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Are Neutrals the only Time we are Concerned with Undertones?

By 08/08/2012January 28th, 201711 Comments

Day 12 in my 37 Days of Learning Undertones Series is on my Facebook fan page right now! Come on over and join the conversation, we are having fun! In Day 11, one of my readers asked the above question so I thought I’d answer it here in a quick post:

Are neutrals the only time we are concerned with undertones?


Definitely no, however it’s where people make the most mistakes regarding choosing colour. Designers and homeowners alike consistently chose the wrong tiles, countertops, wall colours, upholstery and carpet over and over without even realizing that they are not correct until it’s too late.

There must be nothing worse than walking into your brand new bathroom only to realize that the tile you loved and thought was so perfect, actually doesn’t match your countertops in the end.

And of course we could list countless examples of similar stories.


In general, it’s much easier to choose a colour over a neutral to coordinate with your interior. If you arrived home with a pink pillow that doesn’t match because its too peachy or too bubblegum that’s much easier to see.


What happens though when you’ve painted your bedroom a pinky taupe and then arrive home with a duvet that has a green undertone instead?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to spot it in the store before you even get it home?

You could if you hang out with me for the next 25 days until August 31st! And if you want to get there quicker, download my ebook so when I’m talking about Taupe, you’ll know exactly which colours and what I mean.

I’m on vacation still. . . off to have a glass of wine and relax! xo Maria

Related posts:

Consultation from Pink Beige to Green Beige

Does your Colour Consultant Understand Beige?

Beige is Only Blah when It’s Wrong

Download my eBook, to learn what you didn’t get in Colour Theory – How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones. Now available in Apple version for iPad.

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.


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  • Am I right in picking that you were referring to the bedcover in the bedroom shown as being a blue undertone when the rest of the greys in the room have a green undertone. I have learned a lot from your tutorials. I have a beige ceramic apple that annoyed me every time I looked at it on the sideboard until I realised it had a green undertone which was different from the pink beige untertone of the wall behind it. When I took it away the whole vignette sang again!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Carol,
      The room I’m showing in this post looks correct. I love your vignette story 🙂 Maria

  • Debbiecz says:

    Love your site…could keep you busy for days if you ever visit Chicago (hint). I’ve decided I’m a color hoarder…like ‘Em all, gotta have ‘Em all but really can’t see much difference in the tones.

  • Cherie says:

    Oh, dear, I’m in trouble if Carol is right. I thought the bedroom photo was an example of how pretty it can be when the undertones are correct!

  • Jan Walton says:

    Maria, I’m confused by one of your comments regarding the pinky taupe bedroom paint and the duvet cover with a green undertone. Is that good or bad? I thought pink and green undertones went together and it was pink and yellow undertones that you have to watch out for.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Jan,
      Oops I guess I wasn’t very clear on that, thanks for asking the question.
      Just like the bedroom above–all the undertones are the same and coordinate–if you painted a room in one beige undertone and then arrived home with a duvet in a completely different undertone, yes it wouldn’t clash if it was pink and green but it wouldn’t look like it was the right duvet at that point either.
      Hope that makes sense.

  • Interesting. I always like my rooms and interior to have abold and strong colors, so when choosing matching colors it’s usually pretty easy to see what would match and what wouldn’t 🙂

  • Mariko says:

    I’m in the process of understanding undertones thanks to Color Me Happy ! I’m trying to lighten up a bedroom with reddish brown furniture and beige carpet with pink/red undertones. I want the palest neutral with white trim, and have tried BM Winds Breath as it appears to have pink undertones but no beige blahs or fleshy color look! It’s still a little bit pink for my liking on the test wall, so where do I go now? Have BM tweak the Winds Breath a bit? BM Pale Oak looks too similar to test. Go with even paler like BM Seapearl? I tried BM Classic Gray, but it actually looks blue on the wall next to my carpet and furniture. Pretty, but I don’t really want blue and I definitely don’t want dark walls. This bedroom Maria has here is gorgeous !

  • Mary says:

    Maria, I love this bedroom. It looks stunning – and calming. What are the colours you used for the wall and trim paint?

    • Maria Killam says:

      HI Mary, that is not one of mine, the source underneath it will direct you. I would guess that that wall colour is SW Agreeable Gray.
      Hope this helps, Maria

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