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!

Color Chat | Getting Your Gray Groove On

Gray is still here, folks!  The new neutral is sticking around, it seems.  The thing with neutrals is that they're versatile, but this color really IS versatile and has all sorts of shades and variations that can be mixed and layered.  Gray can be cool and warm, light and dark.  It can be an accent or the main color and still has depth.

One easy way to create depth in a design is by layering different shades of a single color and gray is no exception to this rule.  In fact, laying different versions of the new neutral can be very chic and interesting.  Not to mention, you can get all sorts of vibes from rooms with varying shades of gray.  It doesn't have to be masculine and dark, it can be very airy and feminine as well. Let's talk about some way we can accomplish this!

You always want a little contrast in a room, so if you're doing a shades of gray theme, pick a light version AND a dark version.  The light can go on the walls while the darker gray could be used on the trim to emphasize the architectural features.

Don't limit yourself to just 2 colors in a design.  Many people will pick a neutral and a pop of color but with grays, you can just keep layering!  Remember, there are gray-browns, gray-whites, gray-blacks, and even gray-blues.  Gray can come in with the art and softwoods too.

Consider creating your contrast using the walls and the furniture instead of the walls the trim.  Going bold in your wall color is fine, but if you're worried a dark charcoal gray will be too harsh, break it up with lighter fabrics on the furniture.  You can still accomplish layers of gray by using a pale gray or beige-gray fabric.  Linens are oftentimes the perfect fabrics for this because they are made of natural fibers that can pick up surrounding colors.

If a charcoal gray is too dark for you, you can always layer grays that fall on the cooler end of the spectrum.  Start comparing whites and you'll see that most whites aren't so stark--many of them have hints of blue, yellow, brown, and gray in them.  Look for the gray whites and work your way down until you have a subtle gray palette that is airy and current.

Textures and patterns work great in giving depth to monochromatic rooms.  Don't be afraid to mix gray patterns with gray paint and gray textured fabrics!  Each piece will take on a little different shade depending on the finish and the light in the space.

If you like a more streamlined look, with less color variation, it's ok just pick one main color and make it the focal point of the room.  If everything else that you bring in the space is contrasting and points toward the main color, that's ok too!  You can still create a very classic look that's still warm and inviting!