Swap a scuffed-up interior paint color for these neutral options that will help your home shine, even when you don’t have time to clean.

By Amanda Lauren
Updated July 01, 2019
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White paint or shades in the white color family such as eggshell and ecru are the standard interior paint colors for a reason. They’re neutral and are guaranteed to work with any style home or decor. While it’s impossible to really go wrong with light paint colors, white paint isn’t necessarily the best choice for every room, though.

A major problem with light interior paint colors is that they have a tendency to scuff. If you have children, pets, or a lot of people coming in and out of your home, the wall paint can end up being difficult to maintain. Kicking off a shoe, moving a piece of furniture, or even trying to install a floating shelf or art can lead to an easily damaged or dirty-looking wall. While Magic Erasers ($7; amazon.com) and touch-up cans are great for regular maintenance, if they become a way of life, it’s time to consider re-painting your walls a different color.

If you find you constantly need to clean your walls, interior designer Alexis Rodgers of Home With Alexis suggests installing wainscoting as an alternative to drywall, in addition to a hardier paint color. “Not only is it easier to clean, but it elevates the areas that may have otherwise lacked architectural interest,” she says. “Wainscoting goes a long way in adding to the appeal of a clean, classic home.”

If wainscoting isn’t an option, the ideal alternative to white paint is a neutral that will help a room look both large and bright. Keep in mind that no matter what interior paint color you use, preparation is key. It’s important to properly prime the wall and apply enough layers of paint. A quality application will not only increase the lifespan of the paint but also make it easier to keep it neat-looking. And once you have your paint color picked out, make sure you're choosing the best finish. It's not just the color, but also the sheen, of the paint that determines how clean or dirty your walls look.

No matter where you need to paint, here are five interior paint colors that provide a better alternative than white.

benjaminmoore.com

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According to Rodgers, Benjamin Moore’s Aura line is ideal for creating a clean, neat space. “It is a high quality, zero VOC paint line that allows you to choose the crisp, clean look of a matte finish with the ability to clean it when necessary,” she says.

Intuition is a soft, flowery blue that’s good for any room in the home that needs a bit of color without going too bold. It can be particularly pretty in a kitchen.

RELATED: The Best Kitchen Paint Colors, According to Interior Designers

backdrophome.com

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This color is a muted pink with just a hint of gray. While it is cheerful and has a pop to it, the shade is not overly feminine. Modern Love is perfect for a living room, or even to open up a smaller dining room. Plus, Backdrop makes buying paint easier by delivering everything you need right to your door, and the company is now selling through Urban Outfitters as well.

backdrophome.com

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West Coast Ghost by Backdrop is one of the new brand’s best-selling grays. It’s a great alternative to white because it has cool undertones, is subtle, and won’t overpower the room. At the same time, it has an interesting depth and gives walls character.

RELATED: Good Neutral Paint Colors to Bring Home for a Relaxing, Natural Space

sherwin-williams.com

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The aptly named Agreeable Gray is one of Rodgers’s favorite colors. “Keeping the paint color light and consistent throughout the home makes your space appear neater by giving it airy, seamless transitions from one room to the next. Whether your home gets very little natural light, is flooded with sunlight, or is somewhere in between, it's a perfect shade of gray with a pleasant, warm undertone,” she says.

While this crowd-pleasing gray is more forgiving than a stark white that reveals every single smudge and fingerprint, it will serve as a neutral backdrop in your space. Then, if you crave more color, add vibrant art and home accents.

benjaminmoore.com

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Rodgers also likes Benjamin Moore Harbor Gray: “It is a blue gray that looks great in beach homes and homes that have a lot of natural light.” To make it easier to apply, she suggests diluting this color from 25 to 50-percent of its original formula. 

If you have a lot of scuffs on your walls you're hoping to clean without resorting to a fresh coat of paint, follow our guide to cleaning painted walls