Gray—2009’s New Neutral

Every year the color “gurus” get together at places like Pantone, the Color Marketing Group and Benjamin Moore to come up with new color trends that will show up in fashion, paint and home décor. These trends are determined by many things that affect the consumer including the economy, war, politics etc. For example, after the tragedy of September 11, 2001 Americans chose to cocoon themselves in the comfort of their home and warm colors like rust, tans and browns became popular. As the environmental movement has grown earth colors like stone, olive and merlot can be found. And a trip to the past is always fun. Neon bright colors of the 1980s such as fuchsia, green and yellow can now be found in more subdued tones.

For the last few years gray has become a popular new neutral. Depending on the hue and tone of the gray it works with just about every color in the rainbow.

If I were to ask you what color you would use with gray you would probably say yellows. For some reason this is the color combination most people think of. And why not? It is a beautiful combination resulting in a light and airy room when soft hues are used or a deep and moody room with darker tones. Imagine a sunroom with white wicker furniture and a patterned fabric in gray and white with yellow accessories. Where’s the lemonade?

Gray and pink are a popular combination in fashion but it can work in home décor also. Not the little girl pink you might be thinking of. Try to envision a deep rose tone with gray. How beautiful!

Gray, black and white in a contemporary space is a perfect backdrop for the bright colors of an abstract painting or a colorful collection of blown glass.

And while you may not think so, gray with browns and creams is a sophisticated look for a library or den. Think of the look and feel of a man’s sport jacket woven in these colors. Pair it with rich leather furniture and pewter accessories and you have an award winning design.

A touch of metallic will always work with gray. This can come in the form of nailhead trim on furniture, a lamp base, candlesticks, table legs etc. Using metallic accents does not mean you have to have a shiny chrome table base. A brushed nickel or soft pewter is considered metallic as well. The finish you choose will be determined by your design style. A traditional or transitional interior may choose a brushed nickel or pewter. A contemporary space may opt for the shiny chrome or stainless steel. The choice is yours.

Many people think wood furnishings cannot be mixed with gray. Nothing could be further from the truth. The warmth of wood will warm up any gray room. And, depending on the tone you have chosen, the golds, reds and browns found in most woods will complement your gray décor.

Don’t be afraid to try this color. Begin with a few accessories or throw pillows that have gray in them. Try painting your door and window moldings a soft gray. It is only paint…if you don’t like it you can paint over it. But I am willing to bet you will be surprised at how it transforms your room.

— Diane Haynie

Categories: Design Tips

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