Decorating with Gray: Walls, Accessories, and Accents
A mix between black and white, gray is by definition a neutral. But its varying shades, whether light dove or dark charcoal, make gray as versatile as any color. Here's how to use gray on walls, plus how to decorate with gray as an accent color in accessories, furniture, fabrics, and more.
Everything In This Slideshow
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Gray Made Cheerful
These storm cloud gray walls don't look a bit dreary, thanks to the white moldings, chairs, and a woven shade. The cool hues are balanced with warm neutrals introduced on the table, cane chair, and woven area rug. Splashes of celadon and coral add a cheery note to the room.
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Pebble gray walls start the warming trend in this dining room. While the shade on the walls is light, it warms up the space in a way white walls can't. Contemporary wood furniture, warm wood floors, and taupe tile on the backsplash of the bar draw out the warm undertones of the gray walls for an overall look that’s inviting, not sterile.
Decorating with Gray and Neutrals
Watch and learn the secrets to successful gray and neutral color palettes.
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Make an Entrance
The sunburst mirror in the entrance of this home is paired with a chic gray console with matching gold knobs. The dove gray console lets the mirror be noticed and remain the focal point of the space. Simple accessories on top of the buffet give the entrance a lived-in look without being cluttered.
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The woven gray wallpaper in this bedroom gives the walls a dose of texture and pattern. A fuchsia headboard, throw pillows, and comforter bring life and color to the room in a subtle and reserved manner. The gray striped area rug adds another layer of texture and pattern to the room and proves that gray rooms can be dynamic and exciting.
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Decorative moldings on these charcoal gray walls add an architectural element to the dining room. The tone-on-tone approach ensures the effect isn’t overbearing. A rustic dining table makes the room feel less formal and more relaxed. The chandelier and oval-back chairs add an elegant touch. The white ceiling creates more light within the room so it does not feel too dark.
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Light gray walls in this living room are a wonderful compliment to the bright palette of orange and green within the room. Although the couch and walls are both gray, the couch is many shades darker, so it stands out against the walls. The striped area rug contains all of the hues used in the room and pulls the room together.
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When a call for serenity is of the utmost importance, opt for a brown-tinged shade of gray. The walls and ceiling of this bedroom are painted with a gray color that has a hint of beige. The undertone softens the gray, and the hue almost perfectly matches the linen headboard. Use crisp white linens and just a sprinkling of colorful accents to keep the hue from becoming dingy.
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Live the Striped Life
Dress up any room with gray stripes for a fresh look. For a more graphic look, use hues with stronger contrast, such as a medium gray and pure white. The color in this family room comes from children’s artwork and bright pillows. Bright colors such as orange and citron lend a modern look to neutrals like gray.
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Gray and brown combine to create an organic, peaceful wall color for this bedroom. White bed linens are simple, and the crispness counteracts the deep wall color to clean up the room’s overall look. A green patterned headboard and chevron throw pillow continue the organic vibe of the walls. The gauzy window curtains let light in while shading at the same time.
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When using a neutral color palette, don’t be afraid to mix and match furniture as a way to bring visual interest to the room. Texture also plays a key role in the success of a neutral palette. In this dining room, an X-base farmhouse style table is paired with casual white director-style chairs. Glossy floors and a sculptural light fixture imbue style. While the gray on the walls has cooler undertones, the abundance of natural light ensures the room doesn’t feel dreary, and the pink sofa adds a pop of pick-me-up color.
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A Note from Nature
A barely-gray wall color is the perfect backdrop for these waterfowl drawings. While a colorful hue would have added dimension, the gray background gently blends with the ornithological art for a museum-worthy display. For continuity, the soft-gray hue repeats through the space -- on the chair and lamp and even on the flooring, which has a gray wash. Touches of black on the dresser, in a few of the drawings, and on the chair's stripe ground the space.
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Fade to Gray
Gray is the perfect bridge between black and white and can be used to soften the high contrast duo. In this kitchen, a dark gray backsplash in variegated tones stands in the middle ground between the black soapstone countertops and white cabinetry. Crystal knobs and stainless-steel drawer pulls add a hint of sparkle and glitz.
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Mix It In
Break up large expanses of white with gray to create visual interest while maintaining a clean, neutral aesthetic. In this kitchen, a white island would have been lost against the white cabinetry and moldings. A medium-tone gray provides the right amount of contrast, and the gray paint pairs beautifully with dark hardwood floors.
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The highlight of this bathroom is the glittering gray tile. Varying sizes of tiles are used within the bathroom to create a dynamic, flowing look. The purple-gray wall picks up slight lavender tones in the tiles behind the sink.
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A subdued palette of neutrals with gray, bronze, and green keeps this master bedroom peaceful. Barely-there dove gray covers the walls, while stone gray adds depth in the curtain panels and on the headboard. A slim border of gray embellishes the white bedding. A small-scale chest of drawers in soft green serves as a nightstand. Warm hues come from a bronze bed skirt and coral-pattern pillows.
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Bring Nature Indoors
Grass-cloth walls bring a natural element into this living room, but the gray undertones of the paper up the sophistication factor. The multi-toned walls pair well with the deep gray couch and patterned chairs in the same shade of gray. Lemon yellow and Kelly green accents are reminiscent of a garden and bring life and energy into the room.
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Charming in Charcoal
This bedroom shows how different shades of gray can be used to make a chic and sophisticated space. The barely-there gray bedding feels refreshing when paired with charcoal and pale yellow accent pillows. The yellow is picked up again in the patterned footstools and on the side tables.
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A Mix-&-Match of Styles
The dark gray walls add drama to this living room. The color, inspired by the bark on the dense trees that surround the home, lets the wooded side table and frames stand out. Other elements, such as the metallic garden stool and ottoman, bring out the wall's cool undertones. This room is a mixture of styles that all work together thanks to the wall's versatile hue.
Next Slideshow Neutral Paint Colors
Neutral Paint ColorsWith tones as varied as driftwood gray and creamy latte, neutrals are anything but boring. Browse our top neutral paint color picks to find the right hue for your rooms. Plus, learn the best tricks for decorating in neutrals.Begin Slideshow »