Decorating With Neutrals

Make a Style Statement with a Neutral Color Palette

Decorating with Neutrals

While I love seeing color in a home's decor, there is something about a neutrally based palette that I find intriguing and refreshing, if it's done properly.

This bedroom (image source unknown) is one of my favorites. I love, love, love the taupe wall color with bright white trim, area rug and bedding. The darker toned case goods play off of the lighter toned walls and provide the contrast needed when there are not other colors present.

Texture plays a significant role here as well, with the fabrics, finishes and decor adding personality.

Distressed finishes and natural elements in this neutrally inspired Dining Room. A variety of textures and displays add interest to this space.

Using a touch of green brings the outdoors in as well as adding a bit of color to this neutral palette.

I love the play of the formal dining chairs against the distressed farmhouse table, too.

If you are going to work at home it should be a place where you feel good and enjoy the surroundings. At least that's my philosophy...if I have to spend time in my office every day I want to look around and like what I see  :)

There's no lack of interesting patterns and textures in this neutrally inspired Home Office with Benjamin Moore wall color in Wheeling Neutral.

I like the contrast of the tinge of gold in the walls against the taupey tan of the desk chair and area rug. The darker iron and wood finishes provide some additional contrast so the look doesn't get boring.

Plenty of natural light and green outdoor views set a beautiful back drop for this Living Room in shades of white. It works well because of the darker contrast of the coffee table, legs on the sofa and ottomans, plus the greenery that is brought into the room.

The iron chandelier also provides style as well as contrast.

Decorating with Neutrals encompasses a wide variety of shades, and this bedroom with walls painted Useful Gray from Sherwin Williams is a fine example.

To me, there is a bit of green in the wall color that compliments the gray bedding and silver tones in the finishes. I like the unique way the sheer, flowing window treatments are hung!

Learn More About Decorating with Neutrals!

Decorating with a neutral color palette can be an interesting and captivating method of using color, even though the first reaction to that palette might boring!

I know what folks are visualizing: that house/home/condo/you-name-it that they have been in, with white walls, beige carpet and tile, off white counter tops, white vertical blinds and forgettable furnishings.

Well, using neutral colors can be much more exciting, and I will show you how.

Okay, let’s think about the definition of ‘neutral color palette’ first. That would imply shades of black and white, with creams, tans, beiges and grays put into the mix.

Use of the Neutral Colors


When creating your decorating plan using neutral colors, narrow your decision down to the top two colors you will use, and then add one more as your accent neutral.

For example, you might select a dark Coffee, Navajo White (it is a widely used shade of off white with some brown tones in it) and Chestnut Brown, similar to the photo shown above.

These will comprise the neutral color scheme for your decorating scheme. Let's take a look at these Sherwin Williams examples:

Sherwin Williams Java



Sherwin Williams Navajo Whit

Navajo White


Sherwin Williams Buckram Bindin

Buckram Binding


Okay, keep these shades in mind as we build our neutral palette.

Accent Colors to Add Interest & Contrast

If your color selections end with the neutrals, you could potentially end up with a boring space. Having said that, if you know what you’re doing, a very creative room can be put together with a monochromatic color scheme.

But most folks need to add a little color into the mix for variety and contrast. So, your next step is to identify one or two accent colors you will use when decorating with neutrals.

They do not have to be bold and bright, but should have enough contrast to be interesting. In our example, we are going to select a tomato red and a bold, strong green.

Accents of black are always part of the decorating scheme, too.

Red Tomato


Tupelo Tree


There, now we have an interesting neutral color palette. Take a peek at the image above one more time, and you'll see these colors introduced in a small way, but they provide the bit of punch needed to finish the look.

Texture Defines & Refines the Color Selections


Your third and very important step is to use a variety of textures to create your neutral space...flooring, upholstery, window treatments, accents, artwork...these are all opportunities to create interest using texture.

The photo shown above is a great example of it!


Neutral decor is the theme of this bedroom, using texture and pattern to keep things interesting.

There is just a tiny pop of color in the vase and fronds on the bedside table, and it immediately draws the eye.

Visualize this Neutral Color Palette...

Here is another example of a living area using a neutral color palette. Use your imagination to visualize this space.

We begin with the walls painted Navajo White, with a focal point accent wall in Chestnut Brown:

A duo of accent chairs in java and cream tweed upholstery fabric
An off white leather sofa with accent pillows in brown, black, green and cream stripe
Wood floor in a light maple finish
Ultra shag area rug in brown, cream, tan, tomato red and shades of green
Coffee table with a glass top and black iron base
A ceramic table lamp with tomato red base and cream lamp shade with java trim

The window treatment includes:
1) fabric roman shade in cream, &
2) side fabric panels with subtle vertical stripe of Navajo white/off white/tan hung on black iron decorative rod

Can you visualize it? There are additional selections that will complete this space, but you get the idea!

Other options could include berber or frieze carpet, textured wall paint and metal wall sculpture to create drama in this neutrally decorated space.

Plan carefully when decorating with neutrals and you can create as much drama or subtlety as you wish - the choice is yours!

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