top of page

...50 Shades of Gray?



Hello and welcome readers! How are you doing today? What ONE thing has been bright in your life this week?


I've been thinking on something, for a few days now, and thought that it might be fun to circle back and pick back up on the topic of color! And, once again, the tag line above was taken from a famous romance novel...that's my wicked sense of humor to bring you in to chat about color. More specifically, the color gray, which is not really a color at all, is the direction for today. Before you are disappointed by that statement, know that I have a couple "shades" of gray to offer you at the end...for those that insist upon paint and decoration using the "color" gray. And, before you second guess yourself should you be a fan of gray, wear gray, etc., a lot of what I offer is for thought or discussion. I am a color enthusiast and I experiment continually with color, especially in my home (homes). Being a confessed addict to all shades/hues of color, I find myself reading all the time about ways to use color, how to blend color/colors and the emotions/feelings associated with color. Always, remember that in the decorating arena, like art, it's always subjective. Being open to opinions and experiences from other people gives us a broader scope to appreciate and value (or eliminate) to find where we (you) end up on the color journey. Hopefully, if you do your own homework and deduce from all the information out there, by process of elimination, you will have found your own personal brand/style of decoration and color. OK, let's talk about that elusive color - GRAY...


To start with how the color gray is associated to things, let us consider a few common descriptions/phrases you most likely have heard...a gray sky (bad weather), a gray cast (on someones face), a gray mood...and we know that battleships are gray, brain matter is gray, stirrups at the GYN are gray (joy joy???)...and psychology adds that gray is associated with emotional distance and disconnection, as well as loneliness and depression. Before you head off for a grain of salt, let us add some positives, on the flip side. The color gray has also been recognized as a welcome color in the business world, thus a good choice to wear for a job interview. In this case, gray emits an aire of professionalism and sophistication without distraction. It is also said of gray that it reflects security, confidence and modesty...as well as intelligence, wisdom and knowledge. Not a bad rap sheet. However, the point of this particular exercise is to focus on the color gray as it relates to our interiors, specifically our homes.


If we blend in some of the information about the color gray as it relates psychologically and how it might affect our emotions, this could be just what you need to help you determine how much or how little you would incorporate gray into your interiors. Or to say that those with a tendency to be affected by color (thus affecting mood) then it would make sense to address where and when to add gray to your mix. For instance, because I know I am affected by color in my surroundings AND that I experience a level of seasonal depression during the winter months, I have avoided using gray in my interior designs, except in small doses (marble countertop with gray veins, kitchen appliances are gray stainless steel and kitchen countertop has black, white and gray). Moreover, all our walls are shades of white except our master bedroom which is pale blue. Hang in there, I have a couple of gray paint hues that will rock your world...they are simple and gorgeous. Moving on....The point is, is that gray is not bad; contrarily it makes for better investments like appliances and countertops that are one and done projects pieces. The trick is to bring in as much gray as you want for a room; in the furniture, paint and decoration you have chosen without it feeling like you just entered a dead zone. So...if you have a room painted gray or have lots of gray furnishings, the next step is to counterbalance the space with a pop of your favorite color through lamps, pillows, throws, artwork, wallpaper, floral arrangements and rugs. The result is that the "color" gray is your backdrop which then opens up into a soft scape with colorful accessories and/or complimentary pieces to give the eye something to delight in. Applying this strategy when decorating any room can result in breathtaking rooms where the eye can travel (which is what the brain and eyes naturally want to do in a room) . In these renderings, gray is the supporting role allowing dashes of color to appeal to the senses and play more center stage. The result could be a perfect respite for you and a beautiful space to come home to.


Gray is really a combination of all the colors diluted and mixed that ultimately turn into a garish color of gray. Consider the "set of 8 watercolor paint" by Crayola. Think of that paintbrush you dip into clear water to dilute the brush. After 4-5 color swirls, the water eventually turns "gray". This is what I want to emphasize about gray. It's really not a stand alone color; but rather a mix of all the colors...to make a "non color". Gray is somewhat of an enigma as well as an imposter. Gray always takes on the color it's next to. I find this so funny. It's a color that is unable to stand up by itself; it has to find itself or its identify in another color. This leads to the tendency with gray that people have the most trouble with...."finding the right gray". More often I hear that someone's ideal gray turned out to be: too green, too blue, too yellow or even too purple. So when you come across a perfect gray; able to stand alone as a quiet backdrop, ready to compliment an entire room, it's a great time to shout "BINGO"!


The BEST gray that I have found throughout my paint travels are as follows, and I've have seen them and can attest that they are just gorgeous to have. If I was looking to paint a room gray these would be my first and second choices:


  • Farrow and Ball Blackened (cool gray)

  • Benjamin Moore Silver Satin (warm white; don't shy from the definition of its lavender-gray undertone; it is beautiful)

Just know that the very best shade of gray will essentially be a white mixed with complimentary colors (red and green, blue and yellow etc.). White with just a little black will end up as a dull gray. I know this mix would seem obvious to arrive at a clean fresh gray, but it is not the case. This is one reason gray is hard to find/achieve. Finding a lovely shade of gray will offer a great feel to your room, whether your style is contemporary, eclectic, transitional or even country farmhouse (really!), and won't fight other pieces/colors you want to add to the room. You can consider it your "neutral" and run with it!!!!


I hope you found some encouragement in the use of the color gray and have fun with your own interior design.





12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All