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The 5 Best Tan (Neutral) Paint Colours – Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore


The Top 5 Tan Paint Colours

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’d think this would’ve already been covered with Sherwin Williams 5 Best Beige Paint Colours. And while that blog post is along similar lines, this one is geared towards TAN paint colours – not beige.

The best neutral tan paint colours. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Diy interior decor blog

Ummm, pardon? What’s the difference between tan and beige, I thought they were the same thing?

Well, they are DOING the same thing – looking like warm neutrals, but they’re doing it in different ways. Just like greige vs taupe or white wine vs rose, beige and tan are kissin’ cousins as they ARE related, but have key features that set them apart.

What are beige paint colours?

Beige paint colours tend to be warmer looking in a more ‘golden’ way. This means they often have more yellow-orange or orange-red undertones in them.

A typical beige paint colour

A few things about beige paint colours…

  • Beige paint colours 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 are tan paint colours?

Tan paint colours 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.

A typical tan paint colour

A few things about tan paint colours…

  • Tans are more likely 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 colours, some people love the more grounded, neutral approach of tan paint colours compared to the more golden/early 2000’s look of many beiges.

And you might notice me using the word ‘often quite a bit and I have three VERY good reasons for this:

1. 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 colours they’re representing, for example:

  • Benjamin Moore Grant Beige – isn’t beige. It’s tan. It is not a golden colour and leans just a wink yellow-green with a very slight grayish cast compared to typical beige colours
  • Sherwin Williams Softer Tan – isn’t very tan. It’s more of a beige with its considerable orange undertone. Even though it can sometimes grab the TINIEST wink of green

For example, this next photo shows Benjamin Moore Desert Tan, which looks significantly more golden beige than tan…

Benjamin Moore Desert Tan walls and Timid White trim in staircase with red oak flooring. Walls need a bit more pink in them. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consultant

2. Some colours could really fall into either category, depending on how light/dark they are and how committed they are to their undertones (less commitment to undertone would make them great contenders for both categories). Tans are OFTEN lighter and softer looking, beiges are OFTEN a bit heavier and richer.

3. There are always exceptions…

And while this article isn’t written in the name of science and MAYBE I’m being anal (won’t be the first time) and we should just group them in one big messy pile and call ’em beige, I DO believe that learning about the difference between the two groups will make your paint pickin’ life a HECK of a lot easier.

That’s why today, I want to share some of the most popular tan paint colours with you – colours that are more muted and subtle looking than their beige counterparts. Colours that can be a great way to TRANSITION out of the warmer, golden, Tuscan beiges of the early 2000’s, without going full-bore into the greige world.

The 5 Best Tan Paint Colours

1. Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan SW 7531

Canvas Tan is soft, fresh and bright, with just the right amount of subtle warmth, giving it a very typical tan look. Compare it to a colour like SW Accessible Beige to see a shift in ‘freshness’.

Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan, home staging ideas bedroom. Dark wood trim, beige carpet. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice

E-Design by Kylie M, Photo via Tim Hanson Photography

Formal traditional style dining room with Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

E-Design by Kylie M, Photo via JR Photography

A few thoughts…

  • While Canvas Tan suits many wood tones, it doesn’t always love cherry/red tones
  • Canvas Tan is one of the most NEUTRAL neutrals – it holds itself as a pretty standard ‘tan’, without sneaky undertones
  • 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 colour will lighten/brighten when hit with direct light)

Read more: The Ultimate Guideline to Choosing Paint Colours with LRV

2. Sherwin Williams Neutral Ground SW 7568

Neutral Ground is a soft tan colour, so it doesn’t have a golden Tuscan nor a rich look to it. It’s like a lighter version of Canvas Tan and because it’s lighter, it comes across slightly creamier.

Sherwin Williams Neutral Ground with travertine tile flooring in entryway. Kylie M Edesign, online paint consulting advice

A few thoughts…

  • Neutral Ground is great if your room has lower light as it won’t look quite as heavy as Canvas Tan (even though neither are terribly heavy)
  • Neutral Ground has an LRV of 70, so it’s lovely and light, without being off-white or washed-out

The best tan, beige, neutral paint colors for your room. Benjamin or Sherwin. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Online paint colour consultant, home decorating and diy ideas

Click HERE or above image to see available packages

3. Sherwin Williams Wool Skein SW 6148

Wool Skein is a sneaky lil’ bugger with its undertone. At first glance, you might see a soft, simple tan, but on a larger scale, it will be hard to miss the green that’s hiding inside of it. That’s right, green. If you don’t like green – don’t pick this colour, 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. And while at first glance it looks pretty darned ‘tan’, compare it to Canvas Tan to see the shift from a tan that is relatively neutral (Canvas Tan) and a tan with green undertones (Wool Skein). Remember, comparison is a GREAT tool for finding the undertones in a paint colour.

Sherwin Williams Woolskein, Westhighland White, RH Seafoam ceiling. Kylie M INteriors E-design. Client photo before

Read more: Colour Review, Sherwin Williams Wool Skein

Entryway, hooks and bench, Sherwin Williams Wool Skein, best beige paint colour. Kylie M Interiors Edesign online paint colour consulting

A few thoughts about Wool Skein…

  • Works well with many wood tones, but not overly reddish/pink ones
  • It’s flexible with a variety of accent colours and can work well in a north or south-facing room, but it ‘prefers’ south (it’s a bossy little thing…)
  • Pairing Wool Skein with blue or cool tones can bring out the warm tones a bit more
  • 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 colour 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 colour in brighter spaces

4. Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan

Manchester Tan has been kickin’ it a LONG time in the paint world, but no-one is really TALKING ABOUT it’s finicky finer qualities. Because while I love Manchester Tan, you have to be careful as it can lean a wee willy wink into green.

In this next photo, you’ll see the tiny touch of green coming up. This is BY FAR as green as you can EVER expect Manchester Tan to look – unless it gets incredibly jealous…

Manchester Tan and Simply White, oak wood stairs and flooring. Wainscoting and glass french door. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting and decorating advice blog

But in this next photo, Manchester Tan looks ALMOST neutral (and only flashes green on the far left, which could also be a reflection from the exterior).

Best neutral paint colour. Manchester Tan Benjamin Moore. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice, fireplace with TV in living room

A bit more about Manchester Tan

  • It has an LRV of 64, so it’s a light paint colour, but not a washed-out type of light
  • A lot of people want to pair it with travertine, but you have to be careful as some travertines have too much pink in them and can enhance the green undertone in Manchester Tan

Read more: Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan

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

5.  Benjamin Moore Ballet White

Okay, this one is a stretch, but if you love tan paint colours, I’d be missing a BIG boat (Titanic style) not to mention it, especially if you have a north-facing room!

Ballet White is a light depth CREAM that is heavily grounded by a beige-gray backdrop that calms it down. This means that in rooms with northern light, Ballet White can look quite tan, while still having a subtle creamy warm backdrop. This is because north-facing light can slightly gray-out paint colours, and would encourage Ballet White to lean a bit less cream and slightly more greige.

Painted stucco and brick fireplace. Painted Ballet White and White Dove with black mantel and country home decor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice blog

Looking at this next photo below, Ballet White looks like the PERFECT, soft, light tan paint colour!

Benjamin Moore Ballet White in living room with white trim and greige sofa. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

So, there you have it. Want more options? Check out the READ MORE section below.



Are you wondering what the best tan paint colour is for you and your home?

Check out my E-Design and Online Paint Color Consulting – I’d love to help!

The best beige, tan, neutral paint colors for your room. Online paint colour consultant Kylie M Interiors Edesign. Diy decorating ideas blogger

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signatureREAD MORE

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Comments 19

  1. have you ever looked into Maria Killam’s website/blog/colour training? you’ve got the same eye for colour, but her ‘understanding undertones’ method is much easier to articulate and understand. combining your eye and online personality with her system would be an awesome combination.

    1. Post

      I do LOVE Maria! And yes, we have similar thoughts on these things! She’s very good at what she does and thank you for the compliment!

  2. You are an amazing teacher!
    I love Balboa Mist. Is it a tan?
    Maybe I’m a tan fan and not a person who loves beige. Now I know why!

    1. Post

      Hi Erika, maybe you ARE a tan fan! But…Balboa Mist is more of a warm gray that wants to be a taupe. So, it’s like a gray with beige in it and a soft purple undertone. It’s a beauty!

    1. Post
  3. OMG I love, love, love Canvas Tan. I have it in my office which is a west facing room, and the color is so beautiful! But I tried it in my great room (which has a northern exposure) and it lost its character! Darn! Now I am searching for another option. Thank you for another great post. Your posts are very informative!

  4. I am glad to have a chance to respond to canvas tan. On your recommendation to what paint colors go well with the color of your wood trim, I used canvas tan with orange oak and southern light in our last house. I loved it! Not everyone can appreciate orange oak, but if you have to make do, canvas tan is a great way to accomplish that. Thanks Kylie! I am now reading up on what to do with our new house!

    1. Post
    2. Thank you! Same problem here , with the orange/golden Oak in kitchen and all the trim. I have a canvas tan sample pot and I’m going to pay extra attention now . Trying to make Agreeable Gray work, but it keeps showing up blue. I already have Useful Gray , which is also blue/green. I’m trying to go opposite of the gray colors, as they aren’t working.

  5. Thank you! Same problem here , with the orange/golden Oak in kitchen and all the trim. I have a canvas tan sample pot and I’m going to pay extra attention now . Trying to make Agreeable Gray work, but it keeps showing up blue. I already have Useful Gray , which is also blue/green. I’m trying to go opposite of the gray colors, as they aren’t working.

  6. Thank you! Same problem here , with the orange/golden Oak in kitchen and all the trim. I have a canvas tan sample pot and I’m going to pay extra attention now .

  7. I’m seriously thinking about using Ballet White on the walls of my family room – a large room with a double height ceiling with East facing skylights and a south facing large window as well – but I’m concerned that it will be too washed out on sunny days. I want the wall color to read as a lighter neutral, not as an off-white. Can you suggest another Benjamin Moore color that is similar to Ballet White but is a little darker/more intense?

    Your posts are incredibly informative! I really feel I learn a lot by reading them. Thank you!

    1. Post

      Hi Lois! You could easily take a look at White Sand! Now as it gets that bit darker it loses a touch of the creaminess and looks a bit more tan, but it could hold itself just a bit better for you :).

  8. Thank you so much for this article! It really helped me to understand the difference between tan and beige. We have been looking to paint our kitchen/eating area which is west facing (has a small window over sink and a door wall with a window on each side) and has orange/yellow oak cabinets and floors. While canvas tan has caught my attention, I am not sure it is the one I want. I don’t want any green or grey in my paint color. (We back up to woods so it reflects the green in summer time in the kitchen.) What do you think of Sherwin Williams bungalow beige and dhurrie beige? Thanks!

  9. We painted our entryway and main living area BM Manchester Tan. As you enter our house, we have a dining room to the right in BM Wythe Blue. I am stumped on what color to paint the traditional living room (to the left of the entryway, which by the way has a 1960s avocado tile). I would like to add a bit of color as we did with the dining room. We have a print from Guatemala ( on the wall that I would love to draw from — with blues, rich yelows/golds and colors of red clay. Considering BM Moir Gold, Concord Ivory, Lenxox Tan and even SW Cavern Clay (perhaps as an accent wall). The room has nice light with two east-facing and one south-facing window. I would l welcome ideas!

  10. I’m SO happy to see this post! Thank you for clarifying the difference between beige and tan.
    Do either Neutral Ground or Ballet White have undertones that will lean pink? Everything seems to lean pink in my dark/north facing foyer as well as my master bedroom.
    I like Manchester Tan but I think I need to stay in the 70 LRV range due to lighting (or lack thereof!) for a whole house color. Is there a lighter version of Manchester Tan?

    I’m searching for that fresh color that is “light without being off white or washed out”.

  11. I have a small living room with no natural light … I live in Sanjose . I want to try something with tan . I have pearl cabinets and white trim. Can you recommend me something too

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