If you’ve recently started wondering what color is taupe, there’s never been a better time to find out. Taupe, a neutral color, has become a major trend in interior design over the last year, and is set to become a go-to hue for paint colors, furnishings, kitchen cabinets, and more. It’s also a versatile, but slightly less popular, color in fashion, too.
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The true color of taupe is often debated and misunderstood, since it’s one of those chameleon colors than look like different tones to different people.
So what color is taupe, exactly? Let’s discuss.
Is Taupe Gray or Brown?
Taupe is often described as a blend between gray and tan (or brown), but its exact categorization is up for debate. Some people perceive taupe as a warm shade of gray with hints of brown, while others see it as a cool shade of tan with undertones of gray.
This confusion stems from the fact that taupe exists on a spectrum, and its appearance can vary depending on the lighting conditions and surrounding colors. Different shades of taupe can also look more gray or more brown, too.
Further muddying things is that taupe actually sits on the color wheel somewhere between pink and purple, meaning in certain lighting, especially when it comes to paint colors, taupe can have prominent pink or purple undertones. So, it can often appear as a gray with a purple or pink undertone (see the first image in this section).
In simple terms: taupe appears to the eye like a blend of gray and brown.
What is the Closest Color to Taupe?
My speculation about why taupe has become so popular is that it’s like a richer, more sophisticated version of greige. So, my answer to what is the closest color to taupe is … greige.
Greige is similar to taupe in that it’s a mix of gray and tan/beige, and can looks either tan or gray depending on lighting. Greige shades are usually paler than taupe, and skew more gray, while taupe’s undertones tend to be more brown/purple.
Aside from greige, the other colors that are closest to taupe are mushroom hues. Like taupe, they’re a brownish gray, and the two color names are often used interchangeably.
The key difference is that mushroom colors skew more green or neutral, while taupe skews more pink or purple.
Is Taupe a Warm or Cool Color?
Overall, taupe tends to lean towards the warmer side, thanks to its associations with brown, pink, and purple.
Warm taupe shades have a cozy and inviting feel, making them popular choices for interior design and fashion.
At the same time, cooler variations of taupe, with more pronounced gray undertones, can also be found (though you might argue these color are greige). These cooler tones create a calming and sophisticated atmosphere when used in the right context.
What Colors Go with Taupe?
Taupe is a neutral color, but it’s not necessarily versatile. Because of its tendency to skew pink or purple, it can be a tough hue to pair with colors like red, certain blues, and cool yellows.
That said, there are a few color groups that work well with taupe.
Personally, I think taupe is best when its paired with other neutrals, like ivory and cream, black, wood tones, and metallics. Being among other neutrals makes taupe look rich and sophisticated, not muddy.
If you want to add some color to your neutral mix, stick to earth tones. Taupe pairs nicely with earthy hues such as dark olive green or moss, burnt sienna, and deep terracotta. These combinations create a grounded and organic aesthetic.
Taupe’s pink undertones can balance out soft pastel shades like blush pink, baby blue, or mint green. Light shades of taupe combined with pastels results in a delicate and soothing ambiance, often seen in nurseries or kids spaces.
Taupe Paint Colors
Taupe paint colors have become popular choices for everything from kitchen cabinets, to wall and wall paneling, to furniture.
But, it can be tough to narrow down taupe paint colors because they can easily feel either too gray or cool, or too pink or purple. I’ve used a handful of taupe paint colors, and my favorites are:
- Behr Perfect Taupe (the color I currently have in my bedroom and closet)
- Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath
- Benjamin Moore Weimaraner
- PPG Shadow Taupe
- Sherwin Williams Perfect Greige
How to decorate with Taupe
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, taupe, along with greige and mushroom tones, is becoming a big trend in interior design.
Here are a few ideas for using it in your home.
Taupe kitchen cabinets
Probably the most popular way to use taupe right now is for kitchen cabinets. It’s a major kitchen color trend this year. The color is especially beautiful in lighter shades, or used as a color for lower cabinets or an island with white upper cabinets.
Taupe trim with warm white walls
Contrasting trim, where the walls are painted lighter than the trim color, is another big trend in decor this year. Shades of taupe both light and dark make a beautiful trim paint color when paired with a creamy white paint like Benjamin Moore White Dove.
I also love the look of wainscoting, beadboard, or board & batten painted in a taupe shade with off white walls on top. It creates an English farmhouse vibe that’s very now.