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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Robertson

A Bazillion Shades of Gray

If you entertain yourself by browsing through Pinterest or Houzz, or love to tour homes like I do, you may have noticed that the color gray is EVERYWHERE!

I was still in hospitality interior design when the trend started a while back, but it's nicely settled in the residential market and I suspect will be around for a bit longer.

What is gray? It's a color somewhere between white and black, and is considered a neutral. However, a neutral color can be defined as a color that has neither warm nor cool tendencies which is one of my main points of this particular article. We use gray like it's a neutral, so it makes a great sofa or wall or tile color, right? Yes, gray does all of these things, but be careful. Gray definitely has warm and cool tendencies! In its cooler tones, gray tends to read blue or purple. Warmer grays, or taupes (rhymes with ropes), are a softer way to bring in this trend if you're concerned that gray might read too modern.

Here are a few photos of some recent renovations that have done a great job at incorporating tones of gray in their space.

This kitchen has a variety of neutral shades but the dark grey island paint is the pop in the room, which pairs nicely with the warmth of the wood floor. The island and dark floor appropriately weight the room with dark toward the bottom of your view, leaving the room light and airy. This room is more about function than design, but the gray at the island stands out, creating the statement.

This bedroom scene keeps the darker tones in the middle of the room, or on the wall, but at a pretty safe level. The softness in this room comes from textures at the fireplace, on the bed, and in the carpet. The subtle contrast in the pops of white throughout the space balances the room, unlike the kitchen above where the colorations were kept separate and were more bold. The result of the use of gray in this bedroom gives us a relaxing vibe because the contrasts of texture and light/dark are more gradual.

This photo shows a broad mix of things going on, but if you step back and look at the overall effect, you again get balance. The dark color here is primarily at the ceiling. Be careful friends, don't go paint your ceiling dark on a whim. The designer was intentionally bringing the ceiling down with the dark paint (well, actually, wood planks with paint) to create intimacy and coziness and a less predictable focal point in the room. The overall effect in this space is natural, almost Bohemian, with lots of sharp edges and overt softness. In this case, the gray is used as an accent only.

As you can see from our examples, gray is happy to help wherever it can. Gray is your friend, it is a classic neutral and has a lot of shelf life left in my opinion. I do say be careful though. Don't take any gray and hope it works with your tile and/or carpet colors. Grays are like tofu, they tend to absorb and reflect what's around them. It's always a great idea to lay out your colors to make sure they work together before you start a big project. And, of course, I'm here to help if you need a second opinion!

Just in case you were curious, my favorite gray is Sherwin Williams Repose Gray. It's a tad warm, which is my preference. Regardless of what Pinterest promises, there is not one perfect gray on the market, there are literally a bazillion, and your choice should match your own taste or your space.

Rebecca Robertson is a Realtor who has the fabulous opportunity to tour houses all over Houston. Generally, she finds a lot of beautiful homes, but every once in a while she comes across a situation like a gray/purple paint paired with baby-poop brown carpet, both new, and is inspired to write a blog. That might be what happened here. She strongly recommends consulting a professional if you're not sure what works together. If you're trying to sell your house, and your result is offensive to the general population, you might as well put a sign up on the front door telling people they're going to have to invest more money to make the home livable, which probably means they won't make an offer on your home. Or that they're going to offer a lot less than you're asking. Drop her a line if that's a situation you'd like to avoid at

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