Wednesday 27 February 2013

Decorating with Grey - How To Successfully Use Grey In Your Home

I have a current passion with the colour grey, the correct spelling of which provokes a little controversy. Some people view it spelled, "gray", others as,"grey". Therefore, with little bit of research, I have determined that both are equally correct and I've therefore decided to continue using "grey" as the spelling common to the Southern hemisphere... Have I nothing better to think about, I hear you say.

I always thought of grey as a moody, dull colour just like "grey skies", but in actual fact it is far from it. Last week I caught up with some friends from my pre-expat days, who have just moved into their newly renovated house. They chose a neutral grey palette throughout their 2 storey home and it is just fabulous. No way is it dull or drab, instead, light, bright and welcoming and instantly I was wishing I had used this colour on my own walls. Two different tones of grey were used, one on the downstairs walls and a slightly deeper tone upstairs in the master bedroom.  At this point in time you will have to forgive me that I cannot remember the shades but I will find out and update this post later. 

When thinking about introducing grey into your home, you can either use it on your walls, or alternatively introduce it by way of furniture or accessories. If you decide on a whole palette of greys you can easily introduce an accent colour to change the mood One such colour that works wonderfully with grey is yellow. The opposite to "grey skies" is "sunny skies" and we all know the sun is associated with the colour yellow. 

I think a lot of us may shy away from grey, as I have already said, associating it with being dull, however, it is a colour that is far from dull if the correct tones and accents are chosen correctly as can be seen in the collages I have put together below. What is important is the "tone" of grey we choose for our interiors. The lightest tone of grey on walls still allows a feeling of spaciousness and can brighten a dark room, dark grey on a wall, however, may become oppressive. If dark grey is used on one wall alone, for example behind a bed, it can evoke a wonderful feeling of drama and romance. Remember when using a dark grey next to a light background, it will make that area appear much nearer and a small room even smaller.

Today I want to show you some perfect accent colours that work with grey and also share two very different grey interiors. The first interior is an apartment in Sweden, behind this dark exterior lies a light, airy apartment with a touch of masculinity. The second interior has definite country feel, both of these interiors are "tone on tone" meaning they are a neutral palette of grey tones with no accent colours, although the apartment does have an accent colour of green in the living area by way of a few accessories. I want to illustrate how grey can be used in both a contemporary or traditional interior and look far from drab.

This second home is located in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, again tone on tone, however a completely different style of home.

More images and information about this lovely home can be found at Atlanta Homes Mag

Grey can be used to create many atmospheres, from feminine to masculine, traditional to contemporary and this can be clearly seen by the introduction of accent colours below. See how it works beautifully with pink for a child's nursery, creating a light, bright but ultimately feminine and cosy nursery. Cleverly added textures such as the rug and velour chair bring extra touches of interest to this palette.

Accent colours that work wonderfully with grey are...

Grey &Yellow

Grey &Green

Grey &Pink

Grey &Blue

Grey &Red

Tone on Tone - Grey on Grey

I think its clear now, when using grey, it's not the colour itself but how we choose to use the colour. Its tone/shade, how much grey we introduce,  the accent colours we combine it with, all must be thought about collectively and creatively. If you were to choose grey what accent colour would you choose or would you stick to a pale tone on tone palette, what would work for you? Resene alone have 50 shades of grey.  If you have grey in your home, I would love to hear how you have used it and if you've never liked grey, have I converted you?


  1. We've just painted the outside of our house a light grey and it looks fantastic. I love it as an interior colour too, completely neutral, but looks gorgeous and feminine with my fav hot pink! x

    1. Ditto Vic, my house has been painted in Karen Walker, Foggy Grey, it looks fabulous, we are currently in process of re-painting the windows in Resene, Black white, wondering what colour grey you used. Foggy grey is a beautiful grey without any blue and works wonderfully on our bagged brick home.

      Lee :)

  2. I am in the middle of renovating my 1930's Dunedin bungalow. I wanted to use grey on the walls in my open plan living area as I love soft dove greys, but couldn't find one that worked. I didn't want a cool grey but found everything else I tried looked too pinky. Instead I have gone for white walls, grey upholstered furniture, and a white kitchen with the island painted resene fuscous grey. If you can suggest a light to mid grey that is not too cool but doesn't throw pink/purple undertones would love to know. Thanks, love your blog, Melanie

    1. Hi Melanie, thank you for taking time to comment. Please check here again next week, I will do a bit of research on grey for you and also find out the greys my friend used as they were not cool and were light and definitely did not reflect pink.

      Possibly if you are having a problem with greys reflecting pink, that there may be a colour in your surroundings that is affecting the grey, for example wooden floorboards can reflect and affect a neutral wall colour, significantly changing it, as can the colour of carpet or tiles too.

      I would be interested to know which greys you have tested and also when you painted the swatches, what colour was lying next to them or underneath them?

      When trying a swatch you need to completely obliterate the colour below by painting a large area in white then paint your swatch over the top once you have got rid of the undercolour. I like to leave a white margin around of about 5". I then take my various colours and if I am testing, lets say greys, I would paint the greys side by side so I can clearly see how that grey reacts and what colours it throws when placed beside another grey. I am sure you have done all this already, maybe it is just the wrong greys so as I have said I will come back next week and give you a few more colours to try out.

      Can you let me know what colour is on your floors and how light the room is with regards to "windows", natural light coming in?

      This could be a whole new post.

      Lee :)

  3. I too spend much time thinking about grey and gray and which is the right one to use. Often when I am searching on Pinteret I'll have a go with the "e" and "a" version. In fact I actually can't remember what is the spelling I grew up with lol. Loving the grey/gray post. Such fabulous inspiration. - Olivia

  4. I'm with you... the grays are amazing. They are much more rich and complex than one would expect, and can flatter so many other colors. The examples above are delicious. I could die over that gray tufted sofa... and the room with pink and gray, soooo yummy!


  5. I totally agree with you - grey is not a dull or boring color when using it the right way! I really like the examples you have chosen, especially the first Swedish apartment, totally my taste! As for accent colors used together with grey, I'm totally in love with the combination of grey, white and light turquoise... :)
    Have a great day!

    1. Thank you Anu for your comment, I am glad you loved the Swedish apartment and I agree grey, white and turqouise is stunning. I also love grey with a pop of bright pink and white for a bedroom.

      Lee :)

  6. What great ideas! Please share it on a terrific linky – Design Décor Tuesday. See you there! ☺


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