Is beige boring? I don’t think so. A beige interior might not be for everyone but it’s certainly not worth disregarding altogether – sometimes it’s the quieter ones that are telling the most interesting story. In this post, I’m going to be sharing a few simple ways that you can use the beige interior trend in your own home, transforming this neutral hue from drab to calm, cosy, rich and warm. By the end, I hope I’ll have convinced you to get on the beige bandwagon and enjoy its merits – much like my recent love affair of green, for me, the trend is connected with our wellbeing and a back to basics approach where we’re seeking simplicity, sustainability and a link to nature.
I was recently asked by a magazine (I’ll let you know when it’s out!) why this sudden surge in popularity in beige, admittedly not the most exciting and newsworthy of colours. But I think it’s precisely because it is a bit bland that it’s appealing. It’s palette cleansing. It’s soothing. It’s tranquil and understated. I’ve recently been reading Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet and it got me thinking that the anxiety-inducing reality of life today, with its fast, frenetic pace, scary newspaper headlines and never-switching-off social media stress means that when we go home, we’re searching for something a little calmer. Less noise. A retreat or sanctuary. (Incidentally I read somewhere that Haig’s home is painted all white because it helps him switch off and soothe his anxiety and depression).
The lifestyle trends of the moment – minimalism, Marie Kondo-ing your home and being more sustainable – are all about being more mindful in our surroundings and stripping things back to less, but better.
Beige provides that primal connection to nature; to when we had less – less worries, less pollution, less problems. The word itself comes from the French word of natural, unbleached wool. Sandy hues, camel tones, taupes, milky creams, biscuit shades and oatmeal colours make you think of warmer climes, deserted beaches, footsteps in the sand, the wind rustling through wheat fields, old stone buildings or the inside of a solid, old church. These tones feel pure and natural, not synthetic, man-made or artificial. Beige is conservative, classic and in many ways, makes us feel safe.
I think it’s also an evolution from grey in our homes. We’ve seen grey dominate our interior spaces for a while now, so it’s refreshing to see a new neutral come into play. With more yellow tones in it, beige is a softer, warmer alternative to grey (I touched on that in this post). Grey can be quite divisive – often seen as moody, dingy or downcast in darker tones, especially when the wrong grey is used in the wrong room (a grey with blue tones used in a north-facing room for example). Beige I feel is more uplifting and energised. Like it’s got a summery air to it.
At first it was the fashion world that championed all things beige, then the design world picked up on the trend. I noticed brands starting to release furniture in different textures of beige – from boucle sofas to cosy, sheepskin chairs like the cocooning Little Petra by &Tradition. Last year at 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen, stylist Pernille Vest transformed Erik Jørgensen’s showroom space with ‘a landscape of complementing colours’. Rooms were bathed in a neutral glow from the chalky, textured paint on the walls, inspired nature and the tones of clay. This year, on the advice of stylist Lotta Agaton, String furniture added a new beige colour to its iconic flexible storage system that has been in production since 1949. The lifestyle images for the brand, also styled by Agaton, show a very monochromatic version of beige, layering textures and tones.
But how to use beige in your own home? To get you in the mood and give you some inspiration, I’ve rounded up some of the best in beige homeware and six of my favourite beige paint colours.
To make beige work, it’s all about playing with texture, pattern and shape to add interest and depth. An old-fashioned armchair in beige would appear traditional and ordinary, use the same colour on a cool, curved lounge chair and suddenly it becomes more contemporary. A lot of the products or pieces here are sculptural and art-inspired, with graphic lines, rounded forms and smooth curves.
Embrace natural textures to build up the layers – melange flecked linen, white stained wood, cane and rattan furniture, concrete and earthenware work well.
1. Joa’s White, from £46.50 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball
2. School House White, from £46.50 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball
3. Egyptian Grey, from £26 for 1l, Mylands
4. Hoxton Grey, , from £26 for 1l, Mylands
5. Stone Dark Cool, from £22.50 for 1l, Little Greene
6. Slaked Lime, from £22.50 for 1l, Little Greene
7. Stool, £49.99, H&M Home
8. Grain Pendant by Muuto, £99, Nordic Nest
9. Catch Low Lounge chair by &Tradition, £1,437, Made in Design
10. Lineshape 03 by Tenna Elisabeth Studio, £42.33, The Poster Club
11. Pouf oval by Ferm Living, £729, Someday Designs
12. Sea Kelp storage basket, £26, Workshop Living
13. Kettle by Stelton in Nude, £139, Coolshop
14. Linen cushion in hazel, 59 euros, ByMolle
15. Concrete planter by Serax, £44, Smallable
16. Bleached wood vase, from £19, West Elm
17. Blue and black framed abstract print by HK Living, £59, Trouva
18. Round coffee table, £229.99, H&M Home
19. Beige table lamp by Only / Once, £175, Opumo
20. Beige black Fumiko tapas bowl set of 2, £27.49, Trouva
21. Noach cushion by Ren London, £72, Opumo
22. Hasami porcelain plate, from £8, Workshop Living
23. Beige small stoneware jug, £14.99, Trouva
24. Two Ways by Anna Johansson, £42.33, The Poster Club
25. Wool blend rug, £39.99, H&M Home
26. Capri Carver chair, £180, French Connection Home
27. 45 minute Hourglass by HAY, £29.00, Liberty London
28. Small bowl, 67 euros, Kristina Dam
29. Cotton blend blanket, £29.99, H&M Home
30. Curved pouf, 470 euros, Kristina Dam
There’s two ways you can do beige. You can completely envelope a space in beige – ceiling, woodwork and all – for a clean, contemporary look, with accessories to match. That’s for the purist of minimalists. But that can sometimes look a bit flat and unexciting to the eye – you want to add elements of interest, so your eye bounces around the room and finds points of interest.
Another way to do beige is to use it as a background colour and contrast it with another stronger colour. Beige is really versatile and works with almost any tone, from burgundy reds and peachy pinks to chocolatey tones to dark greens. I think beige look really rich and luxurious when paired with blue – anything from navy blue to bright pops of cobalt blue. Yellow and blue are opposite each other on the colour wheel, meaning they’re complementary colours and create the strongest contrast together.
There’s so many beiges now to choose from, it’s not just all magnolia. The spectrum of beige now takes in yellow ochres, pale terracottas, putty shades, dirty greys and mushroom tones. You can go quite bold on the walls with darker beiges.
If you’re not sure about plastering your walls in beige, you could keep the walls a light off-white and use beige as an accent, as they’ve done below. Beige is a lovely base colour to build on. It can be quite subtle. This creates a harmonious, balanced look, as the tones of the artwork are picked up in the light shade, throw and various vases. I’d stick to three to four accent colours in a room to stop it feeling too fussy and busy.
What do you think? Could you be convinced by a beige interior? Or are you team ban the beige? There’s even more beige in my Pinterest below if it takes your fancy.