TIPS TO TRANSITION FROM BEIGE TO GRAY, GREIGE OR TAUPE
Is your beige feeling a lil’ blah? Are you bored with the warm Tuscan glory of your earth-tone-inspired home? Join the club, there are a lot of you.
And while trends are leaning warmer again (DEFINITELY), there are still those trying to cool down their warm colour palette, with the hopes of creating a more fresh, clean, vibrant home.
Beige-inspired homes are often chock-full of beige walls, beige carpet and maybe even beige furniture. You may look around your room and think to yourself ‘I’m really drawn to gray (or greige-taupe), but how in the HECK do I change from beige to gray when my WHOLE FREAKIN’ HOME is beige?’
You keep on reading…
Remember, beige is a neutral and neutrals are about as flexible as a 10-year-old gymnast. So, while you may feel limited, you have a WORLD of colours available to you-you need to know which direction to go in and pay CLOSE attention to your undertones & colour DEPTH.
GRAY, GREIGE & TAUPE COLOUR THAT UPDATE BEIGE CARPET & TILES
If you subscribe to my free blog updates (drink the Kool-Aid – it’s gooood), you probably know that grays have undertones – I refer to them ALL the time (along with red wine, dogs and mildly inappropriate topics). Undertones are those sneaky ‘colours’ that wink at you once you’ve painted a wall with two coats and step back in all of your sweaty, exhausted glory to realize that your gray walls actually look blue or your beige walls look a bit pink.
The key to choosing the best gray is to figure out which undertones you are dealing with and which ones best suit your particular beige surface (carpet/tile/countertop/furniture).
REMEMBER, depending on the TYPE of beige you have, and HOW MUCH OF IT you have in your home; you might not be able to head in the gray/greige colour direction you were hoping for. In this case, you might end up with a warm paint colour on your walls and choose gray/greige for your furniture and accent pieces.
Some beige or tan finishes are more geared towards colours that are cooler than them, based on the BLEND of colours they have. For example, this next beige tile doesn’t have a noticeable taupe, greige or gray in it to warrant one of these colours on the walls – a cooler paint colour would come out of NOWHERE and wouldn’t relate…
However, this next beige granite countertop has some flecks of TAUPE in it, meaning that the right depth of taupe could make a lot of sense on the walls or cabinets…
Why would taupe work with the above countertop? Because it already noticeably exists in the countertop – it would coordinate and visually connect and MAKE SENSE.
While it’s okay to stretch your room’s comfort zone, don’t stretch it OUT of its comfort zone or it won’t look good.
IF YOUR ROOM HAS BEIGE FINISHES & YOU WANT TO ADD SOME COOLER COLOURS
Whether you’re dealing with beige carpet, countertop, backsplash or tile (or several of these), there are two situations to consider…
1. If your room has only ONE beige finish and it doesn’t have any gray, greige or taupe in it, as long as you choose a paint colour that’s the same depth (or ideally) DARKER than your beige finish, you should be able to pull it off.
In this stairwell, the gray walls are okay with the beige carpet because there isn’t ANOTHER beige for the gray walls to compete with. In this situation, the gray acts more like a ‘subtle compliment’ to the carpet – although I wish it were a BIT darker.
However, if you got down to the foyer in this home and it had travertine tile, the gray walls would make a lot less sense, as you’d have TWO FINISHES with beige hues to try and connect with.
2. If your room has MORE THAN ONE beige finish, it starts getting tricky to add gray, greige or taupe on the walls (it makes even less sense, like ‘where did it come from?‘. HOWEVER, your best chance, again, is that your chosen colour is a bit darker than the beige finishes surrounding it. Or, hope that one of these beige finishes also has some gray, greige, or taupe that’s noticeable – this is the BEST way to connect with your finishes visually.
Just remember, a colour that’s COOLER than your beige surface can make it look WARMER than usual due to the contrast between warm/cool. Many people want to tone down their beige carpet, countertop or tile and make it look ‘less beige’. But in doing so, the cooler colours they choose often make their beige look EVEN STRONGER.
Opposites attract and can ENHANCE each other.
Let’s talk about that a bit more…
COOL COLOURS & HOW THEY RELATE TO WARM BEIGE FINISHES
Cool colours or those with cool undertones will have blue, purple or green undertones (purple being the most common). These undertones aren’t always happy to be partnered with beige, especially if you have a beige (or tan) with stronger undertones (yellow/green/pink/orange).
BEIGE & ITS UNDERTONES
The warm undertones in beige are always centered around ORANGE and most often flex orange-pink, although there are some orange-yellows.
TAN & ITS UNDERTONES
As for tan, tan is a neutral with a YELLOW undertone that can lean slightly yellow-orange or yellow green. These undertones can be ENHANCED when you paint the walls a cool paint colour.
Keep in mind that the majority of hard finishes in a home (countertop, tile, carpet – yes, it’s considered hard) are BEIGE with an orange-pink undertone. Tan is more often found in soft finishes like sofas. 95% of the Colour Consulting I do regarding warm neutrals is about working with BEIGE, not tan.
Opposites attract, so your warm beige carpet or tile may look more orange, yellow or pink if you paint your walls a colour that’s COOLER than it, especially one with stronger undertones. The warmth of your carpet will ALSO enhance the cool tones in your paint colour. If this is okay with you, that’s a good start, but you’ll also want to pay attention to the DEPTH of your paint colour, which we’ll get into in a new blog post (coming shortly)
In this next photo, the carpet had SUPER subtle undertones, and the space had enough natural light to handle a gray paint colour (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl)…
THIS BLOG POST IS BEING MAJORLY UPDATED, ESPECIALLY FROM THIS POINT ON. PLEASE EXCUSE ANY REPETITION OR BLOOPERS!
- There are more beige tiles that will handle a gray with a warm purple undertone than a blue or green undertone
- Beige carpets tend to have more flexibility and you will find some that can humour a gray or greige with blue, green or purple undertones, but you still have to be careful as NOT ALL carpets can do this!
Read more: Colour Review – All About SW Big Chill
Warm Gray Paint Colours with Beige Carpet, Tile or Furniture
Warm gray paint colours have a weee willy wink of brown in them and can often come across slightly purple or green (and usually only blue when the exposure encourages it).
Warm grays (especially ones with a soft purple undertone) have a better chance of looking good with beige, simply because they BOTH have brown in them. The more brown you add to gray, the closer you get to greige, which is also a fab choice when updating a beige home.
HOWEVER, if you have beige products with a pink or orange-pink undertone, you risk ENHANCING those undertones if you pick a warm gray with a green undertone. The undertones in your beige products have to be VERY PASSIVE in order to handle a warm gray or they need to have the type of gray you want to use IN them.
Greige Paint Colours with Beige Carpet, Tile or Furniture
Greige paint colours are grays that are mixed with a good dose of beige and tend to have less undertone compared to warm grays and cool grays.
Greige is a great colour to transition from gray to greige as it has both gray and beige in it – in decent doses. Is it as cool/gray as you were maybe hoping for? Probably not, but it can be a great ‘happy medium’ between where your HOME is and where YOU want to be (other than on a hot tropical island with Ryan Reynolds in a speedo).
But remember, sometimes what YOU want for your home and what your HOME needs are two different things. As shown in this next photo, a warm, soft tan was the BEST choice for this room with the sofa, area rug, decor and fireplace surround. A gray of any sort or even greige wouldn’t have done it any justice.
Again, in this next photo, there IS NO GRAY OR GREIGE that would look as good as or BETTER than this soft, flexible neutral…
Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
- At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
- If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
The Best Paint Colour Depths to Update Beige
I’ve found that homes with beige in them often don’t suit the off-white range of the above colours. It’s like everything gets a bit too washed-out and non-committal. And while there is the odd exception, it seems that most rooms with beige in them best suit paint colours in the light to light-medium (or darker) range when it comes to transitioning from beige to gray or greige.
And as soon as we add some SERIOUS depth, I’m a bit more inclined to add more colour/undertone too if the beige can handle it…
When choosing a colour, you can get some good insights into how it may look via its LRV. If you don’t what LRV is, it’s Light Reflectance Value and to keep things simple, it basically tells you how light or dark a colour will look once it’s up on the wall. (Read ALL about it here – The Ultimate Guide to LRV).
In my Online Colour Consulting, I usually refer to colours that have an LRV of approx 65 or lower when I’m coordinating with beige. Once I get into the higher LRV’s (approx. 65+), things don’t seem to connect quite as well.
Now, I KNOW you are just begging me to mention some actual paint colours, but here’s the deal Ally McBeal. I created my blog posts to give you free access to information that is helpful and will get you off on the right foot. If you need help from there, I’m MORE than happy to give you suggestions via my Online Color Consulting which is affordable AND fun AND personalized to the specific needs of your home and your tastes. So, while I’d love to throw a riot of colours at you, a gal needs to bring home some BACON ya know?!
What to Avoid When Updating Beige…
As I said, beige is pretty damn flexible, however with the goal of getting grayer (short of watching 50 Shades of it), here are some things to consider…
- The more colour or undertone (blue/green/purple) your gray or greige paint colour has in it the more chance you have of ENHANCING the warm beige tones in your room. Get things as neutral as possible
- Grayish off-whites and cool whites rarely work, they just looks gross…says me – that is my super educated opinion
- Off-white cool grays or greiges RARELY work with beige. If you prefer cool grays, consider those with LRV’s of 65 and lower
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Kylie M Interiors Interior Decorating and Design Blog E-Design, Virtual Consulting and Online Colour Consulting Services Based in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island and serving the whole darned world!