Shades of Grey

- Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Move over “builder-beige” there is a new neutral in town. Grey has ascended as the most commonly requested color for interior walls. And it is easy to see why. Today’s trendiest neutral is far more versatile and complex than yesterday’s dull and drab tan. After what seems like decades of uninspired and “safe” backdrops in our homes, I say, “Bring it on!”

Having just returned from the winter accessory trade show in Atlanta I can attest that grey is indeed everywhere in design right now. Wood finishes, furniture, upholstery, fabrics, bedding, and accessories were all on display in glorious shades and hues. Grey has emerged as “the” versatile color that works well with many styles; traditional to contemporary, rustic to modern, and sleek to industrial chic. Grey has come to the party and it is ready to play.

So how do you choose the right grey for your walls? How do you avoid making a mistake? Selecting the perfect color is not always as simple as picking a swatch from fan deck and buying a few cans of paint. Let me share some advice.

First, most greys are not “true” greys. A pure grey is a white base with a certain amount of black present. These greys may seem a little flat and lifeless. In reality many colors labeled as grey have undertones which are not obvious until compared side-by-side to another grey. Some of these undertones are blue and resonate cool, some are red or brown and add warmth, and some are green and read the most neutral in a space.

Many people gravitate to the cooler blue-greys first. When using these greys add some warmth with natural woods and gold or copper tinted metal accents. Remember you will want to strike a balance between warm and cool tones.

Red or brown-based greys are earthier and more cozy, like taupe or moleskin. Compliment these shades with cooler blue accents like pillows or pottery. Warm grey walls work well for displaying art. Everything from classic antique prints to modern, abstract art will look wonderful with a medium grey backdrop.

Green-based greys tend to go with anything and can create a serene sanctuary when used on the walls. They seem to always work! A greenish grey also evokes peace and balance. It is an excellent choice for bedrooms because it is soothing and peaceful. Who doesn’t want to be in a relaxing environment to start and end their day?

Another thing to consider is the value - the relative lightness or darkness of a color. If you have a northern facing room with limited natural light then you may want a lighter gray for a more ethereal effect. Consider a silvery platinum. A well-lit space with a southern or western exposure could handle a strong grey shade. How about a smoky steel? There are so many possibilities.

So, go ahead and get serious about giving that boring beige the boot. Try on a shade or two of grey and see just what your walls have been missing.

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