How to Update a Room With Beige Tiles or Carpet (often Tuscan-style)
If there’s one colour from the late ’90s and early 2000’s that just won’t go away, it has to be beige. Many are trying to step OUT of the warm, Tuscan-inspired vibe and into something a bit more updated (gray or greige), but those damn beige tiles and carpets put a hard stop to that every time! Personally, I love beige, but just like with my inappropriate humour, it’s all about ‘right place, right time’, a concept that both beige and I struggle with.
Say hi to Doug the Doodle (RIP Henry Bacon)
The thing is, you have to listen to your home and its particular needs, even if those needs go against what you REALLY want to do. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a happy medium, and I’m here to help you find it.
To figure out what your home’s needs are, you need to figure out what you’ve GOT first. Beige, whether it’s tile, paint colour, furniture or carpet will have either yellow, orange, red (pink) or green undertones – often a blend of those, and your beige products will be no exception to this!
Beige, whether it’s tile, paint colour, furniture or carpet will have either yellow, orange, red (pink) or green undertones – often a blend of those.
So, without FURTHER ado, let’s get this party started…
BTW, while I mention colours where I can, not all of my clients have given me full permission to use their Online Colour Consultation information or photos.
Beige Tiles or Carpet with Orange or Pink Undertones
While you might not be happy to hear it, there’s a REALLY GOOD CHANCE your beige tile or carpet has an orange-pink or committed pink undertone. And you might be worried, thinking you’ll need pink walls to make things work, but don’t you worry your pretty lil’ face off – I’ve got your back.
PRODUCTS FROM THE ’90S AND 2000s THAT ARE MOST LIKELY TO HAVE PINK OR ORANGE-PINK UNDERTONES
- Tile – specifically travertine tile which can nod HARD towards Tuscan style
- Carpet – 1990’s in particular (as well as mid-2015’s funny enough #notfunny)
- Furniture – micro-fibre ‘tan’ coloured sofas are the most common culprit
- Granite countertops – 1990’s in particular. In the early 2000s, we started seeing a bit more gold (orange-yellow)
As it relates to pink undertones specifically, the key to working WITH them is to stop FIGHTING them. When you fight a colour or try to avoid it (ie: by painting your walls a colour with blue or green undertones), you can actually make things worse if you’re hoping to downplay the pink undertones, of which you’ll find two types…
- A more committed pink undertone. This can sometimes look a bit purple-gray, which means you’re getting closer to taupe
- Pink-orange, which is EVERYWHERE I look when it comes to homes built in the 1990s and 2000s.
Photo by JR Photography (I can’t find his website to link it though…)
As for orange undertones, you’ll find two blends…
- Orange-yellow: Overall, this can be a slightly more ‘golden’ look, but is definitely NOT as common
- Orange-pink: DEFINITELY the most undertone, particularly in tiles from the ’90s and 2000s. You’ll find this particular undertone in many of the tiles from the Tuscan trend of the early 2000s (ie: travertine tile, which I actually DO have mad love for, along with Ryan Reynolds, both of which I’d love to roll all over)
BTW, if you’d like to learn more about beiges and undertones, you’ll find that Maria Killam has a FABULOUS colour wheel – she’s another great resource when it comes to choosing paint colours.
THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR TILE (or carpet) WITH A PINK or ORANGE-PINK UNDERTONE
If your tile or carpet has a committed pink undertone and you DON’T want gray or greige walls, look for warm neutral paint colours that have a tiny bit of pink in them (common in taupe). This doesn’t mean you’ll have pink WALLS, but you’ll have pink-friendly walls.
In this next photo, Sherwin Williams China Doll was the perfect partner to the pink undertone in the carpet and the hard/soft furnishings in the room…
If your tiles have a more orange-pink look to them, you’ll want to choose a beige that leans heavily on the orange and only slightly on the pink (ie: Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige is a good place to start, which you can read more about in this blog post).
In this photo below, check out the two beige samples (one paper, one painted) to see how they’re compatible with the undertones of the tile. The white paper is there for reference as it makes sampling much easier…
Also, notice how the original green paint colour DATED the tile. And while beige might not have been my client’s DREAM colour (as the trend is to want gray or greige), the above options were a great happy medium, because if a colour doesn’t suit the room (and only suits the owner), it just won’t look good!
Remember, you MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO fully update the look of your beige tile (based on what your original paint colour hopes were) and while you can likely get OUT of the more rich golden colours that were commonly used 20 years ago, you might still need to paint your walls a warm paint colour for things to flow – you’ll just be looking at more MODERN warm paint colours.
As shown in this next photo, a paint colour with an orange-pink undertone was the perfect partner to the tile (Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige)…
Read more: The Best Beige and Tan Paint Colours
In this next example, you’ll see the sofa has a very committed pink undertone, however, we had to go with the carpet, which was SUPER happy to be partnered up with Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan!
Photo via Tim Hanson Productions
A gorgeous, WELL-coordinated palette (carpet with pink undertone)
There are some carpets and tiles that have a pink or orange-pink undertone, but ALSO have a warm purple-pink in them as well, making them a bit more flexible towards taupe paint colours, which are warmer than greige, but NOT as warm as beige. Just be careful, as taupe paint colours can sometimes grab a wink o’ green, which we want to avoid. Instead, focus on ones with a decent purple-pink undertone (Sherwin Williams Popular Gray is a place to start).
In this next example, the brick fireplace, carpet and walls all have pink undertones, which means they’re well-coordinated. My client also chose furniture in a warm gray with a PURPLE undertone, which sits MUCH better than a gray with a green undertone would’ve.
Read more: 5 Ideas to Update Your Fireplace
In this next example, look at the progression from warm beige – taupe – warm gray. The COOLER we went, the more it clashed with the bones of the tile, with the sample on the right just not connecting at all. However, the tile WAS flexible enough to humour that middle, slightly more taupe sample (Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige).
As for gray, you have to be careful. There are more CARPETS than there are TILES that can support gray walls. If you REALLY want to try gray with your tile, you’ll want to check out a WARM gray or greige with a purple or purple-pink undertone to see if you can get a good colour connection (not always possible, as shown above).
- There are more tiles that will handle a warm purple undertone than a blue or green undertone
- Carpets tend to have more flexibility and you will find some beige carpets 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!
In this next example, because the carpet’s undertones were SO passive and the lighting was so FREAKIN’ fabulous in this stairwell, we were able to pull off a subtle, soft gray on the walls (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, lightened)…
In this next photo, you’ll see a stone fireplace that holds MANY of the colours found in the early to mid-2000s. With a product with this much flexibility, we were able to TOTALLY update the room with a soft and subtle warm gray…
After, it’s like a whole new room! Notice how the new paint colour hits the stone fireplace while humouring the pink undertone of the carpet…
PAINT COLOURS TO AVOID IF YOU HAVE PINK OR ORANGE-PINK TONED TILE OR CARPET
Generally speaking, you might want to avoid green or blue paint colours (or gray or greige with those undertones). Of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions, especially when the undertones in a carpet are super subtle, but be careful, as a cool paint colour might just ENHANCE your warm-toned products, which doesn’t always create an ‘updated look’.
Not every beige tile or carpet can visually support cool neutral paint colours, so sample carefully and listen to your home.
This next photo is a GREAT example of how some paint colours can really date products with pink undertones (this was one of our homes when we first moved in – woof. Thank God Tim and my Dad flooded the house and we got new flooring).
In this next example, both the flooring products and the table have a pink undertone. However, in this case, a very mild, earthy green undertone was a BEAUTIFUL complement to almost ALL of the hard surfaces in this room, including the dark wood trim – it helps when you have a cute lil’ Ginger tucked in your back pocket (I will pinch upon request).
You should also avoid cream paint colours and beige and tan paint colours with a yellow undertone. Yellow and pink don’t have much love for each other and you could have a HOT mess of undertones on your hands. In this next photo, my client didn’t love the home she’d bought with its Sherwin Williams Antique White island and Macadamia walls. Why not?
The Antique White island was just a bit too creamy-yellow for the more committed orange undertone (orange-pink) of the travertine tile on the floor, and just BARELY made the cut with the stone fireplace. Macadamia (walls) has a wink o’ green undertone tucked in it, which is sitting off with the floor and the fireplace as well – everything was CLOSE, but no cigar!
Again, in this next photo, the previous owner had used Antique White on the cabinets, which is just TOO yellow for most beige tiles (and is ALSO why it’s one of the whites I would never paint my cabinets or trim).
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
Beige Tiles or Carpet with a Yellow Undertone (yellow-beige)
Yellow is definitely the LEAST common warm undertone found in carpet and tile. Why? Well, yellow lives quite comfortably in cream, but by the time it hits the beige end of things, it can start mixing pretty heavily with other warm colours like orange, pink and even green, which is why MOST of the yellow you’ll see in tiles is more of a CREAM – not a beige!
You’ll find two types of yellow undertones…
- Yellow-green. Always a tricky one and not always the most desirable
- Yellow-orange. Definitely more flexible
THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR CARPET OR TILE WITH A YELLOW UNDERTONE
When it comes to beige with a yellow undertone you have to be careful. The instinct is often to go with a cream, because cream is a yellow-based paint colour. However, many creams are too fresh and clean for the muted earthy look of beige, in which case, sometimes you need a colour ninja to flex between the two worlds. You’ll also want to see whether your yellow undertone leans more into green or orange, making sure your paint colour picks up what your undertones are throwin’ down.
Read more: The 5 Best Off-White Neutral Paint Colours
Check out some of the popular beige paint colours as well as cream paint colours to see which ones visually connect and which ones clash. I’d love to tell you the specific ones to look at, but it all depends on the tile/carpet that you have! I also don’t have many photo examples because a yellow undertone is MUCH rarer than orange-pink.
PAINT COLOURS TO AVOID IF YOU HAVE YELLOW-TONED TILE OR CARPET
- Gray and greige can be a tough sell when it comes to beige-yellow. You can sometimes get away with a blue-green or green undertone with a beige-yellow carpet but will want to be careful that the warm/cool partnership doesn’t contrast too much or you could just be highlighting those undertones (which isn’t always the desired effect)
- Explore cream paint colours, but make sure they have a grounded, neutral base to calm down the yellow (in other words, add some beige to the mix)
- You can RARELY get away with a purple or purple-pink undertone, in fact, I’d avoid them as much as I avoid moderation and hairy bath mats
Beige Tiles, Carpet or Rooms with Mixed Undertones and Colours
When photos of tiles with mixed undertones come to my inbox (via my Online Colour Consulting), I GIGGLE with glee, as I can’t WAIT to show the owners what their paint options are – the effect is ALWAYS game-changing.
In the above tiles, you’ll see a lot of beige (mostly pink or orange-pink), but you’ll also see some green, purple and pink/taupe undertones that really open up the colour options!
In this next photo, the tile and countertop had a wink of green which we gladly grabbed on to…
Photos via Tim Hanson Productions
In this next photo, there were a variety of needs between the sofas, linens, area rug and artwork, but Sherwin Williams Creamy did the trick (darkened by 25%)…
Sherwin Williams Creamy, photo via JR Photography (website link unknown)
In this next photo, the subtle approach of the carpet and flexibility of tones in the wood feature wall let us do a gorgeous, updated tan paint colour (Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan).
YESSS, love this next tile. While it has a beige base, just LOOK at the flexibility its other colours gave us, giving room for the warm greige approach of Benjamin Moore London Fog on the walls…
As discussed early, many tiles (often travertine) have an orange-pink undertone AS WELL as a bit of taupe/purple, giving WAY more room for some colour love! If this is the case with your tile, you can check out gray, greige or taupe paint colours with that same undertone!
So, there you have it. I hope these ideas and inspirations get you started on updating your beige home. If not, I’ve got 300+ other articles for you to check out, just type a keyword into my SEARCH area on the right side of my home page for some more blog posts!
Not sure how to update your beige or Tuscan-inspired room?
Check out my Online Paint Colour Consulting, I’d love to help!
KYLIE M INTERIORS E-DESIGN VIRTUAL ONLINE PAINT COLOR CONSULTING AND DIY DECORATING ADVICE BLOGGER