Gray haters (or grayters, as I like to call them) complain that color is all over the place, and to some extent, they’re right. Walk into almost any design store and you’ll see strips of gray upholstery, bedding, and accessories. Rental properties and special homes have room after room of what my educated gray eye recognizes as Benjamin Moore’s gray owl on the walls of bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and bathrooms. Every HGTV home remodel you see seems to be saturated with Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter or Sherwin-Williams’ Morning Fog.
How do I know my way through the gray paint chips so well? I painted almost every room in my house a shade of gray almost 10 years ago, and wrote about it for this news organization. Gray was my neutral choice because of its versatility; like gray pants, it goes with everything.
But grayters call the color depressing, dull, and overly sure. Gillian Gillies, a Toronto-based interior designer of Scottish descent who has never embraced gray, says she hopes the pandemic has ended the race for color as an ‘in’ neutral.
“We need hope and joy and the promise of brighter things, and I don’t think Gray can offer us that. She says her clients, who at one point were clamoring for gray, are suddenly asking for highly pigmented and saturated colors, such as eggplant, saffron yellow, and all shades of green.
Colson Horton, stylist and founder of ADR Creative in Nashville, recently moved from a predominantly gray-hued home to a quintessential 1970s ranch home that even has a ‘Brady Bunch’ style sunken living room. She gutted the house, demolished the walls, and added jagged moldings and paneling. And she painted the rooms different shades of white, blue, and green.
“My old house had very high ceilings and was very open, so the gray suited the space because it didn’t overwhelm everything,” says Horton. “It was a neutral palette that worked for the height and scale of the rooms.”
Her new home, however, backs onto a state park, so it was important for her to bring the colors of the home’s natural environment inside, hence the emphasis on greens and greens. blue. Other colors that Horton uses in her home echo those to which Gillies is drawn: mustard yellow, ocher, chartreuse, mulberry and rust. “I felt like I needed a little bit of energy,” says Horton. “Gray felt too even a playground, and wanted more energy. Gray isn’t moving me in a way that I need at the moment.
Atlanta-based designer Jared Hughes isn’t averse to gray – as long as it’s a warm gray that comes close to brown or black. Her favorite gray is Pavilion Gray by Farrow & Ball. What he doesn’t like are grays that turn too purple or pink. Its other pet peeve is when entire rooms are layered only in shades of gray. “These rooms have such catering equipment towards [five to seven] years ago, look. Totally a note, ”says Hughes. “I think in general gray has become overused, and not in the right way – too common – and it needs a break.” For an alternative, he suggests Stone White by Farrow & Ball, a cool neutral with green undertones.
I too am worried about some of my gray rooms. My living room (painted with Gray Owl) is about to be covered with Robin’s Egg Blue textured wallpaper. The room has a large skylight, windows and patio doors that show a lot of sky, and I decided that rather than having the mirror in the room on a gray, cloudy day, I want it to reflect a day. brighter and blue. But other parts of my home – the guest bedroom, guest bathroom, hallways, and stairwell – will retain their Gray Owl paint, as it continues to be a solid neutral that unites spaces. , and it allowed me to successfully mix other colors and layer art and pattern.
I also keep the Benjamin Moore Whale Gray in my TV room. It’s the perfect cozy color for watching movies, and it complements the mustard yellow and saffron accents I’ve layered around the room. (Guess I’m drawn to those colors as well.) And I don’t think I’ll ever change the woodwork and trim in my bathroom, painted in Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore. It’s still one of my favorite colors, with just the right shade of blue.
The point is, I will always count gray as a viable neutral. I find it works better with my aesthetic than its beige counterpart. And while I love white, gray tones are even more of a color commitment and statement. Maybe, as Hughes says, there has been too much gray and a natural correction is underway. But whatever your feelings about color, I think everyone needs to stop judging others to use it. The same color of gray that reads depressing to some feels comfortable and inviting to others.
Your home should be a reflection of what you love, no matter what is trending on Instagram or design blogs. Complete stop. And remember: decorating is a process. It’s about growing and finding what makes you and your loved ones happy. Color is an effective way to achieve this happiness. If you’re drawn to gray – or any color for that matter – go ahead and embrace it. Or if gray is no longer bringing you joy, then maybe it’s time for you to let it go. But only you can make this call.
Mayhew, a ‘Today’ style expert and former magazine editor, is the author of ‘Flip! for decoration. “