Grey room ideas – 12 ways to use this versatile shade
Be inspired to embrace monochrome decorating with these grey room ideas
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Grey room ideas are enduringly popular and it's easy to see why. A neutral color, grey makes a wonderful foundation for layering different colors, prints and materials as part of a characterful interior, plus it can be used in any room in the house.
While the shade may be seen as a safe choice, with a spectrum ranging from off-white to mid greys and the deepest charcoals, grey can be used to create all manner of styles, from calm and tranquil to dramatic and luxurious depending on the tones you use.
If you're thinking of decorating with grey we've rounded up a host of different of room designs which prove just how versatile this shade can be to help get you inspired.
Grey room ideas
When it comes to grey room ideas the options are endless. As it pairs well with nearly every color, grey makes a fantastic shade for walls and floors, serving as a popular room color idea and a sophisticated alternative to white for those looking to stamp their personality on a space with colorful furniture, fabrics and artwork.
'Grey is a wonderful, sophisticated color, constructed of various shades and undertones. Not only is it a wonderful companion to other neutral shades, it also has the power to balance out bold accent colors,' says Jodie Hatton, design manager at Brintons (opens in new tab).
While being a brilliant base for showcasing the latest color trends, it's important not to overlook the power of a monochrome scheme – all-grey rooms can look show-stopping, particularly when layered with an array of textures and varying tones to give them life and depth.
Getting the tone right is particularly important when decorating with grey as the depth of the shade will have a big impact on the look and feel of the space.
'The paler the tone, the more it will reflect the available light, the darker the tone, the more light it will absorb. So a pale grey would be good if you wanted to make a room look larger, a deep charcoal would make it appear smaller,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown (opens in new tab).
1. Choose light grey for a timeless kitchen
When it comes to kitchens longevity is an important design factor as they are a big investment. Opting for a grey kitchen, with cabinets in a light pebble grey shade, will keep kitchens feeling bright and welcoming, which is important considering they are spaces in which we spend lots of time.
'Grey works really well within a kitchen as it adds a neutral base for the space. The kitchen will be with you for so many years to come and a neutral base will allow for color to be added in different ways through artwork and soft furnishings. These can be changed over years or even seasons!' says Suzanne Francis, kitchen designer at Tom Howley (opens in new tab).
While it may be seen as a safe choice, grey needn't result in a drab space as there are many ways to liven up the look.
'Grey is a fantastic base for all hardware finishes, mixing a warm tone brass handle with a cool grey cabinet works so well. Be brave with kitchen countertop choice and paint ideas. I always love bringing in color to kitchen stools and lighting as you can change these so easily in years to come,' adds Suzanne Francis.
2. Use dark grey for a cozy living room
If you're looking to create a sophisticated yet cozy grey living room consider using a dark grey to create an intimate mood perfect for hibernating.
‘Using dark hues on the walls can be extremely effective in a room, particularly if you use lighter colors in the hallway approaching it. In a room that lends itself to evening use, or wintry days in front of the fire, curled up with a book, you want to create an enveloping feel and this can then be enhanced through the use of heavier-weight fabrics like linens and wools,' says Caroline Inchyra, founder of Inchyra (opens in new tab).
3. Make an entrance with mid-grey walls
Painting walls in a balanced mid-grey provides a versatile and neutral backdrop for showcasing antique furniture, artwork and accessories, as demonstrated in this traditional grey hallway designed by VSP Interiors (opens in new tab).
'In the back hall of this project, the deep mid-grey background is broken up with rich damask upholstery fabric by Pierre Frey and warm tones antique pieces, making this room feel cosy and welcoming. The walls are in Worsted by Farrow & Ball, the wall sconces are by Vaughan and the carpet is by Stark Carpet,' says founder Henriette Von Stockhausen.
4. Choose a plush grey sofa
Grey is a popular choice for a sofa as it is neutral but still provides depth and tone to an interior helping anchor a light scheme, plus, should you move home, or the sofa gets relocated to a different room, it should integrate easily into a new scheme. Opting for grey also gives you the opportunity to introduce all sorts of different colors and fabrics through cushions and throws.
If you're thinking of a grey sofa then consider opting for one in a textural fabric, especially if it's being in a positioned in a grey room. Fabrics such as velvet and chenille will bring lovely movement and texture. Alternatively choose something like a herringbone weave for a subtle touch of pattern.
5. Don't be afraid to use dark greys in the dining room
Opting walls in darker shades of grey is a paint trend that can look particularly effective in entertaining spaces like dining rooms, especially if they are larger rooms. Darker tones will help bring the walls in to create a cocooning atmosphere and a sense of drama perfect or a celebration.
Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab) advises to be 'more daring in the dining room.' He goes on to say ‘don’t be afraid of dark and rich colors, like coffee or dark grey or try teal or even orange, for a braver burst of color. These hues bring intimacy and depth whilst also allowing you to show personality and flair.’
When it comes to furnishing a grey dining room consider pieces in natural wood to help warm up the look.
6. Team grey with pattern to create a characterful bathroom
Creating a balanced monochrome scheme can be a challenge, but with the right treatment a colorless scheme can have wow-factor. Using a patterned wallpaper is a brilliant way to add interest and texture to a gray bathroom and the bathroom can be a great place to embrace it.
'The transient nature of a bathroom means it is an excellent room to have fun and bring in a sense of personality,' says Kate French, creative director at Dado Atelier (opens in new tab). 'Wallpaper is a fantastic way to bring the joy of color and pattern into what is often a stark space.'
This ditsy paisley design, set on a charcoal backdrop, is offset beautifully with charcoal bathroom paneling while the veined marble sink countertop and mosaic marble bathroom floor tiles add further layers of delicate pattern making for a scheme rich in texture and interest.
7. Use grey for a space that will grow with you
Keeping living room walls in a versatile mid-grey grey and limiting color to accessories is a good approach if your living room decor or function may change function over time.
‘Grey is an ideal choice for creating a calming atmosphere in a living room and allowing for personality and detail to shine through with the choice of accessories, furniture and artwork,' explains Caroline Milns, head of interior design at Zulu Fish (opens in new tab).
'It’s a clever color choice for a space that may need to evolve and deliver multiple functions over time, for example, a living room snug that in turn could become a teenager’s den idea or a home office because it is very versatile and can be combined with a multitude of other colors.'
Opting for grey walls and grey living room furniture can leave a space feeling flat – adding wall paneling is a clever way to add structure and interest as demonstrated in this scheme clad in a simple paneling design from Hux (opens in new tab) paneling.
8. Try a light warm grey for a calming bedroom
Using a light grey wall-to-wall in a bedroom is easy to live with and guaranteed to bring a sense of calm – to keep the mood cozy, consider a grey with warm undertones and add in plenty of warm-toned textiles and accessories as done in this simple bedroom space designed by Tracy Morris Interiors (opens in new tab).
In this grey bedroom, 'the wall color was selected to balance the persimmon color in the rug,' says Tracy Morris. 'Our rug selection had some many amazing colors. We wanted the warm tones to come to the forefront and add much needed dimension to the space so chose Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab)'s London Fog paint as it did just that.'
When designing a grey bedroom Tracy suggests to 'add accessories that allow grey to stand out. For example, persimmon pillows, a hot pink throw, a navy side chair, or mustard ottoman, just to name a few!'
9. Liven up a grey bedroom scheme
Grey tones can make a lovely palette for a bedroom as they exude a sense of calm, believes Charu Gandhi, founder and director of Elicyon (opens in new tab). ‘Grey shouldn’t be considered boring or cold; there are ways to make it feel warm and a focal point, either in wallcoverings or within fabrics and finishings.
'While in previous years cool greys alongside silver and high gloss tones were fashionable, we are using deeper, darker greys or even near-blacks in some of our bedrooms. These richer tones envelop you as you enter the room and add cosiness. To avoid the room feeling sombre, it’s important to pair grey with pops of color and texture in accessories such as pillows or throws or artwork.’
10. Use grey as a base for a luxurious bathroom
A warm, sophisticated light grey can make a wonderful backdrop for an elegant and luxurious bathroom scheme.
In this space the luxurious roll top, chrome fixtures, and a double sink topped with grey veined marble all shine when set against mid-grey walls, whereas if they were set against white they could easily be lost.
'Warm mid greys and setting plaster tones are very calming and gentle in the summer, which evoke feelings of fresh open spaces. These colors also work really well in winter months as they don’t make a space feel cold. Mixed with lots of brass and crystal fittings, these colors will keep your bathroom look super elegant and timeless,' says Martin Waller, founder of design brand Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
11. Layer different shades of grey
If you're thinking of an all-grey scheme then it's important to layer different tones of grey to prevent the room feeling flat and lifeless.
In this scheme, the interior designer has embraced multiple tones of grey through the use of different living room paint ideas to elevate the space. A painted grey flooring living room idea sets the tone while the walls are painted in a grey with a slightly warmer undertone to create a cozy feel and a dark charcoal is used to highlight the period features of the architrave and fireplace.
'Blacks and dark greys also work fantastically well on woodwork, skirting or as a highlight stripe in place of a dado rail, adding definition and contrast to a design scheme,’ says Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene (opens in new tab).
12. Liven up grey with bold colors
As a neutral shade grey makes a brilliant backdrop for experimenting with bold accent colors. For a joyful and uplifting color pop you can't go wrong with lemon yellow.
One of the go-to accent colors for grey, whether mustard or buttercup, yellow can be introduced to a grey room through furniture, cushions and window treatments or through smaller accessories such as lampshades and vases.
What goes well with a grey room?
Being a neutral color grey goes well with nearly every color on the color wheel, from pretty pastels to bold jewel tones. What colors you pair grey with will depend on the mood you're looking to create and the tone of grey you choose.
'To create a balanced color scheme, it’s important to consider the composition of colors within the palette, rather than addressing colors individually. For a dramatic look, pair grey with layers of dark, moody tones like eggplant or midnight blue. If you’d like to incorporate a fresh look, infuse the palette with a lighter, softer shade that glows, like golden yellow or bright green,' Jodie Hatton, design manager at Brintons.
'When it comes to the living room, a classic color scheme that always works well is pairing blue and grey. Not only do they complement each other perfectly, they can also blend together seamlessly too and often fall in line with the timeless, coastal aesthetic,' says Emma Deterding, founder and creative director of Kelling Designs (opens in new tab).
Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.
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