A neutral sofa and carpet are basic building blocks of a room’s color structure. The defining lines provided by the scale of a neutral sofa influence and complement paint colors. Equally, a neutral carpet lays the groundwork for many color directions on walls, moldings, doors and accessories. The timeless style of a neutral carpet and sofa allows you to take a versatile approach to paint colors for an instant face lift.

Dramatic Contrast, Subtle Blends

A neutral palette that features colors like taupe or beige on large elements, such as the carpet and sofa, sets the stage for skillful use of accent paint colors. Play up a fireplace wall or other focal point with a color statement and surround it with a neutral wall color for limited but effective contrast. Or go for a color explosion by using a strong contrast, such as navy, for the overall wall color. Paint the walls with a slightly darker tone of the carpet or sofa color for a subtle approach. In small spaces or those with limited natural light exposure, opt for light molding and door colors, such as antique white or vanilla in semi-gloss enamel for low-maintenance appeal.

Cozy Warmth

Warm colors complement a neutral palette in rooms that receive either northern or southern exposure. Feature warm paint colors, such as russet and chocolate, to accent a neutral palette. Opt for splashes of bright yellow, lipstick red and citron green on accessories to inject a refreshing and well-rounded color scheme. For a monochromatic approach, choose cream, vanilla or soft butter for walls, doors and frames to brighten the space with a pleasing gradient of neutral warm colors. Allow natural light to bathe the room for an inviting, yet understated, tribute to neutrals. Extend the neutral color scheme onto other elements in the room, such as draperies and accessories, to further the appealing simplicity of neutrals.

Sophisticated Cool

A cool color scheme is perfect for rooms that receive an extreme amount of direct light throughout the day. Neutrals like gray and taupe promote a sophisticated color palette that thrives with cool shades of lavender, rose or plum. For an instant color boost, paint an accent wall in eggplant and surround it with soft taupe. Paint the ceiling, doors and moldings in neutral oyster or off-white. Colors such as deep teal and French blue provide stunning cool contrast against a neutral carpet or sofa. Start with one accent wall when working with strong colors and extend it around the room until the color proportion suits your comfort zone, stopping at each corner to evaluate the changing color value of the room.

Designer’s Eye

A little accent paint can go a long way in small areas, such as behind built-in bookcases or on inset ceilings. A room with high ceilings and large window expanses adapts well to most color schemes when defined with a neutral carpet and sofa. For dramatic appeal, include touches of black on painted surfaces, such as stair handrails and inset molding definition. Take into account other elements, such as the color of a fireplace surround and the existing paint colors of adjoining rooms. Strive for continuity in your paint color scheme for good visual flow by avoiding extreme changes in ceiling colors or moldings from room to room.