Gray is a color that often divides opinion among interior designers and homeowners: some love this cool-toned classic hue, while others dislike it for its overuse in recent years.
Gray falls into the neutral category – albeit a much cooler variation than other popular neutrals such as beige, ivory, and brown – and is therefore often used in kitchens, a room that needs to be designed with longevity and practically front of mind.
But what do interior designers have to say about gray kitchens in 2024? Are they still relevant? And if they are, how can you style this cool hue while avoiding an outdated look? We posed these questions to the interior design experts, rounding up their opinions below. So, whatever your preconceptions are about decorating with gray in the kitchen, keep reading to see this color in a new light.
Are gray kitchens still in style?
David Samuel Ko, founder of Los Angeles-based interior design firm Maison Ko says that gray kitchens are a classic choice for lots of homes. When asked if gray kitchens are still in style, he responded: 'Definitely! I think colorful kitchens will always be in style as long as it ties in with the rest of your house. I would never shy away from a gray palette if it went well with the rooms next to it.'
However, he advises that adding gray as an accent color can appear outdated: 'I think accent walls and cabinetry are out, so if you plan to paint your cabinets to bring a "pop" to your otherwise all-white space, then I would advise against it.'
He continues, suggesting that if classic, mid-tone grays don't cut it for you, opt instead for greige paints, bringing some warmth to this otherwise cool color: 'If you are sick of the classic gray color, opt for more greige or mushroomy tones.'
Kara Piepmeyer, interior designer and founder of Los Angeles-based design studio Studio Kosma, agrees that gray kitchens have a certain timeless quality to them, meaning 'Gray kitchens will always be in style.'
She continues to point out the wide variety that comes with the color gray, meaning there is likely some shade of gray that will suit your interior style: 'Whether warm or cool, dark or light, blue-based or with green undertones, the exact shade of grey will set the mood for the space. A dark, dusty hue looks formal and moody. Lighter tones feel a bit more ethereal. Grey cabinets look great in a more modern style or on cabinets with traditional detailing.'
For designer Luis Carmona, founder of VERDE Interior Design, gray kitchens are still in style, but their effectiveness is all about how you style this hue: 'Whether gray kitchens are still in style is as controversial of a question as do you spell gray with an "e" or an "a"? In my opinion, gray kitchens are still in style, but like most other spaces in the home, it is all about the way it is designed. Gray is a color that if overused or used improperly can give any room a damp, somber appearance. The color gray is often associated with cloudy days which is why, albeit a popular color, it is sometimes frowned upon.'
Luis Carmona is the owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design. With almost two decades of experience in the creative space (interior design, advertising, and marketing), Carmona gets to blend his many passions into one design studio, offering services to commercial and residential clients in both Houston and Dallas.
How to create a stylish gray kitchen
So, if you're intrigued by gray kitchens and are looking to channel this cool neutral in your own home, we've explored three different ways to create a gray kitchen that feels current and classic.
1. Provide balance with contrasting furnishings
To ensure your gray kitchen doesn't feel overpowering, make sure to consider balancing different elements by mixing both dark and light tones. 'Hitting the right amount of contrast is the key to balancing it all out,' explains Kara. 'If the floors are a dark tone, consider a mid-range gray cabinet. Look to lighter counter materials if the cabinetry is a darker gray.'
Gray can sometimes appear very flat, which is especially true when one tone is used across various elements of a space, as Kara explains. Take inspiration from the deVOL kitchen pictured above, which shows how you can fully embrace gray kitchen cabinets but offset this standout hue with plenty of bright white used throughout the space.
Kara Piepmeyer founded her Los Angeles interior design studio Studio Kosma in 2021, having gained more than 10 years' experience in the design world and a Master of Interior Architecture. Her design process focuses on creating customized spaces for her clients that feel deeply authentic and unique.
2. Add plenty of warmth
Since gray is a cool color, it can often result in an interior scheme that feels cold and even unwelcoming. To use gray in your kitchen but still maintain that much-desired cozy feel, adding lots of warm tones will help you achieve this. 'If you have a gray kitchen or want one, the key is to balance out the gray with softer and warmer tones and elements,' suggests Luis. 'The goal is to have other elements in the space complement the gray in the space without either set of elements fighting for attention.'
While there are many ways to add warmth to a gray kitchen, opting for natural wood is a classic and timeless way to do so. The natural warmth of wood brings a textural feel to the space, and when you opt for a light-toned wood as pictured above in a deVOL kitchen, it instantly brings life to the whole space, uplifting the cool-toned cabinets. This can work well in many interior styles, but it naturally lends itself perfectly to farmhouse kitchens and rustic kitchens.
3. Choose the right appliances
Choosing the right appliances and fixtures is a critical decision in any kitchen, but it's especially important for gray kitchens. Experts say that opting for stainless steel appliances can appear dull in a gray kitchen, so you should instead look to bring in some contrast with warm metal fixtures.
'One main element to consider in a gray kitchen is stainless steel appliances,' says Luis. 'When you have gray cabinets and stainless steel appliances, they tend to create a gray mask over the space. This is your chance to explore other appliance finishes such as dual-tone options or even a colored oven combination. They tend to be a nice statement piece in a kitchen that draws your eye as you enter the space.'
Additionally, apply the same principle to hardware such as cabinet door handles and taps. By choosing gold-colored or brass metals instead of chrome or silver, you will instantly bring a feeling of warmth to the space.
There's no doubt that gray kitchens are still in style. When designed thoughtfully, gray can be an incredibly effective kitchen color choice that feels timeless and neutral. Whether you have a modern kitchen or a traditional kitchen, gray can be incorporated as long as an element of balance is achieved.
Looking for more design help with your kitchen? Below, you can shop deVOL's guide to designing kitchens which will help give you inspiration for a space that's both practical and personal to you.
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Emily Moorman is a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, working across a range of topics spanning interiors, celebrity and emerging trends. With a background in the fashion industry, Emily is well-versed in the world of design and trend cycles. Her undergraduate degree was in Fashion Communication and Promotion which she studied at Norwich University of The Arts, specialising in writing and digital communications.
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