The latest decorating trend is painting the spaces in your home in varying shades of gray. It’s a fabulous elegant neutral backdrop to set off any color, adding depth to subtle hues and making bold tones pop. Whatever shade, warm or cool, gray is the new white and is one of the hottest go-to shade for designers. As the dominant color, it’s a great choice for layering shade upon shade upon shade. The opposite of depressing, as its name implies, it is urban and compelling. But getting gray right is tricky: The “temperature” of a particular shade—cool or warm—can evoke very different feelings and have an enormous impact on the mood of a room. Light gray walls feel crisp and airy, while darker tones create a sultry, sexy, cozy mood. A common mistake that people make when selecting gray is using a ‘cold’ gray for a wall color. Grays with brown undertones can really help to warm up a room. Try playing with dark charcoal for dramatic dining rooms and use foggy gray for relaxing bedrooms full of natural light.
We have compiled a list of 51 incredible gray spaces to help you find that perfect shade of gray and to inspire you to select a space in your home where gray would fit perfectly. What’s your favorite shade of gray paint? Have you painted any spaces in your home with gray, please tell us in the comments section, we would love to know!
Is it gray? Is it blue? A blue-gray is a nice way to get the best of both worlds. It looks amazing with rich wood or brown leather furniture.
Use flat paint, not semigloss or high-gloss, on walls. “Otherwise, any beautiful gray you choose will look like industrial metal—imagine a Dumpster,” says Mark Chamberlain, a New York City painter and a color columnist for apartmenttherapy.com. Although flat white wall paint is often avoided because it shows smudges and fingerprints, “gray actually hides flaws.”
With gray walls, opt for creamy trim, says Erica Islas, a designer in Culver City, California. Stark white can look too jarring. White Dove paint is a good woodwork choice with both light and dark gray walls (from $41 a gallon, benjaminmoore.com for stores).
In this gorgeous living room, warm-tone charcoal provides the backdrop for different colors, patterns and lines. It gives the room a nice weight and feels a bit more formal than white would.
Gray walls grow up with the child and transition nicely to a teen room.
If you are going to use the cool gray in a nursery, you may want to warm it up with some yellows or pinks. Not every child’s room has to be a kaleidoscope of bright colors. A small colorful banner and the odd pops of color are all you need. The rest of the space can be kept simple and plain so as not to overwhelm a baby’s developing senses.
Introduce lots of light sources, like table lamps, sconces, and floor lamps. Says Jessica Becker, a Rhode Island interior designer: “Gray is already the color of shadow—you don’t want to cast more with an overhead fixture. Layered lighting keeps the room flattering.”
Gray and yellow are a winning pair. Gray’s subtleness allows yellow to shine in all its cheerful glory. The crazier the combination of bright and colorful patterns in your upholstery or home accessories, the more welcome a gray background becomes as a way to counterbalance all the visual activity with cool simplicity.
Cool Grays: Dark. “Adds excitement and a sort of modern glamor. I love it for a dining room,” says designer Abigail Ahern.
This gray wall in the living room is a sophisticated backdrop for enlarged black-and-white family photos. The white sofa with white curtains keep the space casual and on the lighter side.
Gray used in bathrooms with white wainscoting and white ceramic plumbing fixtures feels crisp and classy. It complements the natural gray in the flooring as well as the silvery tone of the mirror.
Cool Grays Add Light. “Like a summer cloud,” says London designer Abigail Ahern. “Wonderful on ceilings as well as walls.”
Gray painted walls are a wonderful backdrop for a collection of black and white photos set up in a gallery wall. The white matting and white floor base create a dramatic contrast.
Using cool charcoal as an accent in a lighter gray room is the perfect way to create a focal point.
Cool Grays. Ethereal and breezy, these grays have undertones of blue. “Think of the darkening sky before a storm,” says New York City interior designer Jennifer Moore. In a sunny room (where some grays could look dull), cool grays hold their color. Zen and peaceful, these are also perfect for a crisp, clean feeling in a bathroom.
Using Warm Grays. The hints of yellow in warm grays telegraph earthiness, comfort, and coziness. When you test on walls, check colors morning, noon, and night, says Moore: “In some light, a yellowish gray can look taupe.” For rooms without much natural light, pick a warm shade; its slight golden hue will make a dark space less dreary.
A Shade Beyond White. Where once white was the go-to, gray has the same go-with-everything nature but it’s far more interesting.
Gray is Serene and Soothing. Though at face value a palette of grays might seem bleak, it’s actually sophisticated, with a hint of luxury, even.
Warm charcoal above the bright white wainscoting adds a lot of drama to this dining room but doesn’t get too flashy about it.
A citrus-yellow sofa with charcoal piping against a charcoal accent wall. Just about any bright color will pop with a gray backdrop.
Our favorite paint company, Benjamin Moore, has a collection of their five favorite shades of gray and they all look sensational. Their Aura environmentally friendly paint line is exceptional (paint and primer all rolled into one), true to color and usually one coat will cover unless you are selecting a darker hue.
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