What color curtains go with gray walls? Designers pick the 7 best shades

There are plenty of curtain colors that go with gray walls, but these 7 designer favorites work to create calming and sophisticated schemes

Three panel image of three living rooms with colorful curtains
(Image credit: Inside Stories | Layton Interiors)

When exploring what color curtains go with gray walls, the number of options can be overwhelming. Gray, you see, is the perfect background, working with almost anything; being either a pair to equally neutral hues or a foil to more richly pigmented ones.

'When it comes to pairing your curtain ideas with gray walls, the sky's the limit!' says Miranda Cullen, founder of the Denver-based studio Inside Stories. 

However, there are some suggestions that can help you on your way with your gray room ideas, ensuring you find the right saturations, that you don't pair the wrong tints, and that you end up choosing the perfect accent colors for gray to create a harmonious and timeless scheme.

What color curtains go with gray walls? 

When choosing curtain colors for any room, you not only have to consider your wall color, but also your chosen furniture colors, accessories, flooring and more. 

As there is a lot to consider when choosing curtains for the home, we thought we would offer some expert advice for those decorating with gray – one of the most popular shades chosen for room color ideas.

1. Dark blue

dining room with gray walls and blue curtains

(Image credit: Claudia Casbarian with Julie Soefer Photography. Design by Missy Stewart Designs)

One way to work with gray is to look for a total contrast, and a deep, dark blue offers an update of the classically soothing coastal design trend (which works anywhere to make spaces you want to relax into).

A case in point is this dining room, designed by the Houston-based interior designer Missy Stewart. 'Dark blue drapes are a perfect choice for a light gray room, adding sophistication and depth to the space,' Missy says. 

'The rich, dramatic blue contrasts beautifully with the calming, neutral gray, creating a balanced and elegant environment. The gray tones soften the intensity of the blue, allowing the drapes to make a statement without overwhelming the room. Additionally, the dark blue drapes act as a stunning frame for the amazing view of the lake outside the window, drawing the eye and enhancing the natural beauty of the scene. This combination of colors not only enriches the interior but also highlights the picturesque landscape beyond, making it a focal point of the room.'

2. Yellow

living room with yellow curtains and blue blinds alongside blue sofa and gray armchair

(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuthnott)

Gray is the perfect neutral, in that it goes with almost any color. But because of the tinges and tones within gray – that could be anything from blue to red to black pigments – it's important you pick the right tones for the color you're pairing it with, too. 

A sunny yellow can add the perfect dose of warmth to a cool gray room, but as with this scheme above by Vanessa Arbuthnott, it's key to look for a shade that veers closer to mustard than to chartreuse. 

'Using yellow is about avoiding any green in it, avoiding the lime tinge,' says the interior designer Tamsin Johnson, who is well versed in this mood-boosting hue. 'I love a mustard which has a slight chocolate tone to it, or a soft butter yellow. Anything that looks sunkissed.' 

We explore how you can make a cool gray room look warmer in our dedicated feature.

3. Dark gray

gray living room with gray curtains

(Image credit: Ryan McDonald. Stylist: Kimberly Swedelius. Design by Studio Sven)

As with any wall color, a sophisticated approach to building a palette around it is to go tone-on-tone. In this space by Studio Sven, the very pale gray walls are a soft backdrop to the dark gray curtains. 

'A modern approach to gray walls is through texture, whether it be wallpaper, Venetian plaster, limewash or another decorative finish,' says Lauren Svenstrup, principal designer at Studio Sven. 

'We are all about a monochromatic room wrap, where a wall color like a medium gray and textured sheer window treatment ideas in a similar tone fade into one another and serve as the textural backdrop to allow for art or other statement pieces in the space to have their moment. Many of our Chicago projects have floor-to-ceiling windows, making it imperative to consider the impact of the sun, while still designing a beautiful space. We incorporated UV sheer drapery from Creation Baumann into the two-story living room of one of our past Chicago projects. The aluminum-metalized sheer fabric offers effective heat and glare protection and guarantees the best possible views of the city.' 

For more inspiration, we explore should your curtains match your wall color in our separate piece.

4. Cornflower blue

gray living room with blue curtains

(Image credit: JLayton Interiors)

Because of the blue tones that are often found in the cooler, paler grays, you'll find that light blue curtains are a good complement. They seem to take the walls in the direction of a summer sky, rather than a winter one (gray paint can often read a little cool if you're not careful). It's a subtle heat, one that still has a bit of a Scandi contemporary vibe.

'These all wool soft cornflower blue curtains we used for this living room, which is swathed in a Phillip Jeffries gray lightly textured wallcovering, offer a dramatic balance against the cool tone of the walls,' says Layton Campbell of the Charlotte, NC-based studio JLayton Interior. 'But without being [too] warm and muddy.'

5. Emerald

dining room with gray walls and green curtains

(Image credit: Design by Inside Stories)

It's very possible to take gray walls in a sumptuous direction, which works well for a formal dining room in which you want to host elegant dinners. You'll find that gray makes a grown-up backdrop on which to layer more lavish shades.

'As with anything in design, it’s all about the feeling and mood you want to create in a space,' says Miranda Cullen of the Denver-based design studio Inside Stories. 'For this dining room,  we paired a rich saturated emerald color fabric on the windows. With gray, you can go big and bold!'

6. Cream

gray living room with neutral curtains

(Image credit: Renee DiSanto. Design by Park & Oak)

If your walls are a very dark gray, you may find you need to add lighter colors in order to stop the room reading as dingy. This living room by the Illinois-based studio Park & Oak added light-reflecting hues to work against the saturation of the walls, from the pale carpet and coffee table top to the beige – or oatmeal – curtains.

'Any time we work with gray, whether it's a pale, neutral gray, mid-tone, or dark charcoal, we try to warm it up with natural textures and tones, such as cream,' say Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto, the studio's founders. 'Gray can sometimes feel cold, but by adding these elements, especially via window treatments, it keeps the room cozy.'

We explore, should curtains be lighter or darker than walls in our dedicated feature.

7. White

living room with gray walls and white curtains

(Image credit: Design by Inside Stories)

White has been used for the top half of these curtains in this project by Inside Story. 'We designed an a-typical paint treatment and the window coverings followed suit with beautiful two-toned paint and drapes,' Miranda says, and you'll notice that while the bottom half of the walls are gray, the top half are white, too. 

Creamy whites take pale gray into a more uplifting direction, offering a way to bring a tiny bit of heat while still remaining very pared back. 'With gray you can go soft and neutral,' Miranda adds. 

To help you even further with your curtain color choice, be sure to avoid these curtain color mistakes that could ruin your entire decorating scheme.

Pip Rich

Pip Rich is an interiors journalist and editor with 20 years' experience, having written for all of the UK's biggest titles. Most recently, he was the Global Editor in Chief of our sister brand, Livingetc, where he now continues in a consulting role as Executive Editor. Before that, he was acting editor of Homes and Gardens, and has held staff positions at Sunday Times Style, ELLE Decoration, Red and Grazia. He has written three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, looked at the homes of architects who had decorated with house plants. Over his career, he has interviewed pretty much every interior designer working today, soaking up their knowledge and wisdom so as to become an expert himself.