A recent visit to a Designer Show House opened my eyes to the popularity of the color…or lack of color…“gray”! Some of the rooms were designed with gray as the main color but done in varying shades as you see in this lovely contemporary living room setting. The clean, curvilinear lines and geometric shapes are expected in contemporary style, and the cool gray gives this room extra sophistication.
Although most think of gray as a lack of color, even gray can have subtle nuances of colors from the rainbow. They can have blue or violet undertones and be considered cool gray, while a yellow or red undertone would make a gray much warmer. Deciphering the undertone can be tricky, and it’s easiest when you have several grays to compare side by side. The cooler tones versus warmer tones will pop out at you much more easily.
What is so nice about neutrals is that they are very compatible with each other and they can also show off the brightest and boldest colors of the rainbow. Gray tends to be a bit bland without another color to jazz it up and can project a feeling of loneliness or even depression if there aren’t other colors added to help perk it up.
One choice, as you see in the living room, is to accent a gray with colors similar to its undertone. The gray on the sofa has a violet undertone, thus the plum pillows look wonderful. In the gray chair with the deep blue undertone, blues compliment – orange, is the perfect choice for an accent.
When you take a look at the color psychology of gray, it is somewhat indecisive. It is neither white nor black, but sits right in the middle. If it is deeper, like a charcoal, it looks mysterious and dramatic, like black. As it approaches white and becomes more silver it does get a bit livelier and bright. In this room the light sofas are the perfect background for rich deep grey pillows. Gray can be a dignified and classic color for accents in a room where too much could make the room look a bit lifeless.
You’ve heard of being in “a gray area”, or in the middle of two differing ideas, maybe indecisive or uncertain. And, when the skies become gray we tend to curl up and prepare to hide from the elements. This can be interpreted in interiors as well. If gray is used extensively it might indicate the need for someone to hide or perhaps they lack self confidence and are using the gray to disappear.
So, the best way to use gray is in rooms that you want to feel reserved and elegant. Mix deep dramatic tones with light silver tints to balance the shadows with the light. You can battle boredom by adding a splash of color in accessories and artwork. Living rooms, home offices, and master bedrooms are candidates for gray color schemes because there can be a serious quality to those spaces and a need to project stability and calm which gray can afford you. Or, use it outside where the sun can lighten and brighten it, and in the winter you won’t even know it’s there!
Just a quick note to end, gray can be spelled both with an “a” which is the American version and an “e” which is thought of as the British version!