Get Your Gray On (What You Need to Know About Decorating with Gray)

No question that gray is the new brown.  Do you love pastels, but don’t want them to look childish?  Choose a grayed version and it’s all sophistication.  Grayed pastels are rooted in Scandinavian design, which I personally love.  The gray below is about as true gray as you can get, but you can use gray without it being THIS gray.

I hear people say gray is cold – this doesn’t have to be the case.    Grays with the right undertones can be warm and soothing.  Peaceful, not at all cold.  I chose one of my favorites for my friend’s formerly chilly entry – Sherwin Williams’ Oyster Bay.  A great neutral with greenish-blue undertones. 

Another misconception is that adding gray to a color makes it look dingy.  Not true.  It makes it look grown-up and elegant.  The last thing you want is your new blue living room to look like a baby boy’s nursery!  With the right dose of gray, you can still have the color you want, but no baby connotations.  If you like the color below, Benjamin Moore’s Wales Gray 1585 might work for you.

In fact, I have found that whatever undertone is in the gray – that’s what you see when it’s up on the wall.  You make look at a small swatch that looks pure gray to you – but you paint a room with it and it looks totally blue because that’s the undertone that will emerge. 

Undertones of gray can be blue, green, purple, or taupe.  Make sure you like the undertones, because that’s what you’re gonna see the most of once it’s on the wall.   This room reads green, without a hint of mint.   Looks a lot like the Oyster Bay I used in that entry.

Grays with blue and green undertones work really well together, too.

You like chocolate browns with pink?  with blue?  Me, too – but gray (light gray to charchoal) with those colors is even better and looks super-current and fresh. 

And are you thinking that gray and brown don’t work together?  Oh, contraire!  Gray can bring your browns up to date.  Try Benjamin Moore’s Winterwood 1486 to get this look.

It’s all about knowing how much gray to use, and what undertones to look for.  But that’s what I’m here for.  If you need my help, find out more about a Color Consultation with The Decorologist.

Photo Credits:  Alkemie, StoneBrook Staging, My Home Ideas, Things That Inspire (4,5), Flickr (6,9), Decor Pad, The Lennoxx Zymichost.

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19 thoughts on “Get Your Gray On (What You Need to Know About Decorating with Gray)

  1. Amy says:

    This is a great post — very practical, educational, and enlightening. I knew I loved all the colors you chose for my house, but didn’t understand WHY although I kept thinking, “It’s kind of gray!” Keep up the good work! Those of us who are “design deficient” are counting on you! 🙂

  2. pk @ Room Remix says:

    Great post! Love the inspiration. I have gray in my home and am planning on adding some more. I like the warmer grays. Thanks so much for facebooking about the gift card giveaway on my blog! Hope you’re having a good weekend…

  3. Michelle L. says:

    LOVE how they turned that small closet into an office, in that picture with the pink. Wish I had one of those!

  4. Sherry Daniele says:

    Kristie – I’m so glad to have met you at Maria’s workshop, and to learn of your great blog! Wow! Also, I just love the photo of your friend’s foyer painted with Oyster Bay. What a beautiful color to use in there!

  5. Pingback: gray, color, decorating, home, interior, design, diva by design, Harlingen, RGV, home staging, feng shui

  6. Madeline says:

    Hope you can help. I am looking for a Benjamin Moore very light grey for a low light room with plum furniture. I do not want blue or beige undertones. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated…

  7. Sandy says:

    I have a yelow goldish color in the interior of my home . I want a nice grey that doesn’t look white but looks light grey . I have tried several and they all look blue . I want a true grey color. Than I want a darker grey and they all look purple . I don’t know what yo to .

  8. Ellen McKinnon says:

    We are looking for a light grey that has brown undertones. We have a lot of cherry colored wood trim in our house and we are looking for a grey that will look good with that. We are tired of the once pretty light brown color that is all over the house now.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Jennifer, you need to get SmallWall sample boards from Sherwin-Williams paint stores, or here’s a link:
      This is how I do it! You need large samples that you can move around to get a good idea of how the paint color will truly look. Get sample pints and paint up 2 full coats on these boards and use a hair dryer to dry them completely. Then you can hold them up on different parts of the room – on walls opposite windows (where the color will read lightest) and on window walls (where the color will read darkest), against fixed elements like carpet, tile, fireplace brick, etc. SmallWalls have an adhesive strip so you can stick them up on any wall – just be sure to put your proposed color right up against the trim or fixed element, step back 6+ feet, and see what you think. Test at different times of the day, as well! I hope that helps!

  9. Heather says:

    I’m trying to find a light to medium grey with no undertones I’m trying to go for a “farmhouse look” with greys and bright white molding, but EVERY sample I’ve tried ends up with a blue, green or purple undertone in it. I’ve painted whole rooms, parts of walls, you name it but cannot find just a soft grey that looks right. I’ve spent so much money on the samples, I easily could’ve painted my house 2-3 times by now. Any ideas or help on a color would’ve greatly apppreciated.

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