A Few of My Favorite Things: Neutral Paint Colors

Living in the midwest I can say that warm woolen mittens and white winters melting into spring make it on my list of favorite things. I also include paris rain, inner balance, fisherman’s net and dovetail. A strange collection I know, but not when they are actually part of my list of favorite neutral colors. I believe that neutral is more than beige, gray and white. There are so many variations and directions to go with neutral that do not have to be devoid of personality. I have a few of my tried and true hues I can’t get enough of and here are my top five current neutral paint color picks.

Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer: Trim in Dover White, Walls in Midnight
Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer: Trim in Dover White, Walls in Midnight

Dover White – Sherwin Williams 6385

I will admit I do not see white as a color, but as the absence of color. Therefore I have a hard time choosing it as an always for ceilings and trim. My go to is Dover White because of it’s soft warm undertone. It still feels white and I know the argument comes up as to why you would bother if it looks like white, but understanding the large impact a slight shift in color can do makes it worth the change. Adding color to your trim and ceiling can make the room feel larger and enhance your other colors within your space. A good rule of thumb is to take your wall color and use the lightest color on the paint chip strip or to find a great complimentary “white” like Dover White to use in every space to avoid the paint gallon overload in your basement storage. Do not panic when applying the paint as it will look darker until the entire ceiling or every piece of trim is covered. White has it’s place and very rarely is a true white used simply because it does not work. A tinted white can finish off a space and give you a tailored high end design look for the price of a gallon of paint. In addition to ceilings and trim, this is also a great choice for small spaces and areas where the color palette is limited to similar tones.

French Gray Linen - PPG Pittsburgh 411-3

French Gray Linen – PPG Pittsburgh 411-3

Not only does this color sound crisp and clean it looks the part with its soft green undertone. French Gray Linen has a classic look that can be both modern and traditional. A great color to update without losing original character. Green tones can be a great neutral as they have a natural appeal and used correctly can be calming. As a backdrop to gray, it also can appear sophisticated and grown up without snubbing anyone. This color works in any room, however I would avoid the bathroom as it could cast an unflattering green tinge and stick with a more strict gray or a color that compliments your skin tone.


Blonde – Sherwin Williams 6128

There is something about butter that cannot be replicated and this color nails the rich sweet creamy baking essential. Considered a yellow, Blonde has much more personality than any beige, brown or bland color. Since yellow reflects more light than any other color (yes even white), this is a great choice for kitchens or areas with limited natural light. As a neutral, it works with grays, greens, blues and even brown as it enhances wood tones and sheds light on all your accessories. It’s instant sunlight in a can for any room makeover.


Moth Gray – PPG Pittsburgh Paints 515-4

This color was the perfect main hue for the 2014 Parade Home. The name may not be the most attractive, but the perfect blend of brown and gray are more than appealing for any light and airy room. Biscay Bay (PPG 256-5) and Anjou Pear (SW 6381) pop while marrying the natural earth stone and charcoal furniture. I love the way it subtly adds color and depth. You can just tell it’s there and that makes all the difference. The Moth Gray color can work in any area as a monochromatic calming palette or as a supporting role for your favorite bold tones.


Stone House – Benjamin Moore 1039

My absolute favorite and of course I discovered this color purely by chance. It was a mistint discount gallon I found at a small town paint store while I was working on a client’s kitchen. I got to a point where I couldn’t stand the color in my newly aquired living room anymore and broke the can open to test it in my house. It transformed the feeling of our space immediately and I ended up doing our whole main living area. By far the best neutral I have ever found in the brown family that does not feel blah and boring. Stone House is a rich cream with a gold undertone that pairs well with the abundant oak trim in Wisconsin, but looks beautiful with white or espresso wood tones. Stone House can both warm and brighten up a space without taking focus away from your furnishings. I’ve used it primarily in living and transition areas such as hallways and stairwells.

Designer’s Note:

I love these colors and have chosen them due to their trueness of color in that most light does not discolor them. Please be aware that color is nothing more than light waves and most likely will not look the same in your space. It all comes down to light. I recommend testing out several colors and viewing them throughout the changing light, keeping in mind that seasons as well as time of day can majorly affect the color. NEVER choose a color just browsing in the paint store. Take it home and do your homework. If you are struggling, please invest in a professional opinion as it will save you from a color you can’t live with or the cost of repainting over and over. Good luck!

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