With tones as varied as driftwood gray and creamy latte, neutrals are anything but boring. Browse our top neutral paint color picks to find the right hue for your rooms. Plus, learn the best tricks for decorating in neutrals.
Gray isn't just gray -- it comes in a wide variety of intensities and shades, with subtle nuances that add a designer approach to any decor. And the right shade is a matter of personal preference. "First find out what emotion you want your space to play into -- airy, earthbound, dramatic -- then proceed to choose your color from there," says designer and PPG Pittsburgh Paints color and design adviser Vicente Wolf.
Yes, there is such a thing as a warm gray, so don't dismiss this hot neutral as too cold. It's been called the new brown and the new black, but New York City designer Jenny Wolf considers gray the new white. "It's a nice alternative to white," she says. "It's neutral. It's timeless."
Whites with golden undertones, like these yummy shades, are a step above basic white and offer a cozy vibe to boot. And the trick to making white not boring? "Layers of different whites and a variety of different textures are what make a room interesting," color expert Grant K. Gibson says.
Just like your favorite latte or coffee drink, these paint colors are comforting, yet energizing. Sometimes getting the right hue, like getting the right coffee drink, is a custom job. "I mix colors to get a perfect cream," Los Angeles Designer Mary McGee says. Her favorite "recipe": A 50:50 mix of Benjamin Moore's Marble White (OC-34)
with Grant Beige (HC-83). "It cuts the gold, and you end up with this incredible color."
It's a trend with staying power: here's the keys to pulling it off in your home.
White isn't just white. This neutral comes in almost as many varieties as its colorful counterparts, and it can be just as interesting and even refreshing. "Painting a room white is like giving it a big, tall glass of water. It's an instant cleansing of the palette," says designer Elaine Griffin.
Can't get enough neutrals? Watch and learn how to build the perfect neutral color scheme.
Carry the same neutral from room to room -- via painted trim, patterned fabrics, and furniture finishes to forge cohesive connections. In this open living space, the paint color on the kitchen cabinets is the same shade used on the walls throughout the space, as well as the ceiling.
"To figure out if you're choosing a warm gray, put it against a taupe swatch and a blue swatch," Jenny says. "A warm gray will look closer to the taupe; a cool gray will veer toward blue."
Combine silver, charcoal gray, and white with misty mauve for understated elegance, or rev up that same neutral combo with navy blue and yellow.
Texture is key to giving neutrals a boost. Think beaded board and sisal for cottage style digs and lacquer and metal finishes for modern abodes.
If you're not looking to create a completely neutral look, think of neutrals as "uncolors" and the supporting players. Brown and beige range in intensity from soft latte to deep cocoa. Dark neutrals, including rich pewter gray, calm other colors and add sophistication. White enlivens colors, while black strengthens and stabilizes. In this room, colorful furniture and strong textures are tempered by deep charcoal walls. The white trimwork, ceiling, and fireplace surround give a crisp edge to the earthy room.
Take the plunge with a dark wall color, but avoid getting in over your head. Dark walls can create a warm cocoon-like effect, but they can also turn a room into a cave. The trick is to include a respite in your design with planes of white and a variety of surface finishes. In this bedroom, bold pops of color also keep the look fun.
Find the paint color that matches the mood you want in your room.