. An entire beige and cream space can end up feeling flat and monotonous. Sprinkle in other hues.

– No contrast – Vary up your neutrals. Don’t choose the same neutral tone on every surface from floors to ceilings. Add visual interest.

– Matchy-matchy – Mix up your textures, metals, and decorative styles. Going matchy with all one look creates a showroom feel.

– Dinginess – Some lighter neutrals like cream can read dingy if the space lacks sufficient lighting. Opt for warmer off-whites or add lighting.

– Coldness – Gray, white, and black in excess can feel cold and uninviting. Counteract with wood tones, metallics, and soft textures.

– Impersonality – A sea of beige with no decorative touches can feel generic. Make it personal with meaningful photography and accessories.


Neutrals provide a versatile, calming backdrop that sets the stage for any decorating style. Follow the guidance in this article to thoughtfully integrate timeless neutral colors into your home. Keep spaces interesting by varying textures and introducing bold pops of color. Soon you’ll master the art of designing with neutrals. They provide a clean foundation upon which you can layer on your unique personality.