What color is ecru? How to use it in your facility

A color close to beige, cream, ivory, and in some cases gray and yellow, there can often be confusion about the “right” answer to the question of what color is ecru?

Used in interiors and fashion, ecru is a color that doesn’t sit on the traditional color wheel as there are many shades of ecru to choose from. This popular neutral shade can be presented in both a bright off-white and a warmer, earthy yellow, so there’s a lot to think about when choosing the perfect ecru shade for your home.

Ecru was seen as a shade of beige for many years, but the color now stands alone, with more yellow and gray undertones. Typically, the color ecru is referred to as the color of unbleached linen, deriving from the French word ecru, which means unbleached in English.

If one thing is for sure, ecru belongs to a family of versatile neutrals and has a warming, relaxing and soft quality. From boho and scandi-inspired looks to modern and minimalist designs, ecru is a timeless choice that suits schemes of all characters.

What color is ecru?

When planning how to use ecru for your room color ideas, the color offers a whole range of creative possibilities. Whether you’re looking for a grounding base color for your color ideas, or you’re decorating an entire room with neutral colors and need a palette of different colors, there are options for everyone.

Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) Brand ambassador Patrick O’Donnell explains: “A delight to use on walls or woodwork, ecru can create an effortless calm in any room – but just to add a warning, it can seem a little chilly in east-facing rooms, if it strays too much on the gray side so look for something more yellow, great examples in the F&B range are Lime White, Off White and Shaded White.”

Ecru is a popular color for color ideas in both classic and contemporary homes, with its relaxing, seamless qualities that blend perfectly into almost any design, and is also an attractive color choice for furniture and accessories. For brands such as Ferm Living (opens in new tab) Utilizing ecru and cashmere as the foundational color finishes for their furniture, lighting and accessory lines, these calming, natural neutrals not only perfectly represent the sophisticated, organic and calming aesthetic of Danish design houses, but also the enduring popularity and versatility of neutral room ideas .

From the color to the cushions, curtains and upholstery, ecru can bring a timeless elegance to your home.

Beige reception room with olive green velvet sofa

(Image credit: Project by Albion North / Photo by Patrick Williamson)

What does the color ecru look like?

Very similar to beige, ecru is a relaxing, neutral color. Some shades are more like a light creamy white, others more earthy, with hints of yellow that bring them closer to a tan or khaki.

What are the undertones of ecru?

Justyna Korczynska, lead designer at crown colors (opens in new tab) says: “Ecru is a warm neutral that contains hints of brown and gray and comes from the beige family. Ecru means an earthy vibe that’s very laid back and soothing.’

Patrick O’Donnell also says, “Ecru is the color of unbleached linen and has soft grey, green and yellow notes.”

A truly unique neutral ecru has both cool and warm undertones, making it a remarkably universal shade that can be used with a range of color combinations.

What colors go with ecru?

As we have already discussed, ecru is an incredibly adaptable color for interior design and can be combined with many other shades.

Whether pairing ecru with other soothing neutrals like beige and grey, or pairing it with more dramatic and bold hues like blue and orange, whatever your style, from soft to bold, ecru is effortlessly incorporated into your design scheme.

Is ecru cream or white?

Ecru is more off-white than white, but its yellow and gray undertones make it darker than cream, ultimately making it resemble a shade similar to beige.

The ecru color can be a great off-white alternative when you want to add a subtle sense of color and depth to a room, ideal for making a space warmer and cozier, yet light and bright. As Patrick O’Donnell says, “Ecru is an amazingly versatile shade to use when pure white feels too clean.”

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