No-Fail Paint Palettes

Paint is for more than just walls. So how do you find paint colors that go together? Check out these paint palettes from Ralph Lauren paints for inspiration.

Gray-Greens + White

The Palette: A monochromatic scheme of three grayish greens, plus a not-stark white.

The Paint Colors: (available at The Home Depot

Walls: Green Copse, RL1694

Window box: Journal White, RL1052

Built-in shelves, exterior: Royal Marsh, RL1709

Built-in shelves, interior: Volute Green, RL1729

Why It Works: Green is naturally calm, which is why it's often considered a neutral. All three of these greens are muted (and sophisticated) shades with cool undertones that read gray. They share the same tonal value, which keeps things low contrast. Nothing shouts or jumps out, so there's a smooth flow between the darker walls and the lighter cabinet. The white picks up the gray tones of the greens. It's light enough to add contrast and highlight the trim, but it's not bright and jarring.

Good To Know: A monochromatic palette (different shades of the same color) is relaxing and elegant—as long as the undertones match. Put the colors you're considering side by side, isolating them from other colors and surroundings that could skew them. No one color should stand out.

Deep Navy + Cool White

The Palette: Cool whites with deep navy that hits the spot between blue and black.

The Paint Colors: (available at The Home Depot

Walls: Brilliant White, RL1001 (flat)

Window box and built-in shelves, exterior: Brilliant White, RL1001 (semi-gloss)

Built-in shelves, interior: Amalfi Navy, RL1921

Why It Works: Although the same white is virtually everywhere -- walls, trim, and the cabinet -- it appears in different sheens for a subtle change-up and depth. The flat paint on the walls allows the semi-gloss trim and cabinet to star. (Have a dark room or worried about white walls getting dirty? Use an easy-to-clean eggshell or semi-gloss on walls to bounce light around, then go a step glossier on the trim and architectural features.) The dark navy on the back of the cabinet adds a high-contrast pop, but it's tucked away so the room stays serene. It's a sophisticated shade that's not too blue or purple, and not as harsh-looking as black.

Good to Know: All-over white creates a clean, contemporary look. It freshens up cottage or traditional style rooms. Choose a white with some warmth to avoid a stark look.


Organic Grays + Metallic Blue

The Palette: An organic scheme of three grays, plus a steely blue metallic.

The Paint Colors: (available at The Home Depot)

Walls: Lintel Grey RL1118

Trim: Box Pleat White, RL1067

Cabinet exterior: Brimfield, RL1152

Cabinet interior: Ballgown, ME109

Why It Works: Grays harmonize beautifully -- think of the variations in a pebbled walkway, old stone building, or rocks along a river. The charcoal gray on the cabinet has a similar anchoring effect as black without being too commanding. It's also the key to warming the mid-range gray on walls. (If you want drama and richness, flip-flop the two. Even with a dark color on the wall, the room will still be neutral—as well as sophisticated.) Small touches make a big difference, too. Metallic gray inside the cabinet adds richness and depth. The pale gray on trim has a silvery cast that comes out even more with a glossy sheen.

Good To Know: A gray scheme usually needs to be warmed with accessories and furniture. Natural textures, such as sisal rugs, and warm wood tones will keep things organic and sophisticated. For metal, gold (with softer finishes, not full-on shine) is a surprise favorite paired with gray, adding warmth and elegance that silver doesn't.

Neutral Mix

The Palette: Whites with a greenish cast, charcoal, and a khaki metallic.

The Paint Colors: (available at The Home Depot)

Walls: Egret, RL1048

Trim: Polo Mallet White, RL1051

Cabinet exterior: Brimfield, RL1152

Cabinet interior: Sussex Grey, ME124

Why It Works: A push-pull between warm and cool, light and dark gives the palette energy.  Walls and trim are barely there neutrals (with just enough color variation to be noticeable) that give the room a clean look. Bring in the charcoal gray cabinet, and the room feels instantly warmer. A soft khaki metallic inside the cabinet has similar warm undertones as the outside. With a green cast, it's also a bridge to the white walls.

Good To Know: Pairing light and dark together creates high contrast -- and high energy. The greater the difference between two colors, the bolder the look. To tone things down, choose colors that are the same intensity.

Restful Whites

The Palette: Four wispy shades of white.

The Paint Colors: (available at The Home Depot

Walls: Tibetan Jasmine, RL1007

Bed: Chalk White, RL1016

Window box: Picket Fence White, RL1002

Bedside table: Brilliant White, RL1001

Why It Works: An all-white palette is easy on the eyes and mind. Different shades of cool whites, even though subtle, ensure that this room isn't one-note. Painting the bedside table the brightest white is the equivalent of adding a little pop of color, but staying in the family.

Good To Know: Choosing white is tricky, so get the sample out of the store and into your house. White is easily influenced by light and colors that surround it. Paint a sample on a large piece of foam core board so you can move it around to see how it looks in different light and when placed by different furnishings

Warming Neutrals

The Palette: A yellowy-green beige substitute, with white to brighten and black to ground.  

The Colors: (available at The Home Depot)

Walls: Arrowroot, RL1345

Bedside table and window box: Brilliant White, RL1001

Bed: Black Dose, RL1161

Why It Works: The yellowish-green neutral keep things calm -- great for walls, especially in a bedroom. Although pale, it has enough kick to be considered a color and provides contrast to let white trim shine.

Good To Know: Painting multiple surfaces in different solid colors will create a color-blocking look. (Yep, even neutrals can get in on the color-blocking trend.) If the surfaces are large, such as walls, or dominant (a bed) the effect is more noticeable. Want to take it even further? Bring in solid-color bedding and a solid-color rug.

From rich gray to clean white, find your next paint color in our round-up of top neutral paint colors. These no-fail choices work with many different decorating styles and in a variety of rooms.


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