Beige is a valid color. It has its place in decorating and there are many gorgeous rooms with beige walls or beige furniture. So all you beige-lovers, put down your pitchforks and hear me out.
Beige is like the mom jeans of paint colors… they are modest, plain-Jane, and wholly unflattering. Mom jeans are the high-wasted, full coverage default choice of jeans. They aren’t really flattering on anyone, especially the mom’s they are named after. You’ll certainly cover the midriff, squish down the muffin top, and avoid anything unsightly. But there’s also a strong chance they’ll give you pancake butt, a skin rash from the elastic in the back, and baggy thighs. You won’t look and feel your best, turn any heads, or get asked for your phone number.
Beige is associated with being a safe choice. It is neutral, a default. Never mind that it is just as easy to choose the wrong shade of beige as it is to choose the wrong shade of any other color.
I’m not just talking about builder’s beige, the color your home was likely painted when you bought it. I mean all shades of beige. It is not just because the beige trend has passed and we’ve moved on to gray, but because I am against you picking any sort of “default” color.
Imagine, you are standing in the paint store debating over more awesome colors, biting your nails with indecision, and ultimately you decide to play it safe and go with the beige. Default.
Beige walls do the same thing that mom jeans do. They play it safe, give just enough contrast with your trim, whether it’s white or wood, and you get to skip out of making any real decisions in your *decorating* life. When you choose the default, your home won’t look and feel the best, you won’t get anything more than the passé “what a beautiful home” comment from guests, and you won’t ever figure out how to really use color.
And worse, everything will start defaulting to beige. Because even though you chose beige as a neutral that can go with anything, it’s just easiest to go with beige everything. So you pick another beige and another and another. Pretty soon you’ll be in a blah soup of “colors” ranging from beige to brown. Even the color from your face will fade when you walk into the room to blend in better.
How can you make a color decision when the default seems so much easier? Is the solution really to paint a million paint samples all over your wall and stare at them until you go cross-eyed? Or drag home a bag full of fabric samples from the furniture store?
It is possible to choose a color that you can
like not hate as much as beige.
3 Questions You Need To Answer Before You Choose a Color
Before heading to the paint store or furniture store, consider these three things to give you a better color starting point. While you’re at it, answer honestly if any of these would lead you to choose beige.
Go into your color choice with these answers in mind.
- What feeling do you want to create in the room and what colors evoke that feeling for you? Forget the psychology of color and what rooms you’ve seen in other people’s homes that felt the way you want. I want you to pick a color that makes you feel that way all.the.time. Don’t ask someone else, because we all react differently to color. For you happy = yellow, for me happy = turquoise.
- What kind of contrast do you want? This informs the intensity of the color you want to choose compared to other elements in the room. Low contrast rooms (similar colors or similar tones) are more calming, whereas high contrast (white/black or dark/light) rooms are more energizing.
- What colors do you hate or avoid? It might seem obvious that if you don’t like green, you wouldn’t choose it is a paint or upholstery color. But have you considered if you could live with a green undertone? That’s right, neutral colors still have color in them and there is such a thing is gray with a green undertone and beige with a green undertone. If you’re not careful you’ll end up with “neutral” walls casting a glow of a color you hate. The best way to spot the difference is to compare one neutral to another. That way you’ll see which one is greener or whatever other undertone you want to avoid.
If in the end you still choose beige, that’s okay, I’ll get over it. Just choose beige because you want beige, not because you don’t know what else to pick.
Remember, the neutral choice is the one that no one hates and no one loves. There is a place for neutral colors in every room, but there is no place for default choices.
Need help choosing a color? Lindsay wrote a great post on living with color and I wrote a step-by-step process for creating a whole house color scheme. Even if you include beige in your palette, this post will help keep you from falling down the beige rabbit hole.
P.S. The only thing worse than mom jeans, would be beige mom jeans.