Either Or | Grey or Beige?

As designers, we understand that incorporating a neutral is important to creating a balance in a home.  A home can't have color everywhere...it needs something to break it up.  The neutral plays a part in making certain colors pop and also gives the eyes a place to rest.  So when we walk into a home and are discussing colors with clients, we typically ask them, which neutral are you--grey or beige?  This question is important for a number of reasons...for starters, you'd be surprised that many people have a serious preference.  They either really like gray or they hate it and vice versa.  But beyond that, the neutral that someone prefers can really dictate a lot about the rest of the colors that are incorporated.  Greys are often times paired with cooler, brighter colors because many greys have a blue base which is on the cool spectrum.  Whereas beiges are often times paired with warmer, muddier colors because many beiges have a yellow base which is on the warm spectrum.

All that to say, it's important to know your neutral!  Maybe you're not sure and you're in the camp that sort of thinks you could go either way.  And that isn't necessarily an impossibility.  Some people do like both, but you always sort of lean towards one or the other.  Consider these things--do you prefer oil rubbed bronze finishes and warmer wood tones?  (you might be a beige person) or do you like the brushed nickel and chrome (you might be a grey person)?  Is bright white too harsh for you (beige person)?  Would you prefer a creamy off-white because it seems a little softer and more inviting (beige person)?  What about counter tops and stone?  Do you love calacatta marble and clean quartz surfaces (gray person)?

Once you've picked your neutral, you can really start developing a color story for your home that works best around that color.  When we're doing a white kitchen in a home, we don't just pick any white, we pick a white that will look better on a warmer wall or a cooler wall...same for counter tops, back splash, floors.  The wall color has to coordinate and there are just some materials that look better with warmer colors while other look better with cooler colors.

If you're a beige person, consider these things when planning your color store.  For starters, beige needs something to contrast it.  Something to pop.  Unlike all white spaces that fall into the cooler category (with gray), an all beige space just looks blah.  It might feel warm but it can look boring.  You HAVE to bring in a darker element or even a lighter element to balance out the muddy undertones of a beige room.  This can be a dark wood which would still keep the earthy element of a beige space while also balancing it.  When selecting color, go for softer shades that aren't so clear.  A bright blue or bright orange will feel disconnected in a beige room.  Rather, a pale blue or green will balance the beige out nicely.

If you're a grey person but you still want some warmth, don't forget that you can bring in texture to add warmth.  Maybe go a little darker in your grey selection and pair it with a warm wood.  It will create the warmth and contrast that a grey rooms needs.  When selecting colors that work well with grey, go with brighter, clearer colors.  These colors have a similar value to the grey with more white in them than brown or yellow and will keep the flow of the space.

If you still feel unsure of whether or not you could decide between beige and grey and only use one throughout the house, think about your floors.  What color are they?  If your floors already have a lot of beige undertones, you might be stuck...but don't worry, there's good news!  There are paint colors out there that mix the grey and beige to create a color that can sort of work with both.  You still have to be careful with mixing the colors in furniture and fabrics but at least you have a compromise on your walls!