8 Neutral Paint Colors Designers Use Again and Again — Including in Their Own Homes

We asked designers for their favorite neutral paint shades, and they delivered – here's how they use them

Living room with warm beige walls, butter yellow sofa and pale blue side table
(Image credit: Mylands/Sella Concept)

Choosing the perfect neutral paint color for a room is no easy task. With a huge range of options in shades of white, cream, gray and beige, all with differing undertones, it takes a lot of sampling and resampling to find the right shade that works in a space.

Still, we've seen certain hues pop up again and again in designers' projects – Farrow & Ball's Matchstick, for example, is a regular occurrence in schemes that embrace the new magnolia color trend. So we were intrigued to find out exactly which neutral paint shades designers are using for their projects, and even their own homes.

As it turns out, many top designers have failsafe neutrals they turn to time and again – so of course, we had to quiz them further. Below are the eight neutral paint colors they recommend – take them as your starting point to find your own perfect neutral.

1. Chantilly Lace White by Benjamin Moore

Shot of beige stone fireplace with beige artwork and white walls

(Image credit: Lee Broom)

In search of a warm, bright backdrop for this neutral living room scheme, Lee Broom opted for Chantilly Lace White by Benjamin Moore. ‘The furniture and textures in the room are all shades of ivory to shades of beige, so I wanted a very clean palette for the walls that would highlight and frame those objects,’ he explains.

With key lighting pieces from Lee’s brand giving off a warm hue, in the evening especially the wall colour is imbued with its own sense of warmth. ‘Often people who visit the penthouse don’t even realise the walls are actually white,’ he adds. ‘It’s all about the lighting, the objects and the natural daylight in the space.’

2. Sella by Mylands

Living room with warm beige walls, butter yellow sofa and pale blue side table

(Image credit: Mylands/Sella Concept)

For her own home, Tatjana von Stein, co-founder of London design studio Sella Concept, chose to create her own neutral shade – also called Sella – with paint brand Mylands. It's reminiscent of the new magnolia color trend we're loving this year. ‘The rich, warm tone provides a lovely background to our home and we are so thrilled with the overall feeling – all bought together through colour,’ she says.

3. SC292 from the Traditional range by Papers & Paints

A dining room with wood panelled walls painted in a warm neutral, a blue and white rug and a farmhouse-style dining table

(Image credit: Studio Atkinson)

‘It’s always difficult finding the perfect neutral,’ says Susie Atkinson, founder and creative director of Studio Atkinson. ‘My main tip would be to go for a warm white on a north or east facing room, and a cool neutral in a south or west.’

For this dining room color scheme, flowing into the stairwell and hall, she wanted a neutral that was neither too yellow nor too gray. ‘This one is SC292 from the Traditional range from Papers & Paints in London, which is my favorite – and, I find, the most “neutral” neutral,’ she adds.

4. Julie’s Dream by Little Greene

Living room with walls painted in pinky peach and ceiling in lighter nude shade

(Image credit: Little Greene)

‘I particular like the colour “nude”, a very light apricot with a tint of beige,’ says London interior architect Emmanuelle Sirven of her favorite neutral. ‘There’s one from Little Greene, Julie’s Dream, that is the most relaxing and comforting colour I have ever tried in a neutral bedroom.’

She recommends painting all walls and wardrobes but leaving the skirting, the picture rail, the upper part of the wall and the ceiling in white: ‘In a matte finish, it completes this smooth, cottony atmosphere.’ Alternatively, combine it with a deeper neutral (as seen above, with Julie’s Dream pictured on the ceiling) as an alternative to a white ceiling.

5. Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore

Bathroom with mint cabinets and white walls

(Image credit: Aimee Herring Ryan. Design by Nu Interiors)

Across her projects, Berkeley, CA-based interior designer Nureed Saeed, of Nu Interiors, has returned time and again to Chantilly Lace OC-65 by Benjamin Moore. ‘I use this for walls, trim and ceilings to give the space a cohesive feel,’ she says. ‘I’ve used this color in both my home in New Jersey and California for main spaces, kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms and love how it reads bright, yet warm.’

6. Titanium by Benjamin Moore

Sunroom with neutral walls and slate floor

(Image credit: J.L. Jordan Photography. Design by Bethany Adams Interiors)

Louisville, Kentucky-based designer Bethany Adams turns to two more Benjamin Moore shades when she’s looking for a fail-safe neutral. She uses White Dove OC-17 in ‘almost every project that requires white trim or a neutral white wall,’ she explains. ‘It looks great next to every other color. It’s never too yellow, never too gray, never too stark – always perfect. My own neutral kitchen is painted this color, including the upper cabinets and I love it.’

Bethany also uses Titanium OC-49, pictured above in a sunroom. ‘I love this color because it looks wildly different in every project, but always fabulous,’ she says. ‘It’s a chameleon-like color that could be gray or green or blue depending on what you put next to it or where it is in the home. I’ve used it in basements with no light and sunrooms and it’s fantastic everywhere.’

7. Drift of Mist by Sherwin-Williams

Gray console table against neutral warm gray wall

(Image credit: Sherwin-Williams)

For anyone looking for a gray-toned neutral, Lauren Sullivan of Tennessee's Well x Design recommends Sherwin-Williams’ Drift of Mist. ‘We primarily have this color in a custom-tinted limewash plaster in the main living areas throughout our home,’ Lauren says. ‘I chose it because it’s a warm and inviting off-white with a hint of gray that helps balance the incredible amount of warm evening sun we receive.’

8. Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore

Bathroom with warm white walls, wood cabinet, white marble countertop and white accessories

(Image credit: Nicole Dianne Photography. Design by Collected Interiors)

Be it in a bathroom or a main living area, Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak strikes a cord with Ashley Macuga of Collected Interiors, based in the Bay Area Peninsula. ‘With just the right balance of warm and cool undertones, this perfect neutral creates an incredible backdrop for a room’s furniture, decor and architectural details to take center stage,’ she says.

Pictured in a neutral bathroom color scheme from one of Ashley's projects, the shade sets off the bright white of the marble countertop and mirror and balances these features with the warmer tones of the wood cabinet.

3 more neutral shades to try now

Ellen Finch
Deputy editor (print)

Ellen is deputy editor of Livingetc magazine. She cut her teeth working for sister publication Real Homes, starting as features editor before becoming deputy editor. There, she enjoyed taking a peek inside beautiful homes and discovered a love for design and architecture that eventually led her here. She has also written for other titles including Homes & Gardens and Gardeningetc. For her flat in a converted Victorian property, she takes inspiration from the works of some of her favourite architects and tastemakers. She has a particular passion for green design and enjoys shopping small, local and second-hand where she can.