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Beige or Gray Paint – Which Is Best?

July 15, 2020

When I start a project with a client, one of the first things I like to determine is if they’re more of fan of beige or gray paint. Maybe they are somewhere in the middle with Taupe or “Greige.” Nearly all projects need a neutral color that works as a general backdrop, or canvas, that will steer the direction of the design. I generally find that clients gravitate to one neutral more than the other. Selecting a neutral doesn’t mean we won’t use other colors in the space; it just means the palette will start with an underlying neutral tone. People’s preferences for beige or gray paint tend to trump trends, although one is often trendier than the other depending on what is happening in the retail world. But, no matter which one is currently the most popular, beige and gray will always stand the test of time.
 1. Best to choose one or the other. Even if you don’t want to use a lot of gray or beige, it’s still important to determine which way you lean. Beige or gray paint both look fabulous with natural materials, such as wood. But your finishes (your countertops, appliances, fixtures) will need to follow a particular direction. Some may disagree with us, but it doesn’t work well to use beiges and grays together, unless the distinction between the two is blurry and the undertones are similar. In this kitchen, the countertops and wall color indicate that this client’s preference is gray.  Want to see the rest of this space? Here is where you would go!
Gray and White Kitchen Remodel

We painted the cabinets and changed some of the surfaces such as the updated geometric tile. The beige or gray paint choice was easy for this client.

2. Warm things up with beige. If you lean toward beige, you’ll often like browns, taupes and warmer colors. Even if you want your space to be all wood, you’ll still need to choose your backsplash, countertops and fixtures. Oil-rubbed bronze or copper fixtures work particularly well in beige spaces especially these subtle pendant lights. Creamy marbles and quartz countertops anchor the kitchen and by mixing the two neutrals and keep it anything but boring.

 3. Not all grays are cold. Grays come in so many different temperatures. When we ask about beige or gray paint, some clients get nervous at the idea of gray. Some feel like gray equals a sterile or industrial feeling. Not so. There are plenty of warm grays out there to keep your space looking cozy. But, when we see that apprehension, we know it has to be a warm undertone. When working with grays, it’s important to choose those with the same undertone (blue, green, red or pure gray.) This is where that middle ground comes in with taupe or greige – a term for the two blended together coined when the beiges started venturing into the gray territory. You can choose fabrics, paints and accessories that have a multitude of shades, some lighter, some darker, as long as the undertone is the same.
beige and gray living room family room mooresville north carolina interior design

This neutral living room takes the best of both worlds and blends them in a light and airy combination.

4. Beige loves contrast. Beige looks really great when it’s paired with much lighter and much darker elements. In fact, it is the only way we suggest using beige. If there are not textures and variations of light and dark, things get boring pretty quickly.  If you don’t bring in contrast when using beige, you run the risk of your space looking “muddy” in color.

5. Dark grays look best with light or medium wood tones. If you choose a dark wood, the beauty of the gray and the wood might get lost. If you must use dark wood, choose a lighter shade of gray. And by the way, dark woods look fabulous with beige. The opposite attracts rule has never been more true. And if a client has a prefered anchor piece somewhere else, let’s say that the floors are not an option, then it is easy to pick between beige or gray paint.
6. Gray is color’s best friend. Grays really help colors pop, especially against a darker gray. The nice thing about having gray as your backdrop color is that it gives you the option of switching out your accent color. It’s very easy to refresh a gray canvas by simply adding or changing colors. We have clients that change all of their bedding or pillows and accessories for the season. Even nature pops against gray. Think about the pop of fall color against a gray sky or how great hot pink spring flowers pop against stone landscaping rocks. You can always check out paint sites like Sherwin Williams to learn about some great accent colors!
7. Beige and color can get along too. It’s important that you choose beiges with the same undertone. Softer colors work well with beige. If you introduce dark browns to your palette, it opens up your options for brighter and more vibrant color choices. We see chocolate pair well with antique brass to take blah to BAM and have stood the test of time especially if you are going for a more rustic look.
Beige and gray bedroom mooresville interior design master suite

Beige and Gray marry to create a relaxed master bedroom that blends the best of both neutrals.

8. Beige and gray look fantastic with black elements. Black doesn’t have to darken a space. In fact, black will often make a space appear brighter if used to create contrast. Shades of charcoal will have the same effect when used in light gray spaces. But it’s best to stay away from using charcoal in tan/beige spaces since they will most likely clash. This can get tricky quickly especially if you are pickimg big ticket items like granite, quartz, tile, flooring or your whole house painted.  You get the idea. The paint and fabric in the office is actually a warm gray so charcoal rocked as the star in this home office and eliminates the worry of beige or gray paint. Want to see more? Follow this link!
gray and taupe home office

This office incorporates charcoal and warm grays to create texture and interest. The question is : is it beige or gray paint? (Its agreeable gray by Sherwin Williams)

9. Gray works well with many types of stone. There are lots of stones that have gray veining or undertones. Carrara marble, Statuario marble, Statuarietto marble and slate are all great examples. Stone is a classic finish that will never go out of style. But please don’t mix these types of marbles with beige stone. If you can’t find another stone to coordinate with your chosen marble or slate, look into a porcelain tile to work with your natural stone. And always have a plan. We always have a full selection plan before any home remodeling starts because nothing says panic like trying to select surfaces especially when everything else is installed.  You don’t have to pick a paint color until the end as paint is almost infinite in choices while stone and tile that work together? Not so much.
gray and white kitchen mooresville nc

You can’t go wrong with a gray and white kitchen. As you can see, beige or gray paint isnt even a question.

taupe countertops and white cabinets are the yin to each others yang.

Taupe stands out against white cabinets in this beautiful space. However, the wall paint in the nook fights in undertone. The good thing is this is incredibly easy to fix!

 

taupe and white kitchen

Taupe cabinets are the perfect balance to light quartz. And how great is that backsplash?

 10. When it’s OK to mix. On rare occasions, it’s possible to find grays or beiges that have a blurry line distinguishing the two. That’s when you can mix them. But it’s a challenging endeavor. And what may be even more difficult is finding a person who loves both beige and gray equally.
a beige and gray paint combination make this house a show stopper.

A taupe and charcoal gray exterior create a real show stopper!

We have a multitude of paint colors at our finger tips these days and color matching on your walls is easy when you are patient. Get samples, paint or stick on your walls, look at in the morning, the afternoon, at night with lights on and on cloudy or rainy days. Look at how easily these shades can range from warm to cool and they are all neutrals.
how to pick beige and gray paint colors

Colors move fast from a warm beige to a cool gray.

Lighting makes a huge difference in undertones. A taupe space can go pink. a gray space can go purple and a beige space can go green with the flip of a switch. Try for a true colored light bulb, somewhere around the 3500 kelvin range and watch how much better your neutral paint appears.
As the trends change, you may change your style. Your tastes may evolve over time. And, there is no wrong or right choice between beige and gray paint as long as you follow these rules.
Creatively yours,
Andrea and Kimberly
  1. Pam says:

    Such a great post. Couldn’t have came at a better time! My boyfriend and I just bought a house and we have to do some serious repainting! These paint colours are PERFECT and right up our alley so definitely will be saving. Thank you so much for these suggestions!

  2. Jewels says:

    Loved this!!! My entire house would be gray if it was up to me! Although i think I’d be divorced too. LOL

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