Interior Design

Little Greene's Creative Director reveals their most popular gray paint – and the secrets to its success

This century-old shade is at the top of the contemporary design world – this is why it has stood the test of time

Little Greene's most popular gray paint color
(Image credit: Little Greene)

Should we look to the 19th Century for the best gray paint color? According to Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene, we should. French Grey is Little Greene's most popular gray paint color this year –  but with roots in the Victorian era, this contemporary craze has already been admired for more than 100 years. So, why do we keep falling for this eternal hue, and why does its timeless elegance show no signs of wavering in popularity? Here, Ruth shares why. 

See: Grey living room ideas – inspiring neutral schemes that you'll love for years

Little Greene’s most popular gray paint color

(Image credit: Little Greene, French Grey)

For Little Greene, it's French Grey.

'It is often the case that the oldest shades are the most popular and timeless colors. French Grey, one of Little Greene's most popular shades, is actually a Victorian tone, but due to its incredible versatility, it has remained ever popular,' Ruth shares.

'From the palest, almost white, tones through to charcoal, brown and blue-black hues, gray has been a 'go-to' interiors color for centuries, working equally effectively in classic and traditional or modernist settings, often as a backdrop for decoration rather than the highlight itself. Originally, grays were based only on carbon black (soot) and ochres; today, our grays encompass a wide variety of base tones, including verdigris, umber, ochre, and red oxide, to name just a few,' she adds.

See: Living room paint ideas – stylish ways with paint, and expert decor tips

It sits seamlessly alongside other shades  

Little Greene's most popular gray paint color

(Image credit: Little Greene)

'French Grey's wider mix of base pigments allows these neutral grays to team more easily with other surfaces and textiles within an interior,' Ruth shares. 

'The shade combines seamlessly with a myriad of other tones due to its small components of blue and red base pigments, making it a great solution for any interior.' 

And, 'to create subtle nuance between walls and woodwork, use a differing scale from the same family, for example, French Grey Pale on the walls combined with French Grey on trim,' she adds. 

See: Grey bedroom ideas – for a neutral scheme that is classic and modern

It looks good in every type of light 

Little Greene’s most popular gray paint color

(Image credit: Little Greene, French Grey)

While we're all guilty of lusting after shades on Instagram, these tones might not always look how they do in your favorite designer's home – and this is because of its orientation. However, as Ruth shares, the versatility of French Grey means it works well in all light.

'Paint choices are all about the atmosphere you wish to create, but when selecting a shade for your home, the orientation of the room should be a consideration as the amount and direction of light entering a room can completely alter the appearance of your color choice,' Ruth begins. 

However, French Grey 'works well in all situations; [as it is] made from a mix of pigments, because it contains a little blue and a red it adapts well to different light settings.'

See: Easy paint ideas – clever ways to decorate your home with color

It can be used to create a continuous color scheme 

Little Greene's most popular gray paint

(Image credit: Little Greene)

While French Grey works well alongside bold, contrasting colors, it can be used to create a flow of similar shades around your home. 

See: Little Greene's color expert reveals the best shade of green for your home

As Ruth suggests: 'If you're aiming for continuity within the home, using shades from the same color family is a good way to add harmony in a subtle way. Our Little Greene Colour Scales collection is a wonderful solution for creating natural movement throughout a home; here, our most popular colors sit within families of four graduated tones, made using the same pigments, but in different strengths.'

French Grey's

Ruth then focuses on the elegance of French Grey's Color Scale, saying: 'These groups of colors are a timeless choice that are easy to use in combination on walls, ceiling and trim to provide a seamless color journey from room to room. Versatile French Grey Pale works beautifully alongside French Grey Dark and French Grey to create an elegant and welcoming living room scheme,' she adds.

With so much to love about this shade, we have a feeling it will remain at the forefront of our homes for centuries to come.

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.