Queen of neutrals Kelly Hoppen admits to breaking this beige rule

Rules are made to be broken – and this interior designer urges us to shake up color conventions and follow suit

Neutral color scheme in a home office by Little Greene
(Image credit: Little Greene)

Esteemed interior expert Kelly Hoppen is the unrivaled master of beige. Her palette is synonymous with the interior havens she has designed for celebrities worldwide – and has formed her reputation as the Queen of neutrals. However, as beige is reemerging as a trending paint force to be reckoned with Kelly’s painted wall ideas have changed – the designer reveals her own beige rule she now breaks. 

In an interview with Livingetc, Kelly Hoppen reshaped everything we thought we knew about beige – and urged us to break one of her old beige and taupe color pairing rule. Once a paint scheme no-no for the designer, she admits she has come round to the magic of the modern color pairing.

Kelly Hoppen X Lick paint in a neutral toned living room

(Image credit: Kelly Hoppen X Lick)

Kelly Hoppen’s beige rule – to be broken 

‘We’re seeing that beige can be cool and cutting edge. Beige allows you to put your identity into a home using accents of color – and that means you can change your space constantly. It’s the perfect backdrop,’ Kelly explains.

‘I’m approaching beige differently myself now, too. It’s well documented in my books that mixing it with taupe was an absolute no-no – I even used to lecture this theory sternly in my school.'

'However, I’ve seen the light, and now it makes me chuckle after all those years of saying that I couldn’t do it, that I have a volte-face. The quest for softness we’re all on now is met by this pairing,’ she adds. 

Living room painted in Little Greene beige with white decor

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Should we pair beige with taupe? 

It is, perhaps, only fitting that the dark gray-brown tones of taupe deserve a moment alongside beige in 2021. Gray and brown trends show no signs of wavering, after all. But what do the other color experts think? Should we rewrite our modern living room color ideas and bring this controversial pairing into our homes?

According to Lick's Head Colour Specialist, Tash Bradley, we should be. 

'Beige and Taupe are absolutely a combination I recommend. Lick's Beige 04 and Beige 05 paired with Taupe 01 all sit in the same color family so they all harmonize together. As a result, they make a room feel instantly calm,' Tash shares. 

Hallway with brown furnishing and neutral walls by Little Greene

(Image credit: Little Greene)

'So if you were to put Beige 04 on the walls and Taupe 01 on the woodwork, this soft contrast would be elegant and understated, not harsh and attention-grabbing – I like to think of it as adding delicate texture to the backdrop of a space that really sets the scene for almost any color furnishings you want to add to the room.'

Color and paint expert Annie Sloan also agrees with Kelly. However, she recommends a vibrant color twist to liven up the neutral tones with a vibrant twist. 

'Beige is a pale sandy fawn color, French apparently for the color of natural wool, it's more yellowish. Whereas taupe is more of a grey tone, coming from the French word for mole. The right beiges and taupes can look great when paired together, but I'd recommend a pop of pink to make the whole scheme work,' Annie explains. 

Kelly Hoppen choosing paint samples

(Image credit: Kelly Hoppen X Lick)

‘An earthy pink with soft taupe-greys and neutrals creates a very calming, luxurious space without being boring.’

Yes, now really is the time to trial taupe and beige on our walls. In interiors sometimes you need to break a few rules, for stunning results.

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.