How to Add Color Without Paint

living room
A little color can go a long way. See how these homeowners stretched their color budgets by adding small splashes against neutral walls and furnishings.

More than Meets the Eye

From the outside, this home looks like a traditional Cape Cod cottage. Step inside and you'll see open rooms and numerous windows that provide endless views of the charming costal town where the homeowner grew up. Pale gray walls and buttery yellow floors unify the living spaces. But the home stays light and inviting layered with fresh fabrics, unexpected color combinations, and charming finds.

Airy Accents

Keeping a room's wall colors neutral allows you to add any accent color you like to furniture and other accessories. In this airy beach-cottage living room, light blue upholstery and playful patterned pillows spice up soft gray walls and buttery yellow floors. A large wall of sliding French doors can be rolled open in warm weather to let fresh air and natural light flow in from the outside.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Look for furniture with colorful bases, such as this rattan-topped side table with orange legs. Although minimal, the pop of color is unexpected in a sea of cool blues and whites.

All Grown Up

The color pink isn't just for nurseries. When played against chic neutrals, such as gray, pink takes on a decidedly grown-up tone. Like so many furniture pieces in this cozy beach cottage, this light pink sofa was reupholstered for a more modern look.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: View wood furniture and finishes as colors rather than neutrals. Here, the warm stain on the dining table has a reddish cast -- a perfect companion to the pink sofa.

Tying Everything Together

Across from the dining room's rustic wooden table is a cozy nook. A chair upholstered in pink fabric ties in the color of the settee across room. Two vibrant green pillows provide contrast to the soft white surroundings of the nook area, while a patterned throw blanket ties in both of the room's accent colors.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: The crisp-white director's chairs are perfect go-anywhere, do-anything pieces -- simply change the covers for something more colorful, and you'll get a whole new look.

Character Counts

To add character to a neutral bedroom, this homeowner included accents in a warm color scheme. Two vintage-style mustard-yellow chairs tie in colors from the quilt on the bed. A bright pillow echoes the pinks and oranges found in art pieces throughout the space.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Look to your bedding to add a dash of color. For subtle style, choose bedding that includes a neutral already found in the room to help it blend in. Here, the oatmeal-hue background of the quilt is almost the exact shade of the wide-plank floor.

Vintage Serenity

This relaxing bathroom atmosphere keeps its cool with neutral walls and furnishings. Vintage cream-color window shutters add character to the subdued walls. Black-and-white artwork provides a hint of contrast while staying true to the room's vintage feel.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Fresh flowers usher in unique beauty to any space, and hues range from tiger-lily orange to hydrangea blue, offering plenty of variety.

Culinary Display

The cabinets in this kitchen were designed to resemble horizontal shiplap siding. And this segment of open shelving provide the perfect display space. Keeping the cabinetry neutral allowed the homeowner to have fun with brightly colored and playfully patterned dishware and small appliances.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Bring your colorful dishware out of hiding and put it on display. No open shelves? Removing cabinets and adding shelves is a weekend project you can do yourself.

Beachy and Bright

These bright yellow barstools are authentic 1960s pieces. The bold color adds contrast to the neutral walls, floor, and island, and it relates to colors in the dishware on display. Other furnishings in bright green and red hues keep the space feeling sunny, just like the beach beyond the windows.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: A kitchen is primarily functional, but it still deserves artistic flair. Add artwork to blank spaces of walls such as soffits or between windows.

Color on Display

Unlike most of the home, this lounge area boasts rich eggplant-color walls. The saturated hue provides the perfect backdrop for bold vintage rock concert posters and a colorful patterned rug. A retro chair upholstered in a bright green fabric ties in colors from the artwork and rug.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Look underfoot to add color. A colorful patterned area rug brings spark to a space and warms up tile or wood flooring.

Vintage Accents

The lounge houses plenty of authentic vintage pieces. This bright orange dump truck toy maintains the laid-back and playful atmosphere of the space.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Accessories -- from vases to antique finds -- are ideal for adding color without paint and for little money.

Outdoor Decor

This spacious screen porch allows for easy entertaining and beautiful views of the beach beyond. A sturdy sailcloth functions as a neutral tablecloth that can blend with any colors and patterns. Crisp white and bright red chairs create a nautical atmosphere. A simple bouquet of yellow daisies emphasizes the laid-back nature of the home.

Add Color Without Paint Tip: Keep proportion in mind when adding pops of color to a neutral space. The frames of these metal chairs are slender, keeping the addition of red small but impactful, not overpowering.

More Ways to Add Color

Even in small doses, color can refresh a room. See how adding a little color here and there can completely transform your space.

Share the gallery

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.