DO BEIGE & GRAY GO TOGETHER? The warm vs. cool trick
Do you have gray walls and want to warm things up a little? Or maybe you have a BEIGE-ON-BEIGE home (hellloooo, Tuscan trend) and want to add some cool balance with gray, greige, or taupe. Either way, pairing warm and cool colors together is tricky business.
There’s ONE BIG REASON. And once you understand the ‘WHY’ of it all…
- you’ll save yourself a LOT of pain, suffering, and marriage counseling bills
- it will be SO much easier to coordinate beige and gray in your room/home
- you’ll be able to find shades of gray and beige that actually go together
The above doesn’t mean you’ll LOVE what I have to say, but just because it hurts doesn’t mean it isn’t true (just like when Tim says wine isn’t a breakfast beverage). So here it is…
HOW TO MIX BEIGE WITH GRAY, TAUPE, OR GREIGE
First, when I say BEIGE, you can also assume I’m talking about cream paint colors. It’s easier to say this than to say ‘beige and cream’ every single time – although I DO love to hear myself talk.
Second, when I say ‘cool colors,’ I’m not just talking about gray; I’m talking about any color that’sCOOLER THAN beige (or cream) – and that’s a lot of colors when it comes to the wild world of neutrals. And trust me when I tell you this next part…
When partnering cool colors with warm colors (or finishes), the cool colour should be DARKER than the warm one (or at LEAST the same depth).
Let’s flip things around (which is also Tim’s favorite Friday night saying)…
When partnering warm colors with cooler colors (or finishes), the warm color should be LIGHTER than the cool one (or at LEAST the same depth).
I want you to reread the above and sit with it for a bit – think about how it relates to what you’ve been trying to do. Does this explain a WHOLE LOT? While some same-depth, cool-warm partnerships can work, you need to tread carefully, which many of us aren’t inclined to do when we have a vision of what we WANT.
Check out the combo in this next photo. Why does this palette BARELY make the cut?
PRO: the gray shiplap wall is darker than the creamy-beige wall (as it should be) = the cooler colour is darker than the lighter, warmer color.
BORDERLINE: the gray shiplap wall is the same depth as the beige sofa. However, if the gray shiplap were any lighter, the palette would look off-balance as the WARM colour would be the STRONGER of the two.
The above demonstrates the SECRET TIP we’re learning that…
Warm neutrals are fussy with neutrals that are cooler AND lighter than them.
Cool neutrals are fussy with neutrals that are warmer AND darker than them.
Why does the palette in this next home work so well?
The cool color (Benjamin Moore Stratton Blue) is DARKER THAN the warm color (Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray) and the beige tile.
Remember, even though Edgecomb Gray isn’t a beige or cream, it’s WARMER THAN the blue-green it’s being partnered with, so the blue-green needs to be darker than it.
In this next photo, the cooler color (walls) is a wink darker than the warm color (the carpet)…
Now, here’s where it gets a BIT tricky. While I nodded toward the following general guideline earlier, I want to hammer it home a bit more. And seriously, once you understand this general guideline, it will make your paint-pickin’ life a WHOLE LOT EASIER!
Here we go…
The above info doesn’t necessarily mean literal WARM and COOL colors (i.e., beige or gray) – it also applies to colors that are ‘COOLER OR WARMER THAN‘ the colour you’re trying to coordinate with.
What does this mean?
Let’s look at a few examples where the above guideline applies…
- taupe is a warm paint color, but it’s COOLER THAN beige
- cool gray is COOLER THAN warm gray
- a dark beige is WARMER THAN a light taupe or greige (although all are WARM colors)
That’s right; the above doesn’t apply to traditionally ‘warm or cool paint colors’; it also applies to ANY neutral, including gray, beige, greige, taupe, cream, tan, or white. The idea is that…
ANY colour or finish (no matter which neutral it is) can be sensitive to a colour that’s cooler & lighter OR warmer & darker than it*.
*Remember, there are ALWAYS exceptions, so don’t get your knickers in a knot if your home is one of them.
This next photo shows an exception with Sherwin Williams Crushed Ice and a warm-toned stone fireplace…
Crushed Ice BARELY makes the cut in the above room. In fact, it’s lucky that it’s the same depth as the beige stone; if it were any lighter, the combo would be off. Sure, this room would PREFER a warmer off-white beige, but sometimes, there’s a happy medium between what suits a home and what a homeowner wants!
NEED HELP? Check out my ONLINE PAINT COLOR PACKAGES – let me make it easy for you!
Check out this next space – do you think the palette between the dining room and the foyer is well-balanced?
Notice how the darker beige in the foyer looks dingy and heavy compared to the lighter, cool tone in the dining room – they aren’t happy together. Truth be told, even the dining chairs are a bit uneasy with the wall color.
There are occasions where a ‘same depth warm-cool combo’ works. There are FAR FEWER situations where a color that’s ‘lighter AND cooler than its warmer partner‘ works. If I had photos of them, I’d show them to you (as I only use photos from my Online Color Consulting clients).
As for actual ‘COLOURS,’ you have much more flexibility when partnering neutrals with COLORS. Even then, the reason this next room sings is that the blue-green paint colour is DARKER THAN the beige chairs – the cooler colour is darker than the warmer neutral.
I know it’s a lot to process. But the dots should come together once you sit and consider how this advice relates to your space.
Think about the colors you’ve been trying to put together. Are they not working? Does something seem ‘off’? There could be a few reasons for this…
1. You might not have chosen the right undertone for your room’s finishes (a blog post unto itself).
2. You don’t have the decor and furnishings to support the color direction you’re going in (another blog post).
3. While YOU might be ready for a color change, the finishes in your home might disagree. Some homes can’t HANDLE a warmer/cooler shift, or at least not one that YOU’RE also happy with.
OR, if your room can handle a change AND you have the right undertones and furnishings for visual support…
…maybe you need to adjust the DEPTH of color you’re looking at – it could be that easy.
That’s right. The gray, greige, or taupe you’re TRYING to partner with your beige or cream might work if it’s a bit darker! This applies whether you’re creating a paint palette or partnering paint colors with fabrics or other finishes.
In this next family room, if the sofa were one tone darker, it would be MUCH happier with the Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream walls. As it is, they’re fighting each other as they’re too similar in depth. Alternatively, the walls could be a lighter tone, more like Benjamin Moore’s Navajo White or White Dove.
Are you still with me?
5 Ideas: How To De-Beige Your Home
HOW TO CHOOSE GRAY, GREIGE, OR TAUPE COLORS TO GO WITH BEIGE FINISHES
I get it if the above info didn’t quite seal the deal – it’s a tricky topic. Let’s do things step-by-step.
While you can’t put a number (as it relates to depth) on beige carpet, countertop, tile, or furniture (whereas you can with paint), it’s about LOOKING at the finish you’re coordinating with and figuring out its general depth. Is it light depth, medium, dark, or somewhere in the middle?
The cool gray-blue-green walls are DARKER THAN the off-white warm sofas – PERFECT!
Let’s say you have a beige carpet, tile, or countertop (or all three)…
1. LOOK AT SHADES OF GRAY, GREIGE, OR TAUPE THAT ARE LIGHTER THAN YOUR BEIGE/CREAM FINISH
- Do your paint samples seem a bit disconnected from the surfaces around them?
- Do the colors seem a bit uncomfortable with each other?
This could be because of the above information regarding warm colors preferring cooler colors that AREN’T lighter than them.
2. LOOK AT SHADES OF GRAY, GREIGE, OR TAUPE THAT ARE THE SAME DEPTH AS YOUR BEIGE/CREAM FINISH
- Does it seem like your room breathes a sigh of relief compared to the lighter versions?
- But have you REALLY hit your home’s happy place? You won’t know until you do STEP 3.
You might have started your journey by looking at LIGHTER colors. But having seen that they don’t always work, shifting a bit darker could be your best move – even if darker isn’t what you have in mind.
The gray in the dining room is darker than the beige in the foyer.
It’s not always about what YOU want; it’s more often about your home and what it NEEDS.
In this next photo, the palette works because the light walls (Benjamin Moore Light Pewter) are lighter AND warmer than the gray in the dining area (Sherwin Williams Ellie Gray)…
Also note, the gray in the dining room is cooler AND darker than the area rug – PERFECT. If this were reversed, the rug wouldn’t look good.
3. LOOK AT A FEW COLORS THAT ARE A GOOD SHADE DARKER THAN YOUR WARM FINISH.
- Do the finishes in your room seem to respond better to this increase in depth?
- This doesn’t mean the ‘same depth’ colors don’t work – they might, but going that step darker could get you closer to your perfect palette.
If things STILL aren’t working…
a) You might be looking at the wrong undertones for your finishes. For example, SOME beiges don’t look great with some blue hues, whereas others do. Some beiges don’t suit green undertones, whereas some do! There are MANY factors at play.
b) Your room might not look good with ANY paint colour that’s cooler than its current finishes; the original design of it wasn’t meant to accommodate cooler hues.
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Sometimes going WITH your finish rather than against it, is the best choice.
Cream cabinets and trim are the PERFECT examples of finishes that don’t love colors that are cooler AND lighter than them. I’ve had dozens of Online Colour Consulting clients wanting to update their cream-inspired homes with cooler hues, and we bump up against the same challenge every time – they want something lighter and cooler than their home can handle.
And sometimes, they must undergo the process of SEEING what doesn’t work to believe it, as shown in this next photo…
Not only is this particular shade of blue LIGHTER THAN the cream cabinets, but it’s also too CLEAN looking.
Shifting a bit darker certainly helps…
The above combo is better than the previous one. However, if you ask me, the cool color contrasts too much with the warmth of the cabinets, making them look EVEN WARMER/creamier (which isn’t usually the goal). However, I’m often happy to humor clients if they want to explore a certain color, even if I don’t advise it – sometimes, they have to see it to believe it!
Remember, this is all general guidance – there are exceptions and anomalies. HOWEVER, if the colors you’re looking at aren’t working – the above reasons could be why.
QUICK QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
CAN GRAY & BEIGE GO TOGETHER?
Yes, you can mix warm and cool colors in a home, as long as the gray (cooler color) is darker than the beige (warmer color) it’s being partnered with.
WHAT COLOR BEIGE MIXES WELL WITH GRAY?
The beige paint color should be LIGHTER than the gray it’s partnered with. I’ll be covering this in an upcoming blog post.
CAN GRAY & BEIGE BE IN THE SAME ROOM IN DECOR OR PAINT?
Yes, they can, but be sure both are repeated MORE than once (three times is ideal).
DOES CLASSIC GRAY GO WITH BEIGE?
Unless the beige paint color of finishes (i.e., tile, carpet, or furniture) you have is VERY LIGHT – (lighter than Classic Gray), generally speaking, no. these two don’t go together. Bump down to Benjamin Moore Collingwood and see if it fits better, but you may need to go even darker.
CAN YOU MIX GRAY & CREAM PAINT?
Yes, as long as the gray is darker than the cream and the undertones of the gray suit the space and the type of cream you have (yellow-orange, yellow-pink, or yellow-green).
Of course, I could keep on typing. I have a LOT more to say about some more CLOSELY RELATED topics. But for brevity and sanity (both in short supply around here), they get their OWN BLOG POSTS!
5 Ideas: How To De-Beige Your Home
Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige Paint Color Review
The Best Warm Neutrals that AREN’T BEIGE!
CHECK OUT MY ONLINE PAINT COLOR CONSULTING
I am an interior design enthusiast with a deep understanding of color theory and the principles of mixing warm and cool colors in home decor. Throughout my years of experience and study in the field of interior design, I have worked with numerous clients to create harmonious and visually appealing spaces through the skillful combination of warm and cool colors.
Understanding Warm and Cool Colors in Home Decor
The article "DO BEIGE & GRAY GO TOGETHER? The warm vs. cool trick" delves into the intricacies of mixing warm and cool colors in home decor, specifically focusing on the pairing of beige with gray, greige, or taupe. The author emphasizes the importance of understanding the 'why' behind the combination of these colors to avoid potential design pitfalls and achieve a cohesive look.
Challenges of Mixing Warm and Cool Colors The article outlines the challenges of pairing warm and cool colors, highlighting the need for the cool color to be darker than the warm one or at least of the same depth. Conversely, when partnering warm colors with cooler colors, the warm color should be lighter than the cool one, or at least of the same depth. This understanding forms the basis for successfully coordinating beige and gray in a room or home.
Applying the Warm vs. Cool Color Rule The author provides practical examples and analysis of interior spaces to illustrate the application of the warm vs. cool color rule. By examining the depth and undertones of colors such as beige, gray, greige, taupe, cream, tan, and white, the article demonstrates how these principles can be applied to achieve balanced and visually pleasing color palettes.
Selecting Colors Based on Depth The article offers a step-by-step approach to choosing gray, greige, or taupe colors to complement beige finishes, emphasizing the importance of considering the depth of the colors in relation to the existing finishes in the space. It advises on looking at shades that are lighter, the same depth, and a good shade darker than the warm finishes to find the ideal color palette for a room.
Addressing Common Questions The article addresses common questions related to mixing gray and beige, providing insights into which shades work well together and offering guidance on selecting colors that complement each other harmoniously. It also acknowledges the complexity of the topic and hints at future blog posts to delve deeper into related subjects.
In conclusion, the article provides valuable insights and practical advice for individuals looking to create cohesive and balanced color schemes by effectively combining warm and cool colors in their interior spaces. It offers a comprehensive understanding of the nuances involved in mixing beige, gray, and other neutral colors, making it a valuable resource for anyone seeking guidance in home decor and interior design.