Having just completed the interior design for a recently sold property from top to bottom, I was recently asked “What’s your go-to colour?”
My immediate and resolute response: “Grey.”
This admission was met with open-mouths and incredulous stares as I was advised in no uncertain terms that ‘grey’ is not a colour that should even be considered as a ‘go-to’, simply because it’s just so boring. So boring in fact that it’s almost invisible.
But I don’t think it’s boring. In fact, if ‘grey’ could talk, I think it would be quietly non-judgmental. Rather down to earth, and a fantastic listener. It has a presence. It says, “I mean business”.
And it seems that grey does have many supporters particularly in interior design circles where it is the shade of the moment with no signs of it fading.
I love the romanticism of it
It’s neutralness. It’s soft, calming presence. It’s actually formally, informal! It’s a classy colour. It’s a classic colour. It’s a welcoming shade that can pair effortlessly with other classics. Think charcoal. Or pastels such as baby pink.
Gone are the days when the key neutrals seen in every home…” Yes, yes, we’re going for the magnolia – neutrals are best, we’ll add colour accents with some bright cushions…” were bottom of the barrel beige. Grey now reigns supreme as the trendy base colour of choice, primarily due to its versatility and chicness.
Grey is timeless. Grey is on-trend. Grey allows us to be as subtle, or as bold, as we dare. And a muted palette of greyness can work in the kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. On floors, walls, ceilings, furniture, accessories…it is always neutrally stylish.
Grey may be ‘boring’ and ‘colourless’, which incidentally, stems from the fact that un-dyed wool was grey, but imagine the drama when it is teamed with a vibrant burnt orange. Or paired with a deep mustard yellow. A bright teal blue or a stunning emerald green.
Grey can be warmed up, or cooled down, depending on how we want to pair our greys with our furniture. Cool greys have hints of blues or green within them, making them the perfect partner for pale wood. Or how about warming things up with contrasting sheepskins and cosy faux fur throws.
But wait. Is grey simply a colour of compromise because it sits somewhere in the middle, between the two extremes of black and white?
And, I have to ask, are there really 50 shades of grey?
Well I believe that grey is most definitely not a colour of compromise. It is a colour in its own right, and one which has worked extremely hard to rise up the ranks within the interior design world, and for that alone, grey deserves to be given some credit.
As for 50 shades of grey, there are in fact around 500 shades of grey* which can be distinguished by the human eye and this perhaps goes some way towards explaining why grey has become an interior designers’ favourite!
But even with this huge selection of varieties, it doesn’t mean we can simply slap some grey on a wall or a floor, or purchase a grey statement piece and expect the magic to happen within our interiors.
The space must be balanced carefully – and here’s how…
- Soften a small space by painting walls in a light grey with warm undertones.
- Create a clean, spacious and neutral feel in a kitchen using grey as a softer alternative to white.
- Use grey as a super punchy backdrop against furniture in lighter and darker hues of grey.
- Layer multiple shades of grey to avoid a flat, dull colour.
- Looking for impact? Pair grey with metallics for a super stunning effect.
- Want drama? Choose grey styled alongside black and white for a moody look.
- Try bold botanical prints -they work effortlessly with grey tones.
- Test it first! Paint one wall grey as a ‘feature’ wall.
- Don’t ignore the floor – work upwards by choosing a classy grey rug.
- For a touch of luxury, add grey marble accessories.
- Grey painted furniture will bring light and interest to a room.
- Keep skirting boards white for crisp definition against your grey.
- Don’t want to go full on grey? Choose ‘greige’ – a grey with a hint of brown!
The shift towards creating a stylish home in Birmingham that is also a comforting retreat from the outside world means that, in my opinion at least, for homeowners who require a chic, classy and enduring look, grey is most definitely here to stay.
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