Choosing accent colors for gray is an art form that is explained perfectly here. When decorating any room in your home, you might feel like there's something missing and that could well be an accent color. This technique of adding in an unexpected shade in small areas of the room is one of the quickest ways to add drama to a space, while creating a harmonious scheme.
Decorating with gray has been de rigueur in interior design for many years now. Undeniably the enduring neutral, this cool color adds a sophisticated edge, elegance and a refinement to a room, and is a go-to for anyone who wants an easy-to-live with tone that's easy to color scheme and redecorate around, but what are the accent colors for gray?
Getting accent color ideas spot on isn’t always simple. Here, design experts tell us their favorite no-fail, classic and brave accent colors for gray, plus color trends and room color ideas for the year ahead.
Accent colors for gray
We’ve asked a panel of industry experts for their views on what accent colors work well with gray for them – using a color wheel will help you get it right.
1. Pair gray with yellow in an entryway
Paint ideas are the perfect way to transform a space quickly and easily, adding personality and character to create an inspired interior, says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene (opens in new tab).
'Natural wood and textures combine beautifully with more neutral interiors, tonal in color, they add an additional layer of depth and interest,' says Ruth Mottershead. 'Adding a sliver of a brighter shade such as ‘Marigold’, which looks fantastic as a thick stripe echoing the architectural line of the balustrade, will really lift the space and give a revitalizing color highlight.'
2. Team maroon with a pale gray to add depth
'Decorating with gray is a versatile color to scheme with as it can carry cooler and warmer tones such green, blue and pinks which can successfully offset and balance other colors,' says Katie Lion, senior interior designer at Kitesgrove (opens in new tab). 'Here we wanted to draw upon the warmer pink undertones on the gray fabric headboard and balance this with a rich maroon to add depth and interest in the space. This balance of gray and maroon work particularly well in a bedroom as it is warm and enveloping without overpowering the space.'
3. Choose caramel for an inviting feel
'Caramel works well with almost everything,' says Lindye Galloway, founder and chief creative officer at Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop (opens in new tab). 'I specifically love the way it works with gray but it can also be complementary to white, off-white, brown, blush, even yellow, teal, and orange. The color combination of gray and caramel makes a space feel very inviting in most settings, and works extremely well in Mid-century modern spaces with rich caramel wood furniture.'
4. Offset mid-grays with ivory in a contemporary space
Although there has been a move towards bolder colors, beige and neutral flooring remain at the heart of most homes; providing a perfect base whilst allowing design enthusiasts to be adventurous and creative in the rest of their space.
'Gray interiors have become increasingly popular over recent years, with gray flooring giving a scheme a base that can easily be brightened or toned down with furniture and accessories,' says Punam Chada, carpet buyer at Carpetright (opens in new tab).
5. For a smart contemporary edge, choose off-black
Daring and decadent, black bedroom ideas can be difficult to get right, but once mastered, they can add an elegant confidence to your space like no other color, especially when paired with gray.
'If you’re looking for something contemporary, black is a good way to go,' says George Miller, home designer at Neptune (opens in new tab). 'Painted woodwork is a nice means of exploring this accent color – our off-black shade Charcoal really modernizes our classic Wardley four poster bed. We’ve also welcomed a new Warm Black paint to our collection, it's deep, enveloping and a little softer than other blacks.'
6. Create contrast with barely black, slate gray and coral
As well as working well with whites that lift, neutral shades can also be easily combined with darker colors, and this is a great way to bring warmth and intimacy to any space. Darker colors work really well in small rooms with very little light to create a sense of coziness.
'Here ‘Basalt’ seems almost black and balances beautifully with ‘French Grey Pale’, a fabulous alternative to white that is neither too warm nor too cold and therefore very flexible in lots of different lights and spaces, whilst 'Orange Aurora' brings a touch of coral to the painted stool, and is a welcome splash of contrasting color,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene (opens in new tab).
7. Play with light and dark for a striking look
Steel gray and stone are an excellent combination if you wish to create a contemporary feel. This rustic dining room has a mixture of classic and modern style furniture so painting the walls in two shades carries that design aspect through perfectly. Painting the darker color on the bottom half of the walls grounds the look and makes the room still feel spacious.
8. Warm a mid-gray bedroom with mustard
'Gray bedroom ideas have been a popular choice for interiors for some time as it pairs well with so many other colors, although settling on accents isn’t always easy, ochre shades, like our Mustard paint and Isla Finch velvet, will soften any cold undertones that your grey scheme may have,' says George Miller, home designer at Neptune (opens in new tab).
9. Use a winning combination of blue and gray
Thanks to the tonal versatility of these universally loved colors, blue and gray pair beautifully together for your kitchen color ideas. 'For example, Mylands’ deep blue Bond Street™ No. 219, shown here in a striking space by Middleton Kitchens, is a bold and intense color and it pairs perfectly with neutral colors, particularly lighter shades of gray, which help to counter balance the visual impact of the deep blue,' says Dominic Mylands, CEO of Mylands (opens in new tab).
10. Try charcoal gray with a gentle green for a calming bathroom
For a calm and relaxing gray bathroom idea, charcoal grays such as ‘Vulcan’ provide a cocooning sense of warmth. It contrasts perfectly with the white elements within this bathroom, creating a spa-like feel, keeping it fresh and elegant. 'At the other end of the spectrum, it also pairs very well with a muted green, such as ‘Livid’, shown here on the bath and window sill,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene (opens in new tab).
What accent color goes with gray?
The best accent colors that go with gray are the ones that sing out. Surprisingly, you can go very wrong when decorating with grey. For example, a one-grey scheme will look flat and uninviting, so ensure you introduce other grays, neutrals and warmer shades with accent colors, layering and texture in interior design. Equally, decorating with gray and primary colors or pastel colors will look wrong – the best matches are earthy, natural shades that add an element of warmth to your scheme.
Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events. For H&G, she writes features about interior design – and is known for having an eye for a beautiful room.
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