Color psychologist warns against decorating with this popular shade in January – here's why

Thinking of redecorating this month? Experts suggest staying away from this sought-after hue

Gray and white and black living room
(Image credit: Future)

January – notoriously the bluest month on the calendar – is synonymous with dark days and dull color palettes. 

However, perhaps the 'saddest tone' of all is gray: the color that typically dominates year-round color trends. Consequently, experts have warned against bringing this hue inside your home – until January passes, at least. 

Here's why your gray scheme may be bringing you down this month – and which color you should look to instead – for a new year boost.  

Why you should avoid gray in January  

Gray bedroom in elegant period London townhouse

(Image credit: Future/ Anna Stathaki)

According to a recent study* that investigated the best colors to beat the 'January blues,' gray is the worst color to bring into your scheme. They label the fashionable hue as the epitome of 'sad colors' – hues that are dark and muted. 

'Gray is the quintessential sad color, so try to avoid this color in your room,' explains designer Tracey Hatch from Raspberry Interiors

Color psychologist Lee Chambers similarly warns against using gray in January – despite its ever-present place at the peak of current paint trends.


(Image credit: Crown)

'Gray has been on-trend in recent times and has certainly provided some earthy stability during the turbulent start to the decade. But with a brighter future incoming, now is a great time to ditch the grey and bring some subtle vibrance into your domestic space,' Lee explains. 

The psychologist adds that while gray has an undeniable 'air of prestige,' it lacks the vibrancy you may crave during the 'saddest' month on the calendar. 

'It doesn't inspire the energy and welcoming feeling that make a home feel bright even in these times of darker, shorter days,' Lee says. 

What tone should you use instead?  

Interior designers reveal their favorite shade of green paint, green and pink paint in a living room

(Image credit: Little Greene)

If you've reconsidered your paint ideas for January (and beyond), the experts suggest bringing brighter and earthier tones into your new scheme. 

'I'd recommend bringing in positively subtle orange and green tones, as bold reds and yellow may have the opposite effect [to gray] and overstimulate us,' Lee explains. 

Tracey recommends opting for 'warmer' colors that contrast gray's cool tones and bring the outside into your home. She suggests that 'soft [and] warm greens and terracottas' will make your home feel warmer over the cold months. They will also emphasize the flow between your interior and exterior – and help you feel calmer and more focused.

Turquoise painted study

(Image credit: Little Greene)

The shift from gray to green room ideas will boost your mood throughout blue January and beyond.  

*Study by Stelrad.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.