If you’ve read other color or color-focused design blogs, you’ve likely seen a fair amount of clamor about a much-maligned, and very commonly used neutral color – beige. But not just any beige, beige with a red undertone. AKA “pink beige.” Even if you have no idea what I’m talking about at this point, you’ve no doubt seen it in action.
OK, now we should all be on the same page! Beiges, and all neutrals, for that matter, come in many different ‘flavors’ due to their undertones. The most commonly seen are yellow beiges (like creams, tans, golds, khakis), and pink-ish ones. One of the most common homeowner mistakes is to assume that neutrals are universal colors with which everything looks good – so they paint the room beige, install beige tile and buy beige furniture. In fact, the opposite is true – neutrals are more likely to obviously clash in an interior space, and are much more volatile than you might think. It all comes back to the undertones.
Note the difference between these two bedrooms – both professionally decorated:
See the difference? The second space works much better, don’t you agree? This is because all of the beiges have the same undertone – red. In the first (published in a little magazine called “Architectural Digest,” I might add), yellow and pink beiges are mixed, resulting in a design that is just slightly off kilter.
I know, you’re probably thinking that AD pic doesn’t look so bad. Well, it’s not. There are much worse offenders out there like this kitchen:
Do you see it? The floors and countertops are yellow, while the cabinets and backsplash are pink/red. This type of kitchen color ‘scheme’ is quite common – especially in spec homes built by developers focused on maximizing profit, not interior design quality. Mismatched undertones in the various materials make for a sticky situation – usually, one that’s difficult for a layperson to articulate. Something just feels “off.” Way off.
This illustrates why many color consultants and other experts say pink beiges should burn in the fifth level of hell for all eternity. I paraphrase, of course :). There really is a passionate negative feeling among some color professionals about pink beige, though. True, as we have seen, in the wrong hands the results can be disastrous. Pink beiges tend not to play nice with others – the same could be said for other hues. But isn’t that where these same professionals can help their clients?? Therefore, I write this with a lonely, yet certain voice in defense of pink beige!
If pink beige didn’t exist, than neither would this:
Or did I mention this??…
I, for one, am not afraid of pink beige. It’s actually quite the lifesaver if you are working with hardwood or tile flooring with a red undertone (not so much if you have those natural polyurethaned oak floors). I guess it’s kind of like “going with the grain,” instead of fighting what you have. It is my nature to try and work within constraints of the existing conditions as much as possible and practical. Of course, if you don’t love the look of pink beige and you have some in-your-face floor tile or a countertop in that hue, you may have to make a bigger investment to change your (bad designer joke warning!) color ways.
Believe me, I know how confusing color can be! I have taken multiple courses in architectural color and color theory and there is always more to learn. If you need professional color help, I am pleased to offer my color consulting services. Check out my business website to learn more or to contact me!