Far from the tinny, sleek gray of stainless steel and chrome, which our eyes see as glints of white and black, this gray has undertones of butter yellow and, yes, chocolate brown. It's not a cold hue (who wants to hug a refrigerator anyway?); it has the snuggle-up-to warmth of a faux-mink coat. Look for it in upholstery fabrics, wallpaper patterns, and accessories such as throw pillows and blankets. In an already cozy space, such as this bedroom, several shades of warm gray layer together to make a downy nest, and they glow in the light filtering through the windows.
A warm gray is complex and deep, which makes it versatile enough to work with all metals, whether it's oil-rubbed bronze or shiny nickel. It pairs equally well with woodwork painted cloud-white or timeworn ivory, and it takes on a different persona with each. With a clear white, it becomes modern and crisp, a variation on the classic black-and-white combo. With a yellowy white, the color feels historic with a rich patina, like a leather-bound book that's faded with use. And the best part of using the hue in today's eclectic homes is that it can stride both styles. The warm gray shades used in this bedroom, for example, suit both the minimal, contemporary setting as well as the decidedly traditional components.
1. You can use warm gray to take the edge off a stark, hardworking space, such as a kitchen. Painting the island or base cabinets is a chic way to offset the chilly appliances.
2. Let the trendy quality of warm gray update dated furniture or features of your home. Use it to paint a golden-oak stair railing, transform knotty paneling, or make over a hand-me-down ebonized bedside table.
3. Warm gray fabric feels as inviting and soft as flannel trousers and a broken-in peacoat. Sew yards into pillow or chair slipcovers, or use pieces to re-cover lampshades.
Warm gray is everywhere from the runway to the big-box store, so you won't have trouble seeking it out. For online searches, use descriptors like charcoal, smoke, taupe, and slate to find accessories such as lamps, rugs, and curtains. It's overtaking brown as the neutral color for mainstay pieces like sofas and outdoor dining sets. And you'll also see it as part of the new collections from paint companies.