A Neutral Decorating Makeover

See how one family embraced an unexpected color -- gray -- to give their space a new look, mixing an elegant decorating style with a touch of contemporary.

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    Gray at Play

    After a kitchen fire, this home's kitchen and adjoining living room required a total overhaul. No. 1 on the list was creating brightness without relying solely on white. The family also wanted to streamline the spaces to bring some peace to their hectic lives. To accomplish this, the homeowners turned to an unexpected neutral -- gray -- to enliven the space.

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    Different Shades

    Working with the existing cabinetry, the homeowners updated the kitchen island base with a coat of dark gray paint and a new Carrara marble top. Other cabinetry was painted in a softer shade of gray and topped with durable concrete countertops. For a modern touch, some of the solid upper cabinet doors were replaced with glass inserts.

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    Perfect Balance

    The existing dining table was stripped and bleached to give it a fresh look. Modern-style clear chairs and old-style hanging lanterns blend the homeowners' interest in both classic and contemporary looks, while red brick floors add texture and functionality.

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    Neutral Know-How

    The simple lines and flax-color living room sofa delineate the space as separate from the kitchen and dining area without stopping the eye from moving around the wide-open space. Neutral colors often get a bad rap and might be considered drab, but pops of rich color, such as eggplant-color pillows and accessories, bring out the warmth of the neutral walls and furniture.

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    Simply Sophisticated

    To tie the spaces together, two large built-in bookcases flanking the mantel were finished in the same color as the kitchen island, and natural elements such as a sisal rug and woven baskets accent both the living room and kitchen. Mirrors and touches of glass provide the understated touch of glamour and sophistication that the homeowners wanted.

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    Going Green

    Bringing the outdoors in adds life to the neutral space. Greenery on the mantel and bookshelf brings a refreshing pop of color to the living room. The look is easy to get: simply snip a branch off a tree in your yard or pop a colorful bloom into bud vase -- a little goes a long way in adding dimension and interest to monochromatic decor.

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