Colour Psychology: Using Grey in Interiors

Shaker Kitchen by DeVOL - grey interiors

Shaker Kitchen from DeVOL

Back in March I invited colour expert and consultant Karen Haller to take part in an interview all about the colour yellow and its use in interior design. The post has been a massive success, one of the most popular of all time in fact, and because of this, Karen and I have decided to make the posts into a new quarterly series : Karen’s Quarterly Colour Psychology Questions. This time we have decided to take a closer look at the use of the sophisticated and elegant colour grey in interiors. By this we mean archetype grey, (as in a mix of black and white, not other colours that are mixed with grey) which has proven to be a big hit in interiors over the past year or so. Grey interiors are definitely becoming more popular.

Karen Haller applied colour psychology expert

I chose to quiz Karen about grey interiors as I personally really like the use of grey in interiors. However, I know that it is quite a controversial colour as some people find it quite depressing. It was in fact an article in the Guardian entitled ‘Why has everything gone grey?’ that prompted me to ask Karen for her expert opinion on what the Guardian referred to as the “drabbest colour in the pallette”.

Furniture Choice Midcentury Dining Table and Chairs - grey interiorsUnion Table & Brooklyn Chairs from Furniture Choice

Grey is a colour that is most often associated with industrial environments. How does this affect our perception of the colour?

KH. If we look at grey, we see a colour that is neither black nor white. Given it is virtually absent of  colour, it draws no attention to itself, it keeps its distance, remaining separate.  Thinking of industrial environments, they are utilitarian and functional. Industrial environments don’t necessarily need to be seen so grey is a suitable colour.

Nordic Nights Niko Cotton Digital Printed Duvet Cover from Cloth & Clay - grey interiors

Nordic Nights Niko Cotton Digital Printed Duvet Cover from Cloth & Clay

In recent months, we have witnessed the growing popularity of grey interiors. Why do you think that is?

KH. There could be a number of reasons. It could be seen as trendy/fashionable or aspirational. This gives a sense of belonging, inclusion, acceptance. Or perhaps during these uncertain times we are currently in, people may be looking for security.

Porcelanosa Tono Collection in partnership with Foster & Partners - grey interiors

Porcelanosa Tono Collection in partnership with Fosters & Partner

What are the main psychological properties of the colour grey?

KH. Grey is the only colour that doesn’t have any positive psychological properties. Grey is the colour to wear when you don’t want to be seen, ‘cloaking the personality’. It can convey seriousness and the message ‘I mean business’.

Simple Form Livata Corner Sofa from Barker & Stonehouse - grey interiors

Simple Form Livata Corner Sofa from Barker & Stonehouse

Grey is often perceived as quite a negative colour. Why is this?

KH. It evokes a lack of confidence, fear of exposure, hiding. In the home surrounding yourself with grey is like cocooning yourself from the outside world, going into hibernation. Over time this can be energy draining and straining. There are many other colours that support the emotions without draining them.

Maxine Brady's dining room featuring Laura Ashley - grey interiors

The dining room of interior stylist & blogger Maxine Brady

The colours that we choose to decorate our homes with are often said to be a reflection of our collective psyche. Do you think that grey interiors have become popular as a response to the difficult economic situation we are experiencing at the moment?

KH. That can absolutely be a reason why. We are protecting ourselves, we may be fearful of the unknown and what is going to happen. We may be subconsciously withdrawing and using grey as a means of protection to feel safe and secure.

If we are anxious or nervous we may also turn to grey to feel calm, which is quite an extreme way to do it as it can be so draining without any support. As I said, there are better colours that support the emotions without draining or straining a person’s energy.

Recently I was meeting a friend at a café. Running late I rushed in, out of breath. I felt myself instantly relaxing, looking at the walls of the café which were grey. We both noted we felt ourselves unwinding and becoming more calm. However that ‘calming down’ kept going and going so by the time we left a couple of hours later we no longer felt relaxed but drained and tired.

Luxor Davos rug from Modern Rugs - grey interiors

Luxor Davos rug from Modern Rugs

To what extent does the shade of grey that we choose make a difference to our interiors?

KH. It’s best to use the shade of grey that resonates with you. There are warm greys (yellow based) and cool greys (blue based).

Duette Shades from Luxaflex - grey interiors

Duette Shades from Luxaflex

Are there any areas of the home where the use of grey should be avoided?

Grey is best avoided in the bedroom, nurseries and any rooms for infants and children. It should also be avoided in any rooms that require creativity.

Livingroom of Interiors Blogger Kimberly Duran of Swoothworthy - grey interiors

Livingroom of Interiors Blogger Kimberly Duran of Swoothworthy

What colours would you say work particularly well in conjunction with grey and why?

KH. As grey doesn’t have a ‘personality’ of its own, paired with any other colour, it allows that colour to be visible whilst grey takes a back seat. The key is to choose a grey that is from the same harmonious colour family as the rest of the colours you are using.  That way it will harmoniously resonate and not jar or drain the other colours.

If you had a colour that was overpowering, you could tone it down (drain it) by using grey, or better still change the overpowering colour.

Crucial Trading Sisool SP304 Plaid Rich Black Carpet - grey interiorsSisool SP304 Plaid Rich Black Carpet from Crucial Trading

What are your tips for successfully creating grey interiors?

By understanding the psychological effects of grey you’ll be able to decide whether it is the right colour to use. You’ll also know that if you are feeling drained or tired it could be the effects of grey.

So, after hearing what Karen has to tell us about the colour grey, I’d love to hear your thoughts on using grey in interiors. Have you used grey in your house? Or any interior designers out there who have used it in a client’s property?

Karen and I would be really interested to know after 6-12 months of living with a predominately grey scheme how the clients feel. Was it their colour choice or did you make the recommendation? I’d love to hear how and where you used it and what other colours you teamed it with.

Tips and advice for using grey in interior design according to the principles of colour psychology



  1. February 5, 2019 / 1:36 am

    Thanks for a really interesting post. Grey is a very sophisticated color and elegant. It’s suits to our home. Thanks for sharing.

  2. December 12, 2018 / 6:47 am

    Thank you so much for this, This article has all the necessary things well written well clicked. All the pictures are really amazing. Keep posting and writing.

  3. Sabrina Dixon
    August 29, 2018 / 8:48 pm

    This was a very interesting article to read…I know how powerful color can be as an artist/therapist, however I do not believe gray is as harmful as some of the Q&As elude to. I am obsessed with gray. It is a perfect neutral base. I find my home, as well as others, to be very warm, calming, and inviting. I believe with anything, it is how you use the colors or shades. Color/shades are subjective, as is art. One may find it depressing, while another may find it comforting. Do what feels right for you and your family. I haven’t had difficulty creating art in my “gray” home, nor does it evoke negative feelings. To each is own…do not overthink things! Design is meant to be fun and freeing. Paint your home the colors of a rainbow or “play it safe”.

    • August 29, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment Sabrina. I’m so glad to hear that you have had such a positive experience living with grey. I know many, many people who live in grey homes and love it.

      I wrote this article a few years ago now when grey was just starting to become popular and not many people used it at home. Since then it has become a staple neutral for many people who love it just as much as you.

      As Karen mentioned in her advice, grey can have negative effects so you just need to find a shade that you can live with and that has positive effects for you. Sounds like you’ve managed it with no problems.

  4. Sabrina Akins
    April 6, 2018 / 7:00 pm

    I just came across this article, while looking up how my lovely new Grey-based Living Room could exacerbate the Depression my son & I have both been recently diagnosed with.

    For me, I wanted a neutral color that mixes well with itself & most other colors. Right now, my furniture is grey w/ pops of lighter grey & turquoise in throws & pillows. Curtains are white & light gray, to allow for filtered light through (ugh – it’s a rental) Vertical Blinds.

    My original thought was to go with a medium-to-light grey for the walls, to allow for my Science-Fiction themed framed art to pop, with light maple & birch-color bookcases & such…

    Is this likely to be a decent mix of grey & colors to avoid the “depressing” factor? I certainly don’t want to subconsciously worsen my son’s emotional health.

    Thank you in advance!

  5. Elizabeth Watson
    April 3, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    I have moved into a town house and the walls are all painted camel. It’s an open concept and combines the dining and living areas in mostly a square layout. The kitchen backsplash is brown and white so that limits me in the kitchen area. In the living room,. I have a grey sofa, white love seat, grey recliner and a royal blue easy chair with a grey area rug. The floor is light oak. I would like to change the wall colours and would appreciate your comments/suggestions. Thanks.

    • April 4, 2018 / 9:37 am

      Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your comment. I’ve sent you an email!

  6. RuthAnn
    February 26, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    My entire new-build house is “Agreeable Gray” by Sherwin Williams. I wanted a neutral white but yearned for a pop. My realtor suggested this color. Our previous home was cream (more yellow tone) with cherry woods. Gray was something to get used to for my husband! We both suffer from our own anxieties that brought clashes in our relationship. Though the colors of the other home were beautiful I always felt foreign to my own environment. This color has truly transformed our family life. We are calm, happy, at peace, and love being home together….much more so than we did before! It has transformed otherwise frequently tense memories at home to stable, happy, calm and blessed memories with the kids. Not until reading this article and reflecting on how much this color has effected us have I been truly thankful for our color choice! I do hope to paint some bedrooms to a non gray. In the meantime gray in the main living is perfection.

  7. Danielle
    July 12, 2017 / 2:02 am

    Thank you for this post, but I still LOVE grey interiors and clothing. I think it’s a great neutral colour. Love these grey interiors on your blog.

  8. July 2, 2017 / 8:51 am

    I don’t usually comment but I gotta say regards for the post on this one :

  9. Christina
    March 21, 2017 / 4:24 am

    I’m in the middle of redoing my bedroom. I have a light blue carpet and am painting my walls a cool grey. I really don’t think grey will have a negative effect on me. My main problem is that I can’t decide if white furniture or dark furniture would work best. I was thinking of doing a grey and white colour scheme with accents of muted blues and/or pinks. This is why I originally was set on white furniture but after talking to some people, I have been questioning whether dark furniture would actually look better.

    • March 21, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Hi Christina, one factor to consider here is how big your bedroom is, how much natural light there is and how much natural light you want in the space. If the room is quite small and you fill it with dark furniture, it won’t bounce around the light quite as much as if you had white furniture. Having said that, it is a bedroom and the majority of the time you spend there will be at night, in the dark, so maybe this isn’t an issue for you. Just something to bear in mind perhaps. Try making a digital mock up of the room or a traditional moodboard to give yourself something more visual to base your decision on. I always find this helps me to solve such dilemmas. Good Luck!

  10. Mara
    January 19, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Have a strped corner suite and wanted one chair to sit opposite. The only light colour of chair available at that time was beige and it arrived yesterday. Wasn’t quite sure if it matched my coda/mauve (cream/brown) corner suite so I looked it up online and noticed they now (within 3 months) have introduced a grey colour chair as well. Would the grey have been better or will I get used to the beige fitting in?

    • January 23, 2017 / 10:45 pm

      Hi Mara, I’m afraid without seeing the sofa and chair it is really difficult for me to make a judgement on this.

  11. Sonia
    January 3, 2017 / 2:06 am

    Hi , I want to ask some advise , I have a blue sofa so can I put grey carpet ??


    • January 4, 2017 / 4:24 pm

      Hi Sonia, of course you can! Just google “Blue sofa grey carpet” and select images and you will see plenty of examples of how blue works with grey.

  12. Jennifer
    August 22, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    Hi I would like to ask you a question as I am a bit worried I am going to and up with to much grey . In my kitchen and living room we choose high glossy grey tiles on the dark side ,the kitchen is glossy white with an oak island and grey stools and close buy there is a grey sofa .what colour work top would you go for white or grey ?

  13. Williamfect
    May 6, 2016 / 7:34 pm

    Major thanks for the forum topic.Much thanks again. Will read on…

  14. Linda crone
    April 9, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    I have done my living room in light grey porcelain floor tiles I have a black suite and accessories i don’t know
    what is best colour to add I love the grey but want to add a bit of warmth nothing to bright but still looks contemporary would be grateful for any advice.

    • Dee
      April 20, 2016 / 4:57 am

      light aqua

  15. Amj
    January 5, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    We have a new construction home. The walls are are
    taupe grey (CIL Arrow wood) floor is solid ash wide plank distressed hardwood in colour taffy, white trim baseboards etc. Purchased a brown leather sofa set & it all looks mismatched. So disappointed. What colour furniture goes with taupe grey walls & a country look hardwood floor?

    • January 7, 2016 / 10:09 pm

      Hi Amj, I’m surprised that the sofa set doesn’t look right but without seeing a picture i obviously can’t comment. Perhaps you could try sticking with the neutral colour palette and opt for a grey sofa set, perhaps in a darker shade than the walls?

  16. pujitha
    October 15, 2015 / 6:15 pm

    I was constructed a house and iwas given a very good combitation to all walls and i woyld like to create a model house help me

    • October 20, 2015 / 12:12 pm

      Hi Pujitha, I’m afraid I’m not really sure from your comment how I can help you. Can you be more specific?

  17. sharon
    September 25, 2015 / 3:52 am


  18. Barbie
    May 5, 2015 / 5:56 am

    Hi Karen,
    I am decorating a holiday beach home. I want the atmosphere to be relaxed and casual. A haven for both older teens (young twenties) as well as mature adults. The whole house needs painting. I was going to use a pale shade of grey on the walls in the bedrooms so that the shades of the sea (aquas to vibrant blues) could bounce off the grey tones giving focus to the vibrance of the colours. after reading your interview answers I am not so sure. I also have furniture items that are dark chocolate and espresso to work in with the aqua, blues and turquoise. I would love to hear your opinion

  19. Victoria A.
    November 8, 2014 / 8:23 pm

    I am decorating my room gray and I honestly love it. The comforter I have purchased is a silver gray and the other colors in the room as of right now are white and black with lots of glass and mirror surfaces in the decor. I feel like I really enjoy this color scheme because it reminds me of the moonlight and it’s light reflecting on ocean waves. I would love to introduce an accent color but I don’t want to disturb to tranquil and elegant atmosphere my room currently has. I really believe the bedroom is a place of rest so the shade is very important to me. I am leaning toward a shade of purple but I am open to any color. Is there anything you suggest to keep the room from draining too much energy?

    • November 8, 2014 / 10:34 pm

      Hi Victoria, I’m not sure what Karen would advise but I would say that a really deep and rich navy or indigo would look gorgeous as part of your colour scheme. In a recent post I did about my own bedroom makeover project I included some information from a recent survey that Hammonds did with the help of Karen. The colours that Karen suggested for the bedroom were blue and green. I recently also received some information about a further study conducted by travelodge that found that those with blue bedrooms enjoy the best rest and more of it (7hrs 52 mins per night) as blue is linked to calm, soothing feelings and is thought to slow the heart rate and even reduce blood pressure. It totally depends how the colour purple resonates with you personally but according to the Travelodge survey those with purple bedrooms get the least sleep with only 5hrs and 56 mins per night. I hope that this has proven useful and good luck in choosing your accent colour. Below are some useful links that you may wish to check before making your decision.

      • Victoria A.
        November 18, 2014 / 4:52 am

        Thank you so much for those articles Stacey! :) after reading the article on using indigo in decorating I am definitely considering using that color in my decor. If I do end up using a purple it will be muted or a cool toned purple shade.

  20. Stephanie
    October 23, 2014 / 9:12 pm

    Hi Karen,

    I am renovating a house to sell. I have done the 3 upstairs bedroom a soft grey, the foyer – which staircase goes from front door up the bedrooms/bathrooms a lighter grey. Is it too much grey to put the Den and Living room (they are open to one another and the foyer) a shad of grey as well? The DR and kitchen are going to be muted yellow and the bathrooms are a fresh green/blue. The kitchen is very fresh with white granite and a mix of white and dark cherry cabinets. Should I mix the colors up more? my thinking was grey is neutral to appeal to more buyers…. thanks!

  21. Raynor
    October 17, 2014 / 9:44 pm

    I googled “what colour carpet goes with grey interiors” and came across your website and was really grateful to read this article.

    I am in the process of completing a major refurbishment in my home having chosen white walls, soft grey and slightly darker grey interiors with a mixture of burnt orange velvet and silk cushions.

    I am stuck on what colour to choose for the carpet. Do I stick with a grey and if so should it be lighter than the shade used for the other interiors?

    My lighting is warm white Led, which is all dimmable (hubby a lighting designer so that was the easy part)!

  22. Midnight sun
    September 27, 2014 / 4:13 pm

    What a load of hogwash! Is that a color?

  23. Jasmine
    August 10, 2014 / 12:42 pm

    Hi Karen,
    I enjoyed your piece, I do have to disagree about the way colur affects people. We’re not all the same. I find that white and grey are so calming as they do not fight for attention. They make me feel relaxed. It has nothing to do with hiding or being shy or otherwise. White especially is so cal lingo to me and never cold due to natural lighting. White doesn’t have to be clinical.
    I believe people react differently to colours, no two reactions will be the same because we build a lifetimes worth of association to colour that we actually use to determine what colours make us feel good or not.
    What is happening in our lives and emotional state also affects what we are drawn to.
    Nothing wrong with grey, it’s peaceful. I love it.

    • Pamela
      July 27, 2015 / 9:39 pm

      Totally agree! It’s down to the individual and as for grey not being for bedrooms…..poppycock!

      • August 7, 2015 / 4:28 pm

        Yes it depends how it makes you feel as an individual! It’s not for everyone, but could be the perfect colour for someone!

  24. Mike
    July 21, 2014 / 3:33 pm

    Hi Karen,
    You would look exceptionally pretty sipping coffee in my freshly-painted grey living room. Do pop over when you are free.

  25. Tracey Jacobs
    February 18, 2014 / 5:05 pm

    I in the middle of decorating my bedroom, I’ve picked a light grey carpet for the floor, painting the ceiling pure white, I was thinking of getting a grey glittering wallpaper for the side walls which is a bit darker than my carpet, I will have fitted wardrobes with white frosted and mirrored sliding doors please, I was going to use maybe a blue as accessories do you think this will be to much grey . should I go for a more coloured paper with hint of blue or yellow in it and match my accessories to this thank you

    • February 24, 2014 / 4:28 pm

      Hi Tracey,

      Sounds like you have having a wonderful time decorating your bedroom. I am often asked this question. When is a colour too much is down to your own personal response and what feels right for you. If it feels like it is too much then you can introduce another colour or colours tonally harmonise with the grey/silver tone you are using. Look at lavenders, dusty pinks, greyish blues etc.

      It’s great you are experimenting with colour. Go with how you feel. If it doesn’t feel right, then play around with the colour tones, proportions and placement until it feels right for you.

      Have fun!

  26. Viktoriya
    October 19, 2013 / 10:28 pm

    Karen, we are renovating our cafe in industrial style and designer recommended to make our walls to look as rough concrete texture in a light grey color, but my and my husband’s opinions are completely different about using grey color on walls of a food place. He insists that grey will make appetite decrease and people will be consuming less food, and at this point I don’t know what other color can be used as a substitute of gray and would match industrial style?

    • October 23, 2013 / 1:47 pm

      Hi Viktoriya,

      I seems to me (going off what you have written) the designer is looking at the design style and colours typically used for the industrial style. Your husband is looking at the impact this will have on the mood, behaviour of those who will use the space. Both have to work together to create the right psychological response.

      I agree with your husband, grey could make appetite decrease and people consuming less food. It will depend on the tone of grey, the proportion, placement and the other colours it is teamed with.

      If you would like to discuss this further please contact me on

  27. barbara glover
    September 9, 2013 / 10:35 pm

    Having just ordered a rather expensive grey sofa I felt totally depressed after reading this article. All the complicated implications in Karen’s article indicate I am in for a dull and very unhappy period in my life. Absolute nonsense, colour affects people in different ways that is why we have preferences. This was such a negative article,it would have been better to point out the positives. I would be interested to know the deco and colours in her home.

    • September 10, 2013 / 9:07 am

      Hi Barbara,

      You are absolutely right. Colour does affect people in different ways – colour is subjective. The grey I was referring to is an absolute grey (black&white) which has psychological qualities for which affects us depending on how we are feeling. We pick colours because how it makes us feel and how we want to feel.

      If you love your sofa colour and it expresses your personality and it gives you what you want then that’s all that matters.

      You wanted to know the colours in my home. My style is ethnic, eclectic as I travel a lot. The colours are natural, rich earthy colours.

      Karen :)

  28. corey
    August 8, 2013 / 2:10 pm

    I just wanted to add my two cents worth. I am finding using gray in interiors to be very exciting and extremely soothing. I am not getting the “drained” vibe at all, actually the opposite. however, I am a “beachy” type person, so…. the shades of grey remind me of the beach. I see open and airy, clean and refreshing. bringing in accent colors that make the room “pop”. white trim and sunshine certainly add to the overall effect. perhaps also….. the gray interior is adding to a less rigid way of thinking for some people, not being so extreme on the scale of thought……not black or white but allowing for truths to be somewhere inbetween. just my thoughts. cheers- corey decor couture design

  29. Linda
    February 12, 2013 / 6:04 pm

    Oh, and I meant to say, yes, I absolutely adore how my grey walls cause all the mixed shades of my teals, plum purples, rich copper browns and puces of blankets, coushins, furniture, upholstery and such to pop out and to be softly “featured” and uncompetitively supported by the grey.

    I am in love with color… ahem, I mean colour ;)

    • February 21, 2013 / 8:24 pm

      Hi Linda,

      You’re right there. As pure grey doesn’t have any positive psychology qualities of its own, it can ‘showcase’ any colour you put with it, as you are experiencing.

      Love to hear you are loving colour!

      Karen :)

  30. Linda
    February 12, 2013 / 5:56 pm

    I have a long bedroom that was painted a very pale grey-white (with slight green undertone) by a former tenant. The window and door moldings are a medium, almost battleship grey.

    These are colors I formerly would hae hated and ran from,lol. But in my job as communication facilitator and property manager, my sensitive nature is benefitting profoundly from this grey room. I feel cocooned from people, their words, emotions, needs, stories and conflicts, which gives me more focus, clarity, strength and confidence. My office is at one end of the room, and my bed/personal space at the other. The wall behind my bed is painted in Martha Stewart’s Purple Basil (also by a former tenant).

    I have good daylight from windows around my desk. I use colors like much soft rich green in various shades, with rich yet gentle teals, plum purples, burgundy/port, deep periwinkle, a bit of old gold, and copper — all my favorite colors. The grey makes me able to easily notice objects in my room/office, and to feel almost no emotional content or overload no matter how stressful my days.

    I have near my desk and in a central location a bright and colorful print filled with bouyant movement by British painter James Wood who studied under Kandinsky. This is my “visual caffeine” every morning!

    I esp love any shade of dove or brownish grey, and am learning to appreciate grey more and more, esp in these world-changing and challenging, often overloading times :) Hope my sharing is helpful for someone.Thanks so much for this thoughtful and informative article!! (I miss living in Britain!)

    Asheville, NC, US

    • February 21, 2013 / 8:21 pm

      Hi Linda, thank you for your reply which was so rich in description I felt like I was there.

      You’ve touched on several really interesting observations. “I feel cocooned from people, their words, emotions, needs, stories and conflicts” – pure grey is a colour that allows us to hide our personality, hide from the world, to retreat. Think about those grey skies and how we instinctively want to withdraw from the world. And as such, pure grey ‘showcases’ any colour you put with it as you are experiencing.

      It is interesting you have teals, copper, old gold are all warm colours so perhaps instinctively you are compensating for the large amount of grey.

      Just be mindful that being surrounded by so much grey you may, over time feel tired or wanting to cocoon yourself too much (unless of course grey and grey tones suit your personality type).

      Thanks for sharing and do come back as Stacey and I do these colour articles quarterly.

      Karen :)

  31. Carla Christ
    February 20, 2012 / 8:55 pm

    I am interested in color psychology and I am redecorating my 10 year old son’s bedroom. He wants to go with a Miami dolphins theme, therefore lots of teal and orange in the bed covers and furnishings. We are trying to decide on a color to paint the walls given the bright colors of the bed coverings etc. we were considering grey, however I was concerned since I am greatly affected by the color. It seems to me to be a depressing color and we want to avoid this of course. What color would you suggest for the walls to go with the theme ? His carpet is a blue/grey in color.

    • December 19, 2012 / 10:17 am

      Hi Carla, firstly I must apologise for only replying now. I missed seeing your question.

      What you are experiencing with grey is the negative psychological effects. Your son could experience something similar. It can have the effect of being draining which isn’t what you would want your son to experience.

      If it is a good neutral you are after, if it is a warm teal and orange you have used (yellow based undertone) then a warm ivory white is ideal. This is a white that has a yellow undertone with a bit of black added. Without the black added you would have cream which would be too bright against the warm teal and orange.

      Hope this is of help and again apologies for not replying sooner.


  32. NordicBliss
    July 25, 2011 / 11:06 pm

    I love grey as long as it is very pale, then it becomes a shimmering silver white which is the perfect base. Especially because White can often become a bit yellowish with time. I think this really stood out to me and i agree with Karen “As grey doesn’t have a ‘personality’ of its own, paired with any other colour, it allows that colour to be visible whilst grey takes a back seat.”

  33. July 14, 2011 / 11:08 am

    Although I have seen the colour grey used on the outside of properties, which seems ok, and a light grey is becoming popular in garage door sales, my mother-in-law used it throughout her home.

    I always felt depressed after leaving her house and it had nothing to do with her (very warm and friendly lady) I can only put it down to the colour grey. I now avoid it.

    Has anyone else found this, or is there a certain grey that could be considered depressing.

    • July 14, 2011 / 9:47 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. This is a great example of colour psychology in action.

      Colour psychology is how colour has an effect on how we feel and how we perform. When we see a colour we instantly feel its effect, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

      It’s down to an individual’s personality; for you grey does not resonate, you feel its negative effects. However if your mother-in-law loves being surrounded by grey then she is getting her needs met, it is supporting her in some way.

      There’s no such thing as a wrong colour, it’s about surrounding yourself with the right combination of colours for you.

  34. Michelle @ STUDIO:WEIR Interiors
    July 9, 2011 / 8:05 am

    This is one of the best colour blogs I have seen and really interesting given recent colour trends. Well worth reading as is relevant to most of us in some form, whether it be in Interiors, Fashion, Textiles, Architecture, or even before you go eating out or shopping this weekend! (The images are also stunning!)

    • July 14, 2011 / 9:56 am

      Thank you Michelle,

      This is very kind of you. Stacey and I really enjoy doing this series. Stay tuned for the next interview next quarter!

  35. Deborah Shelton
    July 8, 2011 / 8:33 am

    What an interesting article and one which is very relevant to today’s interiors. I have recently specified a satinwood grey to compliment the existing red carpets, within a private restaurant. The room has high ceilings with period features and I love the combination of grey and cream. The grey will be used on the panelling, leaving a predominance of pale cream walls. It is a useful neutral to introduce, where there is already a dominant colour such as red. I have teamed it with a pale, silvery grey to highlight the cornicing.

    At home, I agree that pure greys can feel austere and cold, and in my own home, I have opted for a calmer scheme, a colour in between grey and taupe, in various shades from dark accents to paler walls. It’s a look that has worked well.

    • July 14, 2011 / 9:53 am

      Hi Deborah,

      Thanks for sharing. Love to see the images when they’re on your website.

      Muted grey colour palette works beautiful together. It’s perfect for those whose personality resonates with this colour family.

  36. Laura Leigh Clarke
    July 5, 2011 / 5:39 pm

    Thanks for a really interesting post.
    I have spent some time in interior finishing specification and I noticed about 18 months ago how the greys and griege was creaping into the fashionable colour pallette. I suppose the thing about these neutral colours that are thankfully replacing the old magnolia is that although they are “grey’ed off”, they still have a hint of colour to them. As Karen said, slightly yellower or slightly bluer.

    Karen, do you see the grey trend developing further in residential interiors?

    • July 14, 2011 / 9:48 am

      Hi Laura Leigh,

      Great question. The longevity of a trend will usually be in relation to the factors that ‘inspired’ it to be a trend in the first place. Given the austere times we are currently in grey is the colour that some people choose to feel protected, safe, secure. Others may find themselves doing the complete opposite wanting to bring lots of colour (fun, happiness) into their lives as a deflection. If you look at the current trends you’ll notice both these things are happening.

  37. Felicity Lerouge
    July 5, 2011 / 10:48 am

    It was interestng to hear Karen say that initially the grey cafe was relaxing but the effect continued unti it became draining. It show how important it is to take time to decide a colour scheme.

    • July 11, 2011 / 10:59 am

      That’s so true Felicity, it’s important to think about the long term effects a long will have on you.

  38. July 5, 2011 / 9:01 am

    Love it! We think grey is one of the unsung heroes in design & interiors — actually, we’re a big fan of grey full stop! We’ve used it to great effect in properties where it’s created a statement wall in an all-white space, giving quite a structural feel which works really well with our interiors. The darker greys we’ve used also make for a fantastic backdrop against which all colours pop! And, for some reason (perhaps its neutrality), it also helps us to think more clearly! Have a peek here:

    • July 11, 2011 / 10:57 am

      Grey has the quality to back a back seat and let the other colours take centre stage!

  39. July 4, 2011 / 11:55 pm

    I went to a very elegant restaurant in the south of France which had beautiful dove grey walls and grey upholstered chairs with lots of white accents, including the wooden chair frames and table linen. I think the interior would be described as “Gustavian.” The overall effect was really very lovely and sophisticated, allowing the diners and the food to take centre stage. In conclusion, I think that the more delicate shades of grey can make a soothing background, providing the room proportions are good and there is plenty of brighter colour to provide interest.

    • July 5, 2011 / 9:42 am

      Hi Tanya, sounds beautiful. Your description makes it sound a place that is quiet, serene, speaking in hushed tones, beautiful… grey certainly takes a back seat allowing the colour and design of the food to be the star.

  40. July 4, 2011 / 11:04 am

    I have pale grey walls which I can’t change (although I wouldn’t have picked them myself), and this article has made me realise that I’ve been going completely the other way in order to brighten up my spaces with floral prints.

    I have no idea whether it’s ‘working’ but it feels good to me. :)

    • July 11, 2011 / 10:56 am

      that’t what it’s all about Tamsin – how it makes you feel.

  41. July 2, 2011 / 6:46 pm

    Grey is a very sophisticated colour and I think works best when used in rooms of elegant proportions, with high ceilings and lots of natural light. I do think you need an accent colour to work with it, not too much just a touch of bright pink or lime green. I personally prefer warm greys to cool ones.

    • July 5, 2011 / 9:36 am

      Hi Amanda, good point about natural light. It certainly adds warmth to a grey room.

  42. Shopna Begum (@BlingInteriors)
    July 2, 2011 / 3:22 pm


    I would like to say that i agree with a lot of what Karen had to say about the colour grey.

    Personally i think the colour grey can add drama to a space and I really love the fact that other colours can play off it. Exposed concrete being one of my favourites, If you are going to have a grey space then make it a space with natural light as well as this will stop it from becoming dull. Below is a link to a project that makes good use of a variety of natural greys.

    I know that Feng Shui particularly has a problem with grey its interpreted as being dead or dull yet silver is the colour for trust & romance.

    Grey can often be a great framing colour used sparingly to highlight a specific space or activity and is better at this than white. If you are going to apply a grey paint then experiment with the primer colour, a silver/dark or light primer can change the finished walls appearance. Nice Article. Thanks Shopna

    • staceysheppard
      July 2, 2011 / 3:40 pm

      Thanks for your comments Shopna.

      I agree that grey is a very dramatic colour and when used correctly it can look very striking. Your point about natural light is a very important one I think as using grey in a small space would probably just make it feel even smaller and quite enclosed.

    • July 4, 2011 / 11:15 am

      Hi Shopna,

      These are great examples of the subtle use of grey. Exposed concrete shows how well it sits with natural materials. Personally I really love these interiors especially the rust style tiles.

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