Staring at a display case full of paint chips can leave even the most confident do-it-yourselfer's head spinning. We asked top interior designers and paint professionals which wall color they would choose if they could have only one. Here are their can't-miss favorite paint colors.
Memorybook Blue 4007-5C by Valspar
Valspar's Memorybook Blue is a soft, peaceful shade that can work as a neutral in large doses. "Blues are said to promote productivity and help one's focus," says Sue Kim, color marketing manager at Valspar. "This hue is calming, creating a great foundation for a den or study." The muted shade also works well in kitchens alongside white cabinetry and shiny fixtures and finishes.
Rocky Coast 1595 by Benjamin Moore
Use dark gray wall colors like Benjamin Moore's Rocky Coast to instantly add drama and elegance. "I love this moody gray," says Jessica Davis of Nest Studio. "It has a slight blue undertone and makes any room feel sophisticated. Use it in cozy rooms like libraries and dens."
Calke Green 34 by Farrow & Ball
Saturated greens, like Farrow & Ball's Calke Green, are a favorite for rooms that need a personality boost. "I love a good, playful green," says interior designer Jeff Andrews. "This color has a vintage vibe that can work well in any room where you want to have a little sense of humor, to not be too serious. But it also stands the test of time."
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Tony Taupe SW 7038 by Sherwin-Williams
Warmed-up, earthy shades of gray, like Tony Taupe, are the new go-to neutrals. Use these colors to envelop rooms in a rich, warm feeling. "In a satin finish, this gray tone is ideal for a media room or library where you want a neutral color with great depth," says John Cialone of Tom Stringer Design Partners.
Classic Gray 1548 by Benjamin Moore
Gray is becoming the ultimate neutral, since it looks good with almost any color. Classic Gray is a modern neutral that creates a light and airy feeling, yet adds more warmth to a room than basic white. "When you hear 'gray' you think dreary, but this is a wonderful gray that has a lot of light in it, especially when paired with white trim. Even on a dreary day, it looks good," says interior designer Mary Hickey. "Plus, it's a color that works well with so many other colors. It's absolutely beautiful with peacock blue accessories."
Naval SW 6244 by Sherwin-Williams
Sherwin-Williams' pick for 2020 Color of the Year, Naval, is a rich, saturated blue that makes a bold statement. "I like a little drama in the dining room," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "Navy is timeless, and paired with gold accents, this color seems to sparkle." Use navy blue alongside neutrals, like white, gray, and beige, and add wood finishes and natural textures to warm up the look.
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Escape Gray SW 6185 by Sherwin-Williams
Escape Gray creates a soothing atmosphere that's ideal for the bedroom or living spaces where you want to kick back and relax. "A hint of green gives this gray a more natural and earthy tone," says interior designer Sara Hillery. "Pair it with deep, rich colors, like papaya orange, to create a warm yet striking statement in a living room."
Not-So-Boring Neutral Paint Colors
Calamine 230 by Farrow & Ball
For a modern twist on neutrals, consider Farrow & Ball's Calamine, a subtler, more delicate version of millennial pink. "This pale wash of a cool pink works as a neutral, or pair it with red to amp it up," says interior designer Summer Thornton. "I like it best with warm southern and western light."
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Cayenne Pepper 8-14 by Pratt & Lambert
Daring shades of orange, like Cayenne Pepper from Pratt & Lambert, are nothing to be afraid of. "Use a vibrant orange as an accent in a family room to create a warm and inviting atmosphere," suggests Stacy Garcia, design and color specialist. "Juxtapose it with cool neutral shades of white, gray, and mid-tone blues." If bold shades aren't your thing, consider using Cayenne Pepper for an accent wall, or possibly for a piece of furniture.
Kendall Charcoal HC-166 by Benjamin Moore
Paint walls with a luxurious charcoal gray to foster a sense of comfort (and make white trim pop). "Kendall Charcoal is a sophisticated, moody color that makes a living room feel elevated and intimate," says Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design. "I love contrasting it with pastels to anchor and complicate them."
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Clay Beige OC-11 by Benjamin Moore
For a designer paint color, go neutral. As an off-white hue that suits any environment, Clay Beige is a natural choice for hallways or living rooms. "This is my go-to whenever a neutral, but not boring, background is needed," says interior designer Mandy Lowry. "It's a chameleon color. It has the amazing ability to read either warm or cool and never fails to make its surroundings elegant in any light." Beige works well in any room and with any accent hue.
Wickham Gray HC-171 by Benjamin Moore
This timeless shade of gray promotes calm and relaxation. "Bedrooms should feel like an oasis or retreat from our hectic lives," says interior designer Marika Meyer. "Wickham Gray is a restful tone that sets this mood." For a soothing space, pair gray with neutral finishes and natural textures.
Glowing Apricot 165 by Benjamin Moore
Bright and summery, this shade of orange adds brilliance to any wall. "I love Glowing Apricot for any room, but it's particularly beautiful in a dining room, where it casts a soft golden glow that makes everyone look radiant," says interior designer Danielle Rollins. Balance the warm yellow-orange with cool hues, like navy or gray.
Blue Arrow 5001-3C by Valspar
For your bedroom, try a soothing shade like Blue Arrow, a versatile color. "Easy on the eye, easy to live with. It's a robin's egg blue-green with a bit of muddiness to it," says Melissa Birdsong, Lowe's vice president of trend design and brand. "I always like my colors a little muddy." Blue-gray is popular since it goes with almost any wood tone, and works well with almost any neutral fabric, making it great for anything from a living room to a basement makeover.
Hawthorne Yellow HC-4 by Benjamin Moore
This buttery yellow color has a slight gray undertone that balances the brightness. "Hawthorne Yellow is a vibrant choice for bedrooms," says interior designer Gary Mcbournie. "It has a certain cheeriness and works with tailored patterns in blues, greens, and browns, or soft florals in a variety of garden colors."
Sea Salt SW 6204 by Sherwin-Williams
Gray-blue is both modern and classic, and Sherwin-Williams' Sea Salt has the versatility of a blue with the contemporary cool of a gray. "This pale gray-blue is soft and soothing," says interior designer Janie Hirsch. "It's kind of like sea glass, where it can look blue or green—and it works with both. And it's great with neutrals or cream. I've used it in a beach house, a traditional home, a sorority house—so it has a lot of flexibility." For a serene atmosphere, try this blue paint color in a bedroom, living room, or bathroom for a serene atmosphere.
Savoury Beige 3002-10C by Valspar
Timeless and versatile, Savoury Beige sets a soft backdrop for any decorating style. "This is the perfect cafe au lait that puts just enough color on the walls to warm them up," says interior designer Elaine Griffin. "Even the biggest colorphobes can commit to this pale tan." As with any great neutral, Savory Beige (sold in some regions as Churchill Hotel Ecru) looks good everywhere and with everything. Colors with this kind of versatility are a safe bet, as you can count on them being in style for years to come.
Gervase Yellow 72 by Farrow & Ball
To add color to a room without overwhelming the space, opt for a soft, muted shade like Gervase Yellow. "When I'm using a color rather than a neutral, I pick in the golden range," says designer Barry Dixon. "With a little tone of green peeking through, this yellow is not so intense that it's overly dramatic. It's warm and embracing—not one of those overly cheerful yellows. It's a subtle yellow you'll never tire of." Yellow brightens rooms and is versatile enough to go with almost any style of furniture or accent. Gervase Yellow is a muted hue that has these attributes, yet isn't too intense for rooms with lots of natural light.