When I start a project with a client, one of the first things I like to determine is if they’re more of a beige or a gray person. What I mean by that is, all projects need a neutral color that works as a general backdrop, or canvas, that will steer the direction of the design. I generally find that clients gravitate to one neutral more than the other. This selection is usually determined by what their existing home already is. Selecting a neutral doesn’t mean we won’t use other colors in the space; it just means the palette will start with an underlying neutral tone. People’s preferences for beige or gray tend to trump trends, but one is often trendier than the other depending on what year it is. But no matter which one is currently the most popular, beige and gray will always stand the test of time.

1. Best to choose one or the other. Even if you don’t want touse a lot of gray or beige, it’s still important to determine which way you lean. Beige and gray look fabulous with natural materials, such as wood in its organic form. But your finishes (countertops, appliances, fixtures) will need to follow a particular direction. Some may disagree with me, but it doesn’t work well to use beiges and grays together, unless the distinction between the two is blurry. In this kitchen, the cabinets and wall color indicate that this person’s preference is gray.

2. Warm things up with beige. If you lean toward beige, you’ll often like browns, taupes and warmer colors. Even if you want your space to be all wood, you’ll still need to choose your backsplash, countertops and fixtures. Oil-rubbed bronze or copper fixtures work particularly well in beige spaces. Creamy marbles and limestones with brown and gold veining also work well.

 

3. Not all grays are cold. Grays come in many different temperatures. There are plenty of warm grays out there to keep your space looking cozy. When working with grays, it’s important to choose those with the same undertone (blue, green, purple or pure gray.) You can choose fabrics, paints and accessories that have a multitude of shades, some lighter, some darker, as along as the undertone is the same.

4. Beige loves contrast. Beige looks really great when it’s paired with much lighter and much darker elements. If you don’t bring in contrast when using beige, you run the risk of your space looking “muddy” in color, and everything running together.

5. Dark grays look best with medium or light wood tones. If you choose a dark wood, the beauty of the gray and the wood might get lost. If you must use dark wood, choose a lighter shade of gray. And by the way, dark woods look fabulous with beige. Lighter wood looks fantastic with dark grays in my opinion. This is a combination I use often. It really makes a space pop, and always for a use of some bright accent colors.

 

6. Beige and Gray look fantastic with black elements. When people think of black, they think it will darken a space. In fact, black will often make a space appear brighter and lighter if used to create contrast. Shades of charcoal will have the same effect when used in light gray spaces. But it’s best to stay away from using charcoal in beige spaces since they will most likely clash. I would suggest using oil rubbed bronze in beige spaces.