Behind the Color Gray

Learn how gray infuses cool elegance and sophistication into your space.
Calm and Sophisticated

Calm and Sophisticated

Photo courtesy of Randy Weinstein

Photo courtesy of Randy Weinstein

By: Jeannie Matteucci
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If you long for serenity, using the color gray in your home decor is a great place to start. Gray has an inherent calmness and sophistication. You can choose a solid gray that symbolizes strength, or go for a softer gray that offers a more delicate feel.

While some find gray murky and depressing, others respond to gray's ability to make other colors sing. A favorite neutral of designers, many use it as a background color, or mix different tones and shades of gray together to create a feel of simple glamour.

Gray can also soften a loud sofa or provide the perfect backdrop that allows wood accents to shine. While some consider gray too serious for a playful space like a child's bedroom or relaxed family room, many shades and tones of gray are ideal for masculine spaces like a den.

6 Ways With Gray Interiors

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Nurturing Living Room

In nature, gray is associated with stone and green with stems from plants. Combine the two hues in a gathering space to evoke a feeling of strength and growth. Make a room look contemporary by combining gunmetal gray and light green. Designed by Gail Drury

From: Drury Design

A Smart Combination

Gray makes other colors sing. While orange reflects innovation, gray is associated with knowledge. When mixed with warm shades of red-orange tangerine, gray adds a layer of sophisticated energy to the room. Designed by Ana Donohue

Photo By: Michael J Lee

Restful Master Bath

Gray and white is a classic color combination that provides a clean, crisp look for kitchens and bathrooms. Chinchilla-gray walls mixed with white molding create a relaxing mood in this master bath.

Photo By: Olson Photographic LLC

Romantic Powder Room

Design a romantic space with a pop of blush. This powder room showcases a dove- and charcoal-gray wallpaper with a funky, geometric design. For a vintage feel, use any lively colored vanity to stand out against a gray wall. Designed by Brian Patrick Flynn

Fun Eating Area

Gray acts as a neutral hue in many designs, which is why you can pair it with almost any color. A midcentury modern space featuring a dark gray comes to life when mixed with warm wooden textures and vibrant accents of red and orange. Designed by Brian Patrick Flynn

Dramatic Kitchen

This kitchen, designed by Rob Stewart, features a navy blue, art deco range against a light gray glass backsplash. Black cabinetry ties this cool combination together cohesively.

Photo By: Photographer:Neil

Create a romantic bedroom with lighter tones. Driftwood-gray walls can add a beach-house feel to a casual living room. If you need a quiet background for more vibrant colors in a sitting room, deep charcoal walls can get the job done. Gray and white is a classic color combination that provides a clean and crisp look for kitchens and bathrooms.

Go Outside With Gray

Use gray to highlight architecture on the exterior of your house. Certain tones are common throughout the Colonial era, and colors like light weathered gray, charcoal gray and slate gray are popular choices for roof tiles and shingles. The grays on the stone siding of a gothic-style house combined with a burgundy-red front door can create a prominent and dramatic entry.

"I like gray because it's dependable," says interior designer Elaine Ryan. "It's an anchor color. A house painted gray with black glossy shudders and white trim is stunningly beautiful."

Ways to Achieve a Mood With Gray

  • Dove gray is a soft and soothing neutral that pairs well with plums and violets.
  • Use red walls with a charcoal-gray ceiling for a glamorous dining room.
  • If you want a space that feels soft and inviting, consider a cloud gray and ecru or fawn color scheme.
  • Create a stylish bedroom with personality by combining slate-gray walls with touches of chartreuse.

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