The New Neutral for Sofas

Are you over the big tan or brown blob of a sofa that’s been lurking  living in your living or family room for the last ten years?  I’m sick to death of them, let me tell you.  Most people may tell you that GRAY is the new neutral for sofas, but I beg to differ.


lobby by Emily Henderson via Pinterest

COLOR is the new neutral for sofas, my dear readers.  I took the plunge myself last year, and I highly recommend it:


see the rest of the room here 

Any shade of blue – light blue, turquoise, heather blue, royal blue, navy can be the perfect “neutral” for your sofa.


more of this room here


more of this room here

Of course, there are other great choices for sofa colors beyond blue.  Greens – from minty to emerald – can be really glamorous and fun.  Sage?  Not so much.


via Pinterest

Tans and grays just seem so boring when you look at the other options that abound.


via Pinterest

Aren’t these just the HAPPIEST sofas you’ve every seen?  Happy, pretty colors are back in a big way and choosing a sofa in one of them is a great way to wake up your space and inject some feel-good.


via Pinterest


via Pinterest

I’m going sofa-shopping today with a new client, and I’m hoping she’ll be open to a colorful one.


via Pinterest

Are you sold yet, or would you rather stick with beige or gray for your sofa?

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42 thoughts on “The New Neutral for Sofas

  1. justjanblog says:

    I love hearing this! There are no neutrals allowed in my house and especially sofas. I have two red sofas and when I replace them, it will be another shade of red!

  2. Jace says:

    Seems silly (and shortsighted) to discount “sage” from being a fun or glamorous couch color, I lol’d when I read that. “Color is IN! Unless its one certain tint of green that I consider Un-Fun!!”

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Jace, the reason I mentioned sage in a negative manner is that we saw a ton of sage and olive sofas in the 90’s and I’m still kind of tired of them! I hate to see someone buy a new sofa in a color that will make it look instantly dated. Nothing wrong with sage, just want to encourage people to try fresh, happier colors for their sofas! But if you already have a sage sofa, you can brighten things up by taking off the matching sage pillows that came with the sofa and add some fun throw pillows in more color 🙂

      • Jace says:

        Oh I don’t have a sage sofa. If you are concerned about someone spending money on a sofa that will be instantly dated though, you might not want to encourage OMG color, those hot pinks and neon greens are already on their way out.

  3. LibbyP says:

    None of my sofas are beige! I have a blue one, two green ones, and a plaid one in jewel tones. Ok, that last one needs work – it is our basement sofa. I love color, always have, always will!

    One time (2007) I ordered a beige sofa from Pottery Barn. When it was delivered, we noticed that the upholstery had been cut during packing. Thankfully, the deliver guys saw it too – and removed the sofa from our living room. That was such a close call – seeing the beige in my living room was so sobering. PB promised to deliver an uncut sofa – and I asked if it could be in Harbor Blue instead! Whew!

  4. Sue Buchanan says:

    Yes! We bought a red sofa for our retirement home, and we love it. The older I get, the more I want to be surrounded by “happy”, not “safe”.

  5. Cherie says:

    I love all these colored sofas. What a great post! We just ordered a navy sofa which will arrive in three more weeks. We’re counting the days! However, is “neutral” really the word to describe colorful sofas? : )

    • Jace says:

      I’m with you! Colored sofas are trendy every couple of years, but they are dated almost instantly. a good neutral couch never goes out. Its also much more reasonable to punch up a room with blankets, pillows and art when you need a change rather than have to buy all new furniture.

  6. Beth says:

    I’m on a blue kick right now, and would consider it for a sofa, but I know it will be another passing trend.

    Meanwhile, I’m sending one of 90’s sage sofas to college with my daughter next week, and hoping the other one will go to my newly engaged daughter’s home eventually!

  7. Rhonda says:

    My decorator talked me into an almost white sofa and two “pearly” leather chairs, and they provide a calm backdrop for colorful pillows and accessories. But the fun really comes in winter, when I clothe the sofa in its honeysuckle pink velvet slipcover! It’s hard to decide which look I like best!

  8. Kelly says:

    I am in love with my navy blue velvet sofa. I smile every time I look at it! I agree with you 100% that color is the new neutral for sofas. Great post!

  9. Kathleen says:

    I Sooo agree with you, Kristie. I’ve placed my 2 beige sofas on the diagonal, added bright pillows, used coordinating color around the room, and they STILL look dumpy and date and suck up the light in the room. It’s about time to replace them and I hope my very limited budget can include great color. Or at the least, I will resort to white sofas and keep my pillows and colorful accents.

  10. Angela Brant says:

    I like to buy quality furniture that I can’t change every decade when the style changes. So I keep my neutral ivory sofa and add color with paint, pillows, a couple of small side chairs and accessories. Guess I’m not very trendy but it works for me.

  11. Anne says:

    While I LOVE the color of these sofas I still prefer to invest in a neutral tone sofa and adding color in the accessories. Just seems like to big of an investment to pick something that I will get tired of or will go off trend.

  12. Denise says:

    I would have loved to have a navy couch, but with 2 dogs and 2 cats, I have to stick with leather, and make use of bright pillows.

  13. Wendy says:

    I boldly chose to reupholster my cream sofa in aubergine (my husband calls it purple) a few years ago. I have always loved to use plums and greens all over my house, so why not my sofa? I always have compliments on the sofa. It’s remains my favorite piece of furniture. I just had my grandmother’s chair cushions done in plum background with gold dragonflies for our camp. Purple with the pine floors-gorgeous!

  14. Jenny B. says:

    I love colorful sofas! Ours is blue denim, and I’m very happy with it. I just wish the denim fabric didn’t show wear like actual denim jeans do! I’m going to try for a more durable fabric on our next sofa. I’ve been noticing colorful sofas in set design lately too (especially on Disney Channel shows… can you tell I have little kids?). I really like the yellow Chesterfield on Good Luck Charlie. 🙂

  15. Mary CC from CA says:

    While I loved browsing at the beautiful color choices, I’ll have to stick with my off white/neutral sofa. I have my color on the walls and in the accent fabrics. I like the of white because I can change the look of my room with just a simple change of accessories or pillow covers. You did a great job on the article explaining what the new trends are ! Kudos on your magazine article Kristie…so happy for you !

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Off-white is a great neutral for a sofa – much better than tan or brown! Very, very few of my clients would ever go for an off-white sofa, however. They are terrified that it will be ruined with stains within a month. What is the fabric of your sofa, and how do you protect it?

      • Mary CC from CA says:

        The fabric on my traditional couch is a type of brocade from Thomasville. Scotchgard is the only protection I have on the couch and it has held up great for 10 years. I have to admit my little ones are grown and this couch is in the living room. A guest once spilled wine on it and another one smudged chocolate on it and it cleaned up nicely. I wouldn’t use this fabric as an every day couch. I know It seems wasteful to have a room that is used infrequently but that is where the entry hall leads as you open the front door. It is a warm blue themed room with gold and light lime green as accent colors in fabrics and décor. We use the room mostly at holiday time and large family gatherings. The rest of the time we are in the family room with a leather couch that has stood the test of time. Don’t get me wrong I love the bright colors, (very haute couture)…… I just went with off white so I could change up the décor with other colors as I feel. Ask my husband…I change the furniture arrangement now and then ( just for fun) because I feel like it is a new room !! Am I the only one with this vice or does any one else do this ?

  16. Mary CC from CA says:

    Kristie, I think I am safe in saying that most of us who visit here truly enjoy what you do for us. Your blog allows me to escape the reality of my hectic crazy life for a few minutes each week to focus on the things that I love and enjoy. Your articles are relevant to me and provide me with information that is interesting, fun and well written in a way that only a dedicated professional could do. Though I am an older hen than you, you have taught this old bird more than a few tips and tricks and ideas. Tips such as choosing correct paint colors or a better placement of furniture and everything you wanted to know about decorating in between ! Your fresh perspective on all you write, keeps me interested. Over the past year you taken us into your home, introduced us to your family, shared with us your seminars, television segments, vacations, travel, awards and upcoming magazine articles. I have enjoyed them all and I can only imagine how much work and time you put into everything you do. I always wonder what you will come up with next week ! So with anticipation, I am going to keep watching each week for your next adventure in decorating you have for us and wish you all the best. Thank you !

  17. Sarah says:

    How did you know I’ve had a tan couch for the last 10 years? Ha! I like that the color trend for couches gives me “permission” to be bold and pick what I really like (I’ve always been drawn to blue, but some of the greens you posted are show-stoppers to me!) — and that really isn’t following trends after all, right? If you pick something you love, then you’ll find ways to make it shine.

  18. JudeB says:

    I’ve only recently started to really take notice of home decor, which seems funny as I’m in my 50’s! Several years back we bought the brown leather suite for our living room (in the UK)Me , I knew leather was a mistake at the time, but having 3 young grandkids felt it was practical, and they’ve certainly given it a hard time, but I am SICK TO DEATH of it, and would love to put slip covers on it, in an off white – the grandkids have grown past the dribble and drool stage now. I think that with the off white it will lighten the room considerably, and then I’ll be able to add different accent colours whenever I feel like a change. I just have to work out how to make the slipcovers now!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      YES! Off-white slipcovers will lighten and brighten your room – you’ll be amazed at how much bigger your space will appear. Make sure to use a sturdy, washable fabric since you are going for a light color. Duckcloth and sailcloth are good options.

  19. Richelle B says:

    I think the colorful sofas are beautiful, but a sofa isn’t something I replace every couple of years. I’ve had the same beige sofa for 7 years now but my pillows, accessories and paint have changed quite a few times making the whole room feel new to me. I don’t think it would be as easy to change things up if you were locked into a really colorful sofa.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Richelle – obviously, it would need to be a color you LOVE (and maybe that you’ve always loved) so that it feels like YOU. I know a beige or gray sofa could never really feel like “me.”

  20. Amanda says:

    I have always loved gray so my gray sofa is perfect for me! 🙂 I don’t see it as dreary or drab. I like the beachy softness of gray and off white. The colored sofas are so fun and I’d go for one in a bedroom, but the brightness would drive me nuts in our main living space.
    Thanks for the tips, Kristie!

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