Gray is the NEW Brown

Home interiors have come full circle in the land of color, with warm brown and beige tones being popular in the 1990’s and now gray and white have moved in with full force, and don’t seem to be leaving any time soon.  Entire homes are going gray; from exteriors, furniture, and kitchen cabinets to flooring, décor, and wall color.  Our homes are turning 50 shades of gray.  We’re calling this look “fresh and clean” and that’s just how it can feel if you follow a few key steps.

ONE | Choose a warm based gray

Depending on the base of the color, grays can take on many cool hues with blue being the main one.  If blue or green is not the look you’re going for, try choosing a gray with a brown base so it has warmth.  Sherwin Williams has a brown based gray swatch card with Repose Gray, Mindful Gray, and Dorian Gray being favorites across the board.

TWO | Pair it with wood tones

By pairing gray and wood tones together, this can give a space an organic and peaceful feel.  Contemporary wood furniture, wood décor accents, or warm wood floors can draw out the warm undertones of gray and help make the space feel more inviting and not so sterile.

THREE | Add some pops of color

This is an easy and affordable way to make gray less dreary.  Add some splashes of yellow, green, or your favorite color in décor and accents.  Lively colored throw pillows, ottomans, or a rug is the perfect way to incorporate some ‘fun’ into an otherwise neutral room.  This also allows you to easily change out your look from time to time or decorate for the current season.


FOUR | Make it come alive with white

White trim, cabinets, windows, furniture, and decor all bring the ‘crisp and fresh’ look to gray.  They also allow the gray to pop by being a stark contrast.  The added benefit of pairing it with white: it brightens up the stormy neutral so a room isn’t so dreary.

FIVE | Add gold fixtures and hardware

Go a bit non-traditional and add gold hardware to gray cabinets.  It adds a chic touch but also warms up the gray.  Take it a step further and add gold framed artwork or a gold mirror to the space to accent the other gold touches.

SIX | Ground the space with black

No matter what color you choose to be the main color of a room, you always need to ground the space.  Black does this best.  This doesn’t mean you need to buy a big black couch or rug, it simply means you need to incorporate black.  You can do this by framing artwork or prints in black, choosing a white marble coffee table with a simple black steel base, choosing artwork that has black in it, or even a light neutral throw pillow that has a black detail or thread in it.  It can be minimal but still impact the space in a big way.


How long will the gray trend last?

No one really knows but gray seems to be here to stay as a choice on the neutral spectrum.  Trends are usually good for about 10 years and gray made its big debut on the trend seen around 2010, so it’s on the downward slope of the trend curve.  If staying on trend is your goal, you might want to opt away from gray because it is becoming more of a mainstay.

What’s after gray?

It’s all about black and navy.  Things will get a bit more dramatic and dark before they get light again.  Black is for the bold and daring, while navy is still a way to add drama to a room but has a warmer, more traditional feel to it.  Thinking about an all black or navy room might sound dark and closed in but it’s all about lighting and what you put with it.  It can end up feeling like a warm hug if you furnish the room with light colored furniture and make sure the room either has great lighting or gets a good amount of natural sunlight.

7 thoughts on “Gray is the NEW Brown”

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

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