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Working with colour: Decorating with beige

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Montford Place by Etre Класичний
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When it comes to the colour family, beige is seen as a trusty friend; that dependable tint one can always add to any surface of any room (from the bedroom and hallway to the living room and kitchen). And while it’s true that neutral beige goes with any colour and design imaginable, one can’t simply slop it into any space and expect the end result to be visually pleasing. 

If that was the case, there’d be no real use for professional interior decorators and designers !

Failing to dress up beige with the other colours in a room can make the entire space seem dull and unimpressive. On the other hand, if you’re not allowed to paint those beige walls (because you’re living in a rental, for instance), that beige can be dressed up beautifully with additional tints to take your colour scheme from boring to brilliant. 

But before we explain how to properly decorate with beige (and find out what colours go with beige), let’s first examine this exquisite neutral/earthy tone via colour psychology…

1. The characteristics of beige

Living room - Canary Wharf by Millennium Interior Designers Сучасний
Millennium Interior Designers

Living room – Canary Wharf

Millennium Interior Designers

Colour psychology tells us that beige is dependable, conservative, and flexible. It is known for having neutral, calming and relaxing qualities – just think about how many spas use beige in their colour schemes. 

But here’s the catch: the attributes and meanings associated with beige change based on the colours it accompanies, meaning you’d better do your homework before splashing ice blue, hot pink or other tones next to those beiges in your home. 

Beige also successfully offers a touch of the colour brown’s warmth, as well as some of the crisp and coolness of the colour white. And while it is a relaxing hue, it’s also very easy to turn beige into a dull colour.

2. Check before decorating with beige

Montford Place by Etre Класичний

Montford Place


Before you splurge on new furnishings and décor, first check that your colour combinations work. Obtain colour swatches of the tints you plan on using with the beige, and set these in the room to see how they change in the light during different times of the day. 

Beige with a touch of grey works well with khaki tan, dove gray, white and light brown. However, these colours wouldn't look as good next to red-tinted beige. For pink beige, choose complementary colours in salmon, mango and soft mint for a relaxing effect.

homify hint: Using beige for your walls allows this colour to become a discreet backdrop for furnishings, art, and additional colours of forest green, bright red and even gold. The beige fades into the background as the gorgeous accessories pop into the foreground,

3. The warm and cool undertones of beige

Contemporary Living by Aubury Design Сучасний
Aubury Design

Contemporary Living

Aubury Design

Remember that beige is available in a multitude of tints, with names such as tan, cream, buff, etc. To find out which tint matches with which colour, it’s important to examine the underlying hints in the beige.

Put a white piece of paper in a sunlight area next to the beige wall. Compare and examine the undertones to figure out if they would work better with a warm or cool palette. Warm beige complements warm or cool colour schemes, depending on the underlying colour. For example, a warm beige with hints of red is offset by rusty reds, earthy browns and touches of black, while certain blues complete a yellow beige. 

A cool beige can also be paired with pastels that include lavender, pale silver and muted grey-blues for a soothing effect.

homify hint: What happens when beige pairs up with other ‘almost beiges’ like mocha or warm ivory? When part of such a creamy palette, the beige takes on a dreamy characteristic as it becomes one of the many gradients in a scale of gorgeous soft browns.

4. Colours that go with beige: A nautical mix

Argyll Place - Master Bedroom by Jigsaw Interior Architecture Сучасний
Jigsaw Interior Architecture

Argyll Place – Master Bedroom

Jigsaw Interior Architecture

Nowhere in nature does beige mix better than at the beach. Imagine a sun-kissed stretch of sand (complete with dark brown rocks and driftwood) paired with the contrasting cools of the ocean. 

Similarly, a warm yellow beige offset by aquatic blue, teal or turquoise will create a relaxed, calming effect in any room.

5. Colours that go with beige: Black, white and grey

Rear View with covers on speakers by Custom Controls Класичний
Custom Controls

Rear View with covers on speakers

Custom Controls

The three major neutral colours (black, white and grey) are ideal for not only pairing up with other hues, but also becoming backdrops. 

Paint your wainscot panelling white to offset with the top part of the wall’s beige, ensuring a crisp-meets-warm combination. Add dark-hued furniture (we love charcoal sofas and stone-grey ottomans) to become most prominent among that white-and-beige backdrop. 

Complete the look with warm lighting fixtures (the changing light and shadows will influence those whites to become more or less grey during different parts of the day). 

For additional colours, you can opt for scatter cushions in warm reds/oranges, or hang a painting or two that introduces extra tones. 

homify hint: Let your beige come alive by using the designer trick of contrasts. If that beige is a bit dull, frame it with bright whites to take on a deeper, livelier feel.

6. Colours that go with beige: A contemporary scheme

House in Tomsk by EVGENY BELYAEV DESIGN Сучасний

For an elegant and sophisticated vibe in a room, combine neutrals. But make sure the objects these colours adorn add to your room’s look. 

Metallics and glass mixed with beige creates a contemporary colour scheme. For extra character, add hand-carved African ebony figurines to provide a contrasting punch on a wall shelf, bookcase or end table. How about adding chairs and/or a single sofa covered in a subtle striped fabric of beige and silver? Silver and glass coffee- and end tables can ensure a modern twist.

And for colour? Let’s leave that up to Mother Nature herself with fresh potted plants. 

In terms of texture, drape a rough-woven throw across the sofa, sporting metallic threads running through it to make the room a little less grave. Complete the contemporary look with a copper-based lamp or two (the ideal material to go with beige). 

It may seem as if beige walls are a decorating obstacle, but when studying interior design imagery and seeing how designers purposefully incorporate beige walls into their designs, a beige wall can become one of the best interior elements to use.

Ever wondered Why you should decorate with neutral colours? Find out now!

by Casas inHAUS Сучасний

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