Think Zen is All About Neutral Colors? Try These Colorful Zen Styles


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One hallmark of traditional zen spaces is that they tend to be dominated by neutral and earthy colors, especially beiges and browns. More contemporary zen styles may veer towards white and black color schemes. Since zen is all about relaxation, the soothing tones of neutral colors typically dominate. Zen also makes use of natural textures like rock gardens, stonework and natural bamboo, which all feature soothing neutral colors. But what if you like a relaxing zen sensibility and bold color? It turns out the two can fit together just fine. Take a look below to check out how to work with the colorful zen trend.

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Colorful Zen Blue Coral

Natural textures can have some bold colorings, as you can see in the Bartram Coral Sculpture. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Colorful natural textures

As mentioned above, zen is all about natural textures, meaning the color scheme will tend to veer into neutral shades. However, the photo above shows that you can work with natural textures and keep a shot of bold color. Blue coral is an example of a natural texture that features saturated color. You might pair it with bold pink flowers or other traditional Zen elements in a bolder shade.

And when you incorporate colorful items like this into your space, you can use those colors in the rest of the space as accents. For example, the blue in the coral could be reflected in some blue throw pillows.

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Colorful Zen Green Bathroom

Keep things looking natural with green walls. Image: yampi/Shutterstock

Green walls for a colorful zen style

Since zen has a very natural feel to it, that means there’s one easy way to get color into your space: incorporate natural shades of green. You can see how the colorful bathroom in the photo above used a bright, spring green on the walls. That green keeps a natural feel to the room and fits with the textured wood and large plant.

Adding wall hangings that depict natural zen items, like rocks and sand photos, would also keep things natural and zen. Meanwhile, a vessel sink could give a feeling of being in a relaxing zen spa.

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Colorful Zen Yellow Blanket

Muted shades can add some color but still be a grounding element in the space. Image:

Accents of subtle colors

Another way to work color into a zen space is to use accents of subtle color. This allows you to add some color to the space but, because the colors are subtle, they act as a more muted element against the neutral colors of the rest of the space.

You can see in the photo above how the principle was used in a colorful zen bedroom. The white walls and wood textures combine to create a neutral color scheme. However, the muted and darker yellow throw blanket adds some deep color saturation to the space. Still, this item doesn’t overpower the space and make it look too stimulating. The room is still very relaxing with a more muted feel.

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Colorful Zen Red Blanket

Deep accent colors can work well in neutral zen spaces. Image:

Small pieces with accent colors

This isn’t to say you have to avoid bold accent colors altogether. You can use the same accent color idea but veer towards brighter shades. The example in the photo above shows how a small, bright red throw blanket adds a very subtle hint of color to a bright, neutral zen space.

The red also gives the space some depth and dimension. Lighter neutral spaces like the one in the photo above run the risk of looking flat. But just a little bit of color livens them up.

This photo also shows how natural and classic elements create a relaxing zen vibe. The moon painting has a natural texture and relaxing feeling, while the lantern makes the space look more classic.

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Colorful Zen Industrial Style

This industrial and zen space just works. Image:

Combine room styles

Another idea for creating a colorful zen space is to combine two types of room styles together. The bedroom in the photo above combines zen elements with an industrial style. Zen pieces like the stark painting keep the space looking natural and relaxing, but the painting also does a good job of incorporating the reddish shades of the industrial brick into the zen style.

Zen elements can actually work with just about any type of style. For instance, you might have a boho style with artistic representations of the Buddha around. This idea allows you to play with and combine styles until you have a look that’s uniquely you.

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