Home Decorating Interiors 101: Decorating with Gray

Interiors 101: Decorating with Gray

Gray has been trending in home decor for years, which is no surprise since it's a fresh-feeling neutral that can go in almost any style of decor—from farmhouse to avant-garde. However, gray is a notoriously tricky color: Done right it can be elegant and inviting. Done wrong you can end up with an interior that feels institutional. Part of what makes gray complicated is the many shades of this seemingly simple color: Blue-grays, green-grays, cement grays, and pearly pale grays. The nuance lies in the undertone: There's always some sort of color in the base of gray. If you’re thinking of making a big commitment to gray, say as a wall color, upholstery fabric, or large area rug, get a sample to test it out in your space before you commit. Then follow these six tips to use this versatile color in your home:

Understand your Undertones

Gray is rarely just black and white mixed together: There’s always a bit of color mixed into the hue, aka the undertone. While it may be hard to pick out the exact color mixed in with your gray, the most essential skill is to discern if a gray skews warm or cool, and match it to the rest of your room scheme. For example, warm woods look best with a warm gray, like this striped rug. Whether you go cool or warm will ultimately depend on your specific room, the light it gets, and the feeling you wish to create.  

Use Gray as a Supporting Color

Designers usually avoid making gray the sole focus of a room. Rather, they treat gray as a foundation for color. Here, Lea Johnson, the blogger behind Creekwoodhill, chose our gray Citra rug for her blue and white living room. The neutral geometric rug adds pattern and tone to this space without taking away from the focal point of the curtains.

Choose Gray for a Classic Bath

Bathrooms are primed for gray accents. Natural gray stone, including classic Carrera, is a popular design choice in bathrooms. Plus, soft gray textiles like rugs, towels, and window treatments pair nicely with the crisp white of porcelain sinks and tubs.

Layer in Lots of Texture

Texture is key to any successful interior, but especially when working with a less colorful palette, like one built around grays. Pair gray with woods with a visible grain, layered textiles, and shaggy rugs to add visual interest. To add texture to walls, try gray grasscloth or textured limewash paints.

Wake Up an All-White Scheme

While the white-on-white look can be gorgeous, especially in the kitchen or bath, a little bit of contrast goes a long way. Subtler than black or color, touches of gray are a quiet way to enliven an all-white room. Case in point: A striped runner and cool metallic drawer pulls lend welcome contrast to this crisp white kitchen.

Add Gray Accents

Gray has been trending in the home market for years for a good reason: It’s a wildly versatile neutral. Gray can coordinate with almost any bright color, so it’s easy to add gray accents to just about any room. Whether it’s a gray striped duvet in a pretty pink bedroom, a smoke-colored pillow against a bright red sofa, or a gray rug underfoot, gray truly goes with everything!

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