The Living Den
Concept by Vera Sant Fournier

Why beige has become the NEW NEUTRAL

Published: 01 Oct 2020
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Brave Ground

Cool greys and whites have long dominated the interior landscape but over the past couple of years there has been a change towards a warmer palette of beige-like tones and this trend has been further cemented by Dulux’s choice of Brave Ground, the colour of wet clay, as its Colour of the Year for 2021.
The colour is determined by a panel of international experts  – colour designers, trend forecasters, design specialists, architects and editors  – and aims to define one colour that encapsulates the moment. The panel identified the warm and grounding neutral shade as ‘ the colour that will enable people to draw upon the strength of nature to help them find the courage to embrace the future. We continue to live through uncertain times,’ says Dulux UK creative director Marianne Shillingford of the brand’s choice.

‘In 2021, the warm and grounding tones of Brave Ground™ will allow us to find certainty in the strength from the very ground beneath our feet, emboldening us to go forward and begin to live again and giving us the flex to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances we face.

Interiors experts are united in the view that it brings a sense of calm to an interior and unlike white or grey, a sense of optimism. Unlike the much-derided magnolia of the late 20th century, the modern beige tends to eschew a yellow base for a more sandy tones that make it more versatile. As well as combining it with colours of nature – the sea, sand and grass – Dulux suggests mixing it with yellows and ochres or with reds and pinks for a splash of verve and vitality.

Given the bright hot light of Malta and a propensity for an all-white interior, what is the best way to use it here? Here’s what the local experts say…

Eliza Costabel, interior architect, Studio Nomad Interiors

‘Earthy colours that hark back to nature create spaces instilled with a sense of calm and serenity. In Malta, the beige range of colours found in our stone, together with greyed blues inspired by the colours of the sea, will always create a sophisticated Mediterranean palette which will blend perfectly with natural fibres and raw materials. It is important to carefully balance the use of colour and textured materials so as not to overwhelm the composition. Applied with different hierarchies, the same palette can have one predominant colour in one space and another somewhere else as long as the same language is carried throughout the space to achieve a cohesive look.’

Colours used: Woven Nest, Pressed Putty, Calm Clouds, Night Seas, Fallen Wildflower; all Dulux

See HOMEWORKS story > The Beach House Apartment

Anthea Huber, Head of Design + Partner, Archi+

‘Here at Archi+, we’ve never really been the ‘all-white’ kind of studio and are renowned for our use of colour in projects – it’s a fundamental part of our DNA. We’ve already made the shift to these warm earthy tones in our upcoming projects as we really feel it gives a calm, timeless feel to spaces and find it rather appropriate on our island of sun-soaked limestone. We introduce it as part of a colour scheme – I wouldn’t separate walls from other elements as we view all the elements as part of the full scheme. That is, general finishes, walls, furniture, upholstery, all complement each other. We also try to have a continuous colour scheme in our projects, most especially through kitchen, living, dining and circulation spaces. I would say bedrooms and bathrooms might then have their own unique identity but still remain an expression of the over ruling material and colour scheme in the project.’

Dr Edwin Mintoff, EM Architects

‘While here at EM Architects we do not believe that the ‘white box’ trend is over and done with we do,  however, believe that the Brave Ground colour may replace white and its cold appearance within interiors where ample natural light falls upon the internal walls. This colour can add warmth and cosiness in replacement to cold and aseptic white tones. It may be used as a feature wall or as a general neutral background colour. Furthermore, this colour is easily combined with several different colour palettes, both cold and warm. More specifically related to Malta, we believe that this colour creates a more subtle contrast with the traditional Maltese limestone as opposed to the harsh contrast created by white and in particular near landscaping features as this colour is warm and reminiscent of nature.’

Example of warm beige being used in combination with a cooler and warmer colour palette.

Vera Sant Fournier, Creative Director, Vera Sant Fournier

‘We have always believed in warming up spaces, especially residential ones, and for this clinical white is not the way to go. We tend to opt for warm neutrals in residential interiors and this colour fits the equation as it’s a gorgeous, warm, earthy colour which I can picture being used locally; it can be paired perfectly with a variety of other accent colours too. I can imagine it being a wonderful wall colour for a traditional Maltese townhouse with colourful traditional patterned tiles. When using such a colour, though, steer away from dark facades as dark colours attract sunlight and generate more heat and we end up with more AC usage (higher energy consumption), more green house gas emissions and a bigger environmental impact.’

Justine Lillie Helena, Creative Director, Lillie Helena

‘It took me a while to move away from the greys but I am starting to see the beauty in earthy tones as of late. They are cool yet warm, tranquil and grounded (pun intended). They give off that ‘closer to nature’ vibe that is really where we are headed, not just in interiors, but also as a lifestyle. We are opting for fresh food, natural materials and fewer chemicals. Combined with wood and black accents or even a monotone colour palette, this beige could be an amazing backdrop in many interiors.’

Example of beige being used in materials. (Images from an upcoming HOMEWORKS Home feature)

Davina Preca, Interior Architect & Designer, Lime

‘Being a neutral shade it can be used with a variety of concepts.This image shows the colour being used together with Dulux Oxford Blue which works well in combination with this earthy tone. Natural wood, marble and rattan complete an environment of simple honesty.’