What Is a Neutral Color Scheme?

Written by katie yancey
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A color scheme is an arrangement or pattern of colors or colored objects conceived of as forming an integrated whole. In color theory, a color scheme is the choice of colors used in design for a range of media, such as the color scheme of a living room. Common color schemes include warm, cool, neutral, monochromatic, analogous, triads, complimentary and split-complementary.

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Neutral colors contain equal parts of each of the three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. A neutral color is defined as being a color of very low saturation, close to gray. Black, white, gray and sometimes brown are considered to be "neutral."


The neutral color scheme consists of black, white, gray and sometimes brown.


Neutral colors often stand alone as the primary focus of a design. For example, the use of a white background with black text is often seen in publications and Web design. Neutral colors also make good backgrounds and serve to unify diverse color palettes.


Color schemes are used to create style and appeal. Use of a neutral color scheme provides a minimalist appeal with a neutral calmness. The use of a neutral color palette can be seen in graphic design, web design, fashion design and interior design.

What Is a Neutral Color Scheme?
Neutral color scheme used in interior design. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Nik)


Black is the absence of color. Use the color black to convey either elegance or conventionalism.

Gray is viewed as a formal color. Use lighter grays in place of white and darker gray in place of black. Taupe, a grayish brown neutral, is a warm shade of gray.

White is the presence of all colors. Use the color white to signify purity or softness. Some neutral beige, ivory and creams carry the same attributes as white but are more subdued than plain white.

Brown is a warm neutral color. Use brown to convey a feeling of warmth and earthiness.

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