What Are Neutral Colors?

What are neutral colors?

Any color that lacks strong chromatic content is said to be unsaturated, achromatic, near neutral, or neutral. Near neutrals include browns, tans, pastels and darker colors. Near neutrals can be of any hue or lightness. Pure achromatic, or neutral colors include black, white and all grays.

Near neutrals are obtained by mixing pure colors with white, black or grey, or by mixing two complementary colors. In color theory, neutral colors are easily modified by adjacent more saturated colors and they appear to take on the hue complementary to the saturated color; e.g.: next to a bright red couch, a gray wall will appear distinctly greenish.

Black and white have long been known to combine “well” with almost any other colors; black decreases the apparent saturation or brightness of colors paired with it, and white shows off all hues to equal effect.


The neutrals are all those great colors that do not compete with anything else in a space and also work well with other colors. With a neutral wall our opportunities are endless, we could accessorize using blue, red or yellow items without changing the color of the wall and each of those colors would look great in that space.

Most people think that neutral colors are just white, gray and beige, but they forget black, brown and even blue can be neutral colors as well. I know, It can be hard to look at blue as a neutral, but think about how jeans match everything, right? I’m talking about that denim tone of blue that would look awesome with a yellow sofa.

In the past we were limited to just a few white paint colors and a few dark paint colors, now we have so many options with each color, that gives us the opportunity to play much more with our spaces. Not to mention the endless browns, beiges, grays and blues, it’s just amazing!

What’s your favorite neutral color? What other color would you use it with?


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