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Taupe Color: The Enigma and Its Appeal

If someone were to ask you to describe the taupe color, what would you say? Likely your answer would involve a mumblyjumble that includes words like “browny purply grey-ey tan” or something. The reality is, taupe is a gorgeous color, but it’s one that’s a bit more challenging to pin down.

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It is its very difficult-to-describe nature that makes taupe perhaps less common (historically speaking) in interior design than other colors. It’s much easier to know what you’re getting with, say, a red sofa or a brown club chair than a taupe one, which means that incorporating the more difficult color into designs is inherently less common.

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A more modern word to describe the color “taupe” is “greige.” This cross-combination of grey and beige has become in recent years a popular neutral. Neither too warm nor too cool, the sophisticated color can easily serve as an “invisible” backdrop to other décor or it can be the prominent component of a decorated space.

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Taupe (pronounced TOPE) is one of those tricky colors that you really need to see to understand and identify. Although, once you know what it is, you’ll start seeing it everywhere. Like the word “greige” suggests, it’s got grey in it. Maybe a bit of beige. Definitely some brown, but also some dusty rose flavor.

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Really, probably the simplest way to describe the taupe color is either a greyish brown or, stay with me here, a brownish grey. In today’s interior design obsession with grey as a neutral, taupe probably is more closely associated to the grey family than the brown, although it fits in with both (or doesn’t fit in with either, if you’re a glass-half-empty kinda person).

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Taupe color definitely inherits some of the best traits of both of its color “parents” (grey and brown). From grey, taupe gets its balanced common-sensical serenity. It neither stimulates or energizes, which is an important characteristic to note in interior design.

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The best decorated spaces have plenty of neutral components that fail to excite the senses. Can you imagine a space in which everything is trying to stand out? It would overstimulate at best.

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Similar to grey, brown is a color that tends to be taken seriously. Brown is stable and secure, yet comforting and accepting as well. Brown can be elegant and classy or humble and honest. Taupe reflects these traits in moderation.

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From its brown lineage, taupe inherits a natural type of warmth and organic down-to-earthness. As you can see, the combination of calming grey with warm and friendly brown really achieves quite an appealing status as a color in interior design.

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The best part about taupe color is its sense of classic timelessness. It can symbolize sophistication, practicality, intelligence, passivity, reliability, elegance, modesty, dignity, and maturity. It is this timeless appeal that makes the neutral color quite versatile stylistically; taupe color can enhance a contemporary space as easily as it can lay the foundation for a traditional one.

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Just as various shades and tints of grey and brown can result in a dramatically different look and feel, the same holds true for taupe. Darker shades of taupe (which utilize deeper greys) will have a significantly more intimate and dramatic feel than an airier taupe tint with pale grey.

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The variations of taupe color, as is the case with variations among most hues, can be identified and then used strategically for optimum effect in interior design. Deeper taupe colors will bring about a warmer, probably more intense and cozy atmosphere. Muted or pale taupe colors will feel more reserved, or spacious, or obscure.

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As a neutral with feet in both grey and brown doors, so to speak, taupe color is an ideal color in either small or large doses. It can just as easily be used, in variations of tints and shades, to decorate and furnish an entire room as it can be found on a single accent pillow or art piece.

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If taupe is the foundation for a monochromatic space, be sure to vary the textures and shades significantly to create visual interest. And of course you’ll be adding other accent colors in multi-chromatic taupe spaces.

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However you choose to use it, taupe color is a versatile neutral that stands the test of time – it is gorgeous in contemporary décor as well as nearly any other style. Consider using it in your next decorating space, and prepare to be amazed at the warm sophistication that happens as a result.


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