How to Tell the Difference Between Grey, Gray, Greige, Beige and Taupe


***This was the most popular post on our first blog, and so it’s being added to the archives here, with a few updated photos!***


Yesterday, I was speaking to a client about the difference between gray, grey, greige, beige and taupe.


It’s a conversation I have A LOT!


I thought perhaps a post about how I explain it to my clients
would be helpful to sort through these terms more easily,
and so here we are 🙂



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First off, for our purposes,
gray (American spelling) and grey (Canada, the UK and Australia) are the same thing.
Just like color (American) and colour (Canada, UK and Australia).
In some technical circles, gray would describe only the grays from the grayscale,
but we’re not all that fancy here at 10 Rooms, are we?!


I’m trying to make this simpler, not more difficult…



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Let’s just start off by saying true grey is any mixture of black and white.
That means that black, white and grey are the only true neutrals.



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That said, when we are discussing colour,
we generally include more than just those colours.


Once pigment is added to a mixture of black and white (grey),
it actually becomes a colour,
although the undertone may be almost imperceptible to the eye.



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Therefore, grey, as we know it, can actually have any undertone,
but only purple, green or blue can be added in larger quantities
for the colour to retain it’s title as grey, because these will all produce cool tones.


Are you asleep yet?!!


Lets’ define grey as
black + white = grey
black + white + green/blue/purple = grey.



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Sound good?


Now let’s head into the beige territory.


Beige basically describes the umpteen versions of light brown.
To make brown you add complements from the colour wheel.



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When you add complements,
what you are actually adding are all the primaries together in varying amounts.


Blue + orange
is actually
blue + yellow & red.


Yellow + purple
is actually
yellow + blue & red.


Red + green
is actually
red + yellow & blue.



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That is why adding complements always makes a brown,
and why adding different complements creates different browns,
usually ones that are predominantly yellow, red, or occasionally orange.



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So, we know beige contains some red and some yellow, and some blue,
but what else is in it?


White lightens up your brown to beige.


So lets define beige as

white + red & or yellow + a little blue = beige.



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So where does greige fit in?


To grey down beige, you simply add black, because the white is already present.


Let’s define greige as

white + black + red & or yellow + perhaps a little blue = greige



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Yes, that would be the entire colour wheel!


That’s quite a colour-techy way to look at things,
but I think it’s helpful to understand the way colours interact,
and then it all makes sense, doesn’t it?


SO –

when you’re looking at a colour, and trying to determine what it actually is,
you need to look at the subtle undertones.


If it’s cool, with a blue, purple, or green tint, it’s a grey.
(I wrote a post about choosing the right grey, here)



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If it’s warm, with a red, orange or yellow undertone visible, it’s a beige.



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And if it’s warm, but contains black, it’s a greige (or as so many people say, a warm grey)



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Does that makes sense, lovelies?


If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments, and I will respond tout de suite – x


Happy friday… hope your weekend is filled with love and laughs…


x am



*oh – and taupe?
That’s just a fancy way of describing a red-based beige,
with a little green thrown in,
so that what you end up with is a slight dirty pinky-beige.
It’s not actually a group of colours, but different variations of the same mix.*




eDesign: New York Oasis

I promised to share more of my online consultations with you, and here is one from a favourite client.


Last year J contacted me. Her husband, daughter and herself were relocating into a different unit in her NYC building. She was looking to purchase some new furnishings, and wanted to ensure that they all contributed to the calm oasis she was looking for. Living and working in such a dynamic city is incredible, but quite often my city clients have the same request – to create a retreat within their own space.


We were starting with the living/dining room. With a smaller scale space, and limited windows, J wanted to retain a light and airy atmosphere here. The living/dining would serve as the families only living space aside from bedrooms. They are casual entertainers, and so most gatherings would consist of smaller groups and relaxed activities. The bulk of the time it would be the three of them, dining and relaxing. The family requested an extra large sofa where they could all stretch out, which meant we would have to be careful it did not overwhelm the space.


First off, J mentioned she had fallen in love with the Boerum Table (no longer available in this finish) from West Elm, which she wanted to pair with her existing Tobias Chairs. The couple had been looking at modern sofas, very large in scale, and preferred that style. The apartment has lovely parquet floors which contained several lighter and darker wood tones, and J wanted “non-yellow” white walls. These were our fixed elements….


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A palette of cool whites and greys would open up the space. Blond and medium toned woods pieces pull in the floor colors and keep the space cohesive. Small hits of black for punctuation and warm metals and color in art and accessories would hit all of the right notes here. With it’s cool undertones BM Decorators White on the walls is a perfect foil for the warm orange and red undertones in the wood floor.


Placing the dining table against the wall allows for easy movement through the dining area, and the lack of overhead lighting could be addressed – a wall mounted option would now be possible. If we used a swing-arm lamp, the table could be moved out for occasional larger gatherings and the lamps simply positioned closer to the walls to allow for easy movement around the table.


A pale gray sofa would stand up to constant use by a family, and still play into our airy environment. By keeping the lines low and choosing a piece with smaller arms we can maximize comfortable seating with the smallest scale possible. After exploring many, many options we settled on a piece from Wolf Home in NYC, upholstered in a pale grey weave.


Small copper tables offers a versatile piece – they can be moved as needed and used as seating when there is a large group of people.


A sculptural chair opposite the sofa offers a place to relax by the window without blocking the entrance to the next room. Visually and proportionally it is lightweight, but beautiful. This is a good quality, classic piece that will provide use for years to come.


The Shroom table is meant for outdoor use (concrete!),  but it’s soft lines allows for easy movement and the surface can hold up to everyday use without damage. No precious finishes here! By choosing a pale grey table on a white/cream rug we are minimizing contrast, which enlarges the space visually.


The Lattice Flokati rug from Anthropologie is the piece de resistance – so much lush, gorgeous texture! This softens all of our clean lines and defines our living space, while introducing a subtle diagonal pattern that pulls the eye across the largest swaths of the living area.


A narrow white wall-mounted cabinet will sit below the tv and provide storage without taking up valuable space
Lucite storage creates a home for some soft lighting, display for special pieces, an impromptu bar for parties, etc..


J had a requested a look into Jonathan Alder’s products, as she had a large credit to use there. The Antwerp floor lamp is perfect tucked into the corner beside the sofa.



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J and her husband loved the plan, and had some feedback. As they are planning to move to a larger space in the next few years, they wanted a larger sofa that would work in their next home as well.  Could we go larger? What about when they had company? How would that larger sofa work for conversation? Also, they were now thinking that they would prefer an ottoman to a coffee table, but still wanted place for drinks, etc – could we have side tables?


A low ottoman layered under a custom acrylic table was a great option here. This way they could have comfort, but still had a place for drinks which would be accessible from the sofa. Side tables simply wouldn’t work with the larger sofa length in this space. The single chair specified is perfect for their families needs, but for occasions when they additional guests they could squeeze in another chair opposite the sofa as well. This wouldn’t be comfortable for everyday use, so the solution was simple. J and her husband were planning to move onto their bedroom and daughters room as their next projects, and need some new furnishings there as well. I suggested purchasing a matching chair for use in the master bedroom, which could easily be moved out to the living room for larger gatherings. Thinking ahead, the chairs can be placed together in their next home.


With acrylic dining chairs and an acrylic coffee table, the a white cabinet would work better as a small sideboard/credenza alongside the sofa. Too many pieces in the same finish create a contrived space. Why not mix it up a little?


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J and her husband loved the design and began ordering pieces. The only thing that didn’t work well was the gorgeous rug from Anthro – it had longs loops and J’s daughter continually caught her toes and tumbled over. I may have teared up a little, lol. Wanting to retain some of the organic feel and softness, we settled on two faux cowhide rugs from Gilt, layered side-by-side they provide the movement we needed.


In terms of art, a longer sofa needs to be grounded. This space was meant to be an oasis from the busy city streets, and so we needed quiet art that brought our grey tones and some soft color together. One of my favourite artists on Etsy is Sabrina Garrasi and her shop Madlen Design is full of to-die-for pieces. Seriously, check her out! A grouping of several of her works offers a subtle yet stunning gallery wall.



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Details often make the space, and this home is no exception. We had a large leaning floor mirror reframed in copper and hung on the wall opposite the window, added some pillows and a decadent throw (splurge piece!) on the sofa, incorporated the best pink glass table lights that give on a wonderful warm glow, and placed copper barware on the dining sideboard. These details really pulled the whole living and dining area together


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What do your think? Anything here spark any ideas for your own home?


I’m happy to say that J and her family are settled and enjoying their living/dining room… and from there we moved on to the bedrooms, which I will share next week! This post was meant to be a wee bit smaller :)) but it just grew and grew – hope you made it through, lol!


x am