Grey living rooms are hugely popular, and it is easy to see why. Now the biggest-selling paint colour after white, grey has secured its position as the modern neutral. This is how to get the right shade for every room, every time. Take a look at our selection of the best grey living room ideas for more inspiration and advice.
Finding the right grey is exactly like buying a red lipstick: you choose one with the undertone that suits your skin shade.
'For centuries grey has been regarded as a workmanlike, utilitarian non-colour,' says Kate Watson-Smyth, author of Shades of Grey. 'The shade of prisons and battleships; items that either don’t need to be a more interesting colour, or things that are waiting to be painted. Grey is what we had before colour arrived – think of television and photography. It’s also supremely practical as it doesn’t show the dirt easily, making it perfect for public spaces.'
WHAT GREY PAINT SHOULD I USE?
If you hold together a fan of grey paint charts, you’ll see how widely the tones vary. The cool end of the spectrum has blue undertones, passing through tints of green and yellow, ending up at warm shades with red bases that give them brown, pink or purple tints.
Just a quick peek at a Farrow & Ball paint chart suggests the myriad possibilities of this favourite decorating shade and explains its enduring appeal: from the barely-there neutrals of Dimity and Ammonite, to the mid tones of Lamp Room Gray and Calluna, through the green-edged Mizzle and Pigeon, blue-hued Parma Gray and Lulworth Blue and out the other side to deep dark Down Pipe, Plummett and Brassica.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY GREY LIVING ROOM LOOK WARM?
Your journey starts with deciding on the ‘temperature’ of colour your room needs – cool or warm –then how far you dare to take it. From moody dark grey to light pastel grey, here we show you how to choose and update your living room with grey.
The first question you need to ask yourself is how much natural light does your room get? Does that light come from the north, south, east or west? 'The orientation of your space will affect the way a colour looks on the walls and is the reason why exactly the same shade of grey paint can look completely different in different surroundings,' says Kate Watson-Smyth.
1. DIFFERENT DEPTHS
Pick a plump sofa for lounging. This charcoal grey number adds elegance and interest to a minimal room. Explore the many depths of a grey colour palette by layering tones to create a scheme that looks cohesive. By using the same colour, but in both its palest and deepest incarnations, you can create a rich, contrasting look that is co-ordinated. A glass coffee table and side table add a glamorous note.
2. SHADES OF GREY
Panelled walls painted soft grey provide a sophisticated backdrop for this scheme, which artfully balances black and white upholstered furniture. Blocks of pattern, in the form of tailored cushions and artwork, add interest and personality to the modern look.
3. DARINGLY DARK
A rich wall colour combined with walnut veneers and velvet fabric make this space a cosseting retreat.
Darker tones of charcoal can be used to add drama anywhere in the home – with clever lighting you can create a look that is both strong and atmospheric. These dark greys are also a perfect strong background for small amounts of contrasting colour, like warm mustard and cobalt blue.
4. PRETTY IN PINK
Use the gentlest of greys as a springboard for blush pink, plum and buff tones. Mid century-style furniture rubs shoulders here with contemporary pieces in brilliant hi-gloss white. The floor-to-ceiling curtain adds a lovely touch of dip-dyed pink, while cushions and floral displays channel rich plum tones. Grey and pink is a winning combination, particularly suited to contemporary schemes.
5. THE WONDER OF WOOL
Adding woollen soft furnishings to an understated grey living room will transform it from cold to calming in an instant. The abundance of texture and pattern in the wool, plus the burst of bright yellow prevent this room from looking too gloomy. Everything in the room is very tactile, from the pendant light cover to the footstool. Plus the wall-mounted sculptures add a certain je ne sais quoi.
6. PRETTY CHIC
Dark colours can transform the mundane and ordinary by conjuring theatrical glamour. Grey paint creates the perfect backdrop for standout colours and pattern. Opt for soft furnishings in your favourite colours –they will really sing out.
7. CLASSICALLY COOL
Use grey to create a harmonious look that will make a great impression. Whether it's pale or slight darker, dove grey is a great all-rounder. you can dress it up with silvers and metallic shades for a luxe look or keep it simple with natural colours and earthy textures.
8. PICK AND MIX
Grey walls are the perfect canvas for a variety of bright, bold colours. A deep, dark grey will really make strong colours sing out. Think standout artwork, electric pink fabric and patterned rugs.
9. SERENE SCENE
Grey is one of those wonderfully versatile shades that works with just about any colour. And what better colour to mix it with than blue?
Blue is scientifically proven to be a subconsciously calming shade, and when paired with grey, it will make you relax without you even realising it.
10. EXPERT EYE
Jane Rockett, co-founder of the uber-trendy online interiors store Rockett St George is a huge fan of grey paint.
‘Grey paint creates the perfect backdrop for treasures that fill a home as items really ‘pop’ against a dark background creating great definition,’ Jane says.