Living Neale Whitaker
Its time to put an end to the belief that beige is always boring in fact, its one of the most practical tones a home can have
doesnt equate beige with bland.
Im conicted. Half of me wants to side with Glynis Traill-Nash, while the other half wants to disagree, and vehemently. Let me explain. Traill-Nash is fashion editor of The Australian, and just recently she wrote, There are two types of people in this world: those who embrace beige and those who run screaming.
She was of course writing about the sea of beige (plus supporting cast of caramel, tan, biscuit and ecru) that is swamping autumn fashion, but its a similar story with homewares. And like Traill-Nash, I too used to equate beige with bland. But I think its time for a reappraisal.
The irony is that where interior design is concerned, beige has never been out of fashion. Take a look at the exquisite work of Australian designers Meryl Hare (hareklein.com.au) or Pamela Makin (lesinterieurs.com.au), for example. While they might baulk at being described as beige, Im guessing neither would have an issue if I spoke of their aesthetic in terms of naturals or neutrals. Its all in the terminology. Once we change the vocabulary, the possibilities are innite.
While the ex-magazine editor in me wants to believe every other home in Australia now has a velvet sofa in midnight blue, the reality is most dont. The simple fact is the majority of us myself included
Strange as it might sound, beige is not for the faint-hearted
tend towards practical, time-honoured neutrals. I hesitate to use the word safe, but many sentences that include beige also include the words goes, with and everything.
Clichéd or not, it happens to be almost true. Because strange as it might sound, beige is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a degree of condence and intuition to understand that neutrals require layering and accessorising to work. Most neutrals are grey-based or brown-based. They can work in harmony but the glue that binds them together will be the contrasting textures wood, marble, leather, concrete, linen that are used in conjunction.
And in the context of this autumn, neutrals best friends are shades of green and black. My own living room has white oors, a neutral sofa, pale Moroccan rugs, white linen curtains and a grey leather chair. Even my dogs are beige. The only colour comes from some vibrant wall art. It might sound like a recipe for bland but its actually rich and welcoming. Those ingredients combined pack a punch.
Neale Whitaker is co-host of Foxtels Love It Or List It Australia on Lifestyle, and a judge on Nine Networks The Block.
ITS ONLY NATURAL (from top) Contrasting textures and shades of green and black are the best friends of beige this autumn; a vibrant artwork offsets an otherwise neutral palette; this outdoor room by Hare + Klein is made all the more inviting by its calm colour scheme.