Neutral Paint Color

neutral paint colors

Picking a neutral paint color can be a tricky business. There are hundreds in just the Sherwin Williams fan deck! Often I will consult with clients who have picked a paint color because they just liked it or found it to be a popular one on Pinterest. In situations like this I see gold beige tile with blue gray walls. As much as you might want gray walls because that is the trend, it is not a good choice if you have gold or pink-beige tile or counters. I say you need to work with what you have. Consider the fixed elements in the room like carpet, counters, tile or the sofa and then choose a paint that has an undertone that coordinates with the fixed elements. There are three basic undertones. Beige, gray and taupe, which is a combination of beige and gray with a hint of purple.

Which undertone?

1. Does your tile have brown in it, like travertine or a ceramic that looks like travertine? Is your carpet brownish beige? Is your fireplace made out of natural stone? If you answered yes to any of those questions then use HC-81 Manchester Tan or SW7036 Accessible Beige on your walls. If you are painting your kitchen cabinets and trim, use an off-white like SW7004 Snowbound or CC-40/967 Cloud White.

Neutral paint color: HC-81 Manchester Tan
HC-81 Manchester Tan by Kristen Rinn Design

2. Do you have Carrara marble backsplash or counters? Or blue-gray carpet? Use HC-169 Covington Gray or the lighter Stonington Gray HC-170 on the walls and a white with a blue undertone like OC-64 Pure White on the cabinets and trim.

HC-170 Stonington Gray Paint color by

4. Is the undertone of your tile and carpet neither beige nor gray? They might be taupe. SW7037 Balanced Beige might be the answer for your walls. An off-white like SW7004 Snowbound or CC-40/967 Cloud White would be a good trim and cabinet choice to go with Balanced Beige.

SW 7037 Balanced Beige by Kristen Rinn Design

Gray can be blue-gray, green gray or violet gray. This house has a fireplace  with Valentino marble which has a violet-gray undertone so we chose a violet gray called Worldly Gray by Sherwin Williams (SW7043)

SW7043 Worldly Gray by Kristen Rinn Design

Do you have off-white cabinets, white subway tile, black counters, white or gray quartz counters and wood floor? If so, you have much more flexibility with your paint color. You can use a warm gray (with green undertones) like SW7029 Agreeable Gray, HC-172 Revere Pewter or HC-173 Edgecomb Gray.

Shiplap walls painted Agreeable Gray SW7029

Ready to Jump into the White Trend?

SW7008 Alabaster is a good creamy white that won’t feel too cold. OC-118/2144-70 Snowfall White will be a good white for cabinets and trim. If you want more contrast, go bolder and paint your trim and cabinets a darker color like HC-168 Chelsea Gray or HC-166 Kendall Charcoal.

But buyer beware: only paint your walls white if you have wood flooring, furniture, drapes and art that you love. There is a reason why art galleries are white. They want you to focus on the art and not the wall color. In the same way white is a blank canvas for your room and will draw the eye to your furniture and accessories. If you are still living with old, out-dated furniture, paint your walls a darker neutral like the ones mentioned above.

Greige is a Good Neutral Paint Color

If you really want to lighten up your walls, I personally think light greiges are better than whites. They seem white but feel cozier and more welcoming. White Pepper PPU24-13 by Behr is a good greige color that will work with beige fixed elements like travertine tile or beige or taupe carpet. An off-white like OC-130 Cloud White will work on your cabinets and trim. OC-51 Intense White is a grayed white with a slight blue undertone that works with Carrara marble counters and white wall tile. You could pair it with true white like OC-65 Chantilly Lace for your trim and cabinets.

flip house remodel
White Pepper PPU24-13 by Behr. Kristen Rinn Design

Always, always get a sample of the paint and paint it on a large piece of poster board, instead of relying on the tiny 2×2 inch square on the fan decks. Still feel unsure? Check out this blog post. Orcontact me and I will come to your home with my large paint boards and help you pick the perfect paint.

*Paint colors with letters SW are Sherwin Williams. All other paints mentioned are Benjamin Moore.

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Free Neutral Paint Color Guide

Tips for choosing the perfect neutral paint color based on your undertones