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The Hidden Power of Neutrals

The definition of what exactly a neutral is can be confusing. It seems as if every designer has a different take on which colors, or “non colors” qualify as neutrals. The truth is that this category of colors has gone through a perception transition which has widened its breadth. The “traditional” neutral colors still remain part of the family; however subtle hues with a definitive color presence have now been added to the category. Though these new shades are recognizable as colors, they can still be used much like traditional neutrals.

Neutral colors have many advantages as a paint color choice. They are colors which are livable, flexible, and classic. They are as ideal for individuals who are unsure about color choice as those who are. For those that prefer colorful décor pieces or want to visually balance a strong accent wall, neutrals are a perfect choice. Neutral color palettes are subtle and stylish, and can create spaces that are both restful and soothing or warm and energizing.

The traditional definition of a neutral was a color which didn’t fall into any of the standard color families typically associated with the “color wheel.” These included the gray, brown, and white families. Color such as taupes, off-whites and light grays lack definitive color and therefore have little-to-no risk of creating discord with your current furnishings or color schemes. These subtle “no-color” colors could also easily support bright, deep, or subtle accents, making them virtually foolproof.

Taupe instills quietness and calm into a room, creating a space that is harmonious and peaceful. Accessorize your taupe palette with subtle combinations of textures and colors, such as olive and chocolate.

Off, or “dirtied,” whites work well with other light neutrals and brighter whites. These colors are often preferred in smaller rooms or those with softer lighting.

Pairing perfectly with the room’s elegant décor, this soft palette, accented with rust and coffee tones, creates a room that is tranquil, elegant, and subdued.

Cooler palettes utilizing gray tones can have a sophisticated, modern feel to them. Lighter grays are similar to white and can create spaces that are fresh and refined. Darker grays have some of the grounding qualities of black, though with less weight and dominant presence.

The new neutrals consist of a softer, muted, often lighter version of a color. They are regarded as complex colors because of their color make-up. These neutrals are made by mixing together multiple colors to create new hues, rich in undertones yet with a reduced vibrancy. For example, begin with a true green, add some red, yellow, a touch of white and black, and you end with a toned, light olive with warm undertones. Another way these colors are made is through a mixture of gray and white. For instance, that same true green mixed with white and black becomes a soft gray-green sage color with cool undertones. The subtle color presence these neutrals impart makes them a safe and livable option for creating atmosphere and for coordinating with current décor.

A new ideology regarding neutrals has swept over the design world. This new neutral perception has dissolved the traditional boundaries to encompass all color families. The new neutrals—often referred to as complex colors—have emerged.

Incorporating the warm and comforting neutral orange hues, this color palette enhances the relaxed atmosphere of this rest area. Paired with the low, Asian-inspired furnishings, these colors create a space that is pure and soothing. The warm color scheme brings a calming influence, as well as a clean, uncluttered appearance. The use of white on the trim and accents adds an airy freshness and blends perfectly with the serenity created by the neutral palette.

Because of their versatility and universal appeal, neutrals can support all decor styles from contemporary to traditional. Your furnishings and accessories will fit perfectly with a neutral scheme. Neutral color schemes work in any type of room or style, creating spaces that have an organically pure sensibility.

Modern Loft Living

Neutral colors work well together to create a comfortable, elegant, and understated appearance in your home. They are independent of style and trend, making them great for an individual who wants a look that is flexible and long lasting.

Tasteful and timeless, neutral colors are a wonderful choice for the exterior of your home. Just as in your interior, neutrals are exceptional colors for the exterior of your home. They transcend style and harmonize effortlessly with brighter colors. They can blend into a neighborhood color scheme, or create tasteful distinction. Mediterranean homes look beautiful painted in neutral colors with warm undertones such as red or yellow.

Distinguish your home by pairing a
neutral body with a bright accent color.


Home decorators have long appreciated the flexibility of working with neutrals. They are excellent to use if you want a more subtle color presence, or are not sure how to balance color. Neutrals also coordinate with virtually every color, working as either a main or accent color. The hidden power of neutrals is they are easy to use and allow you the freedom to add other colors, patterns, and textures to your space, making your decorating choices almost endless.