I was chatting with my bestie who is about to do some painting in her home. She wants a ‘refresher’ for several rooms and sought me out to get an opinion on paint colors. She asked if I have any ‘go-to’ neutral colors that I could vouch for.
When she asked, I was reminded of several clients who’ve asked the same question during various projects. And I realized that yes, I do have some neutral colors that I ‘go-to’ repeatedly and they have yet to let me down. So today I thought I’d share them with you.
First, here are a couple of tips when dealing with neutral colors:
If you want to keep your space feeling light, airy, and neutral you only need to consider the top two color shades on the paint swatch. Go any lower and the color becomes more emphasized. You can see what I mean in the sample swatches below.
With neutrals, as with all colors, the two biggest factors that affect how the color will look on the wall are light and the other colors in the space. Have you ever seen a color you thought was perfect for your space but it looked totally different once you got it up? So annoying!
Please know that just because you see the color in some other space does not guarantee that it will look the same in your home. We’ve learned the hard way that light and adjacent colors cannot be underestimated.
Artificial light, light from fixtures or lamps, has warm undertones and is different from natural light. Even natural light will be tremendously different at different times of the day.
If you wanna get a little more technical, this entire process falls under the guise of metamerism: the fact that colors will look different depending on light. It’s a simplified definition and a little fun fact for the day!
Yadda, yadda, yadda…What does all this mean for you? Basically, it means…
Neutrals can be tricky because the same features that make neutrals so easy to work with are the same ones that make them tricky little suckers.
One of the great aspects of working with neutrals is that they go with everything because they tend to take on properties of the colors they’re paired with. Example: You see a neutral that looks gorgeous paired with a deep terracotta red. That same neutral will look quite different when paired with a cool blue.
Remedy this situation by taking the time to get the color on the wall. Do not use the paint swatch at the store to make your decision. Place your paint samples near a window with lots of light and in a spot that doesn’t get as much. This will give you a truer picture of what the paint might look like during different times of the day in your space. Put samples on the wall with a minimum size of 2’x 2′. Give each square two to three coats. Also, if there are additional colors going up on the wall, make sure to place the samples together to see how the colors may affect each other.
Check out this sample below. It’s the same paint color in 3 different light settings. The contrast is wild, right?! Like I said, tricky little suckers.
Source: Artzy Fartzy Creations
Remember the tips above. They will serve you well.
Now that we’ve gotten that squared away, let’s take a look at the go-to neutral colors! These are colors that are off the shelf (by Glidden & Behr available at Home Depot) and reasonably priced.
1. Natural Wicker by Glidden
I am obsessed with this color! If you are looking for a warm yet sophisticated light beige, this is a fantastic choice. This color still manages to exude warmth but offers a slight gray undertone making it seem more ‘grown up’ than your typical beige. Every space I’ve used it in (and there have been several) gets lots of love and admiration. We used this in a clients’ space and once it was up, they ended up using it throughout their entire first floor. It was also the featured base color in my mom and dad’s 3 space project!
2. Silver Cloud by Glidden
This is one of my all time favorite grays. It’s a very soothing light silvery gray and looks beautiful with both cool and warm colors. It does have the slightest of blue undertones but generally is a very true gray. It is definitely one of the first colors I look to when achieving a cool contemporary feel. In the photo above we paired it with another one of my favorite neutrals, Eloquent Ivory. We also used it in a laundry room makeover.
3. Eloquent Ivory by Glidden
Eloquent Ivory is one of those barely there neutrals. It takes away the starkness that white gives off by warming it up slightly. It’s great for differentiating trim and crown molding when you want to keep your space looking almost white. This client very much wanted neutral colors throughout the home. We settled on Eloquent Ivory for its lack of boldness and slightly warm beige/cream undertone.
4. Chocolate Froth by Behr
Chocolate Froth is a gorgeous color and the name allows you to get a visual for exactly what the color looks like. If you think about the frothy part of a mocha latte, that is what Chocolate Froth looks like. It’s an extremely light taupe and definitely leans a bit more gray. It is truly a stunning soft color. The back wall and ceiling are done in Chocolate Froth in this breakfast nook redesign.
5. Khaki Shade by Behr
Khaki Shade falls on the richer side of neutrals. It has depth and when this color is placed on the wall, it’s easily visible. It’s warm with a greenish undertone which is why we paired it with green accents in this sunroom design.
There are literally thousands of neutral colors to choose from, but these five are a great place to start because they’ll all work in just about any space you can think of! If you’re considering going for a light and airy feel in your space, look no further. Feel free to add to this short list in the comments below.