ARE GREIGE AND TAUPE THE SAME TYPE OF PAINT COLOUR?
Taupe and greige – two words that are FOREVER getting mixed up in the minds of homeowners and designers alike.
It’s like comparing merlot to cabernet – they both kind of look the same and have a similar purpose, yet there are subtle differences separating them. And you’ll find no shortage of explanations and opinions as to what greige and taupe are, but I’m going to simplify and clarify as truthfully, there isn’t a huge difference between them (which is why it’s so friggin’ confusing).
And this might go deeper than you’re comfortable with (that’s what she said), so take a deep breath, a sip of wine and open your mind (insert monastic chant here…)
First of all, let’s get the basic descriptions down pat…
WHAT TYPE OF PAINT COLOUR IS GREIGE?
Greige is a mix of gray and beige.
WHAT TYPE OF PAINT COLOUR IS TAUPE?
Taupe is a mix of gray and beige.
There, clear as mud, RIGHT?
Where you’ll REALLY start seeing the difference between greige and taupe is in their PREFERRED UNDERTONES.
GREIGE PAINT COLOURS AND THEIR UNDERTONES
Greige paint colours tend to favour a GREEN undertone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a WARM greige (leaning closer to beige) or a COOLER greige (leaning closer to gray) – if it favours a green undertone, it’s probably a greige.
- Greiges that are warmer looking (more beige than gray) are more likely to flash a green-yellow undertone.
- Greiges that are cooler looking (more gray than beige) are less likely to flash green-yellow and will lean a bit more into green. In fact, the CLOSER a greige is to gray, the more likely it is to flash blue given the right exposure/interior environment. That’s not ACTUAL blue, it’s just situational.
BTW, the lighter and warmer some greige paint colours go, the more likely they are to turn into a version of TAN – this is because of their green-yellow undertone.
TAUPE PAINT COLOURS AND THEIR UNDERTONES
Taupe paint colours tend to favour a PURPLE undertone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a considerably WARM taupe (winking at the border of beige) or a COOLER taupe, leaning more into gray, if it has a purple undertone, it’s probably a taupe.
- Taupes that are warmer looking lean more into beige and are more likely to flash pink-purple.
- Taupes that are cooler looking (while still being warm colours) lean closer to gray and lose MUCH of the pink, leaning harder into purple. Purple can ALSO have a blue undertone, making it a purple-blue, but you’ll only find those undertones in the gray end of things
Sherwin Williams Alpaca (below) is DEFINITELY a taupe paint colour…
BTW, the lighter and warmer some taupe paint colours go, the more likely they are to turn into BEIGE – this is because of their purple-PINK undertone, as beige is more likely to have pink in it than tan.
THE MORE FLEXIBLE GREIGE AND TAUPE PAINT COLOURS
Greiges that don’t commit to green, taupes that don’t commit to purple – THESE are the ones causing a lot of the confusion. Because what happens when a paint colour doesn’t COMMIT to its undertones? It leaves its doors open to other undertones.
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray is a greige that leans MORE into gray than beige
This means there are some greiges that can flash purple OR green, depending on the exposure of the room, immediate surroundings AND personal perception. There are also taupes that look a bit purple-pink, but in the right light, you JUST might see a wink of green. This is one of the reasons why there isn’t a SUPER clean line defining greige and taupe – UNLESS the undertones are obvious.
This next photo shows Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray. Rockport Gray is a gray with brown in it (making it a greige). HOWEVER, while it commits SLIGHTLY to a green undertone, I have seen it flex just a WINK into purple – not enough to make it a taupe, but enough to make a girl second guess herself.
This next photo shows Benjamin Moore Weimaraner. With its dominant purple-pink undertone, it’s easy to see it’s a TAUPE, not a greige.
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
WHY DO PEOPLE CONFUSE TAUPE AND GREIGE SO MUCH?
- Taupe and greige are BOTH mixes of beige and gray. Neither is WARMER than beige or COOLER than gray.
- Taupe and greige can SHARE undertones (specifically purple and green).
- Taupe and greige are BOTH warm colours. However, just because many greiges or taupes SEEM cooler-toned to others, doesn’t make them COLD COLOURS.
Let’s look at another photo – Sherwin Williams Keystone Gray.
Keystone Gray is a tricky one. It’s a beautiful blend of gray and brown that’s ALMOST equally balanced, so there isn’t much preference given to the gray OR the beige. It’s also VERY uncommitted to either a purple or green undertone, which means that while it can come across quite neutral, it can also flex based on the exposure of the room, interior environment AND personal perception!
AT THE END OF THE DAY
It doesn’t matter WHAT it’s called – if you love it and it has the undertones and general look you’re going for, then you can call it PERFECT!
NOT SURE WHICH COLOUR TO PICK?
Check out my Online Paint Colour Consulting, I’d love to help!
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2017, AWESOMELY UPDATED IN 2020