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Gray is the Hot Neutral

Gray is the Hot Neutral

Gray is the hot neutral

Use gray to contemporize your home and office

Gray, once thought of as depressing and drab, is hot, hot, hot in interior design with designers pairing it with citron green, bright yellow, tangerine and purple to make the color come alive. When thinking of gray, we may conjure images of an overcast day, feeling alone, forlorn, distant, brooding. While grey has the ability to evoke some of these emotions, it can also create a feeling of warmth, coziness, sophistication, and wrapped in a cocoon.

Gray has emerged from the back room of storerooms and industrial spaces to take center stage in fashion and interiors because it plays so well with so many colors. Gray in its pure form, is a mix of black and white and can vary in its value depending how much white or black it holds. Yet many other variations of gray exist with blue or brown undertones, warm yellow or pink undertones and can be bright and light and dark and mysterious. With such a huge range of grey options, you may wonder where to start and how to pick the right shade.

It’s important in deciding the shades of gray that they don’t compete or create dissonance with each other. Mixing cool and warm greys can work yet the undertones of each need to make sense. When paired next to each other, does a grey with pink undertones and one with yellow fight each other? Do the grays create a feeling of harmony and cohesion? Do they push upon the other and create disharmony. Working with a color expert or interior designer is key in getting these shades right. Grays can be layered one atop the other with variations in value. This creates visual interest and can push light tones forward while dark aspects recede.

Because gray is a neutral, we have lots of permission with which to pair it. Gray doesn’t compete. It works to serve the colors around it. When it’s paired with brighter shades, it grounds the colors from popping off the wall or other areas to which they’re attached. Purple takes on a regal air. Orange stands out without being overly pushy. Turquoise adds a tranquil feel as it floats upon the gray.

Mix in texture. Texture is key when working with gray. Color consultant, Christine Harper of Lifestyle Color Consulting in Oakland, has a mantra that says, “neutrals with texture” that makes a room visually interesting and engaging. When we mix textured rugs, pillow and throws in various shades of gray, a whole new world awakens. The textures pick up lights and darks that add richness and vibrancy to the pieces themselves. No longer is gray seen as flat and drab but rather exciting and inviting.

The key is getting the right tones and shades to work well together and to accent appropriately with different colors to create a sense of cohesion and style. Yes, a room can be done in all gray so long as they play nicely with each other and they are balanced well with texture and value. Pairing gray with brighter colors adds a modern flair and gives the room a contemporary feel that feels fresh and alive. So, go ahead and try some gray and watch how it adds style and sophistication to a space, modernizing the look and offering you plenty of freedom in which to experiment and play with other colors. If you should need help with this, call 510.501.1213 to get the right gray for you.