Over the past two years, gray has been a dominant neutral. From our walls to our bed sheets, statement art to our sofas, gray has been everywhere. Arguably because the past two years have been challenging and now, more than ever, we’re wanting our homes to be neutral, calming, and safe.
Gray is beginning to move away and be replaced by a softer, more homey neutral tone—beige. But beige is coming back in a more modern, sophisticated way this time around, and we spoke to some experts to find out how.
Is Gray Really Out?
“Design trends usually come and go every ten years. We were just on the eighth or ninth year of the gray trend, and something had to give,” says Jil McDonald, Founder of Jil Sonia Interior Designs. “If anything good [has] come out of [the past two years], it’s that we… want our home to be our sanctuary.”
And as far as gray goes, McDonald says that it just wasn’t giving the same comforting feel as it used to. “But,” she continues, “beige, in all its tones, whether light or dark, does seem to envelop us with a sense of coziness.”
Beige is still a neutral—which will arguably always be popular with home decor—but it provides a bit of newness after a few years of uncertainty.
What’s to Love About Beige?
Why is beige so popular now? Beyond the obvious universality when it comes to color schemes, coordination, and neutrality, designers love how this trend of beige feels more upbeat, new, and perhaps even more inviting.
“Beige can be quite boring and even a one-note color, but this beige trend seems to be embracing a wider array of tones of beige,” says Shana Francesca, Founder & Lead Designer at Concinnate. "I think beige will be here for quite a few years, and it will be interesting to see the forms beige takes on in homes and corporations, across the country, over the next decade.”
Some designers argue that the shifts in this trend are because of overarching design styles coming into focus; for example, Scandinavian or maximalism.
“In my opinion, beige is making a huge comeback for one simple reason: the rise in popularity of the Scandinavian home decor philosophy,” says Ryan Jones, Founder of Land of Rugs. “We see in this design philosophy a lot of wood being used, whether that’s in the furniture used in the home or even decoration. What are some of the best colors that work with wood? That’s right, beige and off-whites.”
Beige is, Jones argues, one of the best shades to design with because it's so versatile.
How to Decorate With Beige
“The first rule is don't overdo the beige,” advises Marco Bizzley, Certified Interior Designer and consultant for House Grail. “Instead, have it as your primary color, then add eye-popping colors with it.”
He suggests a beige couch with accent throw pillows or livening up a beige room with standout color and a few matching accents. Another suggestion when it comes to adding beige is to stay away from the spectrums in order to create more purposeful interest, contrast, and warmth.
“Avoid the mid-tones," says Annie Elliott of Annie Elliott Design. “[Instead], go to the lightest and darkest ends of the beige spectrum: ivory walls, for example, and a rich camel-colored sofa.”
Rather than doing the neutral-on-neutral-on-neutral, which is, Elliott says, "decidedly out," homeowners can opt for a favorite shade of beige with stronger colors like navy, forest green, mahogany, or even something lighter.
You can also opt to layer your beige. “Adding elements with tone on tone layering into a space is becoming more common in modern, minimal design,” shares Dai'Jah Wroten, Interior Designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors. “The same can be done with beige, using different saturations of the color as to not create a flat, mundane design. [It] can be incorporated throughout a home with linens, decor, dinnerware, throw blankets, pillows, and my personal favorite, art!”
You can also do the complete opposite—less layering and more uniform—if you’re looking wanting a more modernized feel.
“Try painting all wall surfaces the same color, including the trim,” shares Tracy Morris of Tracy Morris Design. “Paint the walls a flat/matte finish and your trim (baseboards, doors, and crown) a semi-gloss in the same finish. The overall, consistent color will feel clean and modern.”
But, adding beige doesn’t just have to be the walls or accent pillows, and beige doesn’t have to be synonymous with boring.
“Instead of simply painting the walls of your home beige, you can opt for a fun, earthy wallpaper, comfortable furnishings in neutral colors, or neutral accessories like pillows or pottery," shares Emily Spanos with Emily June Designs.
Is Beige Really All the Rage?
Long story short: yes. As far as shifts with this color trend over the years, design expert Shana Francesca shares that beige—at least this time around—invites us to be bolder, braver, and kinder.
“This beige trend invites us to reconnect with ourselves and with one another... This beige trend is the old beige’s woke grandchild: authentic, gender non-specific, and open-minded.”