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BeigeUnderstanding Undertones

In Praise of (Latte) Pink Beige

By 02/06/2011January 28th, 201750 Comments

Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows how I feel about pink beige (and now the 17 True Colour Experts from my class these past 3 days can see it a mile away as well) you’ll never find it in any of my interiors. And it’s because it’s the most limiting undertone to work with.  It completely cancels out any shade of yellow or orange and was big in the 80’s paired with teal and burgundy.  So if you inherited it in your house (or want to update what you have), here are some images that will help you turn it from dirty into  happy:

The pink beige carpet in this living room has not been repeated in the decorating (and I think it should be) it looks a little like it’s being ignored right now but it still looks good with the blue furniture and dark walls).
Here (above) it’s paired with turquoise and red. Red is in the family of pink so it works, and almost any shade of blue goes with it.
Here it’s the chaise and pattern in the chair but again blue is the colour it works with the best.
In this bedroom above, it looks great with cream and here (below) again with blue and white:
And below with purple and blue (in the rug).
By the way I have taupe (which I think is a mixture of gray and beige) in a different category than pinky beige, but most people call this colour taupe or mushroom.
Having my course at Gregory’s Paint & Flooring in John’s Creek, Atlanta this weekend was perfect because we spent some time looking at tile and carpet talking about which colours worked with certain undertones.  Rebecca (owner of the store) brought over a common tile in pinky beige and said it was in many homes locally.


The conclusion I have come to over the years is that on first glance a small square of tile, paint or wood stain (above) looks warm and neutral.  People think, it kind of looks light brown–that has to be the most neutral colour right? But then when it’s all over your floors, you notice (with dismay) that what you actually have is a pink beige floor or wall or sofa.
So if it’s in your carpet or tile, fixtures in your bathroom and it’s bossing you around, either go so dark with the wall colour that it starts to look indistinguishable or bring in the blue, cream, and/or red so that it looks current.

If you want to make sure you get your undertones right, download my ebook here.

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

To make sure you get your colours right in your next consultation, get some large samples!

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  • Red Door Home says:

    Everytime I read your blog I learn something new! Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  • bricarwaller says:

    I say rip it out!!! Tile not so easy to do that with, but I personally hate carpet, so any of that can go!!! I paint everything, we lived in our last house for 18 mos, it was a rental but I painted every single surface not only once but twice. The first time because I could not live with pinky beige flat paint for 18 mos so I customized to our tastes, the second time I had to paint it back before we moved. I will add I was 9 mos preggers when I had to paint it back, but I did it nonetheless. And it was totally worth it!!!

  • Carla@DesignintheWoods says:

    I totally agree with you. Pinky Beige is difficult to work with and rampant in a lot of houses! I just worked on a kitchen with pinky beige tile we had to keep. We went with a stained reddish mahogany cabinet and crema bordeaux countertop and it worked. It's so true, any neutral color with any yellow in it next to pinky beige just clashes immediately and triggers my gag reflex!

  • Kathysue says:

    Great advice and it is wonderful that you showed some really good examples at how to make it work.
    I am working on a playroom re-do and even when working with color for over 30 yrs, it took 3 greens to come up with the right one for me.Take a look at my post for this week and you will see what I wound up with. Color is a fascinating subject and I love my visits here. Kathysue

  • Angela says:

    Thank you so much for this post! We recently moved into a new home that was painted a yellow beige color. We have a pinky beige sectional sofa! The first thing I did was find a color that went with the sofa and the existing granite and painted the entire living are. I wish I could change out the sofa slipcover, but it's not in the budget. I have it paired with red and have been considering adding in a lighter blue like the Tobi Fairley room. Thanks so much for such great examples on how you can still work with pinky beige!

  • lynne whiteside says:

    To see this color work, and work beautifully is inspiring. I thought it was a color to be afraid of, but now, 'I see' immediately that there is a solution.

    Tobi Farley has created a room I never saw coming! Gorgeous…

  • A Color Specialist in Charlotte says:

    Ah yes the ever so challenging “pinky beige”. I love it with the reds and blues. I can deal with pinky beige on the wall but I agree with the other comment and "rip it out“ if it's in carpeting.

  • Windlost says:

    Interesting. I am trying to find a nice soft whitish milk brown for my office with a little grey, so essentially I am looking for taupe! I am noticing that the taupes seem to either read pinky (thanks to you, now I see it) or greeny (like khaki), so it is helpful I now know this, so I can try to find one that reads more grey. But sometimes those almost seem to go a little purple!

    It is hard to find a perfect neutral grey beige!! Thanks for the tip on dealing with the pinky taupes as I have a chair in that family to deal with…

    xo Terri

  • Kristie at The says:


    I must say, I was SHOCKED by the title of this post!!! haha, great info – thank you again for imparting your expertise with us this week in Atlanta. I keep hearing your voice in my ear . . .


  • Restyling Home by Kelly says:

    Dark and navy blue is all I could ever find to look decent with the pinky beiges. As much as it seems everyone dislikes this color, don't you see signs of it returning?? Nooooooooo!!

  • I can't stand it — come to New England?? Pa-lease?? I think these are great examples of making pinky-beige work. I just used BM Sea Urchin with creams and smoky blues — looked fab. I consider that a pinky beige (as compared to others :). The upholstery is cream and a light cocoa. I'll post it when the drapes go up. My point? I agree that blues are great with red-undertone beiges. The Sea Urchin was definitely pinky with the blues. I love working with color!

  • Donna says:

    Wow Maria! It really does look beautiful with the right colors. I would never have thought of blue for a companion color to pinky beige! Your photos demonstrate this so perfectly. Very interesting demonstration!

    BTW, Maria, have you done a post on making a room feel more spacious? I was thinking you had but can't remember. I'm working on a post for tomorrow on this topic and was certain there must be some way to link to you.

    I'm thinking along the lines of lighter pieces (like IKEA), less clutter, and of course..getting rid of stuff!! (My favorite solution. :o)

    I'm going to do some hunting but thought if you knew off hand, you could leave a note.


  • Mary says:

    Does the pinky beige look so good with blues because they are opposites on the color wheel?
    I had read once that if you chose opposite colors, they make each color stand out & look better.

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    I was shocked too when I read the title to your post. I have decided you can make anything look good even the most hated pinky beige!

  • Katy says:

    love, love, love your blog. one of my favorites! beautiful layouts. amazing design. so inspiring! keep up the amazing work.

    please visit my new blog 🙂 still working on it.

  • Anonymous says:

    love these discussions about the different tones of beige… I'm learning so much! Would love if you would do a post listing names and swatches of 5-10 yellow-beiges, green-beiges, pink-beiges, etc. 🙂

  • Jil Sonia McDonald - Interior Designer says:

    Gosh Maria, you little dickens, you scared me with the post title. I thought you'd gone over to the 'pinky beige side' for a moment.
    I had a 'mushroom' couch in the media room and painted the walls a dark blue and it's perfect. Guess I have a good teacher ~ giggle.

    Anonymous, you need to take Maria's course it's fantastic. She gives us several shades of pinky/yellow/green/orange – beige. And she show us how to know which is which. Fantastic!

  • Cindy says:

    Oh wow! The title really surprised me! I like the examples shown of how to work with the pinky-beige, but I still feel like the rooms are slightly compromised by that color. (Except the room that is all beige and cream – where it all looks intentional.) I think I need to get out some pinky-beige swatches and play with it a little – make friends with it. I hope I can do it!!!

  • Naturally Carol says:

    Hi Maria…I did remove the yellow beige curtains from my pinky beige room and instantly the room looked better. I put white net curtains with a modern circle pattern on them and they bring light into the room and the white also beautifies the pinky beige. I have a creamy white fabric on the sofa and have orange/pale pink and pale aqua cushions which look great with the walls. Thank you for all your lessons re beige!

  • bijuterii argint says:

    this is very inspirational. these are great ideas for people who are not afraid of colour.

  • heather @ what's blooming this week says:

    OMG – after following your blog for 2 years, I've finally realized that I have a pinky-beige sofa!!!! After seeing this post with large photos showing the pinky beige items, I looked over and saw the horror. No wonder I couldn't find a paint colour to complement the sofa. My solution? I've paired it with a red brick wall and pulled out that colour in accessories and carpet.
    And I just noticed that there is blue in the carpet and throw pillows which I love.
    Thanks. I think I FINALLY get IT.

  • Suzanne says:

    Pink-beige….ah the bane of my existence! Not really but I totally agree that it is so hard to work with. Interestingly, BM Shaker Beige can go pinky but I've used it in rooms where it seems much less so. Go figure! 🙂

  • Sally@DivineDistractions says:

    My mother used to call it "Sandelwood". I was in the tile of the masterbath of her home…there when she bought it…and it was an impossible color to work with. We ended up using white and more of the same. I run into color consults all the time when that's the tile color I have to work with. I tell them to buy rugs!! Another good educational post.

  • Saypoint says:

    Great post. I found your blog last year, right after I had the tile in our master bath replaced. Yup. Pinky beige. At least I found out why I was having so much trouble finding the right yellow beige for the walls. After enlisting Maria's help, it's now painted BM Quiet moments, and I've been accenting with a fresh green. Looks great, but I still feel disappointed that the tile has ruined my original vision for the space.

  • Catherine says:

    I so want to take your class! Your example with the tile scares me! I don't want to end up making that kind of mistake!

  • beyondbeige says:

    OMGaw Maria- This is the perfect post for me.. I moved into a home all 3,000 square feet painted in pinky beige.. Arrrgh! I cal it Grandma beige (ha) The tiles have some of the same undertone yikes.. We can't rip the tile out but let me tell you we've been a paintin'!
    I went with Manchester tan. Needed a neutral and am laying rugs everywhere to hide the floor. 🙂

  • Luciane at says:

    A great and informative post, as always, eh, Maria?! You're super!

    I'm selling this house and we're moving back to Vancouver. My kitchen has tiles I can see some of this weird "pinkish" hues on the corners. It's not a bad tile, actually it's beautiful, but that undertone color bother me. If I had to stay here I'd change it.

    Maria, if you have a minute, drop by my blog today, ok?

    Have a blessed week!


    Luciane at

    Post of the Day: Well Designed Kicthens.

  • traci zeller designs says:

    Ahhhhh, pinky beige!!! I'm glad you pointed out your taupe color distinction, because I do find that a lot of people call pinky beige "taupe." As always, I love the examples you found where pinky beige actually works.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am a novice at color theory but have been learning a lot from your site. We just moved into a house built in the late 80s and it has teal/seafoam carpet that will be staying for a little while (in DR and formal LR that we have converted to a study). I found that most tans/beiges were going very fleshy/bandaid in that room. I talked with my local BM paint guy and he mentioned going with more green undertones, and that any beige w/ pink/red undertones would likely go fleshy on my walls. I have been swatching some greener beiges and it seems better. Once he mentioned that, I found a paint chip in the store close to my carpet color (something sort of like SW's Halcyon) and held up different beiges. It was interesting to see how they turned fleshy or band aid beige when paired with the carpet color. I've never had this much trouble picking paint in my life. I'd love to rip out the seafoam/teal carpet but it needs to stay for a year or two, so I need to work with it for now. Yuck.

  • Splendid Sass says:

    I have learned to lok at colors more intensely since reading your great blog, Maria! Wow, has it saved me time and money.
    Have a great week.

  • Jürgen says:

    Really interesting post today, Maria!.
    Thank you very much for the tips, are fantastic and they work!

  • LiveLikeYou says:

    True…that's an ugly color..I used to have all these color rules…Now I simply think all colors can be rescued by mixing it with another. Perhaps there's beauty in all of them?

  • Ideezine says:


    It's funny how a certain color can set us off. We are more complex than we realize and our whole existence relies on colors and feelings. Color relationships tone a room up or down.


  • Brillante Interiors says:

    No taupe in my past, present, future life, but for clients as you said sometimes you have to work around it.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Anonymous,
    The reason I don't list the list of beige's on my blog is then it wouldn't be the same 'aha moment' for anyone doing my course. When I would clip them out individually and give them to my students in college to assemble they would have it done in 5 minutes and it was no big deal.

    Now I just throw the unclipped chips in an envelope and it takes almost an hour for my participants to cut and paste them and it's a really great learning experience inside the context of my course.

    Which is why they have to stay there.

  • Katy says:

    love your blog! amazing layouts. keep up the incredible work! – your style is beautiful. definitely following 🙂

    please check out my brand new blog if you get a chance & follow!


  • Maggiotto says:

    Hello Maria,
    You have shown me that I could live with Pinky-Beige, I just need a colourist with your eye to match it up! Thanks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have learned so much from your blog (after I found it I went back and read ALL your old posts—loved them all!!). I took the list of your favorite go-to colors (from your newsletter) to my BM paint store to get an idea of the different undertones of beige.

    Unfortunately most of the colors that you listed are no longer available here in the US.

    Do you have a current Pinky Beige /Greeny Beige /Yellow Beige that we could get at the paint store?


  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Maggie,
    yes they are in this post and if you go into back issues of my Newsletter I wrote one about the Insider Secrets to beige.

    If you look up the names of the CC colours I've listed in my go-to colours, most of them are in the US Classic deck under a different number.
    Hope this helps,

  • Maria Killam says:

    Oops I forgot to link to the post I mentioned above:


  • pex anna says:

    I was confused by the title of this post!!! )))) great info – thank you again for imparting your expertise with us this week in Atlanta

  • Kristen says:

    Interesting… you know, my boss flips houses as a second income and he says that beige with a slight pink undertone is "the" color to paint the walls. Now, these are not high-dollar houses by any means, but they have been selling!

  • Ton says:

    I have never had an issue with pinky beige but I LOVE ur examples above. I thought the blue was my favorite until I saw the pink!

  • June says:

    Hi Maria
    I stumbled upon your blog when I googled ‘how to downplay beige’. Even though it looks like this post is over a year old, I just had to tell you that your pics are fabulous! You’ve inspired me with rich blues to downplay beige.

    Just a question, though, would you apply the same colour palattes to toning down builders beige bathroom tile? I have beige tiles in my new home’s shower stall, espresso-coloured cabinetry and Pure White Caesarstone countertops. The beige was a poor choice, and now I want to paint the walls something to make it appear less beige.

    Any advice would be so appreciated !!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Maybe stick to white walls in this case. Otherwise the only option is more pink beige. Maria

  • Christina says:

    I just stumbled upon this post quite by accident, but it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has trouble with pink-beige. We purchased a sofa and arm chair in that color–it’s actually pretty nice 🙂 I didn’t realize at the time that it wouldn’t mix well with the neutral paint. (BM 1038) which was already on the walls. What neutral would you choose to go with the pinky beige? I’d like to keep it neutral to complement the plum-colored leather armchair, and I’ll pull colors from the adjoining rooms, using drapes pillows throw rug.

  • Juanita says:

    I love scouring your blog, I always learn something new. The current issue I am having is my house is fully drenched in Latte {or, as I know it now, Pink-Beige} It is all well coordinated, but since it is due for repaint, I wanted to try to go grey. I have been pouring over paint decks for days, is taupe the best way to bring this grey trend into my home?

  • Judy Jensen says:

    The pink-beige carpeting of picture number two looks about the same as my kitchen tile floor and counter tops! Maple wood custom cabinets. And now finally a solution that I understand to make it work. Have to find a blue that looks good! Thank you so very much for all your time and effort.

  • vicki says:

    Hi! I just wanted you to know how much I love your thoughts and ideas. I began reading your blog when I was building my new home and struggling over which white to choose. You make so much sense and are so down to earth. Just wanted to know I appreciate you and your work. God bless you!

  • Tracy says:

    Hi, Maria! Thank you for your instruction on pink beige. I have a lot of it (leaning a little peachy) in my house and it’s driving me crazy, but it’s not going anywhere. To make matters worse I have light amber colored pine trim. My house was built in 2010, so I know this is so wrong. 🙁 I have been studying through all of your blogs about undertones in the hopes that I could find a paint color that would make this all okay. My gut is saying no, but one can still hope. So, if it’s true orange and yellow are out, then my trim is unsalvageable, right? Thank you, your exasperated follower.

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