14 Best Neutral Colors – Designers Favorite Neutral Paint Wall Colors
They used to take a backseat, but today's neutrals are leading the way in unexpected directions. Lilac, navy, and Estruscan red join the ranks of white, gray, and beige — and the result couldn't be more stunning.
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Since this white color is dead center between warm and cool, designer Darryl Carter says it will work equally well in traditional and modern settings. “I am historically prone to a neutral palette, and this white has been my go-to for years. It's a chameleon, taking on subtle changes in shade over the course of the day,” she says.
Get this paint color: Benjamin Moore Huntington White DC-02
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Since this saturated gray-brown-black reads as black, but not quite as hard, it's easy to live with in any room, designer Peter Dun says: “It's not that intense fortune-teller black but soft and sun-bleached, with depth and mystery. In a matte finish, it looks a slightly smeared blackboard.”
Get this paint color: Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10
More: The 35 Best Shades of Gray Paint You'll Ever Use
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Designer Brett Beldock says this mauvey taupe is as warm as a cable-knit cashmere sweater, which is why he recommends using it all over a bedroom, not only on the walls. “It would turn the room into a cocoon … very peaceful. Bring in ivory, gray, eggplant, or chocolate for contrast,” he says.
Get this paint color: Sherwin-Williams Doeskin SW 6044
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Since this bold color is the same earthy red that you see in pre-Columbian art, or an Etruscan mural, or a Turkish rug, it's surprisingly neutral and goes with anything, says designer Carey Maloney: “We used it in our front hall as a backdrop to a Chinese coromandel screen and a huge African wooden sculpture. It creates this incredibly warm, inviting entry that draws you into the rest of the house.”
Get this paint color: Donald Kaufman Color DKC-17
More: 13 Cool Shades of Red Paint for Every Style
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According to designer Jonathan Rose, for a house in the country or by the sea, aqua is the new white and is the perfect complement to greenery or an ocean view.
“The idea is for the wall color to be quiet so it can blend seamlessly with the outdoors. This blue-green is a pastel with personality.
Keep the overall feeling serene with light floors, white trim, a touch of deeper aqua, and a few dark accents to anchor the room,” he says.
Get this paint color: Farrow & Ball Pale Powder 204
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Beige is designer Jonathan Taylor's dependable neutral that marries any white, even a white gone wrong.
“Years ago, a Fiorucci salesperson stared at my all-beige outfit and said, 'Well, beige is the rage.
' I say yes! Best on walls in washable matte, this changes hues with the light, warms a chilly entry hall, and whispers 'Shhh' in the master suite. It’s nearly foolproof,” he says.
Get this paint color: Benjamin Moore Hush AF-95
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Although typically considered feminine, designer Laura Burleson says lilac performs beautifully as a neutral when paired with strong, deep colors charcoal, black, or navy.
“This shade is the perfect balance of saturation and tone, seeing a sunset through a soft filter.
Try it in unexpected applications — the ceiling of a moody, masculine library; the interior of creamy cabinetry in a kitchen,” she says.
Get this paint color: Sherwin-Williams Wallflower SW 6281
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This is one of those chameleon colors that can read as gray, taupe, or green, depending on the light, according to designer Robin Bell. “I’d use it in a matte finish on walls, where it would be a great foil to warm whites, or in a high-gloss finish on trim,” she says.
Get this paint color: Farrow & Ball Stony Ground 211
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People always think neutral means beige, but designer Gary McBournie says beige isn’t a neutral it's “blah blah blah.
” Instead, he recommends looking to nature for inspiration: “You’ll see forest green, sky blue, and this luscious brown, which also reminds me of a melting pot of chocolate.
I have used it in foyers, dining rooms, and even in my own bedroom. For a crisp effect, paint the ceiling and trim a bright white.”
Get this paint color: Benjamin Moore Barista AF-175
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Despite the name, Farrow & Ball's Blackened is actually a cool ivory hue with a touch of gray.
(Per the company, it “was historically made with the addition of lamp black pigment gathered from the smoke of burning oil lamps.
“) “I love it because it's not a stark white,” says designer Eddie Ross. “It's great for using with bolder colors because there's not a major transition.”
Get this paint color: Farrow & Ball Blackened No. 2011
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Looking for a neutral that's moody but not overwhelming? “This warm gray-blue has a relaxing feel,” says Ross. “It's the right mix of dark and cozy for a master bedroom.”
Get this paint color: Benjamin Moore Montpelier AF-555
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Taupe-y beige with a hint of green, “This color reminds me of drabware,” says Ross. “I'd use it in a living room; it's really welcoming and eases your eye into the space.”
Get this paint color: C2 Paint Lamb's Ear – BD-78
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It's not just for nurseries: designers rave about this muted pink for every room of the house. “It really does act as a neutral,” says Ross. “It gives off this warm glow that makes everyone look good!”
Get this paint color: Farrow & Ball Pink Ground No. 202
PSA: Your Bedroom Walls May Be Standing Between You and Better Sleep
Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts
Every perfectly serene bedroom starts with the right shade of paint. Anyone who has ever watched a popular home makeover TV show knows that neutral shades in bedrooms are often chosen over more bold colors for their power to calm a space.
Feng shui masters have long pondered which shades to use in a bedroom and which ones to avoid, claiming that some help you wind down and relax, while others only rile you up and make you restless.
Just think about this: Would your mind immediately go to a cozy restful place if you walked into a bold firetruck-red bedroom? Probably not.
Picking the right neutral bedroom color to paint your walls all starts by asking yourself what other colors will be in the space.
Do you own mostly warm tones or cool hues? Are you a fan of all-white spaces? Do you get a ton of natural light, or very little? Once you narrow down these answers, you can start to pick the best color for you.
Ahead, we highlighted some of the best neutral bedroom colors for all types of spaces and noted what colors to pair them with.
Crisp white walls are ideal for a bedroom with lots of natural light, giving the space a bright and airy feel. Snow Day has just a touch of warmth to liven it up. If all-white feels too simple for you, add in pops of color with your throw pillows and artwork.
Use this deep, warm beige along with other warm neutrals camel, rust, and tan to create the perfect intimate bedroom bathed in warm honey hues.
This soft and airy blue-green hue brings a sense of calm to any space. Use it with warm white tones to create a serene sanctuary.
Dreamy and whisked-to-perfection, this warm white would cast a soft, delicate feel on any space. It's also the best white for north-facing rooms.
This sandy beige asserts itself with subtle red undertones that would cast a neutral and natural hue on any bedroom.
Use this sandy beige alongside other warm tones to create the perfect monochromatic bedroom.
A pure white can sometimes feel too bright, but that doesn't mean white is off the table. Instead, opt for an off-white this one that has creamy undertones. This inviting shade envelops your space in warmth and reflects light beautifully, creating the perfect backdrop for a serene bedroom.
Airy and refined, this ultra-pale gray is the perfect mix of warm and cool—and brings a sophisticated vibe to any space. Picture it in an elegant, moody penthouse bedroom, and use it with other warm gray shades and a few brass accents.
Crisp a fresh pair of white sneakers straight out the box, this pure white is the ideal hue for a minimalistic, modern space. Use it with other hues on the grayscale to create an eye-catching contrast.