Do you think beige is a too safe boring color? Think again! Beige is one of the most versatile colors that plays beautifully with almost any color scheme. It’s restful and friendly and can work in any room! See why you should think about using beige in your home.
The color beige often gets a bad rap! And it is totally undeserved! Beige is a color you should know about! It’s classic and restful and pretty, and beige color palettes come in so many tones and shades! Beige exudes warmth! Beige is complex! And it is an easy color to live with. Let’s get to know the color beige a bit better!
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If you understand even the basics when it comes to color and color theory, decorating your home will be so much easier! And your home will show the fruits of your knowledge and labor!
I’ve done a few posts on color (see some at the bottom of this post), and they have been so popular I decided to do an entire series on this very important subject!
So today’s post is all about beige.
I can just hear some of you saying, “Oh, beige… boring”!
Well, friend, I’m so glad you continued reading this post because the various shades of beige are anything but boring. And it is a very good place to begin! Actually, beige is a very complicated color! It really is not only one color! There is a myriad of colors that can be classified as beige.
What Is Beige?
A Brief History
Beige is a French word meaning the color of natural wool. Not washed, bleached, or dyed, but natural. This makes me think of a sheep in a field. And if you have seen sheep in a field, their wool is nothing like white! It is full of beige color combinations.
Look at all the different variations of beige in this fluffy sheep’s wool!
Beige has also taken on the meaning of the color of a bleached bone.
Let’s just say, for time’s sake and to have a working definition, beige is a neutral color that, in its purest form, is a light creamy off-white! It is a neutral shade in the neutral color family.
Beige probably has thousands of variations from the slightest and warmest white, cream, ecru, buff, linen, tan, cafe au lait, and khaki to the toasty, almost brown shades!
Beige and all other beige tones are created by adding brown and white pigments together and/or the addition of gray and yellow. The result is beautiful earthy tones and shades of brown.
Brown is created by mixing the primary colors blue, yellow, and red. See where I am going with this? It’s just not that easy! Beige can be a subtle color like cream or a moodier depth of color like greige or taupe. It’s all about the other colors mixed with white and brown.
So let’s make it easy and say basic beige is a mix of white and a touch of brown.
It’s also important to know that beige, in its most elemental form, is a warm color. We will discuss that further down in the post. But no color can be described without describing its undertone!
Neutrals are the most complicated and complex of all colors! Beige is so nuanced, and that is what makes it so beautiful!
Remember I said that basically (and very, very basically) beige is a mixture of lots of white pigment with a bit of brown? Well, that is true, but when we talk about beige, we are probably discussing that beige is also made up of small amounts of other colors too.
And these other colors have a big effect on basic beige.
The infographic I made shows you just what a small amount of another color can create when added to a basic beige.
Let’s call the top color basic beige.
I’ve slipped just a hint of color under our basic beige, and look how that hint of color changes beige. The new colors are still beige, but they are all variations of beige.
An undertone is a color that is under or mixed into a color like beige, changing the original color.
How Undertones Affect Beige
So what do the undertones in a beige color have to do with anything? It has everything to do with beige! You see, there is never just one beige color. There are thousands because of the undertones!
Knowing the undertones in a color like beige will help you know what other colors to use when decorating with your favorite beige!
Finding Undertones In Beige
It can be a bit like being a detective. I still struggle to see many undertones! Experimenting by putting the beige in question next to a white piece of paper can help. Compare the two, and the undertones just might show up! And if the beige in question is a paint color, you are in luck! Paint companies provide information on undertones and hex numbers for their paint.
When you know the undertones in your favorite beige, you will have a good idea about the colors that will work with the beige you have in your home!
Warm Or Cool
Not All Beiges Play Well Together
We painted the walls of our StoneGable home in my favorite beige paint color, Benjamin Moore Sonnett.
In our home, this beige paint read about as beige or bone as you could get in daylight.
But here’s how it looked on the paint chip…
Woah! No wonder it’s so important to paint several walls with a color you are thinking about using, right?
But here’s what the paint chip told me that I could not tell from my Sonnet painted walls. Sonnet’s beige has yellow undertone that is very close to the peach spectrum. So close you could say it had the tiniest and slight bit of peach or pink in it. Even less than a drop can change beige!
All of the trim in our StoneGable home was painted Atrium White.
I loved Sonnet with Atrium White, and no wonder! Atrium White has the tiniest undertone of pink in it too! The undertones in the Sonnet loved playing with the undertones in the Atrium White! They were happy together!
Undertones are important! They must get along with the decor of other undertones in your home. Some undertone love being together and look amazing! And some undertones fight like cats and dogs and can make a whole room look off.
Knowing undertones is essentially important for knowing what colors will and won’t work with beige. And for knowing with beiges will work together.
Here’s a rule of thumb. Warm undertones like to play with other warm undertones. And cool undertones like to play with cool undertones. If you know the undertones in a beige color you are considering,
Just think about a color combination we love from nature. Sand and sea!
Beautiful colors, right? There are both warm and cool colors in this image. Lots of warm darker beige!
Why do the warm sand and the cool ocean look so pretty together? Because there are a lot more warm tones in this image than cool!
Warm colors love the company of other warm colors. If you want to mix warm and cool colors together, choose 80% of one and 20 % of the other.
Warm colors bring out the best in beige!
But beige needs a bit of contrast because
All Warm Or Cool Colors In a Room Look Boring
So we add some interest by adding a small amount of cool color.
Beige likes a little bit of cool company
A little bit of warmed-up cool hues in a neutral room make it come alive.
The pillow above is a blend of muddy blue, white, and beiges, fusing cool and warm hues. The blue is a distinctive muddy, yet warmer blue shade, which harmonizes seamlessly within this room.
The tension of the blue brings a bit of life and excitement to the beige room.
Beauty And Versatility
When it comes to beauty and versatility, you can’t beat beautiful beige in all of its shades and tones! It’s calm and sophisticated and such a hard-working color that will add a timeless look to your home.
Beige is easy to live with and plays well with so many other colors and neutrals!
There is probably no other color that has gotten such a bad rap and deserves it less! I say, Vive le beige!
So now you know, and I hope this has helped you to understand the elegance and understated color called beige!
It is my passion and pleasure to help you learn interior design concepts in an easy and understandable way so you can incorporate these tricks of the trade as you decorate your home!