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Why It's so Hard to Choose a Neutral Beige

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

(And how to make it easier.)

Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige for Living Rooms
Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige is Pretty Perfect. ©SW ColorSnap

You would think that choosing a neutral color would be the easiest part of decorating your home. You would be totally be forgiven for going into the neutral color search with optimism and the belief that it will only take one trip to the paint or furniture store. After the third trip to the paint store, or the fourth set of swatches in your mailbox, you begin to suspect that you could've been mistaken about neutrals in the first place. That's okay -- here's what's up:

Paint color is the easiest way to explain neutral color in your home

That beige or griege paint color you love isn't created by just adding white to dark brown. Well, in a way that might be true, but we have to back up to how that brown was created, first. The brown pigment was created by mixing the 3 primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Within that mix, there could be one color that's slightly more dominant in the recipe. That's not only where your undertone comes from in a beige or greige, it's also how your favorite neutral is identified as warm or cool color. That's a lot to take in. Right?

"In creating a beige, if the color formula has a little more green in it, then it will have a green undertone, with more red, it becomes a pink undertone. This is why choosing neutrals like beige and taupe can be so tricky."

The formula used to identify paint colors is RGB, which you have probably guessed, means Red/Green/Blue. Most paint sites offer RGB information for each color. Examining the RBG for popular colors like and Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige and Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter, looks like this:

Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige vs. Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter

The RGB color formulas look very similar, but slight differences in the red, green, or blue, can mean that color has a green undertone, or perhaps it's a cool neutral because the blue is more generous. If you're struggling between a few neutral colors, you can decipher the base of the color with the RGB formula to see if there's an undertone that will cause a problem. This method can definitely help you narrow down your choices, and make choosing beige and greige easier.


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