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Is taupe grey or beige?

Is taupe grey or beige?

Taupe is a neutral color that falls somewhere between grey and beige. It’s a versatile shade that can work in many design schemes, but its exact hue can be hard to pin down. So is taupe a grey or is it a beige? Let’s take a closer look.

The origins of taupe

The word “taupe” comes from the French term for mole (the animal). Moles have fur that is a muted grey-brown color, which became associated with the taupe shade we know today. Taupe became popular in the late 19th century as a neutral option that complemented muted, earthy color palettes. It was considered very modern and fashionable at the time.

Originally, taupe skewed more towards grey with subtle undertones of brown. Over time, taupe formulations shifted lighter and warmer – more beige, less grey. Today, taupe spans a wide spectrum from cool greys to warm beiges. There is no one definitive taupe.

How taupe is defined

Since taupe can vary so much between grey and beige, defining it can be difficult. Here are some common ways taupe is described:

  • A dark beige with grey undertones
  • A lightened grey with beige/brown undertones
  • A brownish gray or grayish brown
  • A muted clay color

These definitions all express the hybrid nature of taupe – it inherently blends grey and beige. Some definitions emphasize the grey aspect, while others focus more on the beige. But in all cases, taupe is considered a bridge between the two.

How taupe is classified

Color analysts who study undertones and harmony tend to classify taupe as follows:

  • On the grey scale: Taupe is seen as a tint of grey – a very light grey
  • On the brown scale: Taupe is classified as a type of brown
  • As a tertiary color: Taupe is considered a tone achieved by combining brown and grey

So depending on the color system, taupe can be grouped with greys, browns/beiges, or as a color in its own right between grey and brown. But it is never strictly classified as one or the other.

How taupe compares to grey and beige

To see how taupe sits in relation to pure greys and beiges, here is a comparison:

Pure grey Taupe Pure beige

Greys contain only black and white. Beiges contain brown and cream tones. Taupe adds a bit of brown/grey to a beige base or a bit of beige/brown to a grey base. This subdues both colors equally into a harmonious bridge between the two.

How taupe is used in design

The balance of grey and beige makes taupe incredibly versatile in home decor and fashion:

  • With warm colors: Taupe has enough brown/beige to complement and enrich warm schemes
  • With cool colors: Taupe has enough grey to accentuate and deepen cool color schemes
  • As a neutral: With the right taupe tone, it can serve as a neutral backdrop for any colors used with it

Lighter, warmer taus work well in relaxed, rustic, or Mediterranean interiors. Darker, cooler taus suit modern, urban, or contemporary spaces. The adaptability of taupe makes it popular in everything from wall paint to furniture upholstery.

Should taupe be classified as grey or beige?

For all the reasons above, classifying taupe definitively as either grey or beige doesn’t do it justice. Taupe is the offspring that merges these two color families. It embodies traits from both parents equally.

Interior designers may define taupe as a beige with grey to guide a warm color scheme. Fashion analysts may group taupe among greys as a way to connect it to other cool neutrals. These contexts make taupe seem like one or the other.

But at its core, taupe is neither exclusively a grey nor exclusively a beige. It is wholly and perfectly taupe: the chameleon in between that brings a dash of warmth to cool colors and a touch of sobriety to bright colors. This balance is what makes taupe so versatile and appealing.

Examples of grey, beige, and taupe

Here are some real-world examples that demonstrate the appearances of grey, beige, and taupe:

Grey Beige Taupe
  • Silver-grey hair
  • Charcoal sweater
  • Cement sidewalk
  • Storm cloud
  • Parchment paper
  • French vanilla ice cream
  • Manila envelope
  • Sand dollar
  • Mole fur
  • Mushroom
  • Clay pottery
  • Dove feather

These examples illustrate that while taupe leans grey in some instances and beige in others, it maintains a definitive middle ground between the two.

Taupe paint colors

When it comes to house paint, there are endless taupe options spanning the grey-beige spectrum. Here are a few popular taupe paint colors and where they fall:

Paint Color Undertone
Stonington Grey by Benjamin Moore Grey taupe
Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams Beige taupe
Gray cashmere by Behr Balanced taupe
Taupe Grey by Valspar Grey taupe
Putty by Farrow & Ball Beige taupe

With so many taupe paint options available, you can choose one with greener-grey undertones or warmer beige undertones. This flexibility makes taupe paint colors extremely versatile in any room.

Taupe color combinations

Here are some examples of taupe color palettes with grey and beige to demonstrate how taupe fits with different schemes:

Grey Taupe Beige

These combinations demonstrate how taupe can complement both greys and beiges in different ways. It provides visual interest and depth to a palette.


When all is considered, taupe has elements of both grey and beige but cannot be defined by either alone. It sits comfortably between the two – sometimes favoring one, sometimes the other, but always maintaining its taupe identity.

Calling taupe a “grey” or a “beige” diminishes its uniqueness. It is the chameleon that adapts to warmer and cooler schemes as needed. Taupe is perhaps best classified on its own merits as the versatile bridge between grey and beige.