We’re all looking for a little more peace and calm these days, which is why it’s so rewarding for me to create soothing coastal style retreats for my clients.
A few weeks ago I walked you through how to create a neutral coastal living room. I want to follow up on that with a deep dive into the best neutral colors to help you achieve your own calming coastal retreat.
Let’s dig into how to use neutrals in modern coastal style. I’ll walk you through the basics of creating a palette in neutral colors that’s anything but boring. And I’ve included my top three off-whites for a gorgeous neutral coastal home!
Decorating with Neutrals: Basics in Coastal Style
In coastal style, we draw inspiration from the color, texture, and mood of the ocean. Nine times out of ten that means starting with a neutral color palette. The beauty of using neutrals as your primary design palette is you can then pair with almost any accent color for a pop of personality. Shades of blue and green are the most common coastal colors. But don’t forget about the pinks, oranges, and yellows of a beach sunset. If you’re drawn to these colors, there’s room for them in your home.
Neutral Color Basics
It’s important to mix neutral colors to keep things interesting and distinctive. Once you’ve chosen a wall color, for example, gather fabric swatches in similar shades to test. An all-white room can quickly wash itself out if you haven’t paired subtly different shades and textures together.
When choosing your palette, make sure you’re aware of undertones. Rarely in coastal design do we use the “pure” neutral colors of white, black, gray, brown, and tan. They tend to be too harsh for the relaxed, weather-worn beach look. Instead, we mix in primary colors to get softer, more natural-looking shades. Think sandy light browns, driftwood grays, and soft cloudy whites that bring the best of the beach right into your home.
These “near-neutrals” offer far more design options, and I find them more interesting and sophisticated. But you need to know if they lean cool or warm to get the look you’re aiming for. For example, many off-whites have yellow or even green undertones. If your accent colors lean cool, those yellow tones will jump out more. That’s why it’s so important to test, test, test!
Texture in Neutral Coastal Style
Interiors are all about evoking feelings and delighting the senses, and texture is an important part of any design aesthetic. In neutral coastal design, the primary feeling we want to convey is a sense of calm and relaxation.
Note that this doesn’t mean boring! Rather, it’s quite the opposite. Busy, cluttered interiors overwhelm and exhaust us. A neutral interior on the other hand energizes with a sense of expansiveness, like you’re walking along the coastline.
Few fabrics are as harmonious with the coastal feel than linen. It has a lustrous, textured feel and when used with classic neutrals like white or beige it blends with modern or traditional furniture. The Linara line by Romo blends cotton and linen together for a silky soft yet durable finish. It’s available in 222 colors! To add texture using pattern, Madrid Taupe from Modern Plum Home is my current favorite. It’s a classic coastal stripe that works great on pillows or even larger pieces like an accent chair.
Mixing organic shapes and natural materials help bring that connection to nature that’s inherent in coastal design. It keeps things interesting without being overwrought.
The Best Neutral Whites for Your Coastal Living Room
I’ve done the hard work for you and gathered three of the best options for creating a neutral white base in your living room. We’ll focus on your living room, but you can use these colors throughout your home. There’s a little something here for everyone, no matter where you lean on the neutral spectrum.
Read through the descriptions, consider the look you’re going for, and last but not least, test test test! Every home’s light is different. So make sure you are confident with your choices by testing on multiple walls. And take the time to view your samples at different times of the day.
Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore
Swiss Coffee is on the warmer side of the color spectrum with green, gray, and yellow undertones. If your style leans toward traditional coastal, it’s the perfect pick. It’s a soft white with understated elegance.
When paired with a true white trim, Swiss Coffee will look more creamy yellow. If your living room gets lots of natural light, it will appear more white. In a north-facing room the undertones will stand out and it will look more creamy.
Pair Swiss Coffee with earthy, nature-inspired colors to enhance its old-world elegance. Benjamin Moore’s Collingwood would be a great choice. For a more daring look, try Swiss Coffee on your living room walls and a blue green like Benjamin Moore’s Beach Glass on the ceiling.
Cheviot by Sherwin Williams
This warm white is the in-between of my top three choices for a neutral living room. It’s brighter than Swiss Coffee while maintaining a warmth that most homes need.
The undertone is slightly yellow which will interact with the cooler color spectrum just a bit more. Pair Cheviot with a gray blue like Sherwin Williams Rain Cloud for a thoroughly modern coastal look.
Sea Salt by Pure & Original
This off-white by Pure & Original is one of my go-tos when creating a neutral coastal home. It definitely has warmer undertones but is bright enough to pair with softer blues. They’ll play off each other and the blues will pop just a bit more against this white.
Sea Salt is a more flexible option than Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee, so if you like to play with color and switch things up often, this is the white for you. The undertones aren’t as obvious as my other two choices which gives you a little more room to experiment. Check out Sea Salt in a gorgeous neutral color palette here. It’s a done-for-you color combo that will have you painting in no time!
If you have any questions about creating the coziest neutral living room, I’m here to help! Simply click here to schedule a free design chat with me.