Select Accent Colors That Complement Your Neutrals

Choose accent colors that play well with your base neutral tones. Cool-toned grays and taupes pair nicely with accents in shades of blue, green, and purple. Warm neutrals like tans, creams, and light brown work well with accents in terracotta, yellow, orange, and red. Some classic color combinations include:

  • Navy blue and white
  • Soft sage green and cream
  • Brick red and beige
  • Yellow ochre and gray

Accent colors should noticeably contrast with your neutral background. The pops of color will stand out more vividly against a muted palette.

Use Accent Colors Sparingly

A little bit of color goes a long way in a neutral room. Limit yourself to 1-2 accent colors and use them strategically in small doses. Too many competing colors can feel chaotic and overwhelm the tranquility of a neutral scheme.

Some ways to judiciously add accent colors:

  • Paint one focal wall in an accent shade.
  • Upgrade flooring with colorful area rugs.
  • Display vibrant art, pillows, and flowers.
  • Add brightly colored kitchen appliances and decor.

Placing colorful accents against large neutral backgrounds helps highlight them.

Opt for Richly Saturated Accent Colors

Choose accent colors with deeply saturated hues. Soft pastels can get washed out against light neutrals. Vibrant jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, and ruby make more of an impact.

Layer different textures in your accent pieces. Glossy furniture and lustrous satin pillows reflect light better to intensify color.

Use Warm and Cool Accent Colors Together

Playing mix and match with warm and cool accent shades creates visual interest. If your neutral scheme leans cool, punctuate it with warm colors like orange, red, and yellow. For a warmer neutral background, add pops of cool tones like blue, green and indigo.

The interplay between complementary colors makes each seem more dynamic.

Change Up Colors With the Seasons

One benefit of neutral backdrops is they act as a versatile blank canvas. You can shift the look by swapping accent pieces and colors to match the seasons and holidays.

Try crimson and evergreen accents in winter, pastel pink and yellow in spring, ocean blue and lime in summer, orange and plum in fall.

Final Accent Color Ideas

  • For a contemporary edge, use bold primary reds, blues and yellows as accents.
  • In kids’ rooms, opt for playful accents like neon hues.
  • Metallic sheens in silver, gold and copper add glamour.
  • Natural materials like wood and woven textures warm up rooms.

With a solid neutral foundation, experimenting with different accent colors allows you to refresh your space for a fraction of the cost of completely redecorating. The possibilities are endless when you use color to spice up basic neutrals!

Frequently Asked Questions About Accenting a Neutral Space With Color

How much color should you add to a neutral room?

Aim for 1-2 accent colors in small doses—a single bold wall, art pieces, throws, flowers. Too many competing colors overwhelm neutrals.

What are some go-to accent colors for neutral spaces?

Popular choices include navy blue, soft greens, brick red, yellow ochre, and metallics like gold and silver. Opt for hues with rich saturation.

Should you choose warm or cool accent colors?

Let your base neutrals determine this. Cool grays pair well with blues, greens, purples. Warm tans and browns suit red, orange, yellow. Mixing warm and cool accents creates depth.

How can you use accent colors in a neutral kitchen?

Colorful appliances, barstools, dishes, and decor items like fruit bowls and canisters are simple ways to brighten up an all-white kitchen.

Should you change your accent colors for different seasons?

Absolutely! Swapping accent pieces to match the seasons helps alter the look easily. Try jewel tones in winter, pastels in spring, ocean blues in summer, rich plums and oranges in fall.


Accenting a neutral space with punches of color is an easy DIY trick that packs a lot of bang for your buck. Strategically choosing one or two bold, richly saturated hues and using them sparingly on focal points draws the eye and makes neutrals feel fresh and current. Don’t be afraid to switch up your accent colors to keep your space looking new. With the right accent palette, you can easily breathe life into plain neutral backdrops.