Discover smart ways to wow with this wonderful new neutral.
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When decorating your home, trends can come and go faster than you can say "accent wall." And while neutrals are known and loved for their enduring versatility, even some nuanced shades have a moment in the design spotlight. A pleasant variation for white walls is ecru, a warm color that will be a great paint color choice for any room. Decorators offer expert advice on using ecru as the new go-to color in your home. 

"Ecru is a universal color that can expand across many types of designs," says Sara Barney, an Austin-based designer and principal of BANDD Design. "It adds warmth and depth to a space and blends well with just about any type of decoration." 

Ecru offers the best of both worlds. It has a beige, grayish-yellow with brown undertones that mimic unbleached linen. This shade has more warmth than a pure snow white but won't dictate a room like a dark taupe or charcoal. That said, using any color with the utmost care is essential. (Yes, that includes ecru.) To spark inspiration, we asked a handful of Southern designers for advice on incorporating this beautiful paint color into any house.

Create Coziness

Use ecru's warm undertones to your advantage by swathing the power color all over an exceptionally cozy corner or an attractive architectural feature. 

"Bedrooms with window seats and painted bookshelves can be so inviting," says New Orleans-based designer Susan Currie. "That said, consider painting shelving and trim in ecru as it diffuses and softens the light, which makes spaces seem warm and cozy. When you have large windows, white finishes can sometimes reflect too much light and make the room uncomfortable." 

Add comfort by layering a plush throw blanket or peppering your shelves with small, personal touches. Or, if you want to take your ecru to the next level, Jessica Davis of JL Design recommends painting smaller rooms in the signature shade. "For a fresh but warm look, I recommend introducing the color into cozy spaces like libraries, studies, or bedrooms," the Nashville-based designer explains. "Two of my favorite paint colors are Benjamin Moore's Ecru 2014-70 and Sherwin-Williams' Echelon Ecru 7574."

Large Living Room with Wood Details and Large Gray Marble Fireplace
Credit: Intuitive Dwellings

Wow with Wood

Looking for the perfect shade to pair with your home's elegant millwork? Intuitive Dwellings' Lorraine Enwright says you cannot go wrong with ecru. 

"​​The trend toward ecru is rooted in a desire for people to have spaces that feel warmer and more comforting," the Atlanta-based designer says. "Our firm is using more warm tones and natural woods, and ecru fits that aesthetic much better than bright white."

Whether working with neutral, bleached oak, or rich mahogany, a dab of ecru will be the perfect finishing touch.

Pair With a Power Color

Since ecru is neutral at its core, it'll be a great way to offset the more vivid tones in your home. 

"This color creates a warm neutral backdrop to our spaces that enhances the vivid colors and patterns that we typically use in our designs," says Mark Lavender of M. Lavender Interiors

Blue and White Country Dining Room with Crystal Chandelier
Credit: Michael Hunter

For a clever way to get the job done, take a cue from Kim Armstrong, which places ecru and various shades of blue on full display. 

"I wanted the trim to be warm and not too stark white," the North Texas designer explains. "I think the ecru in this room was the perfect shade that gave the trim and doors enough depth of color and really was a balancing element in the space."

Mix and Match

Of course, ecru doesn't have to work its design magic alone. According to Mark Williams and Niki Papadopoulos, the design duo behind the Atlanta-based firm Mark Williams Design, you can use ecru for a high-contrast palette. That said, you might want to reconsider that darker hue.

"Black and white is a classic combination but consider chocolate and ecru for softer contrast with the same timeless appeal," the duo says. "We love it in the dining room where it strikes a quieter tone, ideal for hosting guests by candlelight."

Making a statement with a softer color palette? Yes, please.

Brown Dining Room with Wall of Bookshelves
Credit: Mark Williams Design

Pack on the Accessories

Of course, incorporating any new color into your space is a big decision that should not take lightly. If you're dipping your toes into the world of ecru, start small.

"If you're not ready to commit to painting the walls just yet, opt for home accessories that bring in the stability of ecru, such as furniture, throw pillows, blankets, lampshades, or curtains," share Beth Dotolo and Carolina Gentry of Pulp Design Studios, which has offices in Dallas and Seattle. 

Black and Ecru Patterned Walls in Attic Space with Built-In Bench Seat
Credit: Cody Ulrich

For Caron Woolsey, founder and principal of Texas-based design firm CW Interiors, ecru is a great way to double down on your space's textures—especially when you're already working with a neutral space.

"It brings a sense of warmth and comfort to a space, as opposed to a more crisp, sterile bright white," she shares. "When layering ecru with white, you get the best of both worlds: a glowing warmth amidst a cool frost."