Colours

Beige Is Not A Boring Colour but an Overused One

From it's wartime past to overused home decor colour.

Beige is seemingly boring to everyone but it’s not it’s just everywhere. Seeing one colour everywhere can be visually boring when it becomes a common colour.

This colour is used often in many fields and exploded in popularity from the last fifteen years. This can be due to the housing boom that happened and the industrial use of the colour became convenient for painting residential property rapidly. This colour is not as bleak and empty as white or decisive if they were to use a bold colour like black, a vibrant colour like chartreuse or a colour with a lot of cultural bias like pastel pink. Beige is a colour that is light and contrasting enough to show off the architectural features with a home for purchase. It’s a colour that is appealing to everyone. Colourless, unassuming and dull. Beige is very easy on the eyes and became over time the colour of suburbia. The rise of housing created this colour becoming universally used often.

It’s a simple colour that over the years has been used for luxury products, prestigious service establishments and clothing additionally with residential property.

History of the Colour Beige

This colour in Old English was called “Drab.” This was a colour on military khaki that was from the 1846 British Indian Army dyeing their white uniforms with tea and curry to camouflage themselves into the landscape while softening the uniform’s fabric. This was happening during the First Anglo-Sikh War when the British still had the East India Company in operation in India.

Historically, beige was a colour associated with the unbleached cloth. Which is where the name comes from. Beige was a colour seen as a trustworthy because were you see is what you get. The colour looks like sand.

HEX Code #FEF6E0 of Beige
HEX Code #FEF6E0 of Beige

Why Neutrals Are Important in Design

Beige is a neutral colour. It’s often associated with other neutral colours like browns and greys. They are not vibrant or very dark or with many personalities at all. A neutral colour is a colour without appearing to be a colour. When most colours are vivid and defined as a blue, or a red or a yellow, a neutral can appear very saturated to a point that it doesn’t appear to have any colour. It is not like a true non-colour like, black, white and greys which are debatable because it is the perception if black is made with no light it must make no colour or if white is made with all light it must make no colour. In decor, neutral colours are defined by neutral light (sunlight and temperature) with undertones. They have no hue and highly saturated. They could be dark or light depending on adding black or white to the colour. This is where pinkish, reddish, bluish or yellowish tones are mixed with colours that are so dull they have no colour.

Like it was stated before that neutral colours, like beige, show the design more to a person without giving the object too much personality. It can add more imaginative thinking of what could go in its place and what can be done in a space or what could match the product in hand.

In design, beige works the same way as the rest symbol works in music. It helps with harmony and blending different elements together without looking ridiculous. Like bold textures with vivid neon colours. It is a complementary colour that works by toning down the other colours personality to work together.

A Major Problem When Using Beige

But going too beige can be counteractive. Neutral tones are the most overused types of colours in the design world. Around the late 1970’s to 2000’s, the housing boom made people decorate around the base colours of there homes. This was either because the landlord did not permit people to paint their own places or a new sudden interest in home decor making beige just a colour most people had in the home because it looked sophisticated in its subtlety. People were adding personality to a colour by blending other neutral colours together to made new versions of personality to the home.

This happened around the same time as the housing boom and DIY programming.

More people had an interest in purchasing a home and renovating it. Since 1973 when the housing market started to rise exponentially to more houses being built. With each passing year, more people are making the biggest financial decision they will ever have to make within their very own live more and more.

More people were becoming interested in interior design. With DIY programming on channels that specialize in lifestyle, more people took an interest in decor. This is part of the reason why it is considered to some an overused colour in interior design. Most people don’t break up the colour that much when they are renovating. Most of the emphasis of decor to the everyday person was architectural components like countertops, bay windows and hardwood floors, textures like carpeting, small tilings, and mouldings and new utilities like refrigerators, ceiling fans and spotlighting.

Home renovation shows did two things to the viewing public: showed people what you can do to your home and what it could look like. Due to beige always being used as a neutral colour to expand on your imagination most people watching these shows, reading home decor magazines talking about basic colours to try did what was represented on their television sets. Most depictions of what people did in home decor on television used beige to sell the viewer what they could do to their own homes. This is not to say that all houses were beige, the depiction of the televised ideal home usually was.

Resources:
Homedit – What are Neutral Colors and Why Should I Use Them?
Atlas Obsura – How Beige Took Over American Homes