21 "Expert Picks" for Fail-Safe Colors

Here are twenty-one neutrals that color experts and designers rank as their top "fail-safe" picks.

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  1. Amazing Gray (Sherwin-Williams SW7044)


    I repainted my bedroom this color, which is a medium gray with just a hint of green. It’s not too cool and not too warm. My plan is to use it with other grays, a charcoal gray upholstered headboard, and dusty plum and chartreuse.

    Jackie Jordan, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams


  2. Sage Morsel (Valspar 5005-1C)


    I believe more in timeless colors than fail-safe colors, like this gray green with its sophisticated gray undertone. You can find this color in your garden, paintings, and vintage photos, but the lightness of the gray green makes it perfect for today’s home.

    Sue Kim, Color Trend and Forecast Specialist for Valspar


  3. Cinderblock (Ralph Lauren UL222)


    For a warm, medium dark neutral I love Cinderblock. It just makes everything look rich and sophisticated. Very restful and pleasing to the eye. I just finished a Victorian reading room where I used it on the walls, trim, and ceiling as a home office and my client loves it.

    Myke Reilly, Designer and Co-Founder of The Happy Collective in San Francisco

    Ralph Lauren Paint

  4. Chelsea Gray (Benjamin Moore HC168)


    When people think about neutrals, they often think light and they don’t have to. This is a darker color that's still soft. It’s great with lots of linens, antiques, and vintage-style furnishings or it’s rich behind a contemporary white sectional.

    Sharon Grech, Color Expert for Benjamin Moore

    Benjamin Moore

  5. Manchester Tan (Benjamin Moore HC168)


    This is a very warm neutral that is almost like an off-white. It’s not gray or cold, and it’s not a boring beige. It's nice with dark and mid-tone woods and works well with cooler colors like blues or with reds, yellows, and greens.

    Sharon Grech, Color Expert for Benjamin Moore

    Benjamin Moore

  6. Restrained Gold (Sherwin-Williams SW6129)


    This warm and inviting color not only looks good with painted white trim but also stained trims like oaks, plus it maintains its hue well in daylight or artificial light. It also looks great in just about every room and pairs well with a wide range of colors, from reds and oranges to blues, greens, or purples.

    Karen Mills, Owner of Interiors by Design in Kansas City, Missouri


  7. Warm Caramel (Glidden GLN01)


    I think this is simply the most comfortable and delicious full-bodied neutral. It works wonderfully with both traditional and contemporary design styles and is perfect used alone or paired with another color. It is one of our top sellers from coast to coast.

    Barbara Richardson, Director of Color Marketing for Glidden


  8. Smooth Stone (Glidden GLN36)


    Smooth Stone is the perfect neutral, if you are looking for a color that has subtle character and one that is truly neutral without the influence of red or yellow undertones. It works beautifully with other accent colors, too.

    Barbara Richardson, Director of Color Marketing for Glidden


  9. Mission Tan (Kelly-Moore KM4004-2)


    This is my favorite fail-safe hue. It is a neutral that has it all—not too light or too dark, too warm or too cool. It’s the perfect complement to all of today’s most fashionable colors. It’s popular for exteriors, too.

    Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing at Kelly-Moore Paints

    Kelly-Moore Paints

  10. Toasted Wheat (Pratt and Lambert 7-26)


    This has been one of our top colors for many years. It is a warm, nature-based tan that is extremely versatile. It has a certain amount of depth so that it will have a presence, but it is neutral enough that it won’t steal the show.

    Peggy Van Allen, Color and Design Specialist for Pratt & Lambert

    Pratt & Lambert

  11. Ever Classic (Pratt and Lambert 32-34)


    This is a perfect gray for walls or trim. It’s a mid-tone, neither too cool nor too warm. While all grays are trending strong right now, this is a gray that is a classic and will never go out of style. This color will lend a sense of luxury and refinement to any room in the house.

    Peggy Van Allen, Color and Design Specialist for Pratt & Lambert

    Pratt & Lambert

  12. Safari Vest (Behr UL190-17)


    Safari Vest makes a wonderful background color, because so many other colors harmonize with it. Cream trim and black accents create a classic modern scheme, or pair it with accents in burgundy, forest, or navy blue for a more traditional look.

    Erika Woelfel, Director of Color for Behr


  13. San Francisco Fog (Kelly-Moore KM5822)


    This color embodies its name. It's a fairly light, warm, silvery gray. I always recommend this color to my family and friends.

    — Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing for Kelly-Moore Paints


  14. Rotunda White (Kelly-Moore KM5819)


    This warm white goes so well with other colors, manufacturer Kelly-Moore chose it as the wall color for a San Francisco showroom against which the entire color collection is displayed.

    — Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing for Kelly-Moore Paints


  15. Birchwood (Dunn-Edwards DEC752)


    I love this complex neutral as it provides both warmth and coolness. It unifies other accent colors in a room.

    -Sara McLean, Color Marketing Manager for Dunn-Edwards


  16. Warm Butterscotch (Dunn-Edwards DE6151)


    This is a warm neutral that envelopes a room. It can be used as a base for traditional or contemporary settings but is strong enough to stand on its own.

    -Sara McLean, Color Marketing Manager for Dunn-Edwards


  17. Fine Grain (Dunn-Edwards DE6213)


    This is my go-to neutral. I use this warm gray in my home and constantly reference it as a neutral to try out for others.

    -Sara McLean, Color Marketing Manager for Dunn-Edwards


  18. Creamy (Sherwin-Williams SW 7012)


    This versatile white works with just about any hue. It's the perfect white for interior doors and trim as well as cabinets. I also like it for brightening up an outdated piece of furniture.

    -Jackie Jordan, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams


  19. Wilmington Tan (Benjamin Moore HC-34)


    I often use this color and it looks good in many lights settings. It is the perfect warm golden tone without bring yellow and looks great with many stones, granites, and woods.

    -Sabine Schoenberg, home design expert and author of Kitchen Magic: Secrets to Successful Kitchens

    Benjamin Moore

  20. Lace Handkerchief (Benjamin Moore CSP-220)


    This is my new go-to neutral paint color. It's not gray and it's not beige; it's a combination of the two. It works well with all the grays that are so popular now, yet is classic enough to stand on its own.

    -Suzan Wemlinger, owner of Decorating Den Interiors/Suzan J Designs

    Photographic Design, ltd.

  21. Sandstone Cliff (Behr 750C-3)


    "Here is the perfect light taupe that sits somewhere between a gray and a tan. It leans to the warm side so it feels inviting while still keeping a sophisticated edge. I would dress it up with ruby red or dark plum accents!"

    Erika Woelfel, Behr's Director of Color Marketing


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