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Superneutral Paints: A Primer

Martha Stewart Living, May 2010

Here are some basics to remember when choosing your superneutral palette.

Print Our Full Superneutral Paint Palette

They Go with Everything
Because they're muted in tone, superneutrals work with all kinds of palettes, letting you introduce color that doesn't overwhelm. As if by magic, a superneutral goes with just about any hue. See how the piece of paper shown here, painted Buoyant Blue (1), works beautifully with four bold, basic hues.


How to Find One

Start with a color you like -- orange, for example -- and then look for a version of that color with a bit of gray or white mixed in. "You can use a fan deck to find a tone of your chosen hue," color expert Laura Guido-Clark says. Often the heritage or historical paints section of the fan deck will have those lovely grayed tones."


Creating a Palette

Go for contrast: Use two strong, opposite shades, such as Lancaster Blue (12) and Babouche yellow (9) as accents. Then paint a paler color on the walls. With a light superneutral as a backdrop, it's safe to add punches of color you can change with the seasons, or your whims.

Another strategy: Choose a stronger superneutral as the dominant hue, say Lancaster Blue, and then layer in softer tones in the same color family -- such as Blue Fir (4), Feldspar (16), and Buoyant Blue (1) -- for a complex, sophisticated effect. Using subtle variations of the same color creates a restful atmosphere and allows different elements in the room to stand out.

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