Living Room Color Ideas: Neutral
Neutral colors can be the perfect base for any living room. Find ideas here about how to design and decorate your living space to bring your personal style to the room.
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Mix cool neutrals, such as silvery blues and grays, with warmer browns and tans to create cheerfully pleasing living room designs. Though used minimally, pretty blue accents appear as unfussy patterns that contribute water-music notes, which subtly further this room's nautical leanings and counterbalance the room's weightier brown furnishings and architectural details.
Decorating with Neutrals
Watch and learn how to put together the perfect palette of neutral colors.
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Neutral as a Base
Incorporate light and dark contrasting details to boost a neutral living room's appeal. Showcase deep-tone walls with white or creamy painted woodwork; outfit wood floors with tone-on-tone patterned area rugs; and hang a silvery chandelier above a weathered log table. Placing dark against light and light against dark lets individual elements shine, which in turn directs attention around the room.
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Neutral Plus Color
In a living room where neutrals reign, choose a single high-impact hue and strategically place and display it in fetchingly unexpected ways. In this living room cream, medium brown, and white combine for a peacefully pleasing backdrop that could have taken a turn toward boring without the addition of look-at-me splashes of aqua that pop up as a faux-leather chair and a sculptural glass chandelier.
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Brown Living Room
If you like your living on the quiet side, use finely finished antiques in varying shades of brown to compose understated but still attractive harmonies. The subtly shifting wood tones make a neutral living room feel as if it's been assembled over time. Let the finishes and their undertones be your guide when adding in lighter or darker browns as solid lampshades, leather ottomans, and patterned fabrics.
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Turn the tide on traditional and transform classically neutral living rooms into captivating scenes. Upholster antique and vintage furnishings in casual linen fabrics and fashion-forward patterns. Furniture profiles say timeless, while the newly added textiles promote original thinking. Weave in refined and rustic accessories to underscore your personality-infused design vision.
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Bold citrus hues and sassy retro motifs make a living room appear livelier than its neutral bones initially suggest. That's the biggest advantage to neutrals; they're flexible shades that partner with most colors and decorating styles. Look beyond this room's bold touches, and you'll note that the room's stone-shaded perimeters, the focal-point fireplace, classic window treatments, and modern furniture could stand alone but could work equally well with a beach-inspired scheme or forest-and-field hues.
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Opt for one light color (such as linen) and a deeper tone (such as cocoa brown), and you've got a versatile palette that will create simply striking living rooms. Here, brown shows up as patterned pillows, a striped area rug, and nailhead trim and welting on upholstered furnishings. Variations of the hue repeat as metal tables, distressed patinas, and fine furniture finishes to fashion a calming, collected look.
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Play with Pattern
Look beyond accent and upholstery fabrics when incorporating pattern into a neutral living room. Remember that paneled woodwork, wire coffee tables and magazine racks, woven blinds, and natural materials contribute patterns ranging from geometric grid designs to abstract striations that beautifully complement a room's other images and motifs without causing a space to feel busy.
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Longing for a life's-a-beach life? Use navy blues, sandy beiges, and wave-cap whites to create a neutral living room that will satisfy your seaside yearnings until your budget allows a move to the shore. Placing white furnishings and accessories against white walls creates breezy and cheerful backdrops that handily highlight coastal colors and beach-combed treasures.
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Build welcoming and fashionable living rooms around a gray scheme. When appearing as deep-charcoal walls, the hue adds a layer of warmth that partners nicely with sleek chrome sconces, zinc-top tables, and wood furnishings with distressed and silvery driftwood finishes. Keep the mood bright with linen-upholstered sofas, white area rugs, and naturally neutral window shades.
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Turn Up the Shimmer
Mirrored and metallic surfaces bring panache to neutral living rooms. Modern living rooms benefit from the addition of chrome furniture and lamps and cool-looking mirrors. Love classic? Introduce gold or silver frames, gilded furniture finishes, and polished-brass accents. If transitional design is your thing, opt for furnishings and framed mirrors with galvanized steel, zinc, and black iron details.
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Mix It Up
Create comfortable conversation groupings comprised of sofas and chairs upholstered in complementary, but not matchy-matchy, textiles. Since most neutrals play well together, you can mix (or switch) them whenever the mood strikes. This living room's stone fireplace inspired an organically neutral palette that blends limestone and charcoal grays with off-white, black, brown, and russet hues.
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A soothing symphony rendered in bright white and barely-there grays, this living room steps quietly while housing noteworthy details that supply interest at every level. The lesson here? Choose similarly colored accessories, like shaggy area rugs, galvanized-metal tables, shimmering silver and glass vases, distressed geometric mirrors, and tone-on-tone patterned draperies that contribute remarkable textures and distinctive forms.