Not everyone can spot the differences between every shade of white, but those with a keen eye for color and detail know that being able to discern cream from beige or off-white from alabaster can make all the difference in the world of interior design. Understanding the subtleties of pale neutral colors can help you determine which hues will be the most compatible.
A soothing shade of white, ivory takes its name from the material present in many animal teeth and tusks. The color tends to have subtle brown undertones that imbue spaces with a warmth and softness that purer shades of white tend to lack. Cream is similar to ivory, but leans more yellow and looks warmer. Beige, on the other hand, is even warmer and favors light brown or tan.
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Ivory represents purity and refinement. It's a timeless shade that looks effortless on its own or with a range of other colors, making it a go-to choice when assembling a palette. "I love incorporating ivory into my design schemes," says Emma Kemper, principal Emma Beryl Interiors. "I think warm neutrals add a lot of depth in a space and create a calm, warm aesthetic."
Whether you're looking to enhance a warm scheme of reds, yellows, or browns, or you want to balance a cool palette of greens, blues, or purples, ivory is a versatile option. Plus, it blends in effortlessly with a range of aesthetics. Kemper goes on to say, "To design a serene look with the color ivory, I recommend pairing it with other off-white tones. Leaning into a monochromatic palette cultivates a tranquil mood. If you're more keen to embrace a variety of colors, I suggest pairing ivory with other warm tones such as reds, pinks, and oranges." Similar to other off-white shades, ivory can be integrated into spaces easily, with paint, tile, appliances, or easy-to-add home decor such as blankets, pillows, and accessories. There's also no shortage of upholstered ivory furniture to choose from — a current fan favorite is bouclé.
Read on for some of our favorite ivory color pairings.
20 Ivory Color Combinations
Blue is a classic hue. It calls to mind coastal locales and is often used in bedrooms for its timelessness and soothing vibes. Pairing navy blue with ivory results in a warm beachy vibe, as evidenced by this calming refuge by Bella Mancini where a navy blue grasscloth wallpaper adds texture and grounds a predominantly ivory color palette.
2. Ivory and Yellow
With its brown undertones, ivory looks lovely next to more overt lemony shades. While yellow is often overlooked for dining room schemes, pairing vibrant cushions with an ivory paint color on the walls will result in a space that's both soothing and elegant, as demonstrated by this setup from Bella Mancini. Ivory accessories add height and visual interest to the tabletop and sideboard.
3. Ivory and Gray
Add interest to a neutral space by pairing ivory with shades of gray. In this minimal sitting room, gray trim frames the ivory walls and adds visual weight. A tan-colored settee and a patterned rug stand out against the subdued backdrop and add a sophisticated note.
4. Ivory and Light Blue
Although light blue is often reserved for spaces that cater to children, this living room by Chango & Co. makes a compelling case for embracing it in grown-up rooms as well. The calming hue looks particularly elegant blanketing the board and batten-clad walls and ceiling, while pale ivory club chairs and a sculptural chandelier add warmth and underscore the power of the soothing color combo.
5. Ivory and White
For a monochromatic look with slight variation pair ivory with white. It's a seemingly straightforward yet often overlooked substitution for more predictable hues and results in a modern space that's warm and inviting. Complement the duo with light wood furnishings, woven accents, and dried florals.
6. Ivory and Sage Green
If you love the look of cool tones like sage green but still want your space to retain warmth and charm, ivory offers the perfect antidote. And while we could wax poetic about the beauty of highlighting sage green in a color scheme — it references nature, imparts a peaceful feeling, is highly pair-able, and manages to be simultaneously timeless and on-trend — we'll let this enduring design by Jessica Helgerson do all the talking.
7. Ivory and Olive Green
Ivory is a versatile shade that looks as fitting in traditional homes as it does in more contemporary abodes. Use it to infuse softness to minimal spaces or brighten up a moodier color palette. In this tranquil bedroom spotted on Lulu and Georgia, an upholstered ivory bed and matching area rug add warmth to the otherwise dark scheme dominated by olive green and black.
8. Ivory and Coral
If you really want to heat up the color ivory, pair it with coral. The warm undertones present in both hues create a look that's playful and cheery. The star of this glam setup spotted on New Darlings is the inviting bed, which showcases the color combo.
9. Ivory and Royal Blue
A dark and moody backdrop is the perfect canvas for showcasing luxe ivory furniture. We love the way Chango & Co. enveloped this saturated living room in glossy royal blue paint and then used contemporary ivory furnishings to brighten the overall look. An area rug blends both hues and ties the high-contrast scheme together.
10. Ivory and Ochre
Ochre is a popular color that's seen a lot of play in the past few years. It introduces the pleasing organic warmth of other earthy shades, like brown and green, with a more unique spin. When paired with a healthy dose of ivory, ochre feels sophisticated and timeless as witnessed in this well-appointed setup spotted on Lulu and Georgia.
11. Ivory, Rust, and Lilac
Balance a soft pastel such as lilac with a sophisticated neutral like ivory, à la this welcoming living room design by Arent & Pyke. The rust-colored rug anchors the open space, while the curved furniture pieces offer loads of visual interest and contemporary flair.
12. Ivory and Terra Cotta
Ivory is a popular shade for bedding, imparting warmth and just a touch of color with minimal visual distraction. Opt for all-ivory linens in a range of different textures — like the blanket, matelasse bed cover, and channel-stitched pillowcases used in this bedroom — to keep things interesting. A few accessories in an earthy accent color like terra cotta will enhance the already welcoming scene and add a desert vibe.
13. Ivory and Red
Red is a lively hue that can easily overwhelm spaces, especially smaller rooms like a home office. Pairing the vibrant shade with ivory, as Leanne Ford did, allows it to function as a focal point while offering mellow contrast. The result is a functional space brimming with rustic charm and warmth.
14. Ivory and Brown
Keep the look elevated with a low-contrast color palette that's rich and timeless. Chocolate brown enhances the earthiness of ivory and adds a warm organic feeling to interior spaces, as seen in this soothing bedroom escape by Studio Life/Style. To create depth and interest with a scheme that's predominantly ivory, bring on the texture by adding woven pieces, leather, and nubby fabrics like bouclé.
15. Ivory and Teal
Temper a vibrant color palette with plenty of ivory accents. This bohemian living room features the perfect dose of color, thanks to the teal-colored board and batten wainscoting and the terra cotta and brown area rug. The dark wood side table and adjacent door add another layer to the overall scheme.
16. Ivory and Black
While black and white is a timeless duo, using ivory in lieu of white softens the look, resulting in a warmer palette. Leanne Ford's love of high-contrast pairings is well known: In this contemporary dining room she juxtaposed black chairs with ivory limewashed walls. Gold accents add a glamorous note while reclaimed wood floors keep the feeling warm and inviting.
For a less dramatic (yet equally chic) alternative to ivory and black, consider pairing the off-white hue with charcoal gray. It's a masculine shade that's available with a range of undertones. In this modern bedroom, a dark gray accent wall, with a hint of brown, looks warm and inviting as the backdrop to an ivory headboard. The adjacent white walls, lamp, and bedding help lighten the dark backdrop while pops of navy blue and yellow inject additional color.
18. Ivory and Cornflower Blue
Keep your kitchen bright and airy with ivory-hued cabinets. Katie LeClerq selected a cornflower blue island and ivory cabinetry for a soothing take on a classic blue and white pairing. A butcher block countertop and wood floors add a rustic warmth to the serene cook space.
19. Ivory and Emerald Green
As much as we love ivory, we admit that it runs the risk of looking dull and dingy. Enliven any dusky yellow tints by pairing them with jewel tones. Mallory Mathison selected an emerald green chair and an energizing green chinoiserie wallpaper to add contrast and elegance to this sophisticated bedroom.
20. Ivory and Beige
Tonal color schemes make an impact by emphasizing a single dominant color and then surrounding it with varying shades and tints of the same hue. Pair ivory with beige for a soothing bedroom retreat that's big on warmth, despite the absence of color. Angie Hranowsky opted for a foundation of ivory walls, which are the perfect backdrop for a beige and ivory upholstered bed. The result is a quiet retreat that still looks interesting.
The Best Colors to Pair With Ivory
Ivory is an off-white hue that has the classic appeal of a pale neutral with a hint of yellow that makes it more calming and peaceful than a stark shade of white. Thanks to its brownish-yellow undertones, ivory imbues interior spaces with a soothing energy.
Pair ivory with other warm colors — like reds, oranges, yellows, and browns — to create a space steeped in coziness. Or temper cool tones — such as greens, blues, and grays — by adding ivory. If you're partial to a monochrome color scheme, ivory looks lovely paired with other neutrals like black, white, and beige.
Now that we've covered all of the basics, here's a quick recap of some of our favorite shades to pair with ivory:
- Navy blue
- Light blue
- Sage green
- Olive green
- Royal blue
- Terra cotta
- Charcoal gray
- Cornflower blue
- Emerald green