This guide of the top 10 best neutral paint colors will help you find the perfect shade for any room in your home!
Are you looking for the perfect neutral paint colors to use in your home? Look no further! We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide of 10 of the best tried-and-true neutral paint colors, complete with real-life photos of actual rooms. No matter the undertones or lighting situation, these shades of whites, creams, beige, and greige are sure to bring your space to life!
In the past, we’ve shared how to paint a room, our favorite room painting essentials, and how to choose a cohesive whole house color palette (like the one in this post) step-by-step. Today, I’m going to share all of the details about the best neutral paint colors and show you real-life examples in my home.
How to Choose Neutral Paint Colors
When choosing neutral paint colors for your home, it’s important to consider the overall feel and atmosphere you want to create. You’ll want to select colors that work well with the existing decor and furniture in your home, but also colors that will help create the desired ambiance.
- If you want a room that is calming and peaceful, select a color like pale gray, beige, or cream.
- If you want a more modern and contemporary look, use shades of off-white or gray.
- To add a bit of warmth, choose a shade of mushroom or greige.
- If you want a more dramatic look, go with a deep, dark brown or charcoal gray.
Neutral paint colors are a great choice for most rooms, as they won’t clash with existing decor and can be used to create a cozy, inviting atmosphere.
Like I talked about in the whole house color palette post, a typical paint color scheme includes 3-5 predominant colors. Of course, there are also accent colors and finishes, but today we’re focused on the key event: the primary paint colors.
Below is a breakdown of my favorite neutral paint colors with the characteristics of each color!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you shop my link. Please see my disclosure if you’d like more info!
Light Reflectance Value (LRV) is a scale from 0 to 100 that measures how much or how little light a paint color will reflect when illuminated by a light source. 0 is black and absorbs light and 100 is white with the maximum reflection.
Simply put, with a neutral you want that number somewhere in the middle, taking into consideration the amount of natural light in your space. Most of the colors in this palette fall in the middle-high 60-70 LRV range.
The Top 10 Best Neutral Paint Colors
When it came to choosing colors for our New England Colonial, many of these came from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Colors Collection. Not only are they gorgeous and timeless colors, but they were pulled from historical American architecture and landmarks. Nerd alert: this played a pretty big part in my choices. You can read about how my decorating style has been influenced by the heritage of New England here and how I’m a 30-something “Coastal Grandmother” here.
Beyond their fun history, these neutral paint colors are a great choices for adding a subtle touch of color to a room without overwhelming the space. Neutral toned walls allow you to mix and match other colors and patterns to create a unique look that can be changed easily over time. They’re also ideal for creating a relaxing atmosphere in a room, as they provide a calming backdrop for furniture and decor.
1. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl 2137-60
Gray Owl is my all-time favorite gray paint color. It has a subtle blue-green undertone. It pairs really well with creamy whites such as Simply White.
In our breakfast nook, this color paired perfectly with the Simply White painted bench and trim.
We also carried Gray Owl all of the way through our kitchen and down the hall to our mudroom.
In 2019, when we embarked on a full kitchen renovation, I still loved the Gray Owl so much that we kept it. Although our cabinet company, Shiloh, didn’t offer Benjamin Moore colors, we went with their Polar White color for a close match to Simply White. It works perfectly with Gray Owl!
2. Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray HC-173
Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray HC-173 in eggshell is the color that is currently most prominent in our home (although I’ve lightened it by 50% before to raise the LRV, see below). I consider it the ultimate greige and I honestly could never tell you whether it’s truly gray or beige.
The family room and foyer are painted this color, and then it goes up the stairs and into the upstairs hall (which are all connected).
It can have slight reddish or greenish undertones in certain low-light situations, so always make sure to properly test paint colors by using an adhesive sample. Overall, it’s one of the most neutral paint colors I’ve ever worked with.
3. Edgecomb Gray Lightened by 50%
LRV: Approx. 70
why/when do you lighten paint colors?
I’ve chosen to lighten paint colors by 50% in rooms that have very little natural light in order to raise the LRV of the color by 8-10 points. Please do remember that this isn’t the same as tinting the color (adding white). This changes the overall color formula and should be treated — and tested — as its own color with unique undertones.
Our Dining Room is an example of a darker room where I lightened Edgecomb Gray by 50%. Eventually, I embraced the moodiness and went for a high-contrast look (see Kendall Charcoal below).
4. Benjamin Moore Wickham Gray HC-171
Wickham Gray is one of my ultimate favorite paint colors. Like Gray Owl, it has some green undertones, and can in fact actually appear aqua in certain lighting situations. It can be cheerful and calming as these color shifts happen, and no matter what, it’s such a clean color.
The powder room was our very first project in this house, back in 2012. We ended up painting it Benjamin Moore’s Wickham Gray HC-171 in eggshell.
Before our primary bedroom makeover, the room was Wickham Gray for many years. After we covered up the north-facing window in favor of a better layout, the color really shifted. We swapped it out for something with fewer undertones (and I’ll go into that more later in the post)!
5. Benjamin Moore Simply White OC-117
Simply White has an ever-so-slightly cream undertone, although it’s still pretty light as far as whites go. This provides a contrasting warmth to the cooler tones of Gray Owl and Wickham Gray. It perfectly complements the warmer Edgecomb Gray.
This is the primary “light” color in our home. All of the trim and interior doors are this color and I’ve even been painting the ceilings Simply White as we replace the texture with smooth plaster. On our basement ceiling (a room with very little to no natural light) it is a cream color, but everywhere else it looks like a nice clean white.
In our mudroom, the walls are Gray Owl but most of the room is Simply White because of the built-ins and beadboard wall treatment.
6. Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal HC-166
Out of all the colors on this list, Kendall Charcoal doesn’t really have a detectable undertone. It’s the perfect contrasting neutral.
I use Kendall Charcoal as the primary “dark” anywhere I’m trying to make a statement, like the insides of exterior doors. I always recommend having a favorite light and dark paint color and keeping everything else in the middle.
After fighting with the harsh shadows in our Dining Room for years, I finally went back to the drawing board and gave the upper walls a couple of coats of Kendall Charcoal. I love the contrast it brings to this room and in some ways, it’s even brighter than it was before!
7. Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray SW7015 Lightened by 50%
LRV: Approx. 68 After Lightening
As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve mainly stuck with Benjamin Moore colors in my house. The simple reason is that there’s an awesome Benjamin Moore store right down the road from me (shout out to Mike, who has helped me with several paint product choices!).
With that being said, Sherwin-Williams also has great colors. A recent collaboration introduced me to Repose Gray. I lightened it 50% for our Primary Bedroom Renovation since we removed a north-facing window and the Wickham Gray was no longer working.
Oh, boy. I LOVE this color. I’m not sure what it means for the future of our paint colors, but it’s something to make note of.
8. Benjamin Moore Paper White OC-55
In the kids’/guest bathroom, I really wanted a lighter gray with blue undertones. I thought about lightening Gray Owl by 50% to raise the LRV, but the same concept is already neatly packaged in a proven color: Paper White! Paper White is a white-gray with ever-so-slight blue and green undertones. I loved it so much, I also painted our primary bathroom this color. I’m going to go ahead and declare Benjamin Moore Paper White the perfect bathroom color, because it looks so great with classic Carrara marble!
9. Benjamin Moore Gray Huskie 1473
I went into detail about how I chose to paint our exterior Gray Huskie back in 2016. I still stand by this color as a gorgeous neutral exterior paint color choice that fits in so well with the rest of the color palette. Sadly, we had to replace all of our siding in 2019 because of a continuation of the water damage and rot that led us to repaint the exterior in the first place. I haven’t shared the full project yet, but it involved performance vinyl siding instead of paint, and I’ll explain more in a future post.
One thing I learned about exterior paint colors is that they always look much darker on a paint chip then they’ll look in full light. Also, the undertones will look different depending on the time of day. I would have never known looking at the paint chip that Gray Huskie had undertones of blue and purple!
10. Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist OC-27 Lightened by 50%
When it came time to makeover our living room, I was ready for a change. While I still loved the Edgecomb Gray on a bright and sunny day, I was craving something with a higher LRV for when it was gray and cloudy (a.k.a. three-quarters of our New England year).
Edgecomb Gray was introduced as a refreshed update of Revere Pewter. I’m going to go ahead and say Balboa Mist feels to me like a refreshed Edgecomb Gray. It’s a bit lighter, and while it still has a warm undertone, it’s more of a subtle purple. Overall, it’s a very clean color.
To get it exactly where I wanted it in our home, I lightened it by an additional 50%. The resulting color was an almost-white that was just spot on for this space.
One I Retired: Benjamin Moore Cloud White OC-130
While there’s nothing at all wrong with the color, when we renovated our family room, I decided to go with Simply White for the trim and built-ins for the sake of simplicity.
I originally found Cloud White for my office to match the off-white IKEA cabinets that we’ve since replaced. Then, I used it in the family room because I wanted a creamier white to complement the off-white slipcovers and I conveniently had the leftover paint from the office. I’ll be swapping the slipcovers out during the family room refresh for gray (stay tuned for more on that decision) so it’s no longer a factor.
It’s still a great option I recommend for a creamier white paint!
All in all, if you’re considering adding a new color to your home, neutral paint colors are a great option! From warm beiges to cool grays, you can create a range of styles from modern to traditional. Plus, you can easily update your look with accent colors or furniture whenever you like. With so many possibilities, it’s hard to choose the perfect color, but I hope this guide has helped you eliminate some of the guesswork! Let me know on Instagram if you decide to use any of these colors!
Hi, thanks for all the great information. Just wondering if you have any experience with benjamin moore winds breath?
I don’t, but a quick Google search shows me that it’s a very pretty color that looks similar to Edgecomb Gray! I’d get samples of both colors and see how they interact with the light in your space.
I’ve found Glidden “In the Cloud” and “Silver Cloud” good neutral grey/beige Silver cloud in well lit/natural lighted rooms, and In the Cloud Accent walls combined with Glidden “Swiss Coffee” for the creamy beige/white for lower lit rooms. Girls room Accent wall with “Pleasing Pink” and the Swiss Coffee on the other walls. Switching from satin and eggshells is a good way to play with LRV, high traffic/kids rooms and bathrooms I use satin, eggshell is great for formal rooms like living rooms and dining rooms. My sons room is Silver Cloud with the Swiss Coffee on the wall opposite the window, to enhance the natural light looks more like creamy off white. Simply white makes a great trim color, that B.M. Edgecomb gray is a really nice color!!
I love the interior colors! What would you recommend for a boys bedroom and guest bedroom?
Hi, Carrie! I don’t really give off-the-cuff color advice since lighting and the direction the room faces makes such a big impact. But the info in this post can give you a great jumping off point for colors that may also work for you.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful home ideas! I’m thinking about going with edgecomb gray so happy to know it is neautral and not so gray! Have you ever used white dove-be for trim color? I tend to go with it and wondering what your thoughts vs simply white for trim .
Hi Kim — our new house has White Dove trim and I absolutely love it. It’s a great creamier white and looks beautiful in both low light and abundant natural light.
Hi Nina! I love your design style and your neutral paint colors. You mentioned that you’ve lightened some of your paint colors. Does that drastically effect the undertones?
Hi Kathy! Thanks so much. It doesn’t drastically change them, but it does shift them and should be considered by testing the lightened color!
How exactly is a color lightened by 50%? If I were to ask for that, what does it entail, since you note that it isn’t tinting it with white.
When you go to the paint counter, ask for the color lightened by 50%. They will know what it means! It just means they’re putting less pigment into the existing base.
I’m painting my living and dining rooms balboa mist and wondering what color draperies to use. I have light gray leather furniture and charcoal side chairs with cream embroidery.
Hi Ann, I can’t really give off-the-cuff advice without knowing more about your space. I provide virtual decorating consults here!
Do you have an update on Benjamin Moore Touch of Pink when It was lightened 50%?
I don’t have an updated photo, but her room is now painted the Touch of Pink lightened by 50% — It’s much softer and I love it!
Thank you for sharing the master list to the perfect neutrals, sometimes it can get a little tricky to find the right one. What a beautiful home you have! Not paint related, but may I ask where did you get your bamboo shades from? I’m on the hunt for the right ones, and I love yours!
Hi, Nicole! Thanks so much for the kind words. I have a few different combos of shades and curtains, and this post goes over them in detail! :)
Hi Nina! This is one of my favorite homes I’ve seen! Love the colors, decor, everything. Where is the tree in the living room from?
Hi Brittany, thanks so much! The faux olive tree was found here.
Such a great post, thank you for sharing! I’m excited to use Edgecomb Gray for my next room project.
I’ve been long searching for a kitchen island similar to yours but no luck. Did you have yours custom made?
Hi Bianca, we made it! You can see the tutorial here!
Hi! I love your home! We are painting our house to get ready to sell. We are painting the living room/dining room and kitchen Edgecomb gray. We have a lot of light and the Edgecomb gray almost looks white. We have high ceiling and I’m considering doing ceiling EG too. Have you seen this or done this before? We are doing the painting ourselves and this would be so much easier. Thoughts?
Hi Maria, Thank you for the kind words! And congratulations on your move. I don’t recommend painting the ceiling the Edgecomb Gray. I always recommend going a little lighter on the ceiling, in this case, I would go with a white.
Hi! Can you please tell me where you bought the outdoor front lights? Love them!!
Hi, Laura! Here’s my affiliate link!
What color did you use for the ceiling? I’m using edgecomb gray and simply white for my trim. just need to figure out the ceiling color?
We recently painted the ceilings Simply White (eggshell). It looks great upstairs, but in our windowless basement the color is definitely more toward cream than white. I minded it at first but now I don’t- I just wanted to give you a heads up!
Just came across your neutral paint color options and LOVE everything you’ve done and your selections. We just purchased a NE style home here in CA (both originally from NE… RI & CT) and it’s a complete remodel. We are going with some of your color options for the walls, Edgecomb Gray and Simply White for trim. What is your flooring color? Is it wood? I love the traditional look without all the reds, yellows and oranges for flooring.
Hi, Kelly! It’s hickory hardwood. You can see the details in this post!
Love this reno!! Just to clarify… if you repaint your cabinets, you are going to pick simply white, the same as the trim? I am building right now and struggling to pick two colours for cabinets and trim. Would love if they were the same!
Thank you! Yes, I love Simply White as a cabinet color.
Did you lighten the Edgecomb Gray paint for you living room? How do you know how much to lighten a paint color? I am strongly considering EG for our entire fist floor. We have a famr house with lots of rustic wood and thought it would be a great clean color after reading your post.
Hi! No, we didn’t lighten it in the family room- the room is very bright during some parts of the day. I usually lighten by 50%- but it would definitely depend on the color. Edgecomb Gray appears to be a light creamy beige when lightened by 50% (our dining room is an example of this).
This was also my question! Did you lighten it in the foyer. Your foyer has been my inspiration picture for a year!
No, Edgecomb Gray is not lightened in the foyer!
I love your neutral palette! I also love the exterior colors. My shutters are currently dark green vinyl and I’d like to paint them dark grey/black. I was wondering if your’s are wood or vinyl and how easy they were to paint? Thanks!
Hi, Ashley! Thanks for the kind words. The shutters are vinyl. We didn’t paint them ourselves, we chose to hire out the exterior painting. However, I noticed that they laid out the shutters and used a paint sprayer.
Nina your house is so gorgeous! So I’m researching paint colors (strongly considering Edgecomb Gray) and while browsing on Pinterest, I came across this post of yours! Love it! So helpful and it all looks sooo pretty! You’ve done a beautiful job!
Wish me luck – painting tomorrow! And I’m deciding between all white walls or Edgecomb Gray!
Thank you so much for the sweet words, Sheila! I hope it went well!! :)
Lovely home and beautiful design. Would you mind telling me where your white curtains are from in the living room?
Hi! Thank you so much. They are from IKEA, and are available on Amazon here (they are the VIVAN if a store is nearby).
I love this! I am wanting to paint my trim and doors Sinply White. I’m still deciding if I want to go with Edgecomb Grey on my walls. I have one question- what color are your ceilings? I’m not sure if I should paint them Simply White in a different sheen or a totally different color than my trim!
The ceilings are just plain white (untinted) Benjamin Moore ceiling paint! We just finished painting our basement ceiling Simply White eggshell- and it’s much creamier on a ceiling than trim. What’s done is done for the basement, but I won’t be tinting my ceiling paint that color again.
Where did you get the white sheet looking curtains And the wooden curtain pull down? The one by the off white chair. Thank you !
All of the details for our curtains are available here! :)
I’m slowly trying to do some updates in our old farmhouse that was last remodeled in the 70’s which tells you what I’m dealing with. The bathroom is first on my list. I’m having issues with light fixtures to give the old farmhouse feel. I loved the fixture you put in your powder room. Can you tell me where you got it? Suggestions for matching vanity lights?
Here is the light fixture! They normally include other lights from the collection on the product page that would coordinate well. :)
Your home is beautiful! Your colors are all the colors I love! I do have a question about the edgecomb gray color you used. You state earlier in the post that you’ve lightened it up 50% for the dining room. Did you do that when using the same color elsewhere in your home?
Again- gorgeous home! Thank you for sharing it.
Hi, Stacy! So far the only room we’ve lightened the paint color for was the dining room. Thank you for the kind words!
Where did you get the mirror in the picture with the Pottery Barn Grand Armchair? A friend of mine has the same one, I believe, which was made by the same manufacturer who makes Restoration Hardware furniture…only, it’s long-gone.
It was from Restoration Hardware, Missy!
What color and brand tiles did you use in your mudroom and powder room? Looks great!
Hi Stacy! They are the Leonia Silver 12×24″ tiles from Lowe’s!
Gorgeous home. Could you share what the exterior trim color is?
Hi, Jennifer! It’s Benjamin Moore’s Simply White!
Thanks for advice, I’ll look into Gray Owl as well! Your post reminded me that I could also ask them to lighten the paint as well. Looks like I know how I’m spending my Saturday this weekend with all these possibilities!
Hey great post, thanks for sharing! I was wondering if you were familiar with an even lighter gray from Benjamin Moore? I’m looking for a white with the lightest touch of gray. It looks like Paper White might fit the bill, but I was wondering if you had any experience with it or any other light gray options? Thanks again!
Hi, Stephen! Gray Owl is the lightest gray I have used personally, and I have seen it lightened with really nice results. But from what a quick google search just showed me of Paperwhite, that looks perfect!