How to choose neutral colours for your home.

Australians love neutral colour schemes. They are the most popular colour choice in Australian homes because they reflect our laidback lifestyle and natural surroundings. But, how do you choose neutral colours for your home?

Let’s start with the basics.

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What exactly are neutral colours?

Neutral is the name given to colours that have been muted or ‘toned down’ with white, black or grey. They have been neutralised.

These colours still have their original colour attributes, but they are mellowed and easier to live with. They reflect the colours in nature like sand, greys, whites, slate and browns.

Every colour family has a neutral. Some colours have been neutralised so much you can’t pick the underlying colour just by looking at it.

The best way to recognise the undertone is by comparing different samples side by side or holding them up against a white piece of paper. The base colour becomes more apparent.

Always look at colours in natural light, as artificial light can distort colours and make them appear different from what they truly are.

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Tips for choosing neutral colours for your home.

Before even looking at colour samples, think about the following:

What is the mood you want to create in the room?

You always hear this, but it is the starting point of any colour scheme. Knowing what mood you want to create in your space will give you direction for what hues and tones of colour to choose.

Different tones produce different moods in a room. Light tones create a sense of serenity and peace, whereas darker tones create a more stimulating and dramatic feeling.

A combination of light and dark tones will bring more energy into a space.

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What is the function of the room?

What is your room mainly used for?

Spaces used for lively conversation and entertaining, like a dining room or an outdoor room, can benefit from a mix of light and darker tones to encourage animation and communication.

Rooms used for relaxation, such as bedrooms and lounge rooms, benefit from lighter soothing tones to encourage calm and rest.

The best neutral tones for you will depend on how you use the space and want your room to feel.

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What are the existing colours in your room?

Look at the colours in the fixed elements and large areas of your room like flooring, furniture and finishes like brick or stone walls.

Write these colours down.

It can be overwhelming when you are looking at a whole room and trying to work out every colour in your head.

Writing them down will help you see what colours you have in the space. It makes it easier to choose other neutral colours that will harmonise effectively in your room.

For example, if you have a dark brown couch and orange undertones in your flooring, look at neutrals with similar undertones.

The best neutral colours for a space like this would have orange and yellow undertones, such as beige or greige or warm whites, would work well in these tones.

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Match existing colours to paint swatches

Matching the colour of your largest furniture items and fixed elements to paint swatches allows you to see all colours easily. You can put them on a moodboard and compare your new selections with these to see how they look together.

Also, choose shades 2-3 times lighter and darker than your matched samples. This is a fail-safe way of selecting colours that work together, and you can play around with combinations.

For example, you may have a dark greenish grey couch. Match this colour to a paint swatch, then select some greenish greys lighter and darker.

If you want a calm space, choose one of the lighter shades for your walls and a lighter shade for your trims and doors. Repeat the colour of the couch in accessories around the room.

If you wanted a room with more energy, you could use a dark shade for the walls or a feature wall and a lighter shade for the trims.

Following this method, you will create a cohesive colour scheme that is relatively easy to put together.

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Cool or warm?

As you know, there are cool and warm neutrals.

When you look around your room, do your colours feel warm or cool?

Updating your colour scheme is the perfect time to assess whether the temperature of your colours is suitable for the room.

For example, a north-facing room with large windows decorated in warm colours may feel hot. Choose cooler tones to make the space feel more comfortable.

A south-facing room that has cool colours and feels cold may benefit from some warmer, brighter neutrals to help create a cosier space.

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Mix things up with contrast

Contrast is essential in neutral colour schemes. Variety prevents a room from looking dull.

Varying tones of a neutral colour create interest.

For example, if you are using a blue-based grey, a pale blue-grey like Dulux Grey Pail can be paired with a mid-toned blue-grey like Dulux Aerobus or a blue-based white like Dulux Lexicon Half.

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Don’t mix your undertones.

It is best to stick to one colour family and vary the tone and intensity rather than the hue. A blue-grey with a red-based white can look off.

I hope this has helped you learn more about neutral colours and has given you the confidence to try and put a neutral colour scheme together.


Until next time.


Happy decorating,


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