How to decorate your home successfully using grey
February 4, 2021
Our experts explain the best ways to work with classic grey and reveal the rooms and colours it will look best.
Image: The CDA Group
Grey is the colour of the moment, with many of us rocking the grey hues in all parts of our homes. But, before we don our brushes and rollers, we wanted to get the lowdown from the experts on exactly which rooms grey works best in, the colours you can pair it with and more!
The grey phenomenon
Grey has been on our radar for a while now, with influencers across Instagram, Pinterest and beyond spreading the trend across the home. From living rooms and bedrooms, to bathrooms and kitchens, the trend is going nowhere fast.
Helen Shaw, director of Benjamin Moore Paint explains: ‘Grey has become our go-to for all rooms, whether that’s an accent wall, accessories, or flooring. There is no escaping the popularity of the cool hue, and while the trend is going nowhere anytime soon, we’re now seeing an increase in sales of warmer grey shades, aptly those ‘greige’ colours.
‘These hues work best with warm and cool schemes, which explains their popularity. They’re also timeless, and work with a wide range of colours, from rich terracotta tones, to soft sage hues.’
Image: Benjamin Moore
Which shades work best?
Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative at Farrow & Ball gives us her insight: ‘It’s important to look to grey as a neutral colour, especially when you’re using lighter shades. If you’re using it across the home, a browner based grey will warm up a cooler home, such as our Ammonite or Cornforth White paints. These work beautifully with warmer accessories, natural furnishings, and whites.
‘If you’re after a cooler undertone, instead look for bluer based greys such as Blackened or Pavilion Gray, pairing it with rich blue tones and fabrics as well as whites. This will keep your scheme timeless without the grey becoming too much.’
Does it ever work in the kitchen?
‘Grey can be hugely versatile in a kitchen, with so many different combinations! Two of the most successful ways to use it is either grey on grey, which is timeless and elegant. Ideal if you aren’t planning to redecorate. This in particular will work with a variety of different fittings including chrome, black and polished brass.
‘If you’re looking for something bolder in your kitchen, try a bluer version on the walls, a darker colour on the units and then blue or brick red accessories,’ Charlotte recommends.
What colours will compliment it in different rooms?
‘The ever popular bluer based greys will pair wonderfully with rich blue, brick red and terracotta shades, whereas browner versions can look stunning with an added punch of warm burnt orange and chartreuse yellow accessories, or even layered with more restful caramel and chocolate tones.
‘If you’d prefer to keep a lighter scheme, stick with clean whites as this leaves a room feeling fresh and almost like a blank canvas.’
What colour walls work in a living room with grey furniture?
Image: L.G Stone
‘For living rooms full of natural light keep the walls the same to enhance the beautiful all-day sun, opt for subtle undertones that will compliment your grey furnishings.
‘For rooms that lack natural light such as north-facing living rooms look to introduce something more cosetting that will again provide a beautiful backdrop to the furniture.’
Read more: 6 grey living room ideas to inspire you
What colour can work well alongside it?
‘A shade we’re seeing paired with grey a lot is teal, as this can softens teal whereas using something equally as vibrant will create more of a statement. Pairing them together makes it appear more sleek and sophisticated, and other bold colours will have the same impact.’
Using a statement colour with a subtler colour, like grey, will bring colour into your home without being too bright or garish; it’s ideal for updating a room whilst still keeping in the theme of your house.
Charlotte advises: ‘Usually a browner based shade will work best with teal, but a blue-based grey could work in a living room that lacks natural light, or perhaps in a teenager’s bedroom as a transition from a children’s room to something more grown up.’
Top tips for working with grey
Image: The London Tile Co
Tash Bradley, Colour and Interior Design expert at Lick, sustainable paint shares her quick fire tips if you’re working with grey across the home.
Do choose a rich-pigmented grey with an undertone
A flat grey carries no positive psychological benefits, it can actually generate a dull and lifeless emotional response, which is why I always recommend that my clients choose one with a coloured undertone. As it brings out the positive psychological traits in that undertone colour, for example:
- A pink undertone will generate a nurturing feeling
- A green undertone will bring life into a room
- A blue undertone can be very soothing
When it comes to pairing it with colours – match the undertone with colour
A lovely way to bring out the undertone in a grey is to partner it with the same, or similar colour, for example, something with a green undertone decorated with green will make the undertone more dominant and a grey with a pink undertone will partner beautifully with lilac or even red.
Consider the direction of natural light into the room
As grey can be quite cold, it’s really important to consider the natural light direction in the room you are decorating. If you have a north-facing room, I would choose one with a warm undertone, such as pink or lilac, whereas for a south-facing room, I would recommend a green and blue undertone.
Grey is a beautiful alternative to white
To offer a beautiful twist to any room, I recommend choosing it as an alternative to white, when decorating your woodwork. Following the same principles as above, make sure you are matching the undertone to the colours on your walls, to add elegance, character and drama to the room.
Make it pop
When it comes to using greys in decorating, I recommend that you tie in other colours, in order to prevent a room feeling subdued and dull. When used correctly with pops and accents of colour the grey really comes to life and shines an amazing elegant natural colour.
Will you be using grey around your home? Tweet us @goodhomesmag or post a comment on our Facebook page, or post a picture of your home on Instagram using the hashtag #ThisGoodHome for your chance to be featured on our Instagram.