Move over white, there’s a new player in town. Grey has been an “underdog” of the color world for too long. It has been considered dull, drab and depressing and pushed aside by its “more appealing” and warmer neutral buddies, such as beige and sand. However, for the past few years, grey has rather quietly been making its way up, and before we could even notice, it has established itself as the go-to neutral shade in today’s interiors. This trend can be linked with the rise of Scandinavian chic, which used grey in generous amounts even before it was “cool”. Let us try to learn something the Scandinavians already know – what’s so great about grey and what makes it the new white.
Unlike white, which has just several variations, grey has many different shades. It can be dramatic, elegant or calming. Charcoal grey will make walls disappear and add incredible drama to any room. On the other hand, ammonite grey is the perfect alternative for off-white and an amazing neutral backdrop. Cloud grey feels soft and airy, but it is saturated enough to make a difference. We could go on like this forever. The point is that there is a shade of grey for everyone – from homeowners too shy to jump out of their beige comfort zone to those willing to take the risk and go with the grey flow.
Grey might be the go-to color for Scandinavian interior design, but don’t let that fool you. The versatility it offers with shades, it doesn’t deny with styles either. It can fit into a rich vintage room just as well, and provide a perfect offset for a rustic, industrial or contemporary style. Another argument for this “quiet achiever” is that it doesn’t have to be the star of the show – it can work well with almost every other color.
Have you noticed today’s trend to use bold colorful hues in home décor? Well, in combination with them, white may be too bright and distracting, while beige generally dies when combined with clean colors. Grey, on the other hand, provides a crisp backdrop for those lively shades, and makes them stand out more. For example, if you want to enrich a space with drastically different blue and orange occasional chairs, avoid whites and beiges, and use grey as an intro into this dramatic designer move.
White is rarely used on surfaces other than walls, except when it comes to bathroom design or opening up a really small and dark room. That’s where grey is winning the game. It is the ideal shade for countertops, regardless whether we are talking about granite or quartz surfaces, but it can also look great on kitchen cabinets. Grey furniture and accessories can also look great, especially if you are aiming for a minimalistic setting.
Now that you’ve read all these amazing things about grey, you probably want to use it in your home. First, you need to find the shade of grey you want. If you choose a shade that leans toward white and other light neutrals, you can use similar design rules. A bolder shade of grey (e.g. charcoal) is better balanced with black or chalky white. A room rich with strong grey needs several colorful accessories as focal points. If you’re so fascinated with grey that you want to use more than one shade, try to logically arrange them (one for the walls, one for the furniture, etc.). One of the main factors that should influence your decision is the amount of natural light a room receives, but you should also consider the orientation of the space (north, south, east or west).
Although we have crowned grey as the king of neutrals just now, it has actually been here for ages, and it will always be a timeless classic, so it is time to get used to it, because this former underdog is here to stay.
Zoe Clark is a journalist, freelance stylist and blogger from Smooth Decorator. She is a visual storyteller and aesthetician by heart who often writes about decorating and DIY ideas. She loves sparking creativity in people and giving them ideas for their own spaces.