Best Neutral Colors For Living Room Walls – Although color experts have predicted that waves of saturated colors will cover our homes, nothing beats the serenity of a quiet, neutral space. Not only is it an eye-catching palette (who needs a wall-to-wall clock after spending the day in front of a computer screen?) and oozes simple elegance, but it also promises—bless you! – So that it doesn’t go out of fashion. The living room, in particular, is the perfect place to complement neutral colors with stylish furniture, rugs and unnecessary accessories. But while “quiet luxury” is gaining popularity and the “Vanilla Girl” beauty has become a moment on TikTok, a neutral look risks looking too good, or worse, vanilla, just plain boring.
New York designer Augusta Hoffman is well aware of the problem of neutral interior design, but embraces challenges in her complex projects. Any tips on how to keep things from feeling too lonely? Capture luxurious materials and sculptural forms. “Working with muted sounds really gives you the freedom to find more material and texture,” he tells us. “To add warmth and comfort to a neutral space, I prefer different layers of ivory textiles with rich metallic leather, organic stone color and classic wood accents.”
Best Neutral Colors For Living Room Walls
And you mustn’t stick to white or cream. Experts say the coming year will see some “new neutrals” that allow for light primary colors like pink, turquoise and sesame to control pigment. But don’t take our word for it: these 35 neutral living room ideas from our archives prove that it’s totally possible to go pale.
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In this gorgeous living room, designer Chad Dorsey worked primarily in a cream palette of furniture, walls, artwork, and accessories. A trick to ditch the “blah”? Adding textural patterns and contemporary imagery throughout the space, such as fur prints on the sofa and contrasting piles on the company rugs.
Can not allow? Play with your favorite neutral spectrum, as designer Eva Bradley did in her classic San Francisco Victorian style. Here, she proves that taupe can hold more people when used correctly, like the classic Mario Bellini sofa and ombre striped curtains.
A client of this neutral Upper East Side apartment told us, “We usually prefer a matching color.” “But in New York, it feels right that the palette should be muted.” ELLE DECOR A-List Redd Kaihoi of the design agency happily accepted the brief – with its maximum illusion. Here, the classic palette of creams and light browns shines with additional materials such as bronze, brass and golden wood.
If the idea of light brown walls makes you cringe, choose an elegant hand-painted mural or a beautiful poster. Doing so in her New York apartment, design legend Suzanne Rheinstein created a bucolic oasis in the heart of a concrete forest.
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And this California home designed by Charlap Hyman & Herrero Andre Herrero is the coolest example. Here, warm light browns live alongside bright whites, olive greens and even stainless steel in an eye-catching scheme – judging by this amazing wall sculpture, in more ways than one!
Black and white don’t have to be equally warm, but as ELLE DECOR A-List designer Alfredo Paredes points out, the two make the perfect ski match. At this retreat in the Vermont Alps, he painted the entire living room white except for the chimney, which he covered with black Venetian plaster. “It’s more modern and like an exclamation point on a slope,” Paredes told us.
Did you know that prospective home buyers are looking more for charcoal and gray painted homes? Even if you’re not putting your home on the market anytime soon, this is one hell of a chic project, especially in the hands of renowned designer Jeremiah Brent. Here in the living room of his New York office, the walls, ceiling and windows are stained ash. Black ivory armchairs, bold marbles and gilded glass add to the luxury.
If you’re like most Americans and like modern farmhouse, go for a neutral variation. Here at the New York farm, designer ELLE DECOR A-List designer David Netto has skillfully mixed antique furniture from different eras with popular fabrics and tones. Bonus points for painted ceilings!
The Best Neutral Color Scheme
When you have a stunning view like this, Mother Nature is ready to turn up the color. ELLE DECOR List designer Nicole Hollis reimagined dessert for this fabulous break, painting in the coolest palette of travertine, bleached oak, and limestone.
This serene space in a New York home designed by Alyssa Kapito is a masterpiece in white. Plenty of seating – in soft white, of course – is the perfect place to entertain, while Eric Schmitt headlights provide great lighting and an architectural feel, according to Capito.
As an alternative to smooth or glossy paint, try limewash. The stylish texture gives a nice warm feeling or, in the case of this Tangible Space office’s Brooklyn apartment, the feeling of living in an “acorn”.
This sophisticated living room by Augusta Hoffman features a designer mix of modern silhouettes and heavier wooden pieces. “We decided to take [wood] as a material and use it as a contrast to the surroundings,” Hoffman said. “We also have to make conscious decisions to keep the rest of the room bright and open so that the dark wood tone doesn’t overpower everything.”
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If you want a model in your neutral space, go for it! Just make sure they’re in shades and an extra pattern. David Netto protégé Lily Dierkes used Namay Samay fabric in this Nashville residence. An embroidered scallop adds texture.
It gets its traditional beauty at Reese Witherspoon’s farm in Ojai, California. Designer and friend Kristen Buckingham, who has experience designing other homes in Spain, created a “fresh and younger” living room with upholstered fabrics, leather and wood, and a soft white color.
Just because you want a neutral look, doesn’t mean you have to give up local growth or taste in nice furniture. We love this renovated Austin farmhouse designed by architect Paul Lambi that features adobe walls and contemporary sofas and chairs.
The Sonoma, California property may be new (previously destroyed by fire), but designer Ken Fulk packs a variety of warmth and classic flavors, including a 19th-century stone fireplace imported from Italy. Unusual looks and large prints, like Jane Hallworth’s cocktail table, bring the look back to the present.
The Best Neutral Paint Colors
Transform your neutral living room with a deeper tone. Designer Tim Godbold built the room with a dark blue floor that draws the tall fireplaces into the scheme.
Think outside the box for the neutral living room of your dreams. Here in the Manhattan unit, ELLE DECOR A-List designer Rodney Lawrence emphasizes a sunny tiled backdrop for a refreshing feel.
Play with shapes to keep your neutral scheme from hitting the blah cases. Here, in an Ishka Designs apartment in Brooklyn, circular motifs are repeated on rugs, tables, lamps and fireplaces. “We love the principle of the circle,” says strong partner Niya Bascom. “There is no beginning, no middle, no end – only constant growth.”
Don’t be afraid to treat greens as neutrals. After all, as Pantone’s Leatrice Eiseman tells us, “Mother Nature uses it everywhere in plants and leaves.” Designer Ashe Leandro seems to be taking this advice to heart, as shown in this Manhattan living room, where a curved olive green sofa is the highlight of the neutral room’s exit.
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Anna Fixsen, Deputy Director of Digital at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how best to share the world of design through in-depth reporting and online storytelling. Prior to joining, he worked for Architectural Digest, Metropolis and Architectural Records.
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Get all the details (and photos of the actual room!) for the best, tried-and-true neutral colors. Different volumes and lighting conditions can make color selection difficult, but not anymore with this complete guide!
If you’re looking for a new and wonderful neutral for 2022 and beyond, this is the review.
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