Why More Than 200K People Are Living Their Lives in Beige
Design lovers are obsessing over this warm neutral.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 4:52 PM
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“I fell in love with the one color I thought I would never like,” Finnish stylist Danila Yonsini says. “Now my home is 50 shades of beige, and I’m happy.” A scroll through her Instagram feed reveals different corners of her space, all in this particular color scheme. Rattan furniture is set against warm sand-colored walls; linens in various shades of off-white are piled up on the bed. Many of these images feature a smattering of hashtags, chief among them #MyBeigeLife.
Yonsini isn’t alone in her allegiance to the most neutral of all neutrals. The #MyBeigeLife hashtag has been used over 200,000 times (and counting) to document everything from latte art to Paris facades. That includes posts of interiors, which share a color palette of beiges, creams, and tan; there are often so many different tones involved that the rooms could hardly be described as monochromatic. As bland as beige’s reputation might be, it’s clearly one of the buzziest hues on Instagram at the moment. Here’s why:
Beige Is Cozy
For Yonsini, the shift back toward beige—after its last surge in popularity in the ’90s—stems from a desire for more intimate spaces. “I actually had quite a modern black-and-white interior until a few years ago,” she says. “There came a point that I realized that my home did not reflect me. I wanted warmth! I painted my first-ever wall in warm gray and quickly realized that didn’t take it far enough. I painted over it in a sand color and never looked back.”
Just like some people are extroverted and some introverted, some people prefer a calmer, toned-down atmosphere, and some a frenzy of energetic color and pattern. “Being enveloped in a neutral-hued environment makes it easier for me to unwind and focus on feelings and guests rather than my light-speed thoughts,” says Catherine Lerer Anderson, brand and retail director of fashion label Lauren Manoogian.
While ’90s beige spaces may have showcased a precise midway point between warm and cool, today’s beige interiors fall to the warmer side of things. For Ryan Norville, the floral designer behind Oat Cinnamon, that translates into coziness. “My home is a place for me to recharge. I spend my whole day giving all my energy to others and doing physical labor, and it’s important that when I come home, for me to feel embraced and welcomed and see a space that looks lived-in and inviting,” says Norville. “Warm tones do that for me.”
It’s Minimalism Lite
To a color-loving maximalist, a beige room could seem quite spare—but that’s in the eye of the beholder. “Everybody is like, ‘You guys are so minimalist,’ but we’re really minimalist and maximalist at the same time,” says Serena Mitnik-Miller, founder of General Store and coauthor of Abode: Thoughtful Living With Less. “We’re just trying to be a little bit more simplified. I like to think about it as being thoughtful about what we’re choosing to live with.”
An all-beige interior can reduce visual clutter—without necessarily requiring you to live with less. Basically, things blend in a lot easier. “I was drawn to neutral beige when I moved into a concept loft apartment a few years ago,” explains Montreal-based interior stylist Emilie Desjarlais. “Since there were no doors and every room was visible, I needed to create guidelines to keep my decor harmonious.”
Another reason Anderson opted for beige over, say, a black-and-white or all-white palette is its relative softness. “The all-beige life can be minimal by nature of removing unnecessary noise or reducing elements, but I have a hard time removing minimalism from its roots in severity and discipline. I prefer my home to be more gentle,” she says.
It’s Associated With Nature
You won’t find an abundance of harsh metals in these homes. Light oak surfaces and rattan furniture are more common sightings; beige happens to often be the color of natural, untouched elements. In Mitnik-Miller’s house, there are layers of wood, linen, wool, cotton, leather, and various undyed textiles, but that’s not all. “Other types of natural materials that you could refer to are ceramics and marble and stone—things like that,” she says.
One last thing about beige interiors: They’re practically foolproof to put together. “People who live in totally white homes know that white is not just one color—it’s a range. For many of them, that’s a struggle, but when you decorate with beige you can get away with it easier,” says Yonsini. “Beige can cohabitate with any color when you choose the right shades.”
Simply put, you don’t have to overthink an all-beige palette. The warm neutrals, in turn, might transform your home—and you.
“I can’t explain it. It’s what I need to be at peace,” says Mitnik-Miller. “I just always try to keep it warm and light. It’s more than how it looks—it’s how it makes you feel.”
See more soothing neutrals: Wait, Is Beige Cool Again? How First-Time Homeowners Renovated a 120-Year-Old Farmhouse A Neutral Denver Home Full of Texture and Cool Antiques