‘Sad Beige’ Has Taken Over Baby Gear, Clothing, Decor
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‘Sad Beige’ Has Taken Over Baby Gear, Clothing, Decor

Parents are gravitating toward neutral hues that match their minimalist tastes; ‘I don’t think many kids’ favourite colour is beige’

Thu, Nov 17, 2022 9:11amGrey Clock 3 min

Krissy Kyne, a 27-year-old makeup artist in San Antonio, is giving birth to a baby boy this week. The room waiting for him at home is neither blue nor pink, but beige.

It has a light-coloured wood crib, a woven jute rug, a latte-hued changing pad and a cream ottoman, with oatmeal throw pillows and camel muslin blankets strewn about. Ms. Kyne said her mother-in-law told her her taste for neutrals looked “sterile,” but she has committed to the aesthetic, stocking drawers with beige onesies, beige sweatsuits and beige socks.

Ms. Kyne joins a wave of parents eschewing bright and stereotypically gendered colours for kid wares, and instead choosing earthy, neutral tones aligned with minimalism. It’s a look TikTok satirist Hayley DeRoche has termed “sad beige,” but some see it as a happy development: The ecru, blond and brown products fit right in with their stylishly muted décor in the rest of the house.

“Our whole house isn’t changing because we have kids,” said Jen Atkin, a celebrity hairstylist and entrepreneur in Los Angeles known for working with the Kardashians—although she conceded that the aesthetic can invite stains. Because she has two kids and three dogs, she bought easy-to-clean beige outdoor rugs and couches for her home.

Kylie Jenner showed off the beige furnishings in her son Wolf’s nursery in a video from March. Caitlin Covington, a content creator in North Carolina known online as “Christian Girl Autumn,” often dresses her daughter in brown and ecru ensembles for portraits.

“I’ve been influenced by influencers,” said Amina Kadyrova, a mother of three in New Jersey. “I’m a victim of the marketing system. But I genuinely like it.” Neutral colours are easier to mix and match on kids, she added.

Earlier this year, Baby Gap created a designated beige section inside some stores after researching market trends, according to the brand’s head designer, Carolyn Koziak. A new line from Walmart, Easy Peasy, includes a lot of beige, too. According to Etsy, searches for beige kids clothes jumped 67% in the past 12 months compared with the previous period.

“It seems to be marketing this fantasy that if I buy neutrals, my children will also be neutral, calm and quiet,” said Ms. DeRoche, the TikTok user, who lives in Petersburg, Va.

Most children’s companies still sell lots of toys and clothes in bright and inviting primary colours. “It’s important to expose kids to learning colours to help them with their visual perception,” said Ann-Louise Lockhart, a pediatric psychologist in San Antonio. “Having variety is important for brain development.”

Amanda Gummer, a neuropsychologist and children’s play expert in Britain, said there isn’t evidence that colourless toys stunt developmental milestones. Still, Dr. Gummer said, “the motivation of having an Instagrammable house and not letting kids explore and make a mess worries me. I don’t think many kids’ favourite colour is beige.”

Ms. Atkin said her children can get their colour fix elsewhere. “My son will go to indoor gymnasiums, play centres, museums, and he gets covered in slime and goo, and colour and glitter,” she said. “We do that outside of our house, and then we get to come home to a nice, calm, clean environment.”

Other parents noted the pacifying nature of neutrals. “Brown and beige make me feel calmer,” said Maddie Berna, a photographer and mother of two in central California. “I personally don’t like super bright colours, and they do wear that sometimes, but it’s annoying to see all the time.”

Ms. Berna’s mother, Ashley Durham, isn’t a fan.

“All of Ellie’s bows are the same kind of beige and I would like her to wear something that sticks out more,” she said, referring to her 15-month-old granddaughter. “I do try to buy them brighter color clothing. I just never see them in it.”

Naomi Coe, a California-based interior designer specialising in kid’s rooms, said she experienced an influx of beige requests during the pandemic, when many parents were spending more time at home.

“Neutral is going to give you calm, serene, homey, cozy,” she said. “I’ve noticed a shift where people are after that feeling more.”

Laura Roso Vidrequin, founder of secondhand kids-clothing marketplace Kids O’Clock in London, said beige products sell three times as fast as other colours on the site—perhaps because they are gender-neutral, she said, hence easy to pass down.

Elizabeth Robles Jimenez, a mother of four in Downey, Calif., said she bought plenty of pink and princessy products for her first three daughters before settling on beige décor and wooden toys for her 2-year-old, Ava.

“I think whites and creams give her an opportunity to discover her own self and not have the mentality that because she’s a girl, she needs all pink,” Ms. Robles Jimenez said.

Mushie, a startup that makes pacifiers, bibs and stacking cups in beige hues, has seen double-digit growth this year, according to its chief executive, Levi Feigenson. Moms cited the labels Oat, Soor Ploom, the Simple Folk, Tiny Cottons, Jamie Kay, Nora Lee, Rylee + Cru as others with an abundance of beige products.

“When I started my company [over 10] years ago, you couldn’t get a baby or child garment in a neutral colour unless you went to Europe,” said Marissa Buick, the Brooklyn founder of kidswear brand Soor Ploom. Her colour choices reflect ones “you won’t find in a shop, but are in nature,” she said.


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Retro Kitchens Are Everywhere—and the Ultimate Rejection of the Sterile Luxury Trend

Playful 1950s style spotlights details like coloured cabinets, checkerboard and mosaic tile patterns, vintage lighting, and SMEG appliances

Mon, Apr 22, 2024 6 min

The 1950s spawned society’s view of kitchens as the heart of the home, a hub for gathering, cooking, eating and socializing. Thus, it makes perfect sense that the same decade could inspire today’s luxury kitchens.

“The deliberate playfulness and genius of the era’s designers have enabled the mid-century style to remain a classic design and one that still sparks joy,” said James Yarosh, an interior designer and gallerist in New Jersey.

That playful style spotlights details like coloured cabinets, checkerboard and mosaic tile patterns, vintage lighting, and SMEG appliances—all of which are a conspicuous rejection of the sterile, monochrome kitchens that have defined luxury home design for years. One of the hottest brands to incorporate into retro-style kitchens, SMEG is turning up more these days. But the question is: How do you infuse a colourful refrigerator and other elements from this nostalgic era without creating a kitschy room?

“The key to a modern, fresh look in your kitchen is to reference, not imitate, signature looks of the 1950s,” said New York-based designer Andrew Suvalsky, who often laces retro style throughout the rooms he designs. He said using the period as inspiration will steer you away from imagining a garish space.

“When it comes to incorporating that retro-esque look, it’s a fine dance between looking beautiful and looking kitschy,” added Lisa Gilmore, a designer in Tampa, Florida. Gilmore suggested balancing contemporary pieces with vintage touches. That balance forges a functional yet attractive design that’s easy to live with while evoking a homey atmosphere––and ultimately, a room everyone wants to be in.

Colour Reigns Supreme

Suvalsky said one way to avoid a kitschy appearance is to mingle woods and colours, such as lacquered base cabinets and walnut wall cabinets, as he did in his Montclair, New Jersey, kitchen.

“Mixing colours into your kitchen is most effective when it’s done by colour-blocking––using a single colour across large areas of a space––in this case, zones of cabinetry,” he explained. He tends to lean toward “Easter egg colours,” such as baby chick yellow and pale tangerine. These soft pastels can suggest a starting point for the design while lending that retro vibe. But other hues can spark a vintage feel as well.

A mid-century-inspired kitchen by Blythe Interiors.
Natalia Robert

“Shades of green and blue are a timeless base foundation that work for a 1950s vintage look,” said designer Jennifer Verruto of Blythe Interiors in San Diego. But wood isn’t off the table for her, either. “To embrace the character of a mid-century home, we like a Kodiak stain to enhance the gorgeous walnut grain,” she said. “This mid-tone wood is perfect for contrasting other lighter finishes in the kitchen for a Mid-Century Modern feel.”

Since colour is subjective, a kitchen lined with white cabinetry can assume a retro aesthetic through accoutrements and other materials, emanating that ’50s vibe.

“The fun of retro designs is that you can embrace colour and create something that feels individual to the house and its homeowner, reflecting their tastes and personality,” Yaosh said. He recommended wallpaper as an option to transform a kitchen but suggested marrying the pattern with the bones of the house. “Wallpaper can create a mid-century or retro look with colours and hand-blocked craftsmanship,” he said. “Mauny wallpapers at Zuber are a particular favourite of mine.”

Suvalsky suggested Scalamandre wallpapers, for their 1950s patterns, and grass cloth, a textile that was often used during that decade. He also likes House of Hackney, a brand that “does a great job reinventing vintage prints in luscious colours,” he noted. “Many of their colourways invert the typical relationship between light and dark, with botanical prints in dark jewel tones set over light, more playful colours.”

Materials Matter

Beyond wall covering, flooring, countertops and backsplashes can all contribute to the 1950s theme. Manufactured laminate countertops, specifically Formica, were all the rage during the decade. But today’s high-end kitchens call for more luxurious materials and finishes.

“That’s a situation where going the quartz route is appropriate,” Gilmore said. “There are quartzes that are a through-body colour and simple if someone is doing colorued cabinetry. A simplified white without veining will go a long way.” She also recommended Pompei quartz Sunny Pearl, which has a speckled appearance.

A kitchen designed by James Yarosh that incorporates pops of yellow.
Patricia Burke

But for those who welcome vibrant colour schemes, countertops can make a bold statement in a vintage kitchen. Gilmore said solid surface materials from the era were often a colour, and quartz can replicate the look.

“Some brands have coloured quartz, like red,” she said. But keeping countertops neutral allows you to get creative with the backsplash. “I‘d pull in a terrazzo backsplash or a bold colour like a subway tile in a beautiful shade of green or blush,” Gilmore said. “Make the backsplash a piece of art.”

Suvalsky also leans toward bright and daring––such as checkerboards––for the backsplash. But depending on the kitchen’s design, he’ll go quieter with a double white herringbone [tile] pattern. “Either version works, but it must complement other choices, bold or simple, in the design,” he explained.

Neutral countertops with a bold backsplash, designed by Lisa Gilmore.
Native House Photography

Likewise, his flooring choice almost always draws attention. “My tendency is more toward very bold, such as a heavily veined marble or a pattern with highly contrasting tones,” he noted. Yarosh suggested slate and terrazzo as flooring, as these materials can make an excellent backdrop for layering.

Forge a Statement With Vintage Appliances 

As consequential as a kitchen’s foundation is, so are the appliances and accoutrements. While stainless steel complements contemporary kitchens, homeowners can push the design envelope with companies like SMEG when making appliance selections for a retro-style kitchen. Although Suvalsky has yet to specify a SMEG fridge, he is looking forward to the project when he can.

“I think they work best when the selected colour is referenced in other parts of the kitchen, which helps to integrate these otherwise ‘look at me’ pieces into the broader design,” he noted. “They are like sculptures unto themselves.”

“For our mid-century-inspired projects, we’ve opted for Big Chill and the GE Cafe Series to bring a vintage look,” Verruto added. Similar to SMEG, Big Chill and GE offer a vintage vibe in a wide selection of colours and finishes, alongside 21st-century performance.

Can’t commit to a full-size appliance? Sometimes, a splash is enough. Gilmore tends to dust her retro kitchens with a coloured kettle or toaster since her clients are likelier to add a tinge with a countertop appliance or two. “Mint green accessories make it pop, and if in five years they are over it, it’s not a commitment,” she said. “It’s a great way to infuse fun and colour without taking a major risk.”

Deck out the Breakfast Nook

Kitchen dining areas present the opportunity to introduce retro lighting, furniture, and accessories to complete the look. Flea markets and antique markets are excellent places to hunt for accompaniments.

“Dome pendants and Sputnik chandeliers are iconic styles that will infuse vintage charm into your kitchen while also easily complementing a variety of other styles,” Verruto said.

A retro breakfast nook desinged by Andrew Suvalsky.
DLux Editions

Suspend a vintage light fixture over the classic Saarinen table, and you can’t go wrong.

“Saarinen Tulip Tables are almost always guaranteed to deliver a home run in nearly any interior, especially a 1950s-themed kitchen,” Suvalsky said. “The simplicity of its form, especially in white, makes it nearly impossible to clash with.”

To really channel the vibe of this era, Verruto suggested local vintage stores and brands such as Drexel Heritage and Lexington. Dressing the windows counts, too. “Cafe curtains in a chintz pattern will make for a fabulous finishing touch,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yarosh delights in selecting tabletop items, including novelty stemware and other trappings ubiquitous in the 1950s. “Mid-century kitchens also need to have pedestal cake plates and maybe a cloche to keep a cake,” he mused. “I love the opportunity to curate these details down to the correct fork and serving pieces.”


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