At its purest, gray is the perfect blend of black and white, which makes it the epitome of neutrality and balance. Of course, when gray is used in interior design, there are undertones (warm or cool) to be identified and considered when creating color combinations.
Although gray itself refrains from exuding emotion, it is likely pretty pleased to be the neutral of design choice these days. The color ranges from dingy to sophisticated. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the colors that go with gray, and why those particular combinations work well.
Gray + Gold + White
Almost like a blank slate, the color gray can be reformed to represent and enhance nearly any desired aesthetic, including formality and sophistication. (This might be surprising, due to the fact that for a long time this color represented solely dullness and pollution, visual and otherwise.) In a luxe texture that begs for a hand to touch it, gray and its color combination pals gold and white shine for this grand Gallery ALL chair.
Taking gold and white as prime colors that go with gray in a different direction is this crisp, fresh, contemporary kitchen. Nobilia square handles accentuate the clean lines of the space, as do strategic horizontal blocks of color. Of course, the highlight of the space is the double-cubed gold hood over the stove, which is as charming as it is unique.
Gray + Navy
There are few colors as timeless and practical as gray is, but navy is definitely one of them. The two like-minded colors originate from different spaces on the color spectrum, but they join together seamlessly and easily to create a pragmatic, classic palette. The effect is particularly impressive when the gray used is on the paler side of things, which keeps the gray and navy space from feeling too heavy.
Gray + Slate Blue
A hot neutral right now, gray is the It Factor of many contemporary spaces. One challenge with using this “non-color,” however, is the need to liven it up. Slate blue is a perfect color that goes with gray because it, too, contains significant dosages of gray undertones, yet it adds a certain pop of color that matches gray in tonality, sophistication, and muted urbanity.
Gray + Aqua
Something visually amazing happens when the color of gunmetal combines with the color of the Caribbean waters on a clear, sunny day. The contrast between the two colors only heightens their impact, and the effect is stunning. Just be aware that when you combine colors like this that are inherently so different (even if one is a neutral), textures will pop and any additional details will be accentuated. So go easy on the décor.
Gray + Driftwood + White
Light gray tends to be more feminine, while darker gray tones are naturally internalized as more masculine. So for a lighter, breezier, almost coastal feel, light gray pairs serenely with driftwood brown and white. Distinct in their differences, these colors combine to simulate an almost monochromatic feel to a space, full of pleasing neutrality but with sufficient depth of tone to keep things interesting.
Gray + Red + White
Red and white create a bold color pair; when gray is added as the third wheel, the palette is instantly softened and more well-rounded. This is true for both darker shades and lighter tints of gray, although darker gray (such as gunmetal and charcoal) is more visually arresting and so creates more of a statement with red and white than, say, raincloud gray. Of course, the beauty of this color palette is that you can use a variety of shades of gray without introducing a level of visual clutter that other colors might bring with them.
Gray + Pink
Perhaps because it reminds one of a soft gray bunny with pale pink ears, gray and pink together is sweet and attentive. This Xiaotong Wang chair set certainly incorporates the efficient nature of gray beautifully with this consideration of pink, and the resulting flow of connection between the inhabitants of these chairs can be felt almost immediately.
Gray + Yellow
Just as we welcome the sun’s appearance on a cloudy day (even if it’s just a peek), we welcome yellow as an ideal color that goes with gray. Its sunshiney, cheerful aesthetic lifts the efficient utilitarianism of gray and creates a space where both effects can be felt and appreciated. This is exactly what this Fermob outdoor chair accomplishes with its gray and yellow combination.
Gray + Red
Soft elephant gray is a perfect color for a zen retreat, a bedroom, or any space that speaks serenity and peace. Where bold red would counter-attack the calmness that such a soft gray creates, a deep brick red is mature, somber, and a perfect pair of a color that goes with gray. Notice how one uniquely shaped item (e.g., the bolster on this daybed) in the accent color provides enough visual for the entire setting.
A brighter, fire-engine or candy-apple red paired with dark charcoal gray lends an entirely different vibe to a glossy utilitarian space, such as a kitchen or bathroom. Bold and no-nonsense, this color combination is nothing but striking and crisp. Be sure to keep silhouettes and lines clean with such a palette. (Notice how the Nobilia soapstone countertop is matte; red cabinetry is high gloss. This is an important shine juxtaposition with bold colors.)
Gray + Taupe
It isn’t a stretch to put taupe as a lovely color that goes with gray, largely because taupe and gray are so closely related. As a lovely brownish-gray (or grayish-brown), taupe provides the warmth to the palette, while gray provides the structure and grounding aesthetic. Luxe velvet and interesting architectural details make this particular color palette gorgeously attractive.
When pale gray is combined with white and taupe tints, the effect is a cousin of monochromatic décor and, as such, brings with it serenity, stability, and flow. Remember that whenever few colors are used, the emphasis on texture and pattern variation is heightened, so be sure to use touchable fabrics and interesting lines. This is a perfect combination for a bedroom retreat.
Gray + Orange
Some gray nuances, especially the darker ones, need a lighter and warmer counterpart alongside them, otherwise they can make a space feel rather gloomy. Orange and all its variations go well with gray in general and there are many different ways in which they can be introduced into a room.
Gray + Leather
This combination works out really well when the grays are paired with textiles. That way you can soften the cold nature of the color by correlating it with soft textures. That also means you can introduce a contrasting accent material such as leather which can bring out the beauty in the neutrals and vice versa.
Gray + Matte finishes
We love the look of grays when paired with flat and matte finishes and surfaces. They also look really well on textiles which in interior design can translate into elements such as upholstered sofas and armchairs and rugs and carpets. Avoid introducing any shiny details or dedicate this change to accent details only.
Gray + Soft pastels
If you’re using gray as a primary color chances are you want the décor to be simple and soothing. In that regard, a bright and vibrant accent color would ruin the effect. However, you can still add color to the room in the form of pastels.
Gray + Wood
There are many different types of wood with various different colors and finishes but generally when we think of this material we picture a warm color. Gray on the other hand is associated with cold materials like stone or concrete. When you put the two together the result can be a very beautiful one.
Gray + Earthy nuances
Gray, whether light or dark or infused with other nuances, always looks nice when paired with earthy colors such as brown, beige, some shades of orange and so on. That can open up a lot of different possibilities, allowing you to create an interesting interior design while relying mostly on neutrals.
Gray + Neutrals
A dark shade of gray can serve as an accent color in a décor that’s defined by light neutrals. Here you can see a dark gray kitchen island paired with white cabinetry and beige accents. It helps to ground the space together with the dark-stained wooden floor.
Gray + Gray
That’s right, you can combine multiple shades of gray to add diversity to a décor while still maintaining a monochromatic color palette throughout the space. You can also introduce a variety of different finishes, materials and textures and use lighting to focus the eyes on specific elements and to make them stand out.
Gray + Cyan
introducing a bright and vibrant color such as cyan for example can really cheer up a gray-based interior. The contrast would be less striking with light gray than with white for example which actually allows you to use white as a second accent color. This bathroom has gray subway tiles on the walls and a lighter-colored honeycomb floor and the focal point is the freestanding tub.
Gray + White
What this beautiful living room proves is that gray can be one of the accent colors along with other neutrals such as beige, ivory or some pastels. Notice the noticeable contrast between the furniture and the white walls. It’s subtle but not without flair.
Gray + Dark gray
Here’s another iteration of the idea that different nuances of the same color can be successfully used to create a diverse and interesting interior design. This time we’re looking at a bedroom with a rather masculine look. That’s in part due to the use of grays for the walls, furniture as well as the tall padded headboard. Dark grays help to highlight certain elements while everything else blends in.
Gray + Brown
It’s often a good idea to combine gray with colors that are warm and comforting in order to avoid creating an austere and bland décor. Brown is a nice choice because it’s not particularly interesting color itself but the gray helps it stand out and brings out its beauty. Check it out in this contemporary kitchen with burgundy-colored appliances and granite countertops.
Gray + Stone
Another interesting idea is to combine gray with specific materials which are naturally gray themselves. For example, this stylish study room has a stone fireplace which fits into the décor seamlessly thanks to the of similar colors for the floor, window treatments and most of the furniture.
Gray + Burgundy + Dark blue
Pairing two strong colors together can make them clash if the context is not right. Burgundy and dark blue are two powerful colors which have in common their rich and deep beauty but they look best when surrounded by light neutrals and gray is a perfect example.