Read the Color Story of this New England Neutral Paint Color Scheme and learn how to discover the perfect neutral paint colors for your own home.
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 my neutral paint color scheme!
Choosing a Neutral Paint Color Scheme
Originally posted April 11, 2017. Last updated May 19, 2020.
explore by room
This was originally an even more massive post, but I decided to split it up for easier reading. You can also learn about my past paint color mistakes (and how to avoid them) here! This post is going to focus specifically on my current neutral paint color scheme. For source information on each photo, please click the link to that room.
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 color scheme and the characteristics of each color!
Table Of Contents
- What’s LRV?
- Benjamin Moore Gray Owl 2137-60
- Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray HC-173
- Edgecomb Gray Lightened by 50%
- Benjamin Moore Wickham Gray HC-171
- Benjamin Moore Simply White OC-117
- Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal HC-166
- Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray SW7015 Lightened by 50%
- Benjamin Moore Paper White OC-55
- Benjamin Moore Gray Huskie 1473
- One to Watch: Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist OC-27
- One I’m Retiring: Benjamin Moore Cloud White OC-130
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.
New England-Inspired Neutral Paint Color Scheme
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!
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.
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 the Gray Owl!
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 creating a large paint swatch with poster board. Overall, it’s one of the most neutral paint colors I’ve ever worked with.
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).
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 recent master bedroom makeover, it 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 less undertones (and I’ll go into that more later in the post)!
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.
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal HC-166
Out of all of the colors on this list, Kendall Charcoal doesn’t really have a detectable undertone. It’s the perfect contrasting neutral.
I use Kendall Charcoal in our home as the primary “dark” anywhere I’m trying to make a statement, like the insides of our exterior doors. I always recommend having a favorite light and dark 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!
Other Colors in My Neutral Paint Color Scheme:
It’s inevitable to make some changes over time as your taste evolves and you finish new projects. Here are a few up-and-coming colors I’m loving in my home and one I’m ready to retire!
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.
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. This may just be the perfect bathroom color since it looks so great with classic Carerra marble.
I’m not positive yet, but I think I may end up painting our Master Bathroom this color as well in the upcoming remodel. After all, the entire design plan involves marble, and I think it will be absolutely perfect. Stay tuned!
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 exterior 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!
One to Watch: Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist OC-27
I haven’t used this one yet in my own home, but it’s a favorite for client projects. I’m strongly considering using Balboa Mist in the upcoming family room makeover.
I know, I know. I got a bit of push back when I mentioned this in my Instagram Stories. Some of you have painted your whole house based on the sunny photo of the armchair with the Edgecomb Gray.
It’s still a great color, but I’m ready for a change. While I still love the Edgecomb Gray on a bright and sunny day, I’m craving something with a higher LRV for when it’s 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.
One I’m Retiring: Benjamin Moore Cloud White OC-130
While there’s nothing at all wrong with the color, I’m sticking with Simply White moving forward for simplicity’s sake.
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.
So if you notice it gradually disappears from future projects, the simple reason is a pared-down palette. It’s still a great option I recommend for a creamier white paint!
So that’s it, my New England-inspired Neutral Paint Color Scheme. I’ll make sure to make updates as time goes on since I’m sure we’ll make a couple of tweaks as we wrap up our renovation. Tell me on Instagram if you decide to use any of these colors!