You asked…about a color that works with Benjamin Moore’s Shaker Beige

Hi Annie,
I have noticed that you recommend BM Shaker Beige a lot, so I am hoping you can help me with the elusive paint color I am looking for.

Most of the first floor of my home has recently been painted in BM Shaker Beige but I am looking for a deeper color that works well with this for the large, 2 story living room which is the front of the house and basically visible from everywhere!

Because of the scale and double height (also visible from 2nd floor landing), it tends to be cavernous and echo-y. I originally changed the color from builders white to a warm terracotta but have grown tired of this and feel I want something more soothing….

Hope you can help, thanks so much!
Gail Veary

Hi, Gail! That terracotta can get old, can’t it? And doing such a strong color in a semi-open plan is tricky, for sure.

This suggestion may surprise you, coming from bossy color, but this is about what will look best in YOUR space. Here it is:



A SSSSllldrrrrNNNrrrrrrlllll.


Oh, all right:
A slightly different neutral.

In this double-story room, a bold color like this terra cotta can chop up the space more than energize it.

A brown or grey will keep the space fresh and contemporary while adding some color interest. It could be a color slightly darker than the HC-45 Shaker Beige.

The walls in the picture below are Benjamin Moore’s HC-46 Jackson Tan. Looking at this swatch against the Shaker Beige swatch, I think it will be too dark for you. But the way it appears in this picture, with the lighter, creamy color of the chairs…that’s the look we’re after.

To get this effect, test some of Benjamin Moore’s Affinity colors, which work beautifully with the HC (Historic Colors) series. Affinity colors are available only as the high-end Aura paint, but it’s really good stuff. Try AF-135 Interlude, which is a brown slightly darker than the Shaker Beige, and AF-155 Weimeraner, which is darker still, but slightly greyer.

Since you have art and accessories that pick up on the current orange walls, consider a rug with orange in it to bring some color to the space once the walls are more neutral.

This design is called Grass, by Michaelian & Kohlberg. In D.C., I’d buy it through Timothy Paul Carpets & Textiles:

Or a big old Persian rug…pairing one of those with neutral walls and contemporary furniture is one of my favorite looks.

Do any of my fellow colorists out there have a suggestion? Agree or disagree? I’d love your input!

Jackson Tan photograph by Youngna Park via xJavierx on Flickr. “Grass” carpet photo from Timothy Paul‘s website.


  1. Bonnie Story says

    Hi! A big-bucks suggestion from the peanut gallery: Take the drapery all the way to the ceiling with dummy panels, then shutters on the floor-level windows for light control/privacy. Taking dummy panels alllll the way up will help with the echos and will add luxe. Just an armchair blank-check idea for that space, Your color solution is great… Bonnie

  2. Rachel says

    yup, i have to agree with Annie. but kudos to you for trying something other than builder's white! With a huge space like that, a domineering color like terracotta can be overwhelming pretty darn quickly. by drawing attention outwards with such a strong hue, you lose any sense of intimacy within the space. instead, try focusing the attention down and towards your social spaces (the rug is a great idea to ground the space)

  3. Gail says

    What a fabulous treat reading your blog today! The best part was hearing your good advice, which just confirmed the direction I was heading in! I had also thought the exact same thing (darker neutral) and have bought at least 5 BM samples to try (since asking you), looking for the "right" slightly darker shade of SB to use in the room. I had almost decided on Lenox Tan and then I read the blog. Now I can't wait to try the colors you suggested, especially as that picture you posted is EXACTLY the effect I am looking for, how did you know??? I am also loving the fact that I can now buy BM in pint tins at my local BM store, so it definitely makes testing a whole lot easier and cheaper. Have tried Aura, was a little disappointed that they said only one coat but found that two are still really needed. Have never tried the Affinity colors.

    Thanks so much again, I am eternally grateful for your great advice!

  4. Annie, bossy color says

    Thanks so much for weighing in, Bonnie and Rachel! Rachel's explanation (of why the terracotta doesn't work well) is more graceful than mine – thank you. And Bonnie, I like the thinking on the window! Thanks for leaving the comment.

  5. Annie, bossy color says

    Kathleen, thanks for the comment – I agree!

    Gail, so happy to help, and good for you for doing the samples. It should go w/out saying that actual paint samples are CRITICAL, but sometimes we get too impatient :) Send pictures of the final choice!

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