What to Know Before You Go Greige

published May 18, 2019
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On their own, the colors beige and gray aren’t especially groundbreaking. But combine them and bam—you’ve got a color that’s as versatile as your basic neutral, but miles more nuanced. Greige, a warmed-up gray, adds serious depth to a room and makes a great backdrop, no matter whether your style is traditional, modern, or somewhere in-between.

As versatile as greige is, some versions are cooler and some are warmer, and you’ll want to pick the right shade for your space. To help figure it out, architectural color consultant Amy Krane shares a few pointers.

1. Pair greige with bold, strong colors

Greige is on the paler side. If most of your decor is also pale, it could make the space feel bland, says Krane. Instead, she suggests combining greige with stronger shades, like mustard, burnt orange, navy, deep or apple green, or even a crisp white.

2. Don’t forget greige skews warm

This means the color’s undertones skew red, orange, or yellow. “So if your walls are greige (read, warm), your sofa should be warm too if you want another neutral there,” says Krane.

“But a harmonious room mixes warm and cool colors overall,” she adds. “You just need to know how. With greige walls and a deeper warm-colored sofa, for instance, you could use a rug which mixes warm and cool colors and throw pillows which are cool and warm. Imagine greige walls, a taupe sofa, one or two upholstered chairs with a navy-based print, a rug mixing navy with beiges and shots of orange, and orange and mustard throw pillows. It works!”

3. Even though it’s a neutral, it’s actually pretty complex

“Really, grays are highly desaturated versions of other colors,” says Krane. So there are grays with yellow undertones, grays with purple undertones, grays with green undertones, and so on.

When choosing a greige, look for its undertones—it helps to look at the darker hues on the paint swatch to ID them—to help figure out if it’s the right shade for you. Some of Krane’s favorite greiges include:

  • Benjamin Moore’s Harwood Putty, Bruton White, Penthouse, and Sea Salt
  • Farrow & Ball’s Off White and Drop Cloth
  • Sherwin-Williams’s Agreeable Gray and Alpaca.

4. Test before you buy

As with any color, greige can appear slightly more intense or pale depending on a room’s light. Testing out a color on your walls before committing may seem like an obvious tip, but it bears repeating. Because the worst-case scenario really is pretty bad: If you hate the color, you’ll have to repaint (or hire someone to repaint) your entire space.