THE TOP 10 TANTALIZING TANS FROM SHERWIN WILLIAMS
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’d think this would’ve been covered with Sherwin Williams’s 5 Best Beige Paint Colors. And while that blog post is similar, this one is geared towards TAN paint colors – not beige.
Ummm, pardon? What’s the difference between tan and beige? I thought they were the same thing.
They are DOING the same thing – looking like warm neutrals, but they’re doing it differently. Like greige vs. taupe or white wine vs. rose, beige and tan are kissin’ cousins as they ARE related, but they have key features that set them apart.
WHAT MAKES A COLOR BEIGE?
Beige paint colors tend to look warmer in a more ‘golden’ way. This means they often have more orange-yellow or orange-pink undertones in them.
FUN FACTS ABOUT BEIGE PAINT COLORS
- Beige paint colors are usually more suited to a Tuscan-style home than tans.
- They are likely to have an orange or orange-red (pink) undertone.
- They tend to look richer and warmer compared to tans.
WHAT MAKES A PAINT COLOR TAN?
Tan paint colors are often more subdued and neutral looking as those warm golden tones can fall back. You’re less likely to find orange or red undertones and more likely to find yellow or green undertones and sometimes even a slightly grayish cast.
FUN FACTS ABOUT TAN PAINT COLORS
- Tans are likelier to have a yellow or yellow-green undertone and less likely to have orange or red (pink).
- They’re often in the light range and won’t have an overly rich Tuscan look to them.
- Tans are MUCH closer to the greige world than beiges.
This is why some people HATE beige and LOVE tan! Even though they’re both warm colors, some people love the more grounded, neutral approach of tan paint colors compared to the more golden/early 2000s look of many beiges.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Paint companies have made it challenging for us to decipher between tan and beige, often using the words ‘tan and beige’ at whim, without the words relating closely enough to the colors they’re representing. Just because a color’s name includes the words tan, beige, white, gray, etc… doesn’t mean it actually IS that color!
So, today, I want to share some of the most popular tan paint colors with you – colors that are more muted and subtle looking than some of their roasty-toasty beige counterparts. Colors that can be a great way to TRANSITION out of the warmer, golden, Tuscan beiges of the early 2000s, without going into the gray, greige, or taupe worlds.
While tan pales in popularity compared to beige, many homes just beg for the perfect neutral shade of tan. Let’s see what Sherwin Williams has to offer us…
1. SHERWIN WILLIAMS CANVAS TAN 7531
Canvas Tan is soft, fresh, and bright, giving it a typical tan look, without being heavy like the beiges and tans from the early 2000s.
E-Design by Kylie M, Photo via Tim Hanson Photography
FUN FACTS ABOUT CANVAS TAN
- While Canvas Tan suits many wood tones, it doesn’t always love cherry/red tones.
- Canvas Tan has a good life to it, without being overly colorful (yellow-green). It’s not one of the more muted tans (which we’ll look at shortly).
- Canvas Tan has an LRV of 64. So, if you have a dark room, it can help it look a weeee bit brighter. In a bright room, it should hold itself quite well and won’t lose too much body when faced with direct light (keeping in mind that EVERY color will lighten/brighten when hit with direct light)
- As shown in the previous photo, partner Canvas Tan with a soft, warm white like Sherwin Williams Shell White for a more muted look. For a more crisp approach, try Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.
2. SHERWIN WILLIAMS NEUTRAL GROUND 7568
Neutral Ground is a soft tan color, so it doesn’t have a golden Tuscan or a rich look. It’s like a lighter version of Canvas Tan; because it’s lighter, it comes across as slightly creamier.
FUN FACTS ABOUT NEUTRAL GROUND
- Neutral Ground is great if your room has lower light as it won’t look quite as heavy as Canvas Tan (even though neither is terribly heavy).
- Neutral Ground has an LRV of 70, so it’s lovely and light, without being off-white or washed-out.
- If you like Neutral Ground but wish it were a bit MORE neutral, check out a flexible off-white like Sherwin Williams Shoji White.
NEED HELP? Check out my ONLINE PAINT COLOR PACKAGES – let me make it easy for you!
3. SHERWIN WILLIAMS WOOL SKEIN 6148
Wool Skein is a sneaky lil’ bugger with its undertone. At first glance, you might see a soft, simple tan, but it will be hard to miss the green hiding inside it on a larger scale. That’s right, green. If you don’t like green – don’t pick this color; it’s not subtle. And while that doesn’t mean it’s OVERWHELMING, it is noticeable.
As for depth, Wool Skein is light and fresh without becoming so light that it looks washed out. While at first glance it looks pretty darned ‘tan,’ compare it to Canvas Tan to see the shift from a relatively neutral tan (Canvas Tan) to a tan with green undertones (Wool Skein). Remember, comparison is a GREAT tool for finding the undertones in a paint color.
WHERE DOES WOOL SKEIN LOOK BEST?
- It works well with many wood tones but not lighter reddish/pink ones.
- It’s flexible with various accent colors and can work well in a north or south-facing room.
- Pairing Wool Skein with blue or cool tones can bring out the warm tones a bit more. In particular, Wool Skein looks great with mid-tone gray-blue-green blends.
- If you have warm-toned woods that have strong yellow, orange, or red tones, this could bring out the green undertone in Wool Skein.
- The LRV of 64 keeps this color fresh and bright, without being punchy. It may subtly enhance a dark room and sit quite evenly in a bright room, without losing too much color in brighter spaces.
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Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
4. SHERWIN WILLIAMS SANDBAR 7547
Sandbar is a light-medium depth tan paint color, with an LRV of 53. And while it does have tans subtle undertones, they’re SUPER muted, and most of the time, Sandbar reads as a pretty simple neutral. For this reason, Sandbar can act more like a hybrid between the beige and tan worlds.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SANDBAR
- Sandbar’s super subtle green undertones could show up more in a room with western afternoon sunshine.
- Sandbar could be a bit muddy and heavy for a dark room and is best suited to a room with average or more natural light.
- Natural Tan is kind of like a lighter version of Sandbar if you want a softer approach (coming up next!)
- Sandbar looks stunning with darker greige tones like Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze.
5. SHERWIN WILLIAMS NATURAL TAN 7567
To call Natural Tan a TRUE tan is an overstatement. In fact, its undertones are SO subtle; it can even pass as a beige (which can also grab a wee green undertone). Another thing that sets Natural Tan apart from the rest is the amount of gray it has in it. Natural Tan is a considerably grayed-out neutral, which cuts back on its warmth quite a bit.
Natural Tan is popular for those wanting a super muted tan look and is a great transition between the worlds of cool gray and overly warm beiges. With trends leaning warmer, this color could come in handy!
Check out how incredibly muted Natural Tan looks in this next photo…
However, remember that if you have a north-facing room or a space with low light, a color like Natural Tan can look a bit flat and dull (as shown above).
Paint colors need LIGHT to come to LIFE!
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT NATURAL TAN
- If you need a neutral that doesn’t commit hard to yellow OR orange, Natural Tan could be a great choice.
- Natural Tan can work in a south-facing space if you love warm colors but don’t want TOO much gold.
- Natural Tan has an LRV of 63, putting it DARN CLOSE to my magical LRV number for any room! This depth makes Natural Tan a light shade.
6. SHERWIN WILLIAMS SHOJI WHITE 7042
There aren’t many ‘off-white, tan paint colors.’ Why? Because once tan gets THIS light, it can act more like cream. Such is the case with Shoji White. This particular shade nods at the tan world, but being SO LIGHT, it can act more like a super muted, dirty cream-tan-greige blend.
However, as shown in this photo, the green undertone tucked deep in Shoji White simply isn’t noticeable, which is another reason why Shoji White is barely tan, but it’s the best off-white one I’ve got!
Sherwin Williams isn’t limited to the above shades; however, due to their popularity with my Online Color Consulting clients, they’re the ones I have photos of. I’d love to share a few more tan paint colors with you…
7. SHERWIN WILLIAMS GRECIAN IVORY 7541
Grecian Ivory is another hybrid of sorts. While it harbors an obvious green undertone, it has a decent amount of gray in it, making it hover between tan and greige. In fact, your EXPOSURE could be the thing that has it leaning one way or another. For example, northern light might have Grecian Ivory favoring its greige side, whereas warmer southern sun could humor its tan base a bit more.
8. SHERWIN WILLIAMS RELAXED KHAKI 6149
While Relaxed Khaki might look neutral at first glance, don’t let it fool you. Relaxed Khaki is a strong tan paint color with its green-yellow undertones.
Relaxed Khaki is a slightly darker, more rustic approach to tan and is great for those who want more contrast with their white trim or a cozier look. Its depth is closer to those found in the beiges of the early 2000s. Add a bit more depth, and you hit Universal Khaki, which has its own following, although it’s darker than what today’s warmer trends call for.
9. SHERWIN WILLIAMS OYSTER BAR 7565
If stronger shades of tan come back in style (doubtful), I can see Oyster Bar being a HUGE hit. However, its increased yellow-green hues can be a bit much for the average space. Why mention it? Because it might be just perfect for YOU!
Oyster Bar has an LRV of 64, making it a light-depth paint color. If you want to see HOW much yellow-green it has in it, compare it to a color like Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan, which looks DARN NEUTRAL in comparison!
10. SHERWIN WILLIAMS NATUREL 7542
If you love a paint color with a bit more meat on its bones, Naturel could be the tan for you. With an LRV of 54, Naturel is in the light-medium depths. Naturel picks up where Relaxed Khaki left off, but is more subtle with its undertones, offering a more laidback approach to a light-medium depth tan.
Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze kitchen island
WHAT COLORS GO WITH TAN PAINT COLORS?
If you want to create a palette with tan as your foundation, there’s a wide range of colors to choose from, including…
- warm white paint colors, like Sherwin Williams Alabaster – great for trims and cabinets
- medium and dark greiges with noticeable green undertones, similar to Sherwin Williams Porpoise & Urbane Bronze
- medium and darker grays with blue-green undertones
- some muted off-white paint colors
Check out my E-Design and Online Paint Color Consulting!
Originally written in 2020, updated and overhauled in 2023