“What are some great neutral paint colors?”
The beauty of a neutral palette is a perfect backdrop for almost any artwork and accessories. And as these are less of a commitment than paint color, it’s easier to exchange them for for something else. If you like pale walls that aren‘t white , a light neutral is a wonderful solution.
Neutrals are essential elements in design and decoration;
here are a few suggestions to get you on your way!
Pratt and Lambert‘s “TIMIDITY“ 2289
“I painted my entire apartment in Timidity, a chalky khaki that reminds me of limestone or old pale ivory. It’s the non-white white — a rich, surprising color that changes throughout the day. After Armani saw it, he picked the same color for his apartment. And I absolutely love the name. I was always the shy one. I have this reserve and I’ve had to grow out of it. Timidity is technically discontinued, but most paint stores still have the formula.”
– Thomas O’Brien
Donald Kaufman Colors DKC – 5
“You know what my color is — white. And it’s always Donald Kaufman # 5. I think there’s every color in that white. It catches light and shadow and does a little magic thing around the edges of paneling. My whole apartment is #5, from top to bottom, front to back. It’s like Chanel No. 5. You always feel good in it.”
– Mariette Himes Gomez
Benjamin Moore‘s “PAPAYA“ 957
“The most enduring color I’ve found is Benjamin Moore’s Papaya,
which looks like homemade vanilla ice cream with a little caramel in it.
My whole apartment is Papaya! I love it with the blues, greens,
and blue-greens of the sea and sky, and with various soft warm pinks. There’s nothing edgy about it, which suits me fine. I like pretty furniture, pretty people, pretty books, pretty music, and I like a room to be beautiful.”
– Gerrie Bremermann
Farrow and Ball‘s “BORROWED LIGHT” 235
” It’s … calm, relaxed, and serene … an airy blue that’s got
enough gray in it to maintain a certain neutrality.
You can put it with purple, brown, dark green
— pretty much anything. It feels as if you’ve taken the roof off
the room and the sky and the clouds have mixed together. ”
Benjamin Moore‘s “GLASS SLIPPER” 1632
“I‘ve used this color so much that the paint chip
is all bent and splattered with marks, like a cookbook.
When I was five years old, I made my mother paint my room this color —
a pale sky blue with a little gray in it. It’s strong and fragile at the same time.”
– Phoebe Howard
Benjamin Moore‘s “HORIZON“ OC – 53
“This is a color that projects air and light. It has the luminosity of the sky and that airy, infinite quality. Clean and fresh and cloudlike. The chip looks white, but on the wall it can turn into the palest blue. It’s a color with a lot of movement. It catches other colors and reflects them.”
– Phoebe Howard
I always come back to “Horizon,” a pale gray that doesn’t turn blue or green on you. It’s a sophisticated, perfect background to so many interiors. Blues, of course, look beautiful against this gray, but so do pinks, lavenders and the legs of sofas and chairs that have been stained a driftwood color.
– Steven Gambrel
Farrow and Ball‘s “PAVILION GRAY” 242
“Pavilion Gray is for people rebelling against years of taupe.
It‘s a warm, pretty gray that you could pair with white
for that Swedish look, or it could go more urban and industrial with inky black, marble, and stainless steel. It has a cleanness to it that most of the yellow-based neutrals don’t have. It sharpens things up a bit.”
– Sarah Cole
Benjamin Moore‘s “HAMPSHIRE ROCKS” 1450
“Grays can be so dull, but this has a little kick to it.
It’s such a sophisticated shade of gray, with that lavender cast.
It reminds me of the gray one sees in Georgian interiors, particularly the
Adam houses in the English countryside. In high gloss, pure elegance!”
Benjamin Moore‘s “GOLDEN STRAW” 2152 – 50
I‘m attracted to warm colors that kind of
wrap their arms around you.
This is like candlelight, with a wonderful golden glow. I’ll put
layers of glaze over it so it’s as rich in daytime as it is at night.”
– William Eubanks
Benjamin Moore‘s “POWELL BUFF” HC – 35
“This wonderful warm tan is almost the color of dried wheat. What makes it so pretty is the way it reacts to light. When the sun hits it, it glows, and on a rainy day it casts a nice kind of cozy warm shadow on the room. This isn’t a get-excited-about color, but it’s a terrific background. Very calming in a bedroom. Great in a sitting room with almond-colored suede or gray flannel and, if you need an accent, a plummy linen.”
– Michael Roberson
Benjamin Moore‘s “PALE VISTA” 2029 – 60
“I use spring green as a neutral. It’s the color of buds and bulbs popping out of the ground after a long winter — a reassuring color, great in a bedroom. The coolness is therapeutic.” – Jeffrey Bilhuber
Valspar‘s “TOADSTONE” 319 – 2
“I‘ve had more people say,
‘ What in the world is this color? I‘ve got to use it. ‘
It’s definitely green, an earthy green-beige. There’s a tinge of yellow in it. You need to have one anchor color that you can put everything else against. This would be the calming force, and then you could bring in something risky like red or orange or purple.” – Susan Noble Jones
Full Spectrum Paints‘ “MUSHROOM“
“I’ll do entire houses in Mushroom, which is pretty darned fabulous. It’s a beige, but it changes drastically — one minute it’s putty and the next, it’s rosier. Chameleon-like and mysterious, it takes on the properties of the colors around it. You want to put your hand out and touch the wall because it doesn’t look solid. It’s almost cloudlike.”
– Ellen Kennon
Dunn Edwards “NOMADIC TAUPE“ DE6192
“This is a soothing sand color that expands a space
and creates a feeling of warmth and continuity, especially if you use it
on the ceiling and the walls. I like the way it takes on the color of the light coming in and yet keeps its own integrity. It’s the perfect backdrop. The neutral walls recede and you focus more on the furnishings than on the size of the room.”
( If you’re a fan of Bravo’s “Flipping Out,” you may be familiar with this color Jeff Lewis often uses : “Nomadic Taupe.” He also uses “Barrel Stove.“)
Benjamin Moore‘s “GRANT BEIGE” HC – 83
“My standby is Grant Beige. It’s like a favorite pair of worn khakis. It works with modern spaces and traditional ones, fares equally well with the light of Texas or the East Coast. If you want to keep your palette clean with whites, creams, and accents of black, it becomes very architectural, or you can warm it up with soft reds, blues, and greens.” -Christopher Ridolfi
Even if you love bold, saturated paint color, it‘s usually best not to use one intense color after the next, room after room, without a break. A neutral paint color is a way to “pause” between one strong paint color and another. Many people don’t want bold color on their walls in the first place.
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