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

Is there anywhere neutral paint colors can't go?

Neutral paint colors - living room with neutral paint colors
Photo: GSPictures/Getty Images

Neutral paint colors may not be the universally preferred color scheme they once were—dark paint colors are definitely gaining on them—but these light-toned shades are still immensely popular. For that clean-lined, crisp, light look, there’s no better paint color family, but choosing the best neutral paint colors can be a little more difficult than you think.

There is such a thing as too neutral—it’s called bland. A nice, creamy white gives off notes of elegance and sophistication; a flat, harsh white is sanitorium-esque. A cool, muted greige implies casual style and refinement; a dull gray feels dark and dingy. Toeing this thin line can be difficult, which has led paint companies to create different tints of white (eggshell white, lace white, linen white, painter’s white) and other neutral paint color standbys to make picking a non-flat shade easy.

Of course, the flip side of having plenty of good neutral paint colors is that it's difficult to sift through all the options. Plus, every room is different. Natural light levels can alter the effect of neutral paint colors in a room. A living room paint color that looks great in one person’s home will look completely different (and possibly not so great) in another’s.

To make sure a particular paint color will look good, bring a sample home to test out. A few mismatched dots of color on the wall might be unsightly for a few days, but it sure beats having a neutral paint color that looks completely different at night. Take a peek at the neutral paint colors used in these rooms for inspiration, then try paint samples to bring the look home.

Warm White

A slight yellow note in the white paint in this living room helps warm up the space. It also differentiates the wall paint color from the ceiling paint color. (Don’t use the same color for walls and ceilings—it will make the room feel box-like.)

Get the look: Polar Bear by Behr

Tinted Gray

A reliable gray-tinged white is a solid choice for any space. Surrounding it with certain colors, such as green or grey, will bring out those notes in the wall color.

Get the look: School House White by Farrow & Ball

Dynamic White

A nearly pure white is a great canvas for pops of color in furnishings, window treatments, and more. The colors in the décor will bring out similar notes in the neutral paint color, and the wall color will never detract from the carefully selected furnishings.

Get the look: High Reflective White by Sherwin-Williams

Light and Bright

A very bright, crisp white works well in a space with plenty of natural light. Earthy furnishings and natural textures help the space feel warm, and dark wood floors help ground the airy walls.

Get the look: Ice Mist by Benjamin Moore

Dark and Dreamy

Neutral paint colors can be dark—a darker shade of a neutral tone, like an earthy color, is just as relaxing as a lighter tone, and it allows for pretty add-ons such as ethereal white window treatments.

Get the look: Camping Tent by Behr

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