Interior Designers Share the Neutral Paint Colors That Work in Every Room

Updated 09/26/19
Open kitchen with five barstools
Courtesy of Studio McGee

Have you ever stood in front of the paint display at the hardware store—trying your best to find the best white paint for your kitchen—only to realize they all look the same to you? To the naked eye, 50 shades of beige can look more or less identical. But to discerning interior designers who spend their days looking at paint swatches, each individual neutral paint color has different undertones, qualities, and purposes.

Ask any designer which color they would use on a ceiling, kitchen cabinets, or bedroom walls, and they will have very precise answers to give you. The color attributes that they look for from one space to the next may be totally different. For the bedroom, they may be looking for a color that will transition from day to night; but for trims, they may want a color that will highlight architectural details.

To find out once and for all what are the best whites, grays, and beiges, we asked four renowned interior designers—Shea McGee, Robert Passal, Gideon Mendelson, and Jay Jeffers—to share their favorite tried-and-trusted neutral paint colors with us. Order some sample pots—these neutrals are too good to pass up.

Entryway in neutral color with starburst chandelier
Courtesy of Studio McGee

The Perfect White

Benjamin Moore Simply White paint color
Benjamin Moore Simply White $38
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“It’s difficult to find a white that doesn’t feel too cold or too yellow—this is the perfect soft white and works with any décor style.” — Shea McGee

For Trim and Paneling

Neutral paint color
Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee $38
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“This is my go-to for trim and paneling when I’m trying to achieve a cooler tone. It pairs perfectly with black. It’s definitely white but never looks unfinished.” — Gideon Mendelson

For a Pure, Crisp White

Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace paint color
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace $38
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“This shade is my go-to crisp white. It provides the perfect backdrop for layering styles and textures.” — Shea McGee

For Your Ceiling

Benjamin Moore Acadia White paint color
Benjamin Moore Acadia White $38
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“This is great for ceilings and trim when you want to highlight architecture details but still want some warmth in the room. I like using it with lighter wood tones.” — Gideon Mendelson

Living room painted in a neutral beige with blue accents
Courtesy of Gideon Mendelson

For the Perfect In-Between Shade

Benjamin Moore Ballet White paint color
Benjamin Moore Ballet White $38
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“This has just enough warmth in it to make a room feel cozy, not sterile. Sometimes it feels beige; sometimes it feels gray. It’s extremely versatile and changes throughout the day. That’s the best part!” — Gideon Mendelson

For the Perfect Backdrop

Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone paint color
Farrow & Ball Skimming Stone $99
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“This has just the right hint of gray, creating the perfect backdrop for a room with hits of vivid color.” — Robert Passal

For Day to Night

Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist paint color
Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist $38
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“Just like good fashion, this color can go from day to night with ease.” — Jay Jeffers

For an Airy Neutral

Farrow & Ball Dimity paint color
Farrow & Ball Dimity $110
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“This is a very light beige that makes a space feel airy while adding a level of sophistication that a plain white would not be able to achieve.” — Robert Passal

Hallway in home painted in neutrals with wood-paneled accents
Courtesy of Jay Jeffers

For Mixing With Jewel Tones

Benjamin Moore Shoreline paint color
Benjamin Moore Shoreline $38
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“This color mixes well with jewel-tone colors like emerald green and cobalt blues, which we are loving right now.” — Jay Jeffers

For Hints of Lavender

Farrow & Ball Calluna paint color
Farrow & Ball Calluna $110
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“This gray is imbued with just the smallest touch of lavender, creating a certain depth that makes it one of my newest favorites as a neutral.” — Robert Passal

For Warm Undertones

Benjamin Moore Classic Gray paint color
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray $38
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“We’ve used this light gray countless times because it’s just that good! It has a warm undertone, so in some lights, it is a true light gray, and in others, it is more greige.” — Shea McGee

For Your Artwork

Farrow & Ball Purbeck Stone paint color
Farrow & Ball Purbeck Stone $110
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“This color feels bright and airy during the day, but in lower light, it becomes sexier. It’s a fantastic backdrop for art.” — Jay Jeffers

Looking for more neutral paint color ideas? Let these additional 13 options from Ellis Paints, Clare, Jolie, and Little Greene inspire your next look:

  • "Cloud White," Ellis Paints: A crisp yet delicate white with a tinge of gray
  • "Timeless," Clare: The direct-to-consumer brand's best-selling "off-white you've been searching for"
  • "Zen," Jolie: Peaceful, subtle beige-taupe with pink undertones
Timeless paint color by Clare
 Clare

"Timeless," Clare

  • "Sabi Grey," Ellis Paints: Soft, deep gray absorbs light beautifully
  • "Beigeing," Clare: Cool, inviting, modern beige
  • "Stone-Dark-Warm," Little Greene: A color reminiscent of the stone that gives Bath, England its unique look
Stone-Dark-Warm paint color by Little Greene
Little Greene 

"Stone-Dark-Warm," Little Greene

  • "Grayish," Clare: A soft, greenish gray recommended for spacious rooms
  • "Faded Blossom," Ellis Paints: Pale, dainty, washed-out pink
  • "Dirty Chai," Clare: Warm and spicy, like cinnamon
  • "Linen Wash," Little Greene: The color of natural linen
Faded Blossom paint color by Ellis Paints
 Cassandra Ellis

"Faded Blossom," Ellis Paints

  • "Smoked Green-Blue," Ellis Paints: Just enough color to remain neutral, a mid green/blue
  • "Shade," Clare: The brand's darkest greige with warm undertones
  • "Eucalyptus," Jolie: A soft, muted green with gray undertones

If you’re still weighing how much color to put in that sanctuary space we all know and love, you can also check out the bathroom paint colors interior designers swear by.

This story was originally published on January 8, 2018, and has since been updated.

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