ask the experts6 min read

Color explained: everything you need to know about beige paint

Hallway decorated in Lick Beige 01 paint shade

WordsFrankie Marqueé

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Beige is by no means bland and boring, it’s pale(ish), it’s interesting and it’s part of the neutrals tribe of paints. Strictly speaking, neutrals refer to those colors that are ‘without color’ – your whites, your blacks, your greys. But most people will count soft, biscuit-y beige hues like taupe, putty, and caramel as established relatives within the neutral family. Wondering whether to ask a beige paint to move in with you? Here’s how you can get color confident and know which beige is destined to become your bestie.

Let’s talk undertones

Want to look totally learned when it comes to color lingo? Look at a color, stand back, tilt your head to the side and remark on its undertones with statements such as: ‘Yeah, it’s a yellow-based beige as I wanted to make sure the room felt warm and nourishing.’ We jest, but, there’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in those few sentences. Being undertone-savvy shows you know your stuff and will help you to find the right paint color to suit your room and the mood you’re hoping to create.

In the Lick palette there are three beiges in total, within which we use a combination of two undertones – yellow and grey. This is the sort of effect you can expect them to produce:

  • Yellow: yellow undertones are all creaminess and mellow moods. You’ll see them most in Beige 01 which is what makes it our warmest beige, suiting spaces where you want the vibe to be cosy and comforting, like your bedroom. There’s a yellow base in Beige 03 too but just a hint to keep things soft and uplifting. 
  • Grey: a popular undertone, grey can do various things to a color – it can add duskiness (if you use a powdered grey undertone), it can add depth (in the case of charcoal or slate grey) and it can add a coolness and a contemporary edge (no matter what shade of grey). We use different degrees of grey in all three of our beige paints. Blended with yellow, it stops a warm beige from becoming too traditional – in Beige 01 there’s less grey but enough to let it suit modern homes as much as quaint cottages whereas in Beige 03 there’s more to give rise to a fresh and airy beige that’s in no way cold. We use grey and grey alone in Beige 02 though – our cool-toned beige or buff brown as we call it.

Drop a tint. Throw some shade 

On the hunt for a barely-there beige? You’ll be wanting one that’s got plenty of tint (otherwise known as white) mixed in like Beige 03 in that case.

Or is it depth that you’re after? If so, head into the shade with tones like Beige 02 that have more black in their color recipe.

Tint and shade are another big factor in creating colors with meticulously measured dashes of each added into each Lick paint to give the right balance. But leave that bit to us. All you need to do is decide which do you want to feel more of in your room – light or shade? And if you’re somewhere in the middle, build a tonal palette that integrates both or go for a middle ground hue like Beige 01.

Color compatibility and room direction

Your perfect beige is just one step away. The deciding factor is this – room direction. It’s not just your garden that benefits from knowing what direction it’s facing for planting and sunbathing purposes; your interior spaces need that knowledge just as much to determine what sort of natural light your paint color has to work with. Let’s break it down in the name of beige:

North-facing rooms: light warm beige paint

Cool and blue – that’s the sort of natural light you’ll be dealing with in a north-facing room. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a cool-toned beige is what you need, however. Blue light has a tendency to make cool colors feel flat, so a warmer beige is a better bet here. Step right up Beige 01 whose warming yellow notes and dash of grey is a match made in heaven.

East-facing rooms: balanced beiges, somewhere between warm and cool

Easterly rooms are fickle things. They’ll get lots of lovely bright and clean light in the morning but come PM, things will feel more shadowed, so you should start by thinking, at what point of day will I use this space most and then play to its strengths. But, if you want it to look its best all day long, finding beiges with a balance of warm and cool undertones is the holy grail. Just as well two out of our three beiges provide just that.

Try to pay attention to your time of day use though to pick between the two, favouring slightly warmer Beige 01 if you’re using it in the afternoon (for example, an east-facing living room in Beige 01 will fair better when they light can turn a bit grey so needs the yellow undertone to give it a boost). Or, play up to the crisp morning light – ideal if you’re a before-work shower person and have an east-facing bathroom – and pick box fresh Beige 03 to enjoy it at its purest.

West-facing rooms: cooler beiges but with depth 

You know everything we just said in the paragraph above? Basically reverse it for a west-facing room. They too have the most changeable light and so need extra careful consideration. They get their glow on in the afternoon when the sun sinks lower in the sky but will feel cooler in the morning. If you want to run with that glow, then pick a warm beige that will counteract the cool morning light and shine on bright in the afternoon. But, if you were seeking a chilled-out and muted beige, stick to Beige 02 which will tone down the evening light and has enough depth to not cast a chill in the morning.

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