What is Greige? Find out how to use it in your home

I am often asked, what is Greige and why all the fuss about it? Quite simply, Greige is a combination of beige and grey.  I love it and find it is one of the colours that I specify the most.  Find out why I like it and how to use it in your home here.

What is Greige and how to use it in your home

What is Greige? Let's start with the Beige component

Kassia St Clair has written a great book about colour.  In it she has a section on beige which is just brilliant and sums up what has to be perceived as the most boring colour available. Did you know that the colour beige was taken from the French word for undyed sheep's wool? That certainly doesn't sound too inspiring!  Kassia laments that beige is not a colour that we hope everyone will like, we just hope it won't offend anyone!

Beige was in fact the favourite colour of Elsie de Wolfe who is credited with starting the interior design profession in the 1920s.  She raved about it.  Call it Buff, Camel, Biscuit or Calf Skin and you start to evoke a completely different feel.

What is Greige and how to use it

Usually when we refer to a house as just being so beige, what we are actually commenting on is that the home has little soul or personality. The problem isn't necessarily the colour we have painted on the walls, it is everything else we have used in the scheme.

You could hardly call the image above bland and boring.  The beige has simply provided a gorgeous backdrop for the addition of colour.

Often referred to as a neutral, this is not quite right as usually with beige you can see the underlying warm tones of yellow or orange.  As it is unassuming it is often used when people don't know what else to paint on their walls or they're too timid to try something new.  Don't underestimate it though.  When used as a backdrop for artworks and partnered with rich gold tones, a beige can become quite gorgeous.

Just don't paint it throughout the house, add beige sofas and chairs, carpet and window dressings.  This gives you the beige (and boring) home, not the colour on the walls.

What is Greige?  The grey component

Grey is the modern day buzzword when it comes to painting your home.  Loved and appreciated by designers for some time, it has now come into the mainstream and property owners everywhere are liberally using this outside and inside their homes.

What is Greige?
Image: Ideal Home UK

As much as I love it and as much as it looks great in homes, it has the same issues as beige.  When layers of grey are used without any complementary colours, the look can appear flat and depressing.

When using grey you need to pay particular attention to the underlying colour. You can often only see this when comparing different greys.  One person's battleship grey is another's sophisticated cool blue grey.  You therefore need to be clear about the look you are trying to achieve.

The question I am most often asked is what is a neutral grey?  There are very few that are absolutely neutral.  When they are, they act as a great backdrop but when overused they can be flat and lifeless.

Grey benefits from contrast and comes alive with a white trim.  A black trim adds sophistication and a border to the blandness.

What is Greige and how to use it

A soft greige on bathroom joinery will link the floor tiles into the scheme and give you a subtle contrast to the white.

The benefits of Greige

It is clear that both beige and grey are good base colours for a colour scheme.  But it is when you combine them that you really get the most user-friendly neutral to use throughout your home.

What is Greige

Often the trouble with beige is the yellow undertone but by adding a touch of grey, you knock this out and are left with all the good bits.

Find out all you need to know about Greige

So, when I am asked, what is Greige?  I say that it has the warmth and stability of beige with the sophistication and contemporary style of grey – a winning combination.

What is Greige and how to use it in your home

These are some of my favourite Greige colours:

  • Dulux Narrow Neck
  • Dulux Pipe Clay
  • Taubmans Amenity
  • Taubmans Abstract
  • Haymes Refuge 3
  • Haymes Minimalist 6

A favourite of mine and one I have used in my own house is Porters Old Stone Wall.

What is Greige and how to use it

What goes with Greige?

Greige should always have a trim colour, usually a fresh white but a dark off black can work too.  I particularly like black framed artworks against a greige wall.

Always consider the undertone of your chosen greige as some are distinctly warmer than others. This will dictate which colours complement it the best.  I do find though that as most greige colours are fairly neutral that you can usually add most colours as an accent.

What is Greige and how to use it in your home

A Greige colour palette

What is Greige? Find out how to use it in your home

Greige is perfect set off with crisp white and I really like it partnered with some rich tan colours to give it a lift.

Greige as an exterior colour

There is no doubt that this is also a winner for exteriors too.  The more grey in your chosen greige, then the better it will stand up to sunlight.  As sun washes out the grey in an exterior colour you need to ensure that a greige that you select for an exterior contains enough grey so that when it is washed out you are not just left with the beige element.

What is greige and how to use it
Image: Evolution of Style Blog

I can't stress how valuable a greige is for an exterior scheme. 

The colour is timeless and will look just as good in 10 to 15 years time.  When used with a white or black trim, possibly some timber and/or natural stone, you have a classic look that will stand the test of time.

What is Greige and how to use it
Image: All Australian Architecture

A very pale Greige is an excellent choice for weatherboards for a Hamptons style home when offset with a crisp white trim.

What is Greige

Related: How to achieve a classic neutral exterior

Related: How to find the right neutral grey

Related: 7 tips for a neutral beachside scheme

Related: Why I love a crisp white trim

To ensure that you source the right greige for your house it is useful to find the time to put a mood board together.  This helps you to see the underlying colour in your selected greige and to see how it will work with all the other elements in the space.  I have a free e-book in my Resources Library which you can download here.

If you are still confused about which colour to choose for your home then you may be interested in my online colour consultation service.  You can find out more about it here.

What is Greige? Find out how to use it here

Don't forget to leave me a comment and let me know whether this is a favourite of yours.

18 thoughts on “What is Greige? Find out how to use it in your home

  1. Kirsten says:

    Hi Samantha,
    Love your blog and hope you can help me with my exterior render dilemma!! I am updating a wheat coloured render and was hoping for a Grey or Greige colour with the garage door and portico in a contrasting colour. My house is flat roofed modern style with large silver aluminium windows and large sections of feature silver zinc Aluminium under the roofline. It also has large areas of dark grey bluestone as a feature from the ground to about half way up a couple of the facade walls. My pavers around the house are a sandstone colour. I am worried if I go too light the windows will not standout, and too dark the bluestone will not feature! Please help!! Many thanks, Kirsten

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Kirsten it sounds as though you need a mid tone Greige to balance the bluestone and the sandstone. Setting aside the colour of the Wheat render – are you happy with the contrast in tone? If so, use this as a guide to help you get the balance right. Sometimes it’s difficult to get past a colour you don’t like but it would have probably been right when it was painted and this colour was more in fashion so perhaps use that as a guide? Good luck Samantha

      • Kirsten Maruff says:

        Thanks Samantha, I am thinking I’ll go a little darker, like Malay Grey… or would this be too dark? Am I in the right tones do you think? Uhh this is so hard…thanks for your help I’ll keep trying! Cheers, Kirsten

        • Samantha Bacon says:

          Hi Kirsten Malay Grey is fairly dark and has a slight purple undertone. It’s a great colour so don’t be put off by that but I would double check a large sample board in sunlight so that you can get a better idea of it. Samantha

  2. Dan Barman says:

    We have plans to give our home an exterior facelift this year. We are going from a Boeing gray siding to a vinyl shake (Novik brand) along with areas of Buechel stone , and the style is Kensington blend. So the stone will encompass a couple of the Major areas of the home ; front facing gable over the garage door, front facing gable over the front door and porch area. The west side will also have a nice size 2story stone chimney. The remainder of the house will have a stone wainscot up to the bottom of the windows . The wainscot will be finished off with a stone sill. This will be met by the vinyl shakes which will make up the remainder of the exterior veneer. We will have windows trimmed in white azek trim boards and the soffit and fascia will also be done I. White azek. We will have ample down lighting from the soffit as well as some up lighting from the landscape . Our hope is to find a Greige shake by novik as we have seen some homes done with this shake and love the look of them , just need to find the right balance of color to compliment the stone .
    I am also toying with the notion of going with copper gutters and spouting . This seems like a bold move, but I just feel like it will provide a really neat accent . This copper is also pointing more toward a warmer Greige as the copper is an earthy tone and I think of gray as being colder , hence competing with the copper instead of complimenting it . I would love to hear any feedback you would have to help us out.
    Dan Barman

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Dan this sounds like a great makeover. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the Novik brand so can’t give you much feedback on your scheme. I do love the idea of copper to complement the greige colours though and I think you are on the right track with considering this gorgeous earthy colour palette. Good luck Samantha

  3. Ros says:

    Hi Samantha. We are giving our rendered home an exterior makeover and having trouble selecting the perfect light greige colour. The plan is to use Australian Standards ‘Graphite Grey N65’ as an accent colour. (This charcoal/indigo colour has been used around our pool and we love it) We’d like a fresh Hamptons feel to our home, but our existing window frames and guttering are ‘White Birch’ and are throwing too much yellow for our liking. Is there a fresh, light greige colour you’d recommend to disguise and tone down our ‘White Birch’ window frames and compliment the ‘Graphite Grey’ accent? Fingers crossed you can help us. Ros

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Ros Possibly try something like Dulux Beige Mystery which is more beige than grey and fairly light. Or a little bit lighter and warmer again is Dulux Mysterious Grove. If you have weatherboards, you could add some architraves to the window and paint them white and then you can get away a wider range of colours. White Birch is fairly yellow though so to get a closer match you would need to be looking at a true beige. Hope this helps Samantha

  4. Sophie Richardson says:

    Good morning, I have just come across.yoir article! Could you please tell me the colour of the main greige in the first exterior picture? Thanks so much

  5. Angela Kolkman says:

    Hello Samantha, your website is amazing and so helpful. I really love the colour greige in the picture above that you have posted with the pitched ceiling and exposed beams. Do you happen to know the colour name of that particular greige or if not a colour that would be very close to it? I it’s the picture after the bathroom picture the one with the grandfather chair and the white washed floor boards. Thank you so much, regards Angela

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Angela it is a gorgeous room isn’t it? I don’t know that particular colour but I would try a sample of Dulux Narrow Neck which should be similar. Let us know how you go – good luck Samantha

  6. Confused says:

    Hi Samantha, I’ve been going round in circles and would appreciate some of your sage advice to break the nexus! I’m after an exterior mid tone colour that will go with both warm and cool fixed features on a rendered fence and columns including surround of an outdoor pergola. The cool colour is Windspray, which are slats in a rendered pillar fence. This fence wraps around the backyard and turns into a series of thick rendered column pillars along the front of the house. There are also columns adjacent to the fence in the outdoor pergola. The warm colour is various orange, browns and reds which feature in our terracotta roof and the paving (think orange pinkey terracotta pavers from the 80s). Both of these we inherited. We repainted our house Dulux natural white, which has Apo grey windows. The columns and pergola have a Monument timber beam which runs along the top and works well with the terracotta and white. The eaves are Sheer Granite, a steel blue (also inherited) which matches the front door. While natural white would be the logical choice for the fence and columns, it showed a lot of dirt so we repainted with Dulux Stepney. The Stepney fence works well in hiding the Windspray, and gives a lovely relaxed feeling, however Stepney jars in the column pillars. Flooded gum is too light, Malay grey too dark/not quite right. We are after a modern classic neutral feel. Any suggestions? Sorry for the long question! Thanks very much.

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Thanks for your note – I think you need a different solution for the columns as there clearly isn’t anything in the range of tones either side of Stepney that are right. Would the columns get too dirty in Natural White? I can see that a front fence would but it sounds to me as if this could work and just blend in with the house – it certainly will give a modern classic feel. Hope this helps Samantha

  7. Christie says:

    Hi Samantha, thanks for the informative read!, would you consider the new BluesScope colorbond color SOUTHERLY a greige color?

    • Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Christie I think that Colorbond Southerly is more of a cool grey. The warm undertones are quite lavender but this makes it more cool. There are some cooler greige tones that it would work with though like Dulux Winter Terrace. Samantha

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