What is Taupe? 14 Ways to Use This Neutral Hue
If you’ve ever been a renter, or if you’re still renting your place, chances are you’ve had to live with taupe color on the walls at some point. Landlords love the hue because it adds visual interest and compliments pretty much any decor —and hides smudges and scuffs better than white. While there are tons of rental hacks you can do to make a space your own, you simply can’t change the paint color. But the great thing about taupe is that it works with just about any decor, from boho to modern and anything in between. And, even better, it’s coming back in style (you heard it here first)!
Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this new hot neutral, including some of our favorite examples of how to use taupe.
What Color is Taupe?
An earthy tone with hints of gray and brown, taupe (pronounced TOHP) is every bit as warm as it is versatile. Taupe is French for mole, which doesn’t sound like something we’d want to cover our walls in. However, color expert Annie Sloan promises the color is more fabulous than it sounds.
“Don’t think of just any old gray-brown color, but a shade rich and complex enough to suggest a velveted, mole-y texture,” she says. “People often think of taupe as being interchangeable with beige or tan, but it’s actually a much darker shade of brown-gray, an espresso gray rather than a tan gray.”
Our Favorite Ways to Use Taupe
Here are some examples of taupe-colored interiors from our house tours and social media to illustrate.
Add an accent.
Embrace taupe’s different hues.
Taupe is usually a grayish brown, but it occasionally has a touch of pink. This soft color, dubbed French taupe, adds a calming feel to the whites of this Los Angeles kitchen, creating the perfect place to enjoy a warm cup of tea. Recreate the look in your own kitchen with Sherwin-Williams’ Studio Mauve.
Create some contrast.
Add a pop of color.
Go for the gold.
This photo shows how well gold accent pieces can work with the right shade of taupe. Don’t shy away from this fun trend just because you have a neutral color on the wall. Here, @danielleityourself again employs Behr Smokestack to allow her accent pieces to stand out.
Use it as a blank slate.
Keep things basic.
This stunning living room from @Traceysdesignsanddecor features Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore. She combines it with neutral furniture and cozy textiles for a perfectly livable space.
Dare to be bold.
Play up proportions.
A deep taupe paint like Benjamin Moore’s Deep Taupe provides a warm backdrop for dark dining room décor, just like we saw in Jen and Rob French’s Providence, Rhode Island home.
Pack a punch.
Bring a pop of color and personality to an all-white kitchen with a saturated shade of taupe wall paint, like Mouse’s Back by Farrow & Ball. Let Sarah Tunstall and Becky Kastelic’s Chicago rental show you how it’s done.
Colors That Go With Taupe
According to Sloan, what makes taupe a superior choice is that it’s equal parts elegant and versatile.
“It’s a wonderful neutral that works with just about any color,” she says, “Even pastel greens and pinks.” Read ahead for some examples from our house tours of colors that compliment taupe.
White or light colors.
Black or dark colors.
Black accent pieces—like the black mirror and sink we spotted in Sherry Joniff-Solomon and Dana Solomon’s West Hollywood home—give a classy, upscale vibe when paired with taupe. A shade like Hickory by Dunn-Edwards will get the job done.
Bright or rainbow colors.
Bright colors paired with taupe? That’s right! Here, woodsy taupe walls subdue a rainbow of color-coded book spines without sacrificing an inch of style. Gabriel Fontes de Faria and Grant Gochnauer’s Chicago home offers some serious design inspiration with a shade like Benjamin Moore’s River Gorge Gray.