blue grey wall paint idea

neutral living room colours not white

The one question that comes up the most from my readers is choosing Scandinavian inspired colours for their home and especially their living rooms.  Like me, my readers are drawn to simple Scandinavian interiors where neutrals rule.  But that still means choosing colours that aren’t white can be tricky.

As stunning as white is, it isn’t for everybody.  It can be stark, it can look cold and it can be tricky to keep clean especially with kids and pets.  So if you love neutrals but want some warmth and a hint of colour, there are many options that can work beautifully.

blue grey wall paint idea

We tend to think of neutral colours as white, grey and brown.  In interiors though, neutral colors are any colour that works well with most other colours.  They can range from light to dark but the one trick to making non-white neutral colours work easily is to use it everywhere on the walls. If you start mixing blues and greens and creating accent walls (even if they are muted) you will no longer achieve that calm, pared back look that you’re after.

Before we get in to the neutral living room colours, always, always test paints in your room as they can look very different in different lighting and always check undertones. For e.g. beiges can have red, yellow or grey undertones and the last thing you want is a room that ends up looking yellow when you had wanted a browny beige.

neutral living room colors for a calm, cohesive look:

white and beige living room

The color beige may sound boring but it’s anything but boring for your living room walls.  In terms of paint colours it’s often given names like sand or cashmere or some other sexy name but ultimately it’s beige.  And it’s a thing of beauty as it instantly brings a feeling of warmth to your living room.  Even though it’s a light, neutral colour it really makes white and black pop against it.


grey and [onk living room scandinavian

Pink is often overlooked as a neutral tone as it comes in so many shades and most of them aren’t neutral.  If you opt for a muted pink often called blush or dusty pink, you can’t go wrong.  This type of pink is another colour that creates warmth and looks great paired with so many other neutral tones like grey, beige and black.  One word of caution though – it’s really important to check and test the pink paint so that you don’t end up with a room that looks like bubble gum!


blue living room walls

Much like pink, blue comes in a huge variety of shades. And once again when I talk about blue as a neutral I don’t mean turquoise or any kind of bright blue.  A muted dark or even light blue with undertones of grey is a cool, calming colour that is perfect for a living room.  The darker shades of blue are especially great for promoting a moody look without going too dark.  To balance out the darkness further, light coloured floors are a great match.


olive green grey white living room

Some say green is the new grey.  I don’t know about that but if you love green, you have so many neutral green paint options out there.  The living room above is painted in olive green but you can also go for grey-green or sage green or any other muted green.  And the beauty of these greens is that you can add in white, grey, hints of blush, black and it all works so well together.


terracotta walls living room

You might be surprised that I’ve included terracotta in a list of neutral living room colours, but an earthy terracotta can be neutral as long as you paint the whole room and ideally the the trims too.  Terracotta is an Italian word meaning ‘baked earth’ and it is indeed the colour of natural soil and earth. It’s a warm colour that looks incredibly cosy and inviting. To keep the muted look, opt for a terracotta with brown undertones rather than one with orange hues and pair with off whites and creams or even different shades of the the wall paint colour.   One word of caution though – if painted as an accent wall it will have a completely different feel and it won’t feel muted!  If you’re going terracotta, go the whole hog.


grey green walls

The last colour on my list of neutral living room colours is the one that most of us would already choose as an alternative to white.  That colour, as I’m sure you’ve guessed is grey.  I almost left grey out because it feels like the most obvious neutral after white.  But there is something about grey which can help the indecisive amongst us (🙋🏽‍♀️).  If you love green and grey and can’t decide between the two you can go for a grey-green like the room above.  Similarly you can go for a grey-blue or a greige (grey-beige) or even a grey with pink undertones.  Indecision aside, you may love grey but you still want a hint of colour.  Once again these greys come to the rescue.

Which of these colours are you most drawn to?

P.S. Here are some tips on colour schemes for a calming bedroom.

Image credits: 1 | 2, 3 & 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

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