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 🙂
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you add complements,
what you are actually adding are all the primaries together in varying amounts.
Blue + orange
blue + yellow & red.
Yellow + purple
yellow + blue & red.
Red + green
red + yellow & blue.
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.
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.
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
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?
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)
If it’s warm, with a red, orange or yellow undertone visible, it’s a beige.
And if it’s warm, but contains black, it’s a greige (or as so many people say, a warm grey)
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…
*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.*