16 Interior Designers Who Are Drawn to Warm Neutral Colors Right Now

There's a lot to consider when choosing the right hues for your walls and furniture, not least when your favored palette leans to creams, tans, browns and grays. Here are 16 interiors where experts have deployed sunnier neutrals to stunning effect.
Master bedroom by Dennis Brackeen in Houston, TX
Photo by Pär Bengtsson

Having completed the gut renovation of a newly married couple’s Houston home, Dennis Brackeen set about crafting suitably stylish interiors. In the bedroom, he opted for an understated palette, expressed largely through antique and vintage furnishings, including a 1970s Marcello Mioni bed and 18th-century secretary cabinet.

Continuing the muted palette but in a more contemporary register, Brackeen sheathed the fireplace with Calacatta marble.


Birmingham, AL living room by Betsy Brown
Photo by Jean Allsopp

In this Birmingham, Alabama, living room, Betsy Brown deployed a range of pale neutrals, with dramatic dark moments. “The goal of the interiors was to create a restrained palette filled with a collection of beautiful pieces, vintage and new,” Brown says.

The French Moderne dining table is from Bardin Palomo, and the Felix Agostini bronze wall sconces from Galerie Yves Gastou.


Bridgehampton master suite by Robert Stilin
Photo by Joshua McHugh

“The homeowners wanted it clean, crisp, relaxing and functional,” Robert Stilin says, describing this Bridgehampton, New York, home office. “There’s not a lot of fuss.” Stilin purchased all the furnishings from Wyeth. Each piece displays a quiet elegance, but our eye goes straight to the Hans Wegner stool in front of the streamlined upholstered chair.


Living room in Potomac, MD by Zoe Feldman
Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

In designing this Potomac, Maryland, living space, Zoe Feldman looked west for inspiration, to California modernism. That style’s light airiness is epitomized in the natural-hued wood beams and iconic Eames lounge chair she covered in white leather.


Bathroom by Samuel Amoia in San Diego
Photo by Michael Clifford

“The box paneling on the walls gives a nice and traditional yet easygoing feel,” says Samuel Amoia, explaining his design for this master bath. “We utilized this corner as a great spot for the tub.” The overall look is cool and contemporary, with the chair from Mecox Gardens adding a jolt of warm earthiness.


Autumn Mohon bedroom in Texas
Photo by Casey Dunn

“We were inspired by the Texas Hill country. We took an old 1970s house in Blanco, Texas, and opened up the entire back to face the river,” says Autumn Mohon, of Marcus Mohon Interiors. The bedroom’s browns, grays and creams are brightened by a yellow tapestry that Mohon and her husband, Marcus, the firm’s founder, acquired on a trip to the Sahara. “The woven motifs reminded us of cattle brands,” she explains.


Dining area in Austin, TX by Studio Seiders
Photo by Ryann Ford

In Austin, Texas, Studio Seiders outfitted an open-concept kitchen and dining room with warm neutral shades. Says Emily Seiders, “The design was driven by a conscious intent to make a comfortable, livable, timeless and durable home. We wanted to include organic materials and textures, including new and reclaimed white oak in varying stain colors.”

A vintage Turkish Oushak rug separates the kitchen from the dining area, which centers on a Clubcu table surrounded by by sling leather chairs. The sharp industrial vibe of the Visual Comfort pendant light overhead is offset by the mature gravitas of the 18th-century English wooden chair in the corner.


Living room in New York by Ashe Leandro
Photo by Miha Matei

Ashe Leandro played with subtle color contrasts in this contemporary New York living room, juxtaposing the cream of the classic Jindrich Halabala chairs and sleek marble B&B Italia coffee table with the gray rustic wood of the credenza and, above it, the panel concealing a television.


Melanie Raines-designed living room in Austin, TX
Photo by Melanie Raines

Melanie Raines‘s first step in updating a circa 1960s lake house in Austin was to paint the walls white. “The design inspiration was to stay true to its bright, open interiors while layering in unique pieces and chunky textiles for warmth and character,” she says.

Raines brought character to the living room with a large-scale painting commissioned from British artist Tom Jean Webb, whose vibrant red frame pops in the neutral milieu.


Alexander Doherty bedroom in New York
Photo by Marius Chira

“While most of the New York home was painted in bold colors, the client wanted a more soothing, calm space for the master bedroom,” says Alexander Doherty. “Even the subtle, pale colors of the rug and blanket were carefully selected to match the room.”

Aside from the bed, all the furnishings are vintage, including the Poul Henningsen chandelier, the Ejner Larsen desk and chair and the gold-hued Pietro Chiesa table lamp, which infuses the tranquil space with a dose of glamour.


Wendy Haworth-designed living room in Los Angeles
Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Eclectic may best sum up Wendy Haworth’s design for a 1990s Mediterranean-style home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, whose clean, sharp architecture she counterbalanced with more mellow furnishings. In the living room, she placed an antique Chinese room divider and vintage pieces like the glass coffee table and brass side table, with a Jean de Merry leather armchair adding warmth.


Living room in Mill Valley, CA by Sienna Oosterhouse
Photo courtesy of Sienna Oosterhouse

“The intent,” says Sienna Oosterhouse, describing her scheme for a Mill Valley, California, home, “was to refresh this living space with a few facets leaning toward the more traditional elements alongside the modern.”

The designer deployed a palette of soothing neutrals, including the pale gray of the Marc Phillips rug, the creamy beige of the Lawson-Fenning daybed and the chocolate brown of the deep sofa. She offset the soft lines of those pieces with the stark geometry of Rick Owens’s über-contemporary Swan chair.


La Jolla bedroom by Interior Design Imports
Photo by Gail Ownens

In a Spanish Revival home overlooking the Pacific in La Jolla, Califonia, Interior Design Imports principal designer Paul Schatz wanted the master bedroom to have a Mexican flavor, though with a muted palette. So, he and the homeowners traveled to San Miguel de Allende to pick out the bed and nightstands. The chaise came from Mexico City.

The theme continues with the daybed by Alfonso Marina. As for the flush mount, “we designed and fabricated it, as we do most of our decorative lighting,” says Schatz.


Wendy Labrum's Chicago living room
Photo by Megan Bob

Interior designers often try out decor ideas in their own homes. And that’s just what Wendy Labrum did with the first apartment she and her husband shared as a young married couple in Chicago. Case in point: the living room, where she experimented with creating an inviting ambience using neutral colors and a mélange of old and contemporary pieces.

“It was fun to decorate it with pieces I picked up on our travels and combine them with inexpensive retail finds,” she says. The starburst mirrors are antiques, the cane-back chairs are from her London flat, and she bought the lithographs at a flea market in Madrid.


JAGR Projects-designed library in Philadelphia
Photo by Gordon Beall

Sometimes, less is more, as John Levitties, of JAGR Projects, will be the first to tell you. This library of a 1930s Philadelphia home, he says, “is pretty much as we first encountered it, though the millwork was removed and restored and the grasscloth behind the shelves was added.”

That said, Levitties still had some magic to work. For example, he paired a Jacques Adnet sofa and chairs with a custom forged-iron table that presents a dark counterpoint to the generally light decor. And to overlook the space, an attention-grabbing Donald Camp photograph of a Million Man March participant from 1995.


Photo by Christiane Duncan

Christiane Duncan’s brief for an apartment in a former Tribeca factory: Preserve the raw, industrial elements, while giving it a serious facelift. “We worked with a neutral palette, warm materials and original vintage pieces,” she explains, “to lighten up the rooms and create a casual yet sophisticated environment.”


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