ask the experts5 min read

Understanding the different neutral color palettes

Dining room in neutral colour palette

WordsMegan Lambert


Neutrals have come a long way since the magnolia mania of the early 2000s. Today, a neutrally decorated home is as much an expression of personal style as painting it floor to ceiling in bright colors. It speaks of calm, serenity, and balance. Be it on-trend 'new' neutrals or our Timeless Neutrals Collection, naturalistic Japandi style to paired-back minimalist homes; Lick is here to help you understand the different neutral color palettes and help turn your home into your sanctuary.

So, what classifies as a neutral color palette? It can be anything from light neutrals, such as warm creams and whites (like the colors in our warm neutral paint colors sample box), to darker shades, such as charcoal (like our charcoal grey paint Grey 08) and black. Essentially, it's a color that acts as a subtle background hue, easily layered with stronger colors to make a cohesive color palette. Not to mention, a neutral backdrop makes a great blank canvas and gives artwork and architectural features a chance to stand out.

Shop neutral paint colors

Neutral colour palette living room with ornate fireplace
Neutral moodboard with wooden finishes

Understanding undertones: warming vs cooling

All of Lick's neutral paint colors have undertones. They are the difference between a warm or cool neutral and what looks good in a north or south-facing room. If you're decorating a dark, north-facing room or a room that doesn't get much natural light, you're going to want to go for warming tones. Lick's Gray 02 and Gray 03 (or if you're looking for a bit more oomph, Gray 06) all have gorgeous lilac and lavender undertones, whilst White 03, Beige 01, and Green 01 have yellow undertones (have a peek at our warm white paint sample box). Similarly, White 06 warms a bare wall with rich red undertones and Pink 04 stops just ahead of being 'too girly' by mixing gray with warming pinks.

Check out our colors for north facing rooms.

If you've got a light-filled, south-facing room, first of all, lucky you. Secondly, you can opt for just about any color you like. This is the spot to play around with cooler colors as they balance out the sun's natural warming light. Lick's White 01 and White 04 are both very understated, whilst light Pink 01, Beige 02 and Green 09 add a little pop of color while maintaining a neutral palette. All have gorgeous gray undertones. Alternatively, our light Gray 01 has calm and cooling blue undertones, as does Green 02 if you're looking for a more dramatic effect. 

Not sure which direction your room is facing? Read our guide on how to tell if your room is north, east, south or west-facing here.

Need some more inspiration?

Running into a creative block? We've got some ready-made neutral color palettes that work every time. If you're looking for a slightly more natural feel, we love the cosiness of our Scandi and Japandi neutral palettes:

Japandi style neutral colour palette: 

Japandi: a blend of Scandi minimalism and Japanese design. Read more about the Japandi style interior trend and how to make your home feel and look more Japandi.

Beige 03, Beige 02, Greige 01, White 02

Japandi neutral colour palette in Lick paint