Warm Neutral Paint Colours for EVERY Room in Your Home
You’d be surprised at HOW MANY of my E-design clients say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t like greige or gray – I only like warm colours’. To which I say, ‘don’t be SORRY, it’s your home, and YOU have to be comfortable in it! And besides, there are TONS of rooms that don’t like gray or greige either, preferring warm neutral colours to suit their specific finishings, furnishings, and exposures.
They’re not alone in loving warmth either, and in fact, might even be ahead of the curve as homeowners begin the migration away from gray to the warmer end of things – oh, it’s started (read more on that HERE).
The waiting room at Eddins Counselling – I could wait here all day (and lord knows I need the counselling…)
Now, if you’re looking for a warm paint colour that’s suitable for your ENTIRE HOME, you’re going to need a DARN VERSATILE colour that can FLEX with the different needs of your spaces. And along with paying attention to undertones and exposures, you’ll also want to focus on the off-white to light-medium depths.
When it comes to warm paint colours like cream, tan, and beige, once these types of colours get to a certain depth, they aren’t their original colour anymore, they’re closer to brown, and nobody wants their whole home painted brown. There’s also the OTHER end of the warm spectrum – warm whites, but I’ve already written great articles about the best white paint colours for your home. And even though I LOVE to hear myself talk (or type), I don’t want to be too long-winded.
The main undertones of warm neutral paint colours
One thing that always makes me giggle (other than people tripping and impromptu gas), is when my warm-lovin’ clients say, ‘I want a warm paint colour, but I don’t like yellow, orange, or red undertones’...insert awkward whistling here.
EVERY warm neutral will have a yellow, orange, or red (pink) undertone, and sometimes even a wink o’ green. True story. I can certainly offer you some warm neutrals that have REDUCED undertones, but you do have to pick your poison, which is usually the undertone that best suits the finishings in your home RATHER than your personal tastes.
BTW, you might be eyeing up a few of the above colours, but remember, you need to sample colours carefully to see how they look in your home. Exposures, furnishings, and finishes can drastically change a colour’s appearance, and you might be surprised at how things shift from one room to another! (BTW, never lean samples – ALWAYS place them 100% vertical).
And just like with ‘The Best Gray and Greige Paint Colours for Your WHOLE Home’, I have a few points for you to ponder…
The flexibility of warm neutral paint colours
Beige, tan, and cream can be flexible, which means that while they might FAVOUR a particular undertone (yellow, red, orange), they’ll have a secondary undertone, or, given the right circumstances (exposure/reflection/interior lighting) can pick up the other undertones.
The reality of warm neutral paint colours
You might not be able to satisfy EVERY room, EVERY countertop, and EVERY flooring in your home with one magical paint colour. Sometimes, you need a two or three-colour palette to suit various finishes. Do you expect one type of wine to suit your steak dinner, chicken, and Frosted Flakes? No, you need to branch out a bit, and the same goes for paint colours. So, even with the best intentions, even my ‘whole home’ paint colour suggestions WILL shift on a room-to-room basis, for example:
WARM PAINT COLOURS IN NORTH-FACING ROOMS
If you have northern exposure, you can expect a warm paint colour to look less warm. Because north-facing light is a cool gray-blue light, more passive warm colours can lean just slightly into gray, without going full greige (which happens more commonly with tans). Super warm colours can look a bit more toned-down, while still holding some decent warmth.
WARM PAINT COLOURS IN SOUTH-FACING ROOMS
In a room with southern exposure, warm colours will look EVEN WARMER as they start playing with that yellow-toned southern sunshine – things could get a bit toasty. This is why you have to be CAREFUL to choose the right type of warm paint colour for your south-facing room, so things don’t visually overheat.
WARM PAINT COLOURS IN EAST-FACING ROOMS
In eastern morning light, warm colours can look more or less as expected, nothing shockingly different. In the afternoon, the right warm paint colour can help to balance out the flat light, adding a bit of warmth and life.
WARM PAINT COLOURS IN WEST-FACING ROOMS
Warm colours can sit nicely in the flat morning light of a west-facing room but will look considerably warmer in the afternoon, particularly later on.
Enough chitter-chatter, let’s get at ‘er!
For this first batch, I’m going to keep things as simple and subtle as possible…
1. SHERWIN WILLIAMS CANVAS TAN SW 7567
Canvas Tan is a beauty. In the world of tans, it’s one of my faves because it doesn’t go overly golden but ALSO doesn’t flatten out. It’s soft, warm, and simple with VERY little undertone. It also has an almost creamy-looking backdrop (that won’t flash pink – a common worry). Once in a BLUE moon (or a green one might be more the point), it can pick up a wink of green, but MORE often when it’s up against finishes with a pink undertone.
Canvas Tan has an LRV 65, so it has a bit more meat on its bones than some of the lighter colours we’ll be looking at. However, it still sits higher than my MAGICAL LRV number. Not sure what LRV is? It could save your paint-lovin’ life – read all about it HERE.
Looking at the photos above and below, you’d think they were different tans. Remember, lighting, exposure, and interior finishes make ALL the difference!
WHY IS CANVAS TAN A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR?
- Canvas Tan is a great happy medium between the yellow warmth of typical cream paint colours and the more subdued, subtle approach of many tans
- Canvas Tan doesn’t have the stronger golden (orange-yellow or orange-pink) warmth that you’ll find in many popular beige colours
2. BENJAMIN MOORE BALLET WHITE OC-9
I’ve had mad love for Ballet White for many many moons (don’t worry Mom, these are ‘pants-up’ moons, unlike the alternative, a favourite past-time of mine). Ballet White is a magical blend of cream, beige, and greige. There’s warmth there, but it’s cut back by a neutral base that slows things right down.
In this next photo, notice how Ballet White is just a wink warmer than its kissin’ cousin, Sherwin Williams White Duck…
This next photo makes me ALL kinds of happy (but so does a nap, so I am relatively easy to please)…
Ballet White has an LRV of 73, so it’s right on the cusp of off-white, which you can see in the photo above. Generally, it acts like a ‘light’ depth colour, as shown below. Again, I’m keeping the undertones as passive as humanly possible for you, while trying to show how a colour can look DRASTICALLY different depending on its environment.
Now, if you’re someone who likes cream, but doesn’t like yellow undertones, well, that’s tough tamales.
Cream IS yellow (with a neutral base added).
However, Ballet White is a great way to get a creamy LOOK without going overkill on the yellow.
WHY IS BALLET WHITE A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR?
- Ballet White is a great way to get a nod towards a cream paint colour, without committing to too much yellow
- Ballet White is one of the more popular warm, passive neutrals and generally, will have more mass appeal for resale than a standard, more yellow-based cream
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3. SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY SW 7012
Creamy is the lightest of the bunch, coming in with an LRV of 81, meaning it’s tucked nicely in the off-white range.
Notice how the colour washes out on the well-lit UPPER walls in the above photo (nature of the beast). However, you can see the proper contrast of it down by the baseboard (Benjamin Moore Cloud White). This wall has northern light on it, so you’ll see how the yellow base of Creamy looks more muted.
The above photo is a bit blurry, but it shows the pretty softness and warmth of Creamy.
BTW, I rely 100% on my E-design clients after photos, so thank you to everyone who sends them in – you make my colourful lil world go round!
WHY IS CREAMY A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR?
- If your rooms are VERY well-lit, you may want to look at a paint colour with more depth as off-whites will wash out. Or, in your most well-lit rooms, do a different colour and keep this one to the more moderately lit spaces
- If you have a strong south-facing space and DESPISE yellow, I don’t think you and Creamy will be BFFs, you may want to find a more muted option
Click HERE or on the above images to see available packages!
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out shortly to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel-and-stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on the location
- they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
- if you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
4. BENJAMIN MOORE NAVAJO WHITE OC-96
Navajo White has been kickin’ some serious butt in the colour world for a loooong time – for good reason!
Navajo White is a beautiful warm cream paint colour. It has just enough depth to contrast with white trim, without weighing down darker hallways or basement rooms.
On WELL-lit walls, Navajo White will wash out, as shown in this next photo, but this will happen with any light colour. To avoid this, you need MORE depth; even a shift to the slightly darker Gentle Cream could help a bit.
If you LIKE cream and are cool with a BIT of yellow – this could be your colour.
WHY IS NAVAJO WHITE A POPULAR CREAM PAINT COLOUR?
- Navajo White has an LRV of ALMOST 80, so it’s right up there with Sherwin Williams Creamy!
- Navajo White has a soft yellow backdrop with a touch of orange to balance it but isn’t remotely pinkish or green
5. SHERWIN WILLIAMS ACCESSIBLE BEIGE SW 7036
Shifting gears a bit, let’s look at Accessible Beige. Unlike the above colours which have a creamier vibe, Accessible Beige is a bit moodier (especially at its time of the month – HOLA!). It’s a light depth beige but is VERY abnormal as it leans slightly into gray. And while it could be encouraged OHHH so slightly green, it’s so vague that I’m just being anal – ignore me.
With an LRV of 58, Accessible Beige carries a bit more visual weight than the average ‘light’ depth paint colour, but HOT DAMN does it suit many homes and finishes!
WHY IS ACCESSIBLE BEIGE A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR?
- Accessible Beige offers the passive warmth of beige without any overly golden hues
- Accessible Beige is often more flexible towards non-beige finishes compared to more traditional versions
6. SHERWIN WILLIAMS BALANCED BEIGE SW 7037
Balanced Beige is just one tone down on the same colour strip as Accessible Beige. And just like Accessible, it leans a touch into gray, and can look ALMOST greige in a north-facing room. It can also pick up a tiny wink o’ green (with encouragement) – a touch being an overstatement.
Balanced Beige has an LRV of 46, making it a solid light-medium depth paint colour. If you have a home with great natural light, you might like the fact that it has a bit more body to it and can stand up to intense natural light – better than an off-white or light depth paint colour. However, make sure you still find it appealing in darker rooms or hallways.
If you love more traditional golden beiges, you may find Balanced Beige a bit too greige-taupe looking as it doesn’t cast that typical golden glow.
And LOOK at how it warms up with some beautiful interior lighting in this next photo!
Again, I know the photo quality isn’t GREAT, but I do appreciate these after photos, as they give you a REAL-life (unedited) look at things!
WHY IS BALANCED BEIGE A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR
- like Accessible Beige, Balanced Beige offers a more SUBTLE take on warmth
- it doesn’t have overwhelming undertones
- Balanced Beige offers a bit more contrast with white trim without weighing the average room down
7. SHERWIN WILLIAMS KILIM BEIGE SW 6106
I’m not going to say that Kilim Beige is popular because people love it – I’d be lying. Just like I lie when I tell Tim that I don’t KNOW what Amazon just dropped off, I wasn’t even expecting anything! (wink wink). It’s popular because it works. Oh, it doesn’t work in every home, but if you have a home with a whole lot of beige tiles, carpets, and countertops, it’s definitely worth sampling.
While I might change the green rug, Kilim Beige is FABULOUS with the stone and sofa
Why? Well, in the 1990s and early 2000s, many of the products used in new construction (or renovation) had pink undertones. And there’s no use fighting them, so you may as well embrace them with a beautiful paint colour! Don’t worry, the pink is subtle; I’m just being anal again.
Kilim Beige is a light depth (on the heavy side of light) warm golden beige that makes a polite lil nod towards pink. NOT MUCH, but JUST enough to humour those slightly pink-toned products, without having SUPER obvious undertones.
WHY IS KILIM BEIGE A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR?
- To be honest, I wouldn’t say Kilim Beige is popular because of its colour, but because it’s often a slightly more modern choice for Tuscan-style homes and not as rich as the traditional choices for these homes. In the IDEAL world, many of these homeowners would like to go more muted and subtle, but their finishes won’t allow them – Kilim Beige can be a great happy medium.
- If you have any products with green undertones, don’t use Kilim Beige; these opposing undertones will only highlight each other.
8. BENJAMIN MOORE GRANT BEIGE HC-83
I couldn’t end this article without talking about a real legit tan – specifically, Grant Beige (which should rightfully be called Grant Tan).
Grant Beige is a light-medium depth tan and doesn’t have even a WINK of a golden warm undertone. Oh, it’s got warmth, but it’s not golden (no yellow-orange). It’s more of a yellow-based warmth, tempered by a neutral base and a weeee wink ‘o the Irish – that’s right, green.
WHY IS GRANT BEIGE A POPULAR PAINT COLOUR?
- PERSONALLY, I find Grant Beige a touch limiting with its very subtle green undertone, but that sure hasn’t stopped homeowners from using it – it’s popular, and that’s what this blog post is about!
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ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2020, AWESOMELY UPDATED IN 2022