“Beige Tones and Textures”
Too often, an attempt to decorate a room in Beige falls flat, something is missing. The space is as inviting as a doctor’s office sitting room. I think what happens is everything is one color, void of texture, and there is really nothing exciting to look at.
When decorating a beige room, think Tone, Texture, and Sculptural Interest.
TONE There are really three colors of beige. The three most common tones of beige are..Golden Beige, which is beige with golden-yellow undertones. Golden beige is the most popular beige, and is used most often as part of a color schemes on many fabrics, wallpapers, and carpet designs. Rose Beige is beige with rose-pink undertones. Taupe is beige mixed with gray.
When decorating a beige room, the room can’t be just one tone of beige. Think about a paint color strip. On a paint color strip there are many versions of that color. There is the darkest shade (deepest value) of a color, to the lightest tint. Tints are dark shades mixed with white to lighten them. On a paint color strip, all the lighter versions of the darkest shade, are all part of that exact color family. When picking colors for a beige room, you should have a variety of tones, from the darkest espresso brown to the lightest tone of the froth, of the steamed milk in a latte.
Now look at the illustration of the living room. Besides using different tones of beige, from dark to light, this illustration show how color is moved across a space. Notice how the dark brown starts on the focal point wall around the fireplace. It then moves to the checkered pillow on the sofa, and proceeds to the arms and legs of the two chairs on the right side of the room. The dark brown then works its way to the stain on the wood floor, and ends up on the two pillows on the sofa at the bottom of the illustration. When decorating a room is all medium, or light tones of beige, Dark Tones (colors) for wood furniture, need to be added to anchor the room. The dark colors add visual weight, otherwise it would be too light and airy, and float away.
TEXTURE The second problem people have when decorating a beige room is they don’t consider texture. Most likely they pick a fabric that has a flat finish, and it appears on the sofa, and any other chairs in that room. A flat finished fabric is fine for the sofa, but the companion chairs, pillows on the sofa, and even the rug needs to be made of something with a pronounced pattern or texture.
When looking for companion fabrics to go with a flat finished fabric, consider fabrics that are 1. ribbed (like corduroy pants), 2. have a woven tone-on-tone design (threads going different ways to make a design, like flowers, leaves, or swirls), 3. have different levels of raised designs (like chenille), or 4. have heavy nubs or pills.
When going shopping for fabrics, paints and floor coverings for your beige room, or really any room, take with you, samples of fabrics that you already have, and will be using in that room. Bring an arm cover from the sofa, a cushion from a chair, or a sample of the color of paint you are using on the walls. These things are all important parts of your decorating puzzle. You don’t want to make a mistake, by randomly picking something, and then hoping it will work. It would be like trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
Now look at the second visual. The first collage shows a paint strip with all the different colors that make up a single color family. The first collage also shows many different fabrics, and floor covering option, in a variety of tones and textures in beige. Notice how I placed strong-bold patterns and textures next to subtle-weak patterns and textures, so the different pattern combinations don’t fight each other. Also, look at how I moved the dark brown color of the wicker, on the piece of furniture on the top left of the collage, down the left side of the visual, and worked it up the right side. Just like I did, when I worked the dark brown around the illustration of the living room.
SCULPTURAL INTEREST The third element of a winning beige room is sculptural interest. To often, when picking out the coffee table, end tables, knickknacks, and decorative accessories for the beige room, people pick out things that are too streamlined. They get a glass coffee table with straight tubular or square legs. How Boring! The end tables are minimalist boxes of wood, sometimes with glass tops. Lamps are just straight columns with simple shades. So what is there for the eye to feast on, to feed its need for visual stimulation? From what I just described NOTHING.
When selecting a coffee table, end tables, and other decorative accessories for the beige room, pick out things that have some (or a lot of) character. Look for a coffee table, and possibly end tables with a great stone, or faux stone top. If a glass-topped table is what you want, get one with some great looking legs that have detail to them. Think distressed-antiqued iron, and anything that has sculptural details (swirling or twisting shaped metal).
Another option for a coffee, or end tables, (depending on what kind of look you are going for) is something with pronounced wood grain, which is very visually stimulating, even on the simplest table. A wooden table, (or tables) with a lot of heavily distressed and antiqued top and side surfaces, would be visually attractive if one is going for a certain look (country, Tuscan, or old world). Another visually exciting element is heavily carved wood on end tables, coffee tables, as lamp bases, and as part of the trim on sofas and chairs.
Now look at the second collage. It shows many examples of decorative elements with a lot of sculptural interest. They are metal, wood, and stone. These kinds of elements, because they have raised or carved surfaces, and sculptural qualities will add a lot of visual interest to a beige room. Almost like what a necklace and earrings do, to finish off a ladies outfit.
When I think of beige interiors, for some reason, I think it applies to a Modern settings. The simplicity of that color, a monochromatic color scheme, just says Contemporary. When you upholstery furniture is beige, or really any other neutral colored solid, you instantaneously look at that piece of furniture for its sculptural shape. When something is upholstered in a busy fabric, like a floral, your eye looks at the fabric pattern, versus that piece of furniture’s silhouette. So if my opinion is right, beige colored upholstery, even on the most antique style of furniture, gives it more of a contemporary vibe. The fabric color transitions it from the old, to a more modern look.
So, now go and look through interior decorating magazines. Study the beige, and one color neutral rooms. Look for the textures used on upholstered furniture and rugs. Notice the variety of tones of color they used to decorate those spaces. Take what you have learned here, and now know what elements make up a room that is visually attractive to you. Happy Decorating!
Add Color to a Beige Room with Accessories 4-2-2011,
The Right way to hang curtains and drapes. 5-3-2011,
The Right height of a table lamp for your end table. 5-19-2011,
Matching the Right Shape End Table with a Table Lamp 1-12-2014,
Looking at Different Shapes of Lamp Bases 12-20-2013,
Paint a Room a Dark Color then ADD Light Accents 3-27-2011,
How to Pick the Perfect GRAY PAINT..A Popular Color Choice of the Moment 2-15-2014,
Arranging Furniture TWELVE Different Ways in the Same Room 9-15-2012,
Arranging Furniture, so Sofas talk to Chairs, Like the Pros Do 9-7-2012,
Pick (Use) Four Colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011,
Interior decorating is all about Equal Balance. 2-27-2011,
Looking at Patterns used on Upholstery Fabric, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting 3-10-2012,
Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different Sizes of Patterns used on Wallpaper and Fabric 3-20-2012,
Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns 4-13-2012.
Hi Fred, I was searching your post for old articles and stumbled upon this one. How coincidental. I am struggling with a beige room. My inspiration was a pair of Louis XIV Bergere chairs upholstered in black and taupe stripes. Bought a new beige sofa two years ago and couldn’t figure out why the room just wasn’t right. Last week I was sharing a picture of the room with a coworker when another coworker commented that my sofa looked “pink” in the pictures. Turns out the sofa is beige pink and unless you have some brilliant suggestion, the best I can think to do is reupholster it in a fabric that is beige taupe to blend with the other pieces in my living room. Even though I did exactly what you suggested (took the chair cushion with me to shop for the sofa) unless the shopper and/or the sales person has s good eye for color, it can still be a disaster. Decorating is a real process!
Hi there Shondra, there are three common colors of beige. Golden beige which is beige with golden undertones, it is the most popular beige and used most often. Rose beige, beige with rose-pink undertones and finally Taupe.. beige that has black added to it (gray undertones).
I have a Wild Idea that I don’t know if it will work, not seeing the room. Here goes, Paint the walls of the room a taupe beige, then sponge paint a soft rose beige over it. Go to the paint store and get every taupe and rose beige sample you can find. Look for light, and medium tones of the colors. Stick the paint samples up next to your fabrics. Once you find a color sample or two that you think would work together, go back to the paint store and get like 6 each of the color samples. Cut the samples out and tape them all together to make an even bigger sample of the two colors you are thinking about using. That way you an see how it/they look in larger amounts. Don’t pick too high of a contrast between the two colors. By doing the two color process, the walls of the room will be the bridge that unites the two unmatched colors. Don’t just start it on the wall. First go out and buy a couple sheets of form core, or poster board and make some sample boards so you can see how/if it works, and perfect your painting techniques. If you like the look do it on the walls. When picking out fabric, always pass the fabrics you have SLOWLY by the possible new fabrics to see if any of them work together. After finding a few possible choices, bring them home to see if they look good in the light that is in YOUR house. Store lighting can be different from household lighting. Shondra Good luck with your project;-}