The Best Neutral Paint Colors Full of Color!

Dear Laurel,

Thank you so much for all of your fantastic posts. Here’s my dilemma that I hope you can write about. I need help with the best neutral paint colors that are more interesting that the usual gray and beige. Here’s our situation.


We’re in a rental and are going to buy a house we just found.


The owner has agreed to repaint, as it was last done 30 years ago. The good news is he’s willing to let us choose the colors we want.

The problem is, I do want to redecorate and maybe do some renovations.

However, that might not be for another three years, or longer. I need some great neutral paint colors that go with everything. Well, that is, if there is such a thing. However, I don’t want boring neutral paint colors.


Pinky Bayje


Hi Pinky, and Everyone,

Paint colors are one of my favorite topics, and one aspect I especially love are neutral paint colors that, instead of the usual:




are full of color!

There are other blog posts about beige and gray paint colors, and how to keep them from being boring and lifeless.


However, today, I’d love to examine colorful paint colors that act like neutral paint colors.


Laurel, are these neutral paint colors in that they go with everything pretty much?


The answer is, yes, for the most part. In the Laurel Home Essential Paint and Palette Collection, I call these Universal Colors. There are one or two here that aren’t on the list. Perhaps in the last seven years, I’ve loosened the reigns on colors that go together.

As for an explanation of WHY some colors work with everything and some don’t, I have examined it closely and can’t come up with any definitive reason. The best one is that most of these colors appear abundantly in nature.


Please be relieved that I just edited out several hundred words about a lot of boring color theory.


However, if you’d like to read more, about color theory and complementary color schemes, I found a terrific blog that explains this very well.

So, let’s move on and discuss 12 of my favorite colorful neutral paint colors. Most of these paint colors are Benjamin Moore, but a few are Farrow & Ball. Please assume it’s BM unless otherwise stated.


OPAL and TAYLOR TACK, a new Farrow & Ball color)


FB Tailor Tack : Benjamin Moore Opal

Farrow & Ball Tailor Tack pale pink paint color

Farrow & Ball Tailor Tack


These twin colors are a warm, pale pink and the perfect choice for someone who’d like to try pink but maybe someone else they live with doesn’t like pink.




benjamin moore herb garden 434


herb garden tory burch green living room combining herb garden and bunker hill copy 2
Herb Garden is from the Laurel Home Essential Paint and Palette Collection. It is a beautiful mid-tone green.

Farrow and Ball Calke Green


Farrow & Ball Calke Green cabinets - antique mirror subway tile

Calke Green is the color Mary used in her beautiful kitchen pantry a couple of years ago. It’s a bit darker but very close. Both are beautiful and colorful but definitely neutral paint colors.




Churlish Green - Farrow & Ball Archive Color


Sheila Bridges - Farrow & Ball Churlish - neutral paint colors

Sheila Bridges

Churlish is one of the archive F & B paint colors, and Pale Avocado is a color frequently mentioned on the blog.


new kitchen shelf - Kate and Laurel

My old kitchen in Bronxville, NY was painted Pale Avocado. I lived with it for eight years and never tired of it.


pale avocado
pale avocado living room - LH Palette Collection - neutral paint colors

A palette board from the palette collection




Benjamin Moore timson green cw 470

This beautiful olive green would be terrific in a kitchen or library.


Mary's kitchen after green walls wood stained kitchen - neutral paint colors-Timson Green walls

We used Timson Green in Mary’s kitchen refresh from last February.



Farrow & Ball 2022 New Color - Beverly - Benjamin Moore Equivalent - Colonial Verdigris - neutral paint colors

Beverly is a new color at Farrow & Ball. You can read my review of the new Farrow & Ball colors here.


renovation husbands - Benjamin Moore Colonial Verdigris - deep green - best neutral paint colors

Stunning living room via Renovation Husbands painted Colonial Verdigris.


Benjamin Moore cleveland green 1525 - neutral paint colors




This is Bunny Williams favorite color. Or, at least, one of them.


Cleveland Green living room best colorful neutral paint colors - Laurel Home Essential paint and pallette - neutral paint colors collection

So, of course, I had to put it in the Laurel Home Paint & Palette Collection.




Farrow & Ball pantalon - neutral paint colors
This is another archived color from Farrow & Ball. Years ago, I was speaking to a rep from F & B who went ga-ga over this color. While it looks like green-tinged mud, here, I’m sure it’s glorious on a wall. Some of the best wall colors look like crap on a chip.


looks like Pantalon-farrow-and-ball-farrow-and-ball - neutral paint colors


Farrow & Ball Down Pipe

I’ve long been intrigued by this deep charcoal gray which has a cult following all around the globe. Sometimes it looks a little blue, and sometimes a little green.


deVOL-Bloomsbury-Kitchen-084 - neutral paint colors
This is from my favorite DeVOL kitchen. Some of you may remember that I wanted to run off with this one.


So, why aren’t you doing this for your kitchen, Laurel?


Ack. I can’t. The kitchen has been telling me the entire time. “I need to be a creamy white.”

However, there’s a little vestibule on the way to the upstairs bathroom, and I’d love to paint that space Down Pipe.




Benjamin Moore dolphin's cove 722 - neutral paint colors


dolphin's cove - Pinkie's happiness in a can - neutral paint colors


Via Pinky Crabtree, a lovely friend on Facebook! Although, I’m rarely on FB these days.


Greek Revival home Kinderhook, NY - Bedroom Benjamin Moore Tranquil Blue 2051-50 or Dolphin's Cove - neutral paint colors
Remember the summer of 2020 when I was looking at houses? Well, I came across this Greek Revival gem in Kinderhook, NY.





van deusen living room blue rug khaki coffee table white sofa

Ahhh, we were just talking about Van Deusen Blue in Cher’s home. She’s going great guns with her updates. You can see a pic of her new wall, here.




Benjamin Moore bryant gold hc 7


I know this color may seem quite saturated and bright for some. However, this color is beyond magical at night.


ceiling painted Farrow & Ball Orangerie - Best Neutral Paint Colors

Farrow & Ball Orangerie

@milesredd @gilschafer on instagram - monochromatic interiors - staircase - gold walls - neutral paint colors

Miles Redd and Gil Schafer collaboration from several years ago.




Benjamin Moore Chili Pepper - neutral paint colors

This is actually Benjamin Moore Caliente. But, close enough. I’ve used this for clients a couple of times. It’s not too bright and looks incredible when the lights come on.


new trad living room strawberry red or chili pepper

I also used it for one of my palettes in the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection. There are 40 boards, in all.

Hope everyone got enough rest, and that you enjoyed this post about colorful neutral paint colors!


The Best Colorful Neutral Paint Color by Benjamin Moore. There are some twin colors by Farrow & Ball, too.

Please pin to Pinterest, for reference.

If you’re looking for the best paint samples, I recommend Samplize, peel and stick, easily removable (over and over), and made with real paint! You can get Samplize for both Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball, here



PS: Please check out the spectacular and newly updated HOT SALES!


34 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel, thank you for this beautifully written and designed post. We are painting the interior of our home and I’d like to use Tailor Tack. What is the white color used on the trim in the picture?

  2. Hello Laurel, I am really amazed and delighted to see Bryant Gold/Orangerie on the list of colors that can act as neutrals. I’ve loved Orangerie in particular for a long time – just the most beautiful shot of pure sunshine on the wall that can be imagined. However, in your paint guide you do warn that it wouldn’t go with a number of colors (pink for example) so I’ve shied away from it. Can you offer any guidelines as far as mixing colors with BG/O ?

  3. Hi Laurel! The Pin is terrific, but I think Opal and Colonial Verdigris are BM Colors, in case anyone was wondering. I own 3 of your guides and have all but memorized them. I’m renovating my 3rd house (now renovating a historic home) and your paint/palette guides are WORTH A MILLION DOLLARS! They are the most worthwhile decorating guide purchases I have ever made. They give options that will work in many types of houses from beachy to Victorian. Thank you so much for your hard work, I really appreciate your blog and guides (and sense of humor)! (PS-My 3 kids are in Boston-I’m so glad you are happy with your move.)

    1. Hi Julie,

      You are right. I wasn’t paying close attention. Bridgette, a kindreader made the graphic for me. I just made a new one and left off the F&B duplicates, but a note will appear on pinterest that they’re on the post. Thank you so much for your kind words about my paint/palette guides. I am very proud of them and feel they are worth a lot more than they cost. A million dollars sounds about right. lol

  4. For a while now, I’ve been thinking more about how colors can act as neutrals-you don’t have to stick with the typical white, beige, and gray, so I really loved this post. The greens you mentioned I especially love! Cleveland Green looks like it can make just about any type of room look very elegant! I have a question I wonder if you would share your thoughts on. Have you ever done or seen a very large space-like open concept painted in medium to darker colors? My home is somewhat open concept, and I’ve been thinking the whole time of doing a creamy white that just feels warm, but all of these beautiful green colors are really what I love. Does going with those type colors in large, open-concept spaces ever work?

  5. Laurel, a terrifically inspiring post. I think I might try a few of the greens in a certain cabin in the woods. 🙂

  6. Hi Laurel. I am so inspired by your choices of best neutrals! Love so many of them. I was reading about “Pinky” & painting her new house at the expense of the previous owner. Perhaps the paint company of choice can estimate gallons & offer a gift card. Solves the problem of being pressured into quick decisions & costly mistakes. Good luck to the new home owners, its fun to start a new chapter.

  7. Oh, how I get in my happy place when I read your posts!! Thank you for being such a diligent, professional designer for all of us who struggle every single day for one reason or another. Your honest posts are very clear and help tremendously. Ahhh…. need to reread your post again. Thank you, beautiful Laurel!


  8. A number of years ago I painted my living room and dining room a green very similar to pale avocado. I have never got tired of it. I have switched out accent colors several times, and it looks good with practically everything. Some observations: black absolutely pops against pale avocado. Red looks great with it. So do just about all shades of blue, from the darkest navy to the palest ocean.

  9. Hi Laurel,

    I love these colors. I made similar choices several years back. I chose Benjamin Moore’s Blue Echo for my 4 bedroom walls and the closet doors. I’ve never regretted it. Meanwhile, I painted the guest bedroom in Sherwin Williams Livable Green. I like it, but I’m tempted to go darker to say FB’s Beverly or Calke Green.

  10. I went nuts a while ago trying to find a paint color for my living room – took a zillion samples, and . . . ended up picking Cleveland Green without even looking at the name of the swatches that I had taped together to make a reputable sized sample. And being the control-freak-show-me type, I must admit that it is (1) a perfect color, and (2) somehow really does go with everything. I couldn’t be happier.

  11. If any other visual people like want to save these in one Pin for planning, I made a little graphic of all the colors and I’m happy to share it here: It links back to this page and gives all credit to Laurel!

  12. I love this post too! I am entering a new phase of decor – I needed everything SO QUIET (visually) when my kids were really little and I was just exhausted all the time. We’ve moved to a more rustic and quaint house, the girls are older, and I am finding I can handle a bit more color here.
    The fun part is, part of our property holds 5 tiny vacation cabins and I’m getting to play with stronger colors there first. They were so boring with the walls painted off white, but now I have one in golds, one watery greens, one moody blues, etc.

  13. I love almost all these rooms, but not for me. I want to drench myself in the perfect blue purple. I cannot get enough of amethyst as a stone. The idea of painting my kitchen/dining/living room out in a rich blue purple with light sky blue ceiling just won’t go away. Maybe I am color nuts, but for me, the blue purples are natural and go with most any other color. Now admitting that the idea scares me but won’t go away no matter how many of your lovely color schemes grab me.

  14. Hi Laurel – Great post, again! I’m one of those strange people who loves to paint. I love the idea of changing a room about every two years with paint color. I recently used the Van Deusen blue in our guest room (one small window facing north) and painted all the walls AND vaulted ceiling that color. Trimmed it out in bright, crisp white, with white linens. It’s stunning and so very cozy and inviting. In our dining room, we have a huge close-up photo (7′ x 4′) of a long-horned steer (I know!!) and wanted to bring out his colors into the room. I went with a color similar to the Bryant you mentioned and used Venetian Gold. I liked it so much, that I painted our living room in it as well. It just made me happy to be in that space. I may, or may not, change it all out in another year – but for right now, in my life, it works!
    I really enjoyed this post and your colors are exciting, inviting and personal. I think the bottom line isn’t so much what the walls will ‘go with’ as how you feel in that room. If those walls are making you smile, then simply find some pillow covers that tie it all together and put them into the room. But, if it’s just another room in a neutral off-white, then grab a paint brush and add the Chili Pepper; or add the Down Pipe. It’s JUST A CAN OF PAINT!!

  15. Laurel, our big 2020 lockdown project was to add a chair rail to our small dining room and add applied moldings below. The upper 2/3 of the walls we painted Opal – what a delightful color! It glows at night under the lights but is beautiful all the time. I got my soft pink but the room is not at all girly, just warmly elegant.

  16. Laurel,

    Love this post! First, I want to say that my purchase of your Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection and Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection was a great decision! I refer to them often. I have always been a color person and painted the bulk area of my downstairs BM Healing Aloe. I know you recommend BM Quiet Moments ( another beautiful color), but my area faces north and has become more shaded, so I went with a step down in using Healing Aloe. Wow- I absolutely love it and it goes with everything. I see it as a neutral. Now, I’m trying to figure out where I can use Mediterranean spice and Twilight! So love how you show these two paint colors!! Thanks so much!!

  17. I have a lot of colors in my home. The largest expanses of wall and windows are a Granny Smith apple green. It goes beautifully with what is happening outside every season and never fails to cheer me! I see it as the perfect neutral 💚

  18. “Being neutral just means that it can go lots of different directions and these do.” Yes! Well stated.

    And depending on the execution, clash, color tension, a disruptor color can take a palette to the next level.

  19. Laurel,

    My husband and I sat down with your 9 no-fail paint colors last night, and we are ready to go! I had forgotten about Cleveland Green…I had picked Rolling Hills, and my guys in that bedroom aren’t crazy about it, so I’ll try Cleveland. Other boys are getting Dolphin’s Cove, Master Bedroom will be Glass Slipper, and I’m in love with Night Train for several areas. I love Behr Ripe Currant, but I want to try Caliente as accent, so as to keep all BM colors.

    And I still want to use Van Deusen blue..not sure if it will work in master bath, but may try there. My mood board isn’t very pretty, but I know the house will be lovely!

    Thank you, Laurel!

  20. I absolutely love this post. I am so tired of the boring white and gray and no color trend. I have always used greens as a neutral and I think that if we look outside and see how much green there is in nature that will show you just how much it can be a backdrop for everything. I used the color similar to Van duesen blue in my living and dining room and absolutely love it. I’m adding pops of Bright lime green and, basically any other color I want because it all works. HGTV has scared people from using colors as a neutral. Being neutral just means that it can go lots of different directions and these do. Thank you so much for this post.

  21. I’m such a plant lover yet I’ve never painted a room green. In my head I realize that it can be a neutral. When I’m deciding on a paint color it’s after I’ve selected a rug or a drapery fabric. And then I tend to go with a shade of blue.

  22. Another vote for Cleveland Green! Both my kitchen (with lots of off white) and attached sunroom are this color. (Most would have second thoughts of painting a sunroom this dark color.) Looks great with blue and white. I remember when the paint was mixed, I ordered several gallons, the paint store clerk questioned if I was sure about this choice…but I went forward and love it! Have had if for 6 years and can’t think of any other color that would be better.

  23. These are all beautiful colors and the mood boards gorgeous. However, I agree with Becky that bright reds, greens, and blues are the antithesis of neutral. Neutrals by definition are not saturated colors, meaning they are toned down (mixed with black and/or white, or gray). And sorry, but no color works in every situation in all exposures and light conditions.

  24. We have a very similar color to Cleveland Green in our kitchen that was painted 10 years ago- ummm time for a refresh! But I can honestly say- it’s a great neutral color and blends in and doesn’t look dated(like the dark granite countertops do- meh). With our large windows- the natural light compliments the color. Laurel, what are your thoughts on BM Ballet White? We have a lot of dark furniture, leather sofa; espresso dining room furniture- do you think this color will work as a good contrast to those pieces?

  25. Becky, think of these colors more like a universal donor that gets along well with everything, rather than what we were originally taught with the most simple and basic colors as the only neutrals.

  26. I agonized over picking colors to paint at the end of my recent remodel, in the end I picked almost all Universal Colors from the paint guide and they are all perfect. I am completely in love with Cleveland Green and can attest that it looks good with everything. It is an amazing backdrop for art, no matter the color. It looks off putting on the chip but comes alive on the wall. This post is gold. Thank you Laurel, for generosity in sharing your knowledge.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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