a bedroom done in light brown taupe walls and light grey taupe accents


Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/18/2021

When choosing a neutral paint scheme, identifying and distinguishing between hues, tints, and tones can be challenging for even the most experienced designer. It can get even more complicated when similar groups of colors are referred to with unfamiliar terms like taupe.


The term taupe refers to an array of colors belonging to the gray/brown family, ranging from something similar to a light tan to a darker mushroom color. The word taupe comes from the French for mole, a small animal with a distinct gray/brown color. The term taupe is often used to describe paint colors in various shades, hues, tints, and tones of gray/brown, such as Smokey Taupe and Cherry Taupe. However, paint that is considered taupe in color doesn’t always have Taupe in the paint name, as with Driftwood and Jute. The color taupe is considered to be a complex yet versatile neutral tone, which can either be used subtly in the background or as the color for a bold design element.

What Color Looks Good With Taupe

Taupe is known to be an incredibly versatile neutral color, with the ability to settle comfortably in the background or boldly stand up front as a design choice. A major factor in the final result is how you use taupe with your other color choices and design elements:

  • If you’re looking to use taupe to warm up a space, you may want to try pairing it with soft shades of yellow, pink or olive. Keep the accessories and decorations to a minimum and go for a more natural woodsy or sophisticated antique look. Don’t forget to keep it bright and cozy with chic pendant lighting and shaggy throw rugs.
  • Taupe doesn’t have to sit in the background and always stay neutral. Give taupe the opportunity to stand proud up front with extremes. Go with a darker and deeper shade of taupe and bring it to life with some deep yellows and oranges. Or keep a pale shade of taupe on edge with a basic black and white stripe décor.