Beige is used as shorthand for a variety of colors, from pale yellowish-brown to light brownish-gray. Officially, it’s a cream hue with a warm yellow tint. In France, the word originally referred to natural wool that had not been bleached or dyed. The French began using beige as a color word sometime in the 1850s. The new meaning was solidified by author Edmond de Goncourt in his 1877 novel, La Fille Elisa. Beige was later absorbed into the English language; the first documented English usage occurred in 1887.

Historically there has been some confusion about the color beige. In the early 19th century, ecru–the color name derived from the French word for raw or unbleached–referred to exact same shade as beige. Around 1950, interior designers changed ecru to avoid mix-ups. Other colors that are often used interchangeably with beige include khaki, buff, ivory, off-white and desert sand.

In the 1960s, AT&T debuted a desert sand colored telephone that they called beige, causing the colors to intermingle in the public mind. Makeup companies have interpreted beige as a fair to medium skin tone shade.

AT&T’s usage of beige in telephones.

Because the first computers were beige, the color beige has come to represent to working world. Ironically, beige is one of the most difficult colors to produce with color printing. It requires such low levels of ink that it will sometimes print as purple or green by mistake.

Earliest IBM computers had beige panels.

As a light neutral hue, beige is one of the most popular colors in interior design. It is omnipresent in homes, offices, schools, hospitals, and more. “Contractor’s beige” is the name given to the generic paint builders use to cover the interior walls of a new house. Beige is a staple of minimalist fashion and design. It can have pink, brown, or gold undertones, subtly shifting the character of a room while staying in the background. Many canvases and raw fabrics are beige.

An example to beige interior design

Psychology of Beige: As a softer, warmer form of white, beige represents simplicity and serenity. It is often used to denote plainness. Beige is basic, unpretentious, and does not command attention.

People who like beige tend to prefer working backstage over being the star of the show. They lead clean, quiet lives. They are content and dependable people. Beige lovers have the ability to get along with everyone. However, they might be criticized for being boring and afraid to take chances.