The controversial nature of the color grey has been the subject of many discussions and theories formulated over the years. Grey is a color that has no positive psychological effects, not in the typical sense anyway. It’s a very bland and neutral color which can often be perceived as being depressing and tiresome. At the same time, it can have a calming and relaxing effect in certain contexts and it has also become a trendy and fashionable color in the past few years. This has partially changed our perception about grey, turning it into an elegant and sophisticated color which many of us seek to include in our homes. Using grey in interiors is not always as straightforward and as simple as it may seem.
First of all it’s important to note the fact that there are lots of different types of greys to choose from. There’s the most basic kind which is obtained by mixing black and white and there are also many others which can be obtained by also adding more colors to the mix. There’s also the distinction between warm greys which are yellow-based and cool greys which are blue-based. Deciding which one is suitable for a particular space can be quite tricky.
A good rule to go by is to always choose a type of grey from the same color family as the rest of the nuances used around it. This way all the colors will be in harmony and will share certain common features. That means for example to use a warm grey in combination with colors such as brown, yellow and orange. It could also be a good idea to create a custom grey (if you plan on having grey paint on the walls for example) by mixing in small doses of other colors used in the same room.
When grey is paired with other colors, it allows those colors to be more visible while it takes a backseat in the overall interior design scheme. That can mean you can highlight a certain piece of furniture or a certain feature which would otherwise blend in and go unnoticed simply by placing it next to a grey wall.
It’s usually advised to avoid using grey in areas such as bedrooms, nurseries and spaces where creativity is required and that’s because it’s not a stimulating color and it can have a negative impact on your overall mood if exposed to it for long periods of time. At the same time, certain shades of grey can safely be included in these spaces in combination with accent colors or with certain textures and materials. The context and the big picture are always important.
Grey is a good fit for a lot of utilitarian and functional spaces. You can take advantage of its neutral nature to highlight the accent colors, to bring more attention to the materials and finishes used and to create balanced and harmonious interiors. It’s also great that greys usually hide stain and dust quite well and that makes it a practical color in many cases.
Grey can be successfully used to tone down an overpowering color. We often see it paired with red, yellow or orange which are powerful colors and while the grey allows them to stand out by contrast it also helps to balance out the color palette and to bring harmony to the space.
Similarly, you can introduce grey surfaces to tone down certain prints and patterns which would otherwise become overwhelming for the room. Such would be the case with a very busy accent wall or a very bold piece of furniture. You can introduce various grey-based elements in the vicinity of those surfaces in order to soften their impact and create equilibrium in the room.
It’s also true that grey is a color that conveys seriousness which makes it a good fit for formal spaces, shared areas or workspaces where other colors can be distracting or can appear to personalized. To avoid making the space feel too bland and depressing, pair the greys with pleasant finishes, textures and potentially even with different patterns.
Grey is also a good base color to use if you plan on adding bold and eye-catching furniture, strong accent colors or other powerful design elements to a space. A neutral base would tie everything together and would harmonize the color palette.
On a larger scale, grey is a color associated with industrial environments which can be a detail you could take advantage of when designing and decorating a certain space. However, the grey color alone is not enough to give a space an industrial vibe. The materials and finishes need to be carefully selected for the project to be successful.
Sometimes a little bit of grey is needed in order to harmony a space, especially one where it feels like there’s a lot going on in terms of decor. Adding one more element to the mix would not make the space seem busier but would rather have a calming and balancing effect if that element is grey.
Avoid allowing the grey surfaces from taking over a room. Add contrasting colors, introduce decorations and work with different shapes, finishes and materials to make sure you give the eyes enough surfaces to focus on when entering the room. This way the space won’t seem monotonous.