From Quiet Luxury to the Sad Beige Baby, When Will ‘Beigification’ End?

beigification beige color trend: a triptych image of a woman wearing "quiet luxury" beige, a baby dressed in a beige onesie, and a beige home interior
Edward Berthelot/Crystal Bolin Photography/Anastasiia Krivenok/Getty Images

It’s the early aughts and I’m a snotty teen. We’re moving homes and my mom is selecting paint for each room. She’s shuffling through a hefty stack of color cards, torn between one of the hundred shades of neutral. I probably snarked something along the lines of, “IT’S WHITE. PICK ONE.” (I wasn’t allowed to paint my bedroom Barbie pink, but I got away with Tiffany blue.)

Now I’m an adult, weeks away from having my first kid, and there’s a blonde wood bassinet in my apartment. My Instagram feed serves me aspirational posts from two sources: random moms whose babies are swaddled in off-white blankets, and interior designers who outfit million-dollar homes in creamy bouclé furniture. My inbox is flooded with emails from fashion brands, the subject lines touting “quiet luxury” and the contents a display of elegant yet nondescript clothing in shades of taupe.

beigification color trend: a 2000s home interior in all shades of beige
Beige interiors defined 2000s suburbia. / John Keeble/Getty Images

Beigification is everywhere, from our homes to our closets to our kids. Understated, minimalist, bland—call it what you want, but the over-saturation of de-saturation has been brewing for years, since before the late 2010’s Scandinavian decor takeover and the proliferation of gray wood flooring. It seems like we’ve been cycling through some form of beige or gray or greige since before the Great Recession, when real estate agents and HGTV convinced us that a neutral home was the suburban American dream.

beigification color trend: a modern living room decorated in Scandinavian style, all in beige
Scandi-beige decor has dominated the 2020s. / CreativaStudio/Getty Images

Our current beigification is a result of the natural progression of those previous trends. Many décor experts have reasoned that the move to beige was a way to “warm up” the gray wastelands of pre-COVID days. It’s also become a subtle signifier of wealth during an economic downturn. And in a tumultuous world, earthy neutrals are cozy and soothing.

beigification color trend: a beige nursery
Even nurseries have been heavily beigified. / KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

I’ll admit that when it comes to outfitting my future kid’s wardrobe and toy bucket, this beigification is hard to resist! My life is about to transform, but maybe I can avoid some of the discomfort that comes with it by banning vibrant, plastic colors in favor of beechwood blocks and cream onesies. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of beige. If I’m honest with myself, though, it’s a delusional way to cope with change.

The world is actually, literally on fire, and I think we are trying to drown it out with beige. Is the beigification of the 2020s an effect of late-stage capitalism? Is it a last-ditch coping mechanism to mask our despair? I’m not trying to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but I do worry for our collective sanity. Because where is the FUN? I’m not saying we need to revert to all-out Y2K, 2000s Tuscan (God help us) or the whimsigothic ’90s…although, I’m nostalgic enough that wouldn’t hate the latter. But where do we go from here?

I don’t have the influence to singlehandedly put a stop to our drab proclivities, and I’m sure there will always be some beige trend lurking in the wings. After all, it’s popular because it’s easy to like. But trends aren’t permanent, and they follow patterns. Boomers and early Gen X might have beigified away the harvest gold and avocado that dominated the ’70s, but if millennials are lucky, Gen Z’s love for chaos and clutter will seep in, replacing whatever Blank Canvas Beige we’ve deemed the color of the year with something exuberant. Less Straight Jacket Cream, more Obnoxious Orange!

And about that sad beige baby, because I know you’re worried too: There’s a silver lining. Babies grow up, and they don’t come with a guarantee that they’ll comply with their parents’ beige agenda. (Mine included.)


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...