How to create a coherent, neutral colour scheme


When you create a neutral colour scheme it’s best to start with a neutral base. White and beige are the go-too’s but there is a wide variety of shades and hues available. You’ll find some will have a warmer base and some cooler – Neutrals can be a minefield but we’re here to break that down. 

When working on an interior or exterior neutral colour scheme the success of the colours together are more important that the individual colours selected. 

You may find you’re not drawn to a colour individually however when paired with a complimenting hue, that’s when the magic happens. The key to a workable colour scheme is ensuring the colours are balanced and compliment one another, rather than selecting something jarring with a different base.

Dark & Light

It’s important to mention that a colour doesn’t have to be light to be considered neutral, darker tones such as charcoal, chocolate brown, midnight blue and black are considered neutral colours.

Personally, I love when a room has the same colour applied to both the walls and ceiling, especially a darker hue. When you paint the entire room in the same colour it envelops you into the space and creates an atmosphere hard to beat – for example, the TV room in the home of Athena Calderone.

If you’re nervous to envelop a room you could opt for darker colours when you select the furniture. Furnishings like sofas, chairs or poufs can be sourced in a range of colours and materials. When you start to finalise the furniture choices play with different shades, weaves and prints to create depth and interest. 

Dark colours anchor a room, they create depth such as an area rug, window treatments, scatter cushions or ottomans.

Dark colours pair best with light neutrals within the same temperature such as warm with warm, cool with cool. Take some time and learn the base of the colours you’re drawn too as this will provide a solid colour foundation and help down line when the palette begins to grow.

Design by Athena Calderon, Image via Eye Swoon


A monochromatic colour scheme is definitely a popular choice. It creates a sophisticated, considered and stylist palette without the added worry of matching colours throughout your home.

If you’re leaning to a monochromatic palette its best to start with a colour you love, rather than something trendy as these quickly come and go. Decide where you want to use the colour, perhaps a sofa? Start there and slowly build around it.

Design by Athena Calderon, Image via Eye Swoon

Colour Pops

Perhaps you love the idea of a blank canvas, white walls can look soulless but they do provide a base for you to build upon. Working with a white base will give you the opportunity to show your creative side. Introduce smaller decorative accessories such as vases, throws and scatter cushions which can be changed easily throughout the seasons.

Another benefit of a blank canvas is that you can introduce brighter or darker shades depending on your mood.

Even though you’re work with a blank canvas, try and stick to one or two colour pops to keep the scheme consistent rather than jarring – I introduce a range of colours into a scheme however I do try and keep core accents coherent so the scheme remains balanced.

To find the best balance it’s essential to experiment and do your research, have fun, experiment and be sure to edit the accent colours!

Design by Athena Calderon, Image and Header via Eye Swoon
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