Achromatic Color Scheme in Interior Design

Instructor: Anne Butler

Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.

Interior designers choose achromatic color schemes because they like the cleanliness and simplicity of using black, white, and gray. This lesson will examine different ways designers can use this color scheme in the rooms they are decorating.

The term achromatic can be confused with monochromatic. Achromatic means only the neutral colors are used in decorating. These neutral colors are black, white, and gray. A monochromatic color scheme, however, means that designers use varying shades of one color.

Neutral colors used in an achromatic color scheme

Designers like to use achromatic color schemes when creating new interiors because it makes those rooms look clean and simple. Sometimes an accent color is added. These accent colors are usually found with throw pillows, art, and other accessories, but not on walls. An achromatic color scheme can be used in any room of a house.


One of the most common uses of an achromatic color scheme can be found in kitchens. White cabinets can make a room seem bigger, while dark cabinets (browns and tans are sometimes considered neutral colors) can make a kitchen with high ceilings not seem so large. Using white cabinets and dark floors provide a high contrast look.

Kitchen with achromatic colors

Designers can also use a variety of materials in an achromatic color scheme. A popular material for kitchen counters is granite. Dark granite is popular for families with children because of its stain hiding abilities. Laminate is a cheaper alternative to granite. Another material gaining popularity for countertops is concrete. These counters can be stained or kept gray if the designers want a more industrial look in a kitchen.


Bathrooms are another place for an achromatic color scheme. White and gray bathroom tiles and fixtures can make a small bathroom seem larger. Like the kitchen, browns can be incorporated with dark wood cabinets. Black and white bathroom tiles can add visual interest without overwhelming those in the bathroom. Bathtubs are usually white. In a shower stall, designers can use varying shades of achromatic tiles to liven up an otherwise boring area.

Bathroom with brown accent colors

Bedrooms and Living Rooms

An achromatic color scheme can have a calming effect for those who live in them. Much like in other rooms, white and gray can make a room seem bigger. Black furniture, like bed frames and chests of drawers, can add elegance to a room.

The same goes for living rooms. Like in kitchens, dark furniture can hide stains. The neutral colors can also be calming for a room that is usually busy and full of life.

Living room with accent pillows
living room

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account