Fifty Shades of Beige

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Home Elements/Decorating

Accent walls have been all the rage in my neighborhood the past year or so. First, they appeared in the professionally decorated model homes here at Maples at the Sonatas. The next thing I knew, they cropped up in a few of my friends’ homes. From there, the trend took off.

We visit each other’s homes, paint chips in hand. We ponder the endless shades and combinations. We exchange the business cards of our favorite painters.

I’m not sure who started it all, but I know who does it best. My neighbor, Dee, is a decorator extraordinaire and a sought after color consultant. Her home is a tasteful testament to the beautifying power of color.

Last spring, I was a late convert, one of the last to jump on the bandwagon. You see, I had always lived in small apartments and condos. I believed all of my walls had to be off-white to make the rooms look as large as possible.

So it took Dee a while to convince me to make the leap to accent walls. Gradually, I decided I could live with splashes of color, if they were muted colors. We strategized which walls to paint, beginning in the living room and ever so cautiously moving into the dining area and kitchen, and, at the last minute, the master bedroom.

Then came the hardest part—choosing the colors. Dee brought over her humungous collection of paint chips and strips and cards. There were literally hundreds of choices, many of them only minutely different from several others. If she hadn’t helped me narrow it down and finally choose THE color, I would still be dithering over a table full of paint chips.

Of course, I loved the results. Here are two of my favorite walls.

living roombedroom

After a couple of months, I decided I needed an accent wall in my office, too. Once again, I was thrilled with the result, thanks to Dee.


Now I’m gearing up to do some painting in my sun room. And this time it won’t be one or two walls, but all four of them. Dee suggested I choose a shade of beige, something just a little darker than the color I have now. Something, to use her words, that will make my white blinds and trim “pop.”


“You have to be careful with beige,” Dee says. There are beiges that have yellow in them, and others with pinkish tinges and even some that can look greenish.

And I start to worry. How will I know which is a beige beige? I don’t want to get stuck with a pink beige or a yellow beige or a green beige.

Maybe I have so much trouble choosing colors because I’m a verbal, not a visual, person. I keep getting sidetracked by the names of the paint colors. How can I not fall in love with Believable Buff or Dapper Tan or Cracker Crumb?

Do I want my sun room painted in Sphinx or Nomadic Desert or Outerbanks?

No, wait. Here’s the one I want. Whispering Wheat. What a lovely name. Of course, the color is darker than I wanted, and it doesn’t work very well with my chairs. But still… The name sings to me.

I’d better check with Dee.

To be continued.

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