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Advice for HomeownersBeigeBlueDecorating AdviceUnderstanding Undertones

A Perfect Example of how Complex Colour Works

By 03/02/2012January 28th, 20177 Comments

Annie sent me this photo with a question, ‘Are my sofa’s pink beige?’. She said in her current house (2nd photo) they looked yellow and in her last house (photo below) they looked pink. And she was absolutely right. The reason why complex neutrals are so complicated is because they change depending on which colours are beside them.

The wall colour below is BM HC-105 Rockport Gray (the whole room is the same colour but the light coming in from the left makes it look lighter in the photo) which has a green undertone. This pulls out the pink in her sofas.

You can see that the carpet is more of a blue/green, the slipper chairs are yellow beige and they coordinate well with the yellow beige leaves in the area rug. If we were working with the rug, I would suggest a lighter blue/green like BM Titanium or Gray Cashmere. As I mentioned in this post, if you go too dark with gray blues/greens it looks too much like a man’s den or teenage boys room.

Here the walls in her current house are much pinker which make the sofa look yellow. Obviously most people would not intentionally paint their walls a pinker shade to downplay the pink in the sofa. The wall colour is from the previous owner and she still needs to paint.

I suggested that she purchase a new rug because the existing one does not relate to the sofas and she told me that was already on her list to change. So here are my suggestions for Annie’s living room:

Shades of Light

These suggestions are based on avoiding the pink beige undertone in the sofa. You have already read here that blues are the most current way to work with pink if you want to keep the look fresh so an area rug in blue and white is where I would start. Notice I chose white, not cream so it would coordinate with her existing white drapery.

If you buy white drapery off-the-shelf, you need to repeat it in the room, this way it looks more custom.


A pattern that picks up the sofa, the carpet and white would be pretty. And four teal pillows in a solid like the ones pictured above. Note, this is the idea, the solid pillows you could find on-line but the more decorative ones might have to be custom made.

Harrison Chair/Williams – Sonoma

Because the existing sofas have a square arm I would choose a coordinating chair with a squared arm as well in white so that it also repeats the white in the rug and the drapery. Also the room is big enough to handle a full size upholstered chair with arms so I would suggest this instead of slipper chairs.

The existing white tray Annie has on the coffee table is perfect and it just needs coffee tables books, a vase with flowers and some hurrican lanterns like this:

House Beautiful


Modern Chic Home

This fluted lamp would be pretty in this living room or a less expensive option from JC Penny. I often specify lamps from here because most of my on-line clients have a JC Penny nearby.

So the next question y’all will be asking is ‘The blue still pulls out the pink in the sofa’. Yes it does, but now the room will look pulled together and not a combination of 2 clashing undertones.

Thanks Annie for sharing your space with us! This was a great lesson on one colour looking completely different with just a shift in wall colour.

Don’t forget to vote for me in this contest! Click like for the one you like the best. Can you guess which one is mine?

Related posts:

In Praise of Pinky Beige

What Everyone should Know about Beige

When Pinky Beige Works on Exterior

If your undertones are bugging YOU, download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.



  • Angela N says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!! As a person stuck with a pinky beige sectional this post is written for me! I am going to use all of your suggestions!! I am already moving the direction of teal so this is perfect. Thanks Maria for your color expertise.

  • Beccaleena says:

    Dear Maria,
    I value your insight and advice; in this particular post, I wish you had both the before and after photograph. Since I’m one who is still learning, I need the “I get it” moment when you pull it all together. Annie, had a pretty common problem of needing to use what she already owned and attempting to make it work with your touches of color choices and advice. This post left me wondering how it all turned out (or not).

  • Great advice, Maria – as always. As another pinky/beige sofa owner, I’m constantly looking for ways to downplay the pink – currently have painted the walls BM Lambskin and it seems to be working in our light.

  • JoAnna says:

    This was very informative and helped me understand pinky beige color.
    Thanks Maria!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Beccaleena,
    This client moved to a new house (as you can see by the 2nd photo) so the advice I gave was based on the first one because that was the photo that clearly showed the difference between pink and yellow beige.

  • Lori says:

    Hi Maria-
    I continue to be a big fan of your work. I have been looking for this area rug for months. Have you seen it anywhere in the lower mainland?

  • Julie Donohue says:

    Another great blog – and of course we know which chair is yours – the one with the most votes!!! doh!

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