Beige. It needs a new name or perhaps rebranded. Compared to say, fuschia, crimson or jade, which are names that jump out at you and immediately bring the colour to life, the word beige seems…slightly dull. It can often be perceived to be too safe or overused, and many think of it as drab, uninspired and somewhat predictable.
However, I think beige gets a bad reputation. I still think it is a beautiful word in origin, a French word meaning the colour of undyed wool. Beige is a great base colour for any room. It is soft, easy on the eye and has the added benefit of coordinating with any other colour you desire. Its undertones can be red, yellow, green or blue, and depending on which it can create a sense of warmth or coolness; warm colours are known to be stimulating and cool colours are associated with relaxation. Personally, I prefer the cooler beiges in large surfaces. It is multifaceted and is a wonderful choice for living spaces, apartments and as a background for colourful art collections.
The trick to incorporate beige into a room is to include texture, contrast and light. I think there is a comfort in being surrounded by neutral tones, especially classic beige, as long as some basic design principles are addressed. Using beige on larger surfaces, such as floors, walls and larger pieces of furniture allows the colour to pop through on smaller items, such as smaller pieces of furniture, art, pillows or curtains. As time goes on and you want to change things around, the surrounding neutral palette will give you endless options.
It can be overwhelming, however, knowing where to begin when selecting the perfect neutral paint colour. Looking at screeds of swatch books and paint samples and trying to imagine how an entire room will look (in different lights, at different times of day) based on one small rectangle is something that many struggle with. After ten minutes of looking at samples, they can all start to blend into one.
The best way is to try the colour on your walls , but it’s useful to narrow down the selection first. Where to begin? I’ve shortlisted a few of my favourite neutral shades below and explained the reasons why – I hope this will give some insight and help save you time on the selection process.
FARROW & BALL (Cornforth WHITE)
My personal favourite in warmer neutral paints is Cornforth White. It is the mid tone in the group of Easy Neutrals which are totally understated and extremely versatile. Neither too warm nor too cool, Cornforth White creates a hushed and calming retreat.
FARROW & BALL (SCHOOL HOUSE WHITE)A soft off white which, as Farrow & Ball describe, is “Pared back, timeless and familiar without the cool undertones of the more contemporary neutral groups, this soft off white is reminiscent of the colour used in old school houses.” sometimes looks to be light beige, as well as giving a chalky colour – perfect for giving a soft and warm feel.
FARROW & BALL (PURBECK STONE)
Neither warm nor cool, this shade sits nicely in the middle – warming up a space without overpowering it.
Little Greene (Ceviche)
Beautiful, sophisticated beige:
BENJAMIN MOORE (HUSH AF-95)
A dependable neutral that also changes hues with the light, warming an entrance hall and calming a master bedroom. Best on walls in washable matte.
SHERWIN WILLIAMS (BARCELONA BEIGE)
Sherwin Williams is a frontrunner in neutral paints as they embrace the variety available. Barcelona Beige is one I like because it isn’t overly warm nor does it have too many cool undertones – a good way to achieve a warm colour without it being overly yellow or orange toned.
BENJAMIN MOORE (FROSTED TOFFEE)
Not quite beige, this has a lovely, almost rosy undertone to it. Another warm neutral, it looks particularly stunning at night. It is hard to define this colour, which gives it a lot of potential in terms of its surroundings.
I think beige is anything but boring. Livening it up with the colours and surroundings of your choice, it is a perfect choice for a cosy, bright and light filled living space. It is certainly never a colour choice that will go out of fashion, which is why it’s worth spending a bit more to achieve your ideal vision.