By Southern Living Editors
July 1, 2018

The past few years, we’ve seen homeowners and decorators alike embrace all-gray and all-white everything, but while we’ll always love a soothing gray bedroom or clean white kitchen, we’re itching to trade the old standbys for more creative hues.

Before you hit panic mode, recognize that “more creative hues” doesn’t have to mean a full-on commitment to electric teal or zippy chartreuse (though power to you if that’s your thing). Instead, we’re all about embracing neutrals in fresh ways: Think bypassing standard whites and grays for dialed-down versions of your favorite colors. Going all-out with easygoing shades of blue, green, pink, or even purple, rather than playing it safe with white or gray, gives rooms dimension, plus it allows your personality to shine through. Here, three dos and don’ts for ditching white and gray and using your favorite color as a neutral.

DO incorporate several tones of your chosen color into the room.

In order to effectively use a color as a neutral, be sure to include varying shades of the hue throughout the room. For instance, if you’ve painted the walls a light-light shade of blue, introduce other tones from the blue spectrum, like cerulean, sapphire, or indigo, into the space with fabrics and rugs.

DO include complementary hues in the room’s palette.

Just as you’d want to bring in colorful patterns and accents into a white- or gray-walled room to liven things up, be sure to embrace vibrant and complementary colors in subtly colorful spaces, too. If you’re using a muted shade on the wall, like a dusty pink, be sure to incorporate more saturated hues, like rich teals, in patterned window treatments, furniture upholstery, and artwork.

DON’T skip out on neutrals altogether.

Just because you’ve opted out of splashing the old-faithfuls all over your walls doesn’t mean you should avoid them at all costs. Instead, bring in the safe-bet shades to make your new neutrals pop even more dramatically. A traditional white mantle or glossy white trim highlights the color in your walls, plus it calls attention to the fact that you thought outside the white-and-gray box.

Will you be embracing colors as neutrals this year? Share your paint preferences with us in the comments.

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