Gray is all the rage these days. Our own interior designer Anne McDonald says gray has been trending for some time now, as designers and homeowners have moved from a tendency toward heavy, warm, earthy colors to the lighter, cleaner palette of gray. But gray can be overdone in interior design, Anne cautions. This is especially true in Northern climes, when the color moves too cool. Says Anne, “If it’s a cold gray palette, it’s going to feel cold and not cozy—austere, even.” Below are some crucial tips from Anne on finding the right shade of gray for your lighting.

Pay attention to undertones

In order to avoid this problem, Anne says she pays careful attention to undertones and always leans to the warmer undertones, at least for the “field color,” which is the predominant color used in a room. Warmer grays are more beige-grays, which are generally in the family of taupe.

Find ways to break it up

Anne’s second caution is to be aware of overdoing gray. A room could be mostly monochromatic gray, but Anne advises breaking it up at least a bit with an accent color. For example, you might use an oceanic blue-gray, for a pop of color in a countertop, table, or accent wall. This can help break up the gray tones and help it from feeling overdone.

Everyone knows it’s on trend, and it is a fresh, clean look. But it can be overdone, and for regions like ours in the Upper Midwest, where it’s cold nine or ten months out of the year, gray needs to lean warm.

Further reading on gray

For suggestions about accent colors and undertones, depending on the kind of light, check out HGTV’s recommendations on how to choose the right gray for your walls.

Houzz has a great photo collection of a variety of gray paint swatches, with a discussion of various applications, in their ideabook on finding the right gray paint.

House Beautiful draws from the influence of the Scandinavians, who use a lot of warm gray in their Northern clime, with this suggestion for using gray in north facing rooms.

For more striking photos and discussion of shades of gray for different light, check out this post by Mad About the House.

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We’d love to discuss your space and its design needs. Contact us on our website or call 651-554-1234.

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