Color Trends: An Insider’s Look at Neutrals

February 9, 2015

There are varying opinions of what constitutes a neutral color in design. The answer most often received is:

Examples of neutral colors are white, black and gray because they are neither warm nor cool colors

This answer definitely addresses the true essence of a neutral shade, however, many feel that a neutral is any color that doesn’t "pop" and unobtrusively stays in the background. Others feel that earth tones are the basis of neutrals.
All of these make sense. More important than trying to find a definitive answer is how to get neutrals to work well together and which colors of the neutral palettes are pleasing to the eye.

Neutrals in Paint, Furnishings and Accessories


This set of Behr neutral paint chips clearly shows that a neutral does not have to be boring. These color samples give a selection of both warm and cool colors. Interestingly, the warm and cool tones can be combined for an effective neutral palette where both colors effectively complement each other.

Earth tones are commonly reflected in cabinetry, even to the extent that reds and oranges can be termed neutrals. Stains such as red mahogany, cherry, golden oak, and charter oak give life to wood with prominent grain patterns, casting highs and lows to the color.

Home furnishing accessories pull from a vast spectrum of color. Go into any kitchen or home goods store and feast your eyes on vases in shades of green (olive, celery, sea-foam, avocado) or beiges with undertones of pink, yellow and green.

Great attention has been given to the gray palette this year. The selection of gray tones in paints, fabrics, wall coverings, accessories and upholstered furniture is indicative of just how many shades can be considered a part of a neutral palette.

Unless you’re planning on a lime green, passion pink and turquoise room, the variety of neutral options is staggering, and just as much fun as the bright tones.