What You Should Know About The Color Beige

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 comes in so many tones and shades! Beige exudes warmth! Beige is complex! And it is an easy color to live with.

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, “Oh, beige… boring”!

Well, friend, I’m so glad you continued reading this post because beige is 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.

Well then…

JUST WHAT IS BEIGE?

Beige is a French word meaning the color of natural wool. Not washed or 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!

Look at all the different variations of beige in this fluffy sheep’s wool!

BEIGE SHEEP

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.

But beige probably has thousands of variations from the slightest and warmest white, cream, ecru, buff linen, tan, and khaki to the toastiest almost brown shades!

Beige and all other beige tones are created by adding brown to white.

And 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. 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.

If you are not sure what a warm or cool color is it might be a great idea to pause and head over to CAN YOU MIX WARM AND COOL COLORS for a quick review of warm and cool colors. And then pick up this post from here.

There is one catch about describing neutral colors. And beige is a neutral color…

No neutral color can be described without describing its undertone!

It’s just the nature of neutral colors like beige!

WHAT IS AN UNDERTONE AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH BEIGE?

Neutrals are the most complicated and complex of all colors for being almost devoid of overt color! Sounds a bit like an oxymoron!

Actually, that is what makes colors like beige so complicated! And so beautiful!

Remember I said that basically (and very very basically) beige is white with a taddy bit of brown? Well, that is true, but when we talk about beige we are probably discussing more colors mixed in too!

BEIGE WALL AND SHUTTERS

These colors, used even in the smallest amounts have a big effect on the 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.

COLOR THEORY INFOGRAPHIC

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 all variations of beige. See how the colors we slipped under the original beige have such a big effect on the original?

An undertone is a color that is under or mixed into a color like beige, changing the original color.

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!

And knowing the undertone of a color like beige will help you know what other colors to use when decorating with your favorite beige!

NOT ALL UNDERTONES PLAY WELL TOGETHER

We painted the walls of our StoneGable home in my favorite beige paint color, Benjamin Moore Sonnett.

BASKET HANGING ON A LIGHT COLORED WALL

In our home, it read about as beige or bone as you could get in daylight.

But here’s how it looked on the paint chip…

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 the most minute 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!

We picked out Sonnet after years of having white, then yellow then, taupe walls. But we always had Atrium White trim from the beginning.

PAINT CHIP

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!

And that made our rooms look so beautiful!

For me, this was undertone perfection!

Undertones are important! They must get along in your home or things will look “off”!

And I’m not just talking wall color. I’m talking about any decor you bring into your home!

Some undertones fight like cats and dogs! Some undertones can’t stand being near each other!

Colors like orange and magenta fight for attention! So beiges that might have orange and violet undertones will probably fight too! Refer to the infographic above!

Again, nothing is easy when we talk about color.

So let’s break it down and make it easy. Find the undertone in the beige you are decorating with and choose other colors that work with the undertone!

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 will show up!

And if the beige in question is a paint color, you are in luck! Google your paint color to find out what the undertones are!

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

Is beige a warm or cool color? This is such a great question!

Beige is primarily a warm color. However, it’s those pesky but nuanced undertones that make the difference.

For our purposes, we will say all beiges are usually warm. Because they are! Well, sorta… most of the time… in theory! LOL!

Does that mean you can’t use cool colors with them? Oh, not at all!

What it does mean is that you need to read the undertones in a beige so it will work with a cool color.

Just think about a color combination we love from nature. Sand and sea!

PICTURE OF THE SAND AND OCEAN

Beautiful colors, right? There are both warm and cool colors in this image. Lots of warm darker beige!

Why does the warm sand and the cool ocean look so pretty together?

First, there are a lot more warm tones in this image than cool! And that is your first tip…

WARM COLORS LOVE THE COMPANY OF OTHER WARM COLORS.

Warm colors bring out the best in beige!

And here’s your second big tip…

ALL WARM OR ALL COOL COLORS IN A ROOM ARE BORING

A big picture of sand is way more boring than one that has a beautiful moody ocean along with the sand, right?

CREATE A BIT OF TENSION IN A NEUTRAL (BEIGE) ROOM BY USING A FEW COOL COLORS.

A little bit of warmed-up cool hues in a neutral room can look pretty!

CHAIR AND LAMP

The chair above illustrates this perfectly. This chair has been in so many rooms in both StoneGable and Tanglewood! Because I have a neutral warm palette with lots of variations of beige in my home this chair works almost everywhere.

And I love this chair because it is a mix of both warm beige and gray! The tension of the cool gray brings a bit of life and excitement or tension to the beige (warm) room I put it in.

It’s just enough of a mix of warm and cool undertones to work!

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!

You might also like these helpful posts…

CAN I MIX WARM AND COOL COLORS WHEN I DECORATE?

HOW TO MOVE TO A MORE NEUTRAL COLOR PALETTE

COLOR THEORY FOR BEGINNERS

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR CHOOSING WHITE PAINT

6 TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE PERFECT PAINT COLOR

5 BIG DECORATING MISTAKES AND HOW TO FIX THEM

43 Comments

  1. Enjoyed this post so much. Sheetrock was just finished in our home so my mind is now concentrated on picking just the right neutral to paint our home. Thank you so much for this informative post. Also, what color did you use on your kitchen cabinets when you remodeled your kitchen.

  2. Thank you for explaining color theory so that even I can understand! I have been admiring the basket tray that is on your coffee table. Would you mind sharing where you bought it or sources for similar trays?

  3. Thank you. I have been rethinking my decision to paint all of the walls in our house a beige color, since most websites promote white walls. Now I am content to leave them beige.
    Where did you purchase your drapes that are in the picture above? They are taupe with dots.
    I would also be interested in a good source for trays for tables.
    Thanks again,
    Susan

  4. Yvonne thank you for another great post explaining color theory. It can get overwhelming sometimes without any direction. Pinning!!

  5. Hello. I’ve followed you a long while and love your home! I’m currently replacing our sectional and looking forward a white/beige color like yours can you share where u got your sofas? Thank you mucho!?

    1. Hi Cynthia, this sofa came from a local store. However the sofa brand is a national one called Smith Brother’s. It is amazingly comfortable and constructed so well. Check out stores that have Smith Brother sofas in your area.

  6. I love this discussion and have learned from it. I love beige for a neutral background to build upon in any room. Thanks Yvonne.

  7. There isn’t a post of yours that I don’t thoroughly enjoy and appreciate. And I love your honesty about your faith and love for Christ.

    In this article on the color beige, you have pictures of beautiful rugs in two rooms (family room & dining room) — do you recall where they were purchased? Thank you.

  8. Hi Yvonne,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and it’s time I say thank you for all your wonderful decorating tips !! You have helped me more than you can possibly know. I also love that you live in Lancaster county. My dad grew up in Millersville and I have so many wonderful memories visiting my grandparents back in the 60’s and 70’s !! Thanks again!! Gail

    1. Hi Gail, I am thrilled that StoneGable has helped you! That is my passion and goal!!! We live about 10 miles outside Millersville. And I’m there often.

  9. Yvonne,

    Thank you for doing this in such a fun way! Our daughter said color theory in her art class in college was some of the hardest for her to understand so I’m passing it onto her. I think it’s so much easier to understand when you’re applying something like this to something you love…your home. It makes so much more sense then.

    I’ve been busy over the last 3 years making our home, especially our great room, more beige, through fabric of all beige color range, texture, etc., and I still love it every time I walk in there. I was afraid I would get bored, but with all the texture and adding seasonal pillows, it’s like I have a new room every few months!

    Blessings,
    Teresa

  10. I love your wall and trim colors! Hoping they’ll look similar in our home — I’m planning to paint the entire downstairs beige with white trim but have been struggling with color selection! Right now the walls are greige, and I don’t like that gray undertone! Thanks for the help, Yvonne!

  11. I love beige! In fact today I just purchased spray paint in Smokey Beige to redo my lawn chairs. So true about importance of undertones. The beige walls in my bedroom have a pink undertone that I didn’t see in the paint chip. I actually like it because it warms up my cold north facing room & makes it more cozy. But it was definitely a little surprise.

  12. Hi, loved the article about beige. I am tryin to choose a color for our beach house & thought I wanted a light crisp gray.
    I currently have 13 different shades of gray on 4 different walls/ areas throughout the downstairs & up the stairway.
    Now I am worried that gray will be out of style or I will tire of it.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  13. Whether beige is trending or not it is my go to colour. Beige runs the gamut from a very light shade of brown to cream. White walls are not for every home. My daughter had her three story home painted white this summer. In her case, it doesn’t suit the style of home , nor her furniture choices. I’m having my home painted now. I tried a few complex creams swatches painted on the walls of an East facing room. They looked white – one had a green undertone and the other a pink. I realized I needed more tint and went with BM Fossil. It’s a lovely, soft, warm cream on my walls. I’m in love.

  14. Thank you for this insightful post and a welcome change from seeing everything gray. We live in northern VT where winter is 6 months long with snow on the ground. The last thing I want in my house is white or gray walls. Warm beige is my staple color with natural wood. Warm and inviting.

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