Since gray is racing into the design world to replace brown, I have been hearing all kinds of reactions about how cold it is, with people saying ‘I would never decorate with gray’.
I even had a reader who sent me an email asking about a statement a designer had made, ‘You can’t mix two neutrals together; therefore, brown and gray can’t go together’ and I’m here to tell you, yes they can. And trust me, when gray becomes as mainstream as brown is right now, you will probably want it in some shape or form in your house!
The other day I picked up an old House & Garden Magazine and flipped it open to this interior by Steven Gambrel his interiors will explain what I’m saying the best (all images in this post from his website):
Muted blues are tricky to specify for the walls because people often get them confused between greeny grays and blue grays. A gray that technically ‘reads’ like a neutral gray on the walls is usually a green gray, like HC-173 Edgecomb Gray (below) here the ceilings are the same colour:
Basically if you want blue walls, you need to actually select a blue gray so that you don’t end up with baby blue.
If you look closely at this kitchen (above) the stone countertop and flooring and subway tile have a green undertone while the interior panels of the doors have been painted a blue-gray. It’s subtle and doesn’t look necessarily wrong (to the untrained eye) but can you see it now that I’m describing the difference? Most people can.
I prefer this combination of grays (above), because it looks more intentional. A more sophisticated analogous colour scheme with the blue gray walls and toss cushion paired with the greeny gray drapery, upholstery and carpeting. A small sidenote–this is not a colour combination I would use when decorating (too cold for me in general), I am simply showing it to demonstrate the two grays and because I think it has been tastefully done.
See how this room really looks like a cold blue gray? Well there it is; the extreme of gray. But as you can see by all the images prior to this one, there is a huge variation of grays that simply provide a calm, neutral backdrop when mixed with warm colours.
Rooms that are the most interesting and sophisticated, usually have a well balanced combination of warm and cool colours which have been introduced by the flooring (shown above) or the warmer tones in the furniture itself.
All images from S.R. Gambrel
Here Steven has taken blue and green and warmed them up and away from gray undertones for the decor of this room!
Obviously most of these images are very tone on tone and neutral so for many of you, it’s too much gray, but I hope I’ve shown that when someone says ‘gray’, they are probably not thinking about the coldest blue gray in the paint deck!
It’s all in the Undertones, download my ebook here if you really want to get your gray right. (if you have a computer you can download my book)
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