The New Neutrals: 5 Unusual Shades to Try

Say goodbye to beige.

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Close your eyes: What comes to mind when you think of neutral colors? Perhaps a beige or off-white?

Not anymore. Designers everywhere are embracing a variety of hues to use as a backdrop. And you can, too – without getting painter’s remorse.

Transitional Gray Bedroom With Beautiful White Bedding

Transitional Gray Bedroom With Beautiful White Bedding

This chic master bedroom features a charcoal gray wall color paired with pure white accents, including the bed linens, tufted bench and soft carpet. A crystal chandelier and metallic mirror add a touch of glam, and an adjacent sitting room provides a spacious place to relax.

Photo by: Donna Dotan

Donna Dotan

The key is to select a color that not only compliments, but highlights your home’s décor. Remember that what’s on the paint swatch in the store may look completely different at home, so test it out in the room you want to paint before committing. Make sure to give your test swatch a glance every couple of hours to see how the light hits it at different times of day.

Before you hit the paint aisle, check out our favorite alternatives to beige:

Powder Blue

Cool Blue Living Room With Marble Fireplace

Cool Blue Living Room With Marble Fireplace

Library lights spotlight object art and beloved books in the family room while a marble fireplace offers the perfect excuse to sit and relax. Cool blue tones flow from the piece above the mantle, inspiring this laid-back palette.

Photo by: Ball & Albanese

Ball & Albanese

Soft shades of blue can be used in virtually every room, from kitchens to bathrooms to living spaces. It’s a great alternative to white for those who just can’t go without a little bit of color.

Blush

Pink Sitting Area With "Love" Light Fixture

Pink Sitting Area With "Love" Light Fixture

Love the lighting in this blush pink sitting area! The subtle stripe of the wallpaper brings texture to the charmingly cozy space.

Photo by: Michael J. Lee

Michael J. Lee

Channel your inner Shelby Latcherie with this rosy hue. Pair it with grays and whites to keep the space light and airy.

Charcoal

Charcoal Gray Master Bedroom Sitting Area

Charcoal Gray Master Bedroom Sitting Area

This sophisticated master bedroom features charcoal gray walls and light gray curtains paired with a neutral area rug and two armchairs. A bronze geometric accent table sits between the chairs, while surrounding windows flood the space with natural light.

Photo by: Donna Dotan

Donna Dotan

Personally, I’d paint every room in my apartment gray if I could. It goes well with other neutrals and can stand up to vibrant color. Pair it with bright whites to make any room feel like you’re living in a cloud.

50 Fearless Ways to Use Gray

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Gray Contemporary Living Room With White Fireplace

In this living room, vintage meets contemporary style with a soft metallic gray and gold color. The dark wall color makes the white fireplace with artwork a standout feature.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Gray Bedroom With Patterned Wallpaper

To make a room feel warmer, try painting the ceiling, trim and doors all the same color. In this room, Benjamin Moore's "Fusion" is used. Patterned wallpaper adds movement, while silvery tones keep it from getting too dark.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Laundry Room

MacKenzie Brothers custom–crafted birch plywood cabinetry faced with earth-friendly MDF paneling for the laundry and mud room. An eco-friendly CaesarStone countertop in a smoky ash shade and industrial-style bronze pendant lights complete the look.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Soft Gray Bedroom

This transitional bedroom combines pale gray and cream for a sophisticated color palette. White window trim and graphic headboards give the look a crisp edge. The x-base stools and textured nightstands add character to the design without overpowering the look.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Gray Contemporary Kitchen With Island

This stylish contemporary kitchen features dark gray cabinets, granite countertops, a mirrored backsplash, bamboo floors, and a custom-built fireplace. Metal seats at the island give family and guests a place to sit and chat while meals are being prepared, as well as convenient spot to enjoy casual meals.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Living Room With Fireplace

Simple white accent pieces complement the stainless-steel ledge and diagonal gray tiles of this fireplace designed by Shane Inman.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Living Room

Light gray walls and darker gray sofas look both trendy and sophisticated in this contemporary living room. A low coffee table is perfect for serving drinks and snacks while the plush sofas are dog approved.

Black and Gray Contemporary Apartment Living Room

A dark tone-on-tone palette gives the contemporary living room in this New York apartment a distinguished, masculine style. Bold artwork and sparkling chandeliers bring an element of surprise to the space.

Gray Transitional Living Room

This gray transitional living room features a woven graphic rug along with a sofa adorned with fur throw pillows.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Midcentury Modern Bathroom

This midcentury modern bathroom features purple accents and a sleek look.

Orange and Gray Contemporary Living Room

Designer Pangaea gives warmth to this industrial-style loft with eye-catching fall hues. The orange fabric art and leaf-print pillows soften the otherwise cold concrete walls and flooring.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Gray Kitchen/Dining Room

Lacquered gray cabinets and graphic wallpaper add modern touches to this sleek, stylish kitchen and dining room combo.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Powder Room With Vessel Sink

Nancy Snyder's powder room design features a Lapia Silver granite vanity top, a to-the-ceiling wall of pearlized glass tile and mirror, a glass vessel sink and ultramodern lighting.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Gray Master Bedroom

With a high-rise water view, floor-to-ceiling windows and a sleek metal framed bed, this airy bedroom is an opulent oasis. Pendant lights, framing the bed, cast a warm glow over the otherwise cool, gray space.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Bedroom

Gray is the color of choice for the bedroom. The varying shades lend an edgy and uncomplicated look. A red throw pillow adds a contemporary splash of color to the tone-on-tone bedding.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Striped Modern Home Office

Neutral gray and white stripes dress up the walls of this contemporary home office. Polished surfaces and geometric shapes by way of the mirrors on the wall add to the office's style appeal.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Living Room With Art

A trio of extension arm lamps shines a spotlight on the living room's contemporary sofa, upholstered in a neutral, eco-friendly fabric.

Gray Transitional Dining Room With Pattern and Character

Chairs with playful, colorful patterns dress up a black dining room table. The room's gray walls are anything but boring and neutral thanks to large art prints of bottles and white wainscoting and crown molding.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Modern Living Room

The neutral gray and white living room is given a calm feel with blue accents. The Domain area rug adds texture while also pulling together the seating area.

Traditional Gray Living Room With Tufted Sofa

This gray living room features a white tufted sofa, throw pillows and a patterned carpet.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Chic White and Gray Living Room

A few simple furnishings, each with great character, pull this chic living room together. The coffee table, with its black lacquered top and chrome legs, has a strong personality that’s softened by the gray side chairs and transitional sofa.

Gray Contemporary Kitchen With Rustic Island

Glass pendant lights hang over a rustic wood island in this industrial kitchen. The gray tile backsplash and modern stainless steel appliances create a clean, stylish feel that is a signature of contemporary design.

Gray Modern Bedroom With Wall of Windows

Minimal furniture is used in this gray, modern master bedroom, giving even more attention to a bold, black and yellow headboard and spacey, modern chair. A multitude of windows provides a unique, outdoor view.

Modern Gray and Blue Living Room

The neutral gray and white living room is given a calm feel with blue accents. The Domain area rug adds texture while also pulling together the seating area.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Transitional Gray Living Room

This transitional living room features a monochromatic color palette of soothing grays. Fun patterns in the curtains, art and area rug add texture and movement to the space.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Modern Living Room

This gray walls of this modern living room pull contrasting colored furniture and a green floor rug into focus. Silver accents give the space energy and refinement.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Gray and Purple Living Room

A rich shade of gray gets a pop of color from magenta and plum purple accents in this contemporary living room.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Dining Room

Designers added a blue-gray wall to this space in order to create a divide between the new living and dining rooms. The existing carpet was removed and natural hardwood floors were installed, in addition to a mustard yellow area rug and stainless steel dining table. White and brown geometric curtains frame the dining room window.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Traditional Gray Kitchen

This traditional kitchen has gray cabinets with an eat-in kitchen island and stainless steel appliances. The square white tile backsplash and the open shelves round out the back wall with a stainless steel vent hood.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Gray Bedroom With Tufted Headboard

Gray can be both simple and soothing as seen in this bedroom where various shades of the color are used throughout the space. Black floating shelves create a fun picture gallery on one of the back walls.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Remodeled Contemporary Kitchen

HGTV fan toupie1 inexpensively transformed their country-style eat-in kitchen to a contemporary gathering spot with just a few smart, style-savvy changes. The stock, wood-stained cabinets were in good shape so a few coats of white paint freshened them up while a new light fixture and sleek dining set finished the look.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Midcentury Modern Living Room With Throw Pillows

If your blankets and throws have been stored away since last winter, run them through the washing machine before putting them back in use. In this midcentury-modern living room, a handwoven throw adds subtle warmth and texture to the sleek gray sofa. Make a bolder statement with a bright throw that contrasts your sofa. Hosting a movie night with friends and family? Be sure to keep pillows and blankets handy to ensure that guests are warm and comfortable

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Family Room

Tucked away in a far corner of the home and overlooking the back porch and courtyard, the family room demands attention, not only for the choice of retro furnishings and a formal gas fireplace but for the room’s focal point; it’s an eye-popping piece of modern art Dream Home house planner Jack Thomasson and interior designer Linda Woodrum discovered in San Francisco

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Gray Living Room With Orange Sofa

The bold orange sofa takes center stage in this rustic gray living room.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Modern Kitchen With Gray Backsplash

This modern kitchen boasts a simple design with metal appliances and gray backsplash.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Modern Living Room With Aquarium

This gray and white living room is given a calm accent with blue in the large built-in fish tank. The area rug adds texture while also defining the seating area.

Contemporary Gray Family Room With Stone Fireplace

This family room features pale gray accents –– like the wall color and suede sofa –– paired with pops of bright turquoise and deep purple hues. A charcoal and white patterned area rug leads the way to a rustic stone fireplace, finishing the look of the space.

Photo By: Claire Paquin

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Family Room

Dramatic views of the surrounding Presidio through oversized windows are juxtaposed against a cosmopolitan study of black and white in the San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2014 family room and adjoining kitchen space. Designer Steven Miller selected furnishings that are comfortable, casual and chic.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Neoclassical Den With Gray Ottoman

Oversized tufted ottomans in dark gray create a cozy, comfortable sitting area paired with the slipcovered white sofa. Zebra-patterned linen draperies hung on oversized rods draw the eye up, heightening the space. French doors and lots of windows provide plenty of natural light to keep the room feeling open and spacious.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Modern Bedroom With Nightstand

For a bright, open look, consider nightstands that don't steal visual space. One trendy option: bedside tables with a mirrored finish that bounces light around the room.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Soft Gray Kitchen

Castle Design transformed a small, inefficient kitchen into a bright, breezy space with a smart and highly functional layout and subtle details that capture a relaxed, beach chic aesthetic.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Transitional Living Room With Sectional

For the final challenge of HGTV Design Star season seven, contestant Britany gave this once design-less living room a makeover. Her placing of the sectional in the center of the room — rather than against the far wall — puts loungers close enough to watch TV or feel the fire's heat.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Dining Room With Geometric Wallpaper

It's not your grandmother's wallpaper anymore. Today's wallpaper options range from updated florals to cool graphics, like the geometric print designer Brian Patrick Flynn used in this dining room.

Gray Living Room With Pink Throw Pillows

Gray is still one of the hottest hues this year, and we love that it pairs well with almost every color. To add contrast to this mostly gray living room, designer Brian Patrick Flynn integrated a sleek white coffee table and playful pink accents into the design. Together, the two hues deliver just the right amount of vibrancy to this clean and sophisticated sitting area.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Bedroom

Proof that neutrals need never be boring, this bedroom's a winning combination of subtle shades in a very tight palette.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Kitchen With Marble Tile

To add classic pattern and timeless color to this kitchen, 12-by-12-inch sheets of mosaic marble tile featuring a black-and-white, basket-weave pattern were installed. Basket-weave tile is excellent for modern, transitional and traditional kitchens, since the pattern is graphic, and available in high- and low-contrast colors. Most marble basket-weave mosaic tiles range from $15 to $50 per square foot; however, ceramic basket-weave mosaic tile can be sourced for $10 to $20 per square foot.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Contemporary Living Room With Sectional

Staging a room to compliment the view can be difficult at times. This large l-shaped sectional creates a sight line that's low enough to capture the view while providing enough sitting for entertaining. Soft grays and whites magnify the large windows while the subtle pops of color enhance the picturesque view.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Gray Sophisticated Dining Room

This gorgeous dining room has dark eggshell walls, rich gray trim, flowing lace curtains and a bold gilded mirror. A crystal chandelier glistens above a table set with with traditional flatware and mismatched chairs.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Modern Loft With Gray Chaise

Clean lines, simple art and a neutral color scheme characterize this stylish modern loft.

50 Trendy Gray Rooms: Transitional Living Room With Fireplace

This living room features a dark gray accent wall situated behind a light gray painted fireplace. A neutral sofa with floral pillows is positioned opposite to black leather armchairs, while a glass coffee table sits in the center of the room.

Navy

BPF_original_colors_pink-pillow-blue-bedroom_v

BPF_original_colors_pink-pillow-blue-bedroom_v

PINK - Pink is known for suggesting a feeling of love and for having a calming effect on people. A preferred color of women and girls everywhere, certain shades of pink, when paired with otherwise masculine colors, can create a gender-neutral space. Hot pink is a great way to add a feminine touch to more masculine hues such as navy blue and/or black.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Don’t be afraid of dark hues. Bedrooms lend themselves especially well to midnight blues – better sleep is just a few coats of paint away! 

Lavender

Lavender Sitting Room With Crystal Chandelier

Lavender Sitting Room With Crystal Chandelier

Lavender is a lovely hue for this small sitting room with a tile floor. A white settee, wood coffee table and crystal chandelier give the simple space an elegant feel.

Yes, even purple can be a neutral if done right. Look for pale lavenders or shades with gray undertones to give the color extra staying power.

Read This Before You Start Painting

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Sheen Is Important

The finish of your paint, or sheen, will have a major impact on your walls. Gloss, satin, egg shell – with these options comes many considerations. High-traffic areas do well with gloss or satin as they hold up better to touching and can be cleaned more easily. But, they can make wall imperfections (wavy drywall, patched areas) much more pronounced. A more matte-like finish, such as flat, will not clean as well or endure touches as well, but you won't see imperfections as much.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Embrace Color

Don't fear the bold colors! Select colors that add depth and texture to a room. Understand the psychology of color and use it to your advantage. A calming color, such as one in the blue family, is great for a bedroom.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Try Samples First

No need to guess how good (or bad) a color will look on your wall. For a fraction of the cost of a gallon of paint, you can purchase sample pints, take them home, and test them out. This will help you judge how a color will look on a larger area better than a swatch can provide. It's better to spend just a few dollars on a sample than big bucks on gallons only to find out the color won't work.

Photo By: Jupiterimages

Do the Math

Of course, you'll need to know the total area you're going to paint (add up all the square footage of your walls, including alcoves and dormers, plus a little extra), but you'll also need to account for multiple coats, primer and the porosity of the walls. It's best to have some paint left over for repair work later on, so get more than you need.

Photo By: pojoslaw

Be a Prepper

Prep work will be the vast majority of your time spent painting the interior of your home. You'll need to tape off areas for sharp lines, move furniture and furnishings, repair and patch any imperfections, protect the floors, and remove things like switch plates and doorknobs. At least three-quarters of your time will be spent doing these tasks.

Primer Is Key

Unless you're buying a primer and paint all-in-one mixture, you'll need to prime your walls, particularly if you are drastically changing the wall color (tinted primer is key in that situation). Primer not only covers up colors and stains, it also adds a layer to allow the top coat of paint to better adhere, giving you a much better result.

Photo By: Jens_Lambert_Photography

It's Okay to Cut in

Cutting in (painting at corners and edges) allows for smoother work when using rollers or larger brushes. Trying to do this after painting larger areas will create uneven lines. It may seem like a lot of work, but you'll be much happier with the result.

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Rollers Save Time

A roller may require more equipment (handles, poles, rollers) than brushes, but you can get more done in less time with them. Remember to paint in an overlapping “W” to get better coverage and smooth out roller lines.

Photo By: iofoto

Use an Extension Pole

While you'll need ladders for cutting in and detail work at heights, an extension pole added to a roller will save you even more time. You'll be able to reach further, particularly on ceilings, without having to move as much.

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Combine Gallons For Uniformity

This is called boxing, and it will help you avoid any inconsistencies in the color of your paint coverage. Simply pour multiple gallons into a larger, resealable bucket, and stir thoroughly. Yes, today's mixing processes are much more uniform than in the past, but this step is a fail-safe measure just in case there was a slight mistake when the paint was mixed at the home center.

Photo By: ognianm

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