We take for granted a lot about neutral colors: We might expect they are tones without much color, including whites, creams, beiges, and grays, that they are a necessary backdrop for the brighter elements in interior decor, and that they’re intentionally unremarkable. We might choose a neutral color thinking it will have universal appeal for the house we are preparing for market or choose a neutral to play it “safe” with a tone we think we won’t tire of seeing day after day But — and here’s the catch — “nondescript,” “safe,” and “unremarkable” can otherwise be known as “boring.”
However, the neutrals we’ve been used to are changing. There’s a growing consensus among new designs and interior decor trends that neutrals needn’t be colorless — and this fresh take on neutral is anything but boring.
The key is to approach your use of neutrals as a color to set the stage for the rest of your interior decor. Did you notice we said color?
Let’s take a look at some of the newest colors being used as neutrals in ceramic tile and interior decor.
Neutrals are getting warmer and warmer, with options such as peaches, corals, and light clays. The gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs and pavers pictured above seem to be a perfect combination of this warming trend.
Green is the next new neutral on our list, and we’re not alone: In a 2020 Sherwin-Williams survey of 250 professional interior designers, 44% of those polled identified sage green as a new neutral tone.
Other ideal neutral green shades include dark olive and muted pastel greens, such as the three-dimensional tile pictured above.
Back to Beige
Gray supplanted beige as the favorite neutral for a time, but now beige is making a comeback. When using beige tile in your home, we recommend adding an interesting twist, such as choosing beige with a pink undertone or adding texture, such as the fabric-look beige tile above.
A more adventurous alternative to choosing beige with pink undertones is to go full-on pink: blush pink.
Blush pink provides the warmth of beige and coordinates well with cooler complements, such as gray and even black.
[Related: Pretty Pastels: Tile in Pastel Tones]
Gray Meets Taupe
We’re not ready to say goodbye to gray as a neutral altogether (in fact, gray is one of Pantone’s 2021 colors of the year), but we’re seeing more and more taupe rather than traditional gray. Just look at this gorgeous taupe bathroom tile accented with pink grout above.
Sixty-six percent of designers polled by Sherwin-Williams considered black to be a new neutral tone. Black tile can be dramatic, moody, or even understated, and provides that all-important backdrop for just about all accent colors. Pair black with bold reds and purples, calm pastels such as pink, and white for a classic black and white color combo.
[Related: Black and White Tile Designs for Every Space]
Navy blue is a regal hue that is incredibly versatile for grounding more vibrant tones yet also right at home with other neutrals (as in the photo above).
A common thread among neutral greens and warmer neutrals is the growing trend of biophilic design, or interior design that helps us connect with nature. Ceramic tile, specifically, manifests biophilic design through neutral color designs with variegation, neutral natural looks such as stone or wood, and textures that achieve a truly organic look and feel.
[Related: Biophilic Design and Ceramic Tile]
Perfect for flooring, walls, countertops, and more, wood-look tile can serve as a neutral color in any space. Those thinking of using shades such as beiges, browns, and grays as a neutral can swap them out for wood-look tile in a similar tone for even more visual interest.
Marble-look tile combines the seemingly opposite tasks of creating a neutral look and a dramatic effect. Choose between light marble looks in grays, creams, and whites and darker hues such as the one above.
[Related: Tile Trends We Love: Modernized Marble]
Find Your Neutral Ceramic Tile
Our feelings are anything but neutral about these new neutral ceramic tile styles. We hope you feel the same, and we have even more neutral tile for you to explore on Pinterest.
Use the search tool at the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) to find a ceramic tile showroom in your area for a more individual, one-on-one shopping, design and education experience, or visit a home improvement or flooring retailer.