Neutral Territory

The Newest Neutrals Have Arrived—and They Are Making Quite the Statement


Forever enduring and continually celebrated for their timeless appeal and endless versatility, neutrals are capable of making a stunning statement. And what we’re seeing now couldn’t be more exciting. Just what’s ahead? Lots of new nuances to timeless hues, plus a fresh wave of brand-new arrivals unlike anything we’ve ever forecasted before. These shades are so captivating that we created a new category: statement neutrals. Pratt & Lambert’s own Carolyn Ames Noble, ASID, color marketing and design manager, gave us the inside scoop.

Q: Tell us what you’re seeing right now in the world of neutrals. What classic colors are trending and what new nuances are you seeing?

Noble: Directionally, neutrals are definitely getting warmer. We’ve seen the cool-gray trend reach its crest, and a shift toward warm grays, whites, and taupes is now occurring. This softening is seen in trending color palettes, such as our Purpose collection for 2017, where colors reflect larger shifts, like sustainability, farm-to-fashion, upcycling, and thoughtful production. In that vein, I think of timeless classics, such as Cottage White 9-29, Lambswool 11-30, and Café Cubano 7-25, that, while always in style, have a prominent place in this current warming trend.

Café Cubano 7-25

Lambswool 11-30

Cottage White 9-29

This palette proves that the newest neutrals are anything but boring, especially when expertly paired to add a sense of luxe layering. Get the cozy look with a classic beige matched with a slightly deeper hue. We love a timeless beige like Beachwood PLN27 with a creamy taupe like Sweetwood 432D, both from Pratt & Lambert.

Q: We love this idea of statement neutrals! How do you define a statement neutral?

Noble: I believe many of us would categorize neutral colors as white, beige, and tan, but neutrals can be much more color-forward than that. The shift to expansive gray in the past few years has taught us that a dramatic, deep, cool gray can absolutely serve as a neutral color in a space, as can a chalky blue, misty green, soulful violet, and so many more.

Q: What makes a statement neutral a statement neutral?

Noble: The saturation level is essential to selecting a statement neutral. Saturation refers to the colorfulness of a hue—basically, the gray in the color. A statement neutral should be a color with a low saturation level. Just as crucial is the value of the color. Think of darker colors in the fan deck as opposed to lighter ones. I would also suggest using a flat enamel or matte sheen.

Add a sense of warmth to any space with one of the newest soft neutrals. This pretty purple gray, Faded Orchid 303E from Pratt & Lambert, creates the ideal backdrop for lots of design styles, serving as a stylish anchor and directional palette maker.

Q: What are some of your favorite statement-making neutrals?

Noble: A few of my new go-to statement neutrals that I recommend trying are Rainy Day 19-27, Confederate 27-21, Burnt Yellow 13-12, Cinnabark 5-21, London Fog 28-20, and Faded Plum 31-23.

Cinnabark 5-21

Burnt Yellow 13-12

Rainy Day 19-27

Confederate 27-21

Faded Plum 31-23

London Fog 28-20

Q: What’s the best way to use these new statement neutrals? Are there any rules one needs to keep in mind?

Noble: For a bold space, layer complementary colors and finishes, and for a timeless look, use the traditional neutral colors of linen and whitewashed wood.

Q: What kind of finishes, art, and accessories work well with statement neutrals?

Noble: Any and all! Think of an art gallery. For example, the Cleveland Museum of Art uses grayed and midnight blues so that the artwork is truly the feature. The key is to think of this color as the canvas, as an allover wall color that you can build your room around, with layers that let the furnishings and the accessories become the accents.

One of our favorite new go-to statement neutrals from Pratt & Lambert, Sodalite PLCN17, sets the scene for subtle statement-making style with a fresh take on blue-gray. Try it as an accent or be a little dramatic with a whole room in this beautiful blue.

Leafy Bower 23-18

Where else are color trends headed in 2017 and beyond? Get an inside look at the trends set to steal the scene next year, with more exclusive insight from the Pratt & Lambert team. Then be sure to check out the Pratt & Lambert 2017 Color the Year, Leafy Bower 23-18. Seemingly plucked from a forgotten fairy tale just before dusk, this deep green has already captured our imaginations and sparked our creativity.

Which of the newest trends is serving as your next design muse? Tell us all about it in the comments.