Gray's role in home décor is changing. Variations on this color have long been popular for the outside of your house -- think smoke-hued exterior walls and San Francisco-fog garage doors -- but now it's moving indoors. As yesterday's trendy teal morphs into moody shades of slate, hard-edged Steel Gray has been declared one of Pantone's colors of the year for 2015. Gray in myriad hues is popping up in all areas of today's home and despite serene-sounding paint names like Repose, Mild Wind, Dreamscape, and Worn Leather Shoes, it is surrounded by thunderclouds of controversy. Fans of the color hail it as the sophisticated new neutral, while foes find it dull and depressing. Which side of the gray gap are you on? Do you love it or hate it?
Where You'll See Gray These Days
Stylish homeowners are painting their living room walls in gray tones as an excellent backdrop for vigorous contemporary artwork, a prized collection of stunning antiques, or a showpiece chandelier. Standout effects include dusky painted brick, dramatic raw concrete or elegant charcoal-patterned wallpaper.
The master bedroom becomes a very personal, low-stress refuge with smoky walls or -- better still -- draperies around the bed. Gray in more muted tones is also the surprising new color of choice in modern baby nurseries (!), softened with pastel accessories and a teddy bear or two.
Chic bathroom walls and floors sport crisp-looking gray tiles or, for a generous dollop of luxury, intriguingly veined gray marble.
Kitchens showcase gray in myriad ways. In addition to walls, various permutations of the color make an appearance on cabinets, open shelves, and backsplashes. It coordinates beautifully with the ever-popular stainless steel appliances.
Advantages of Gray Decor
Gray as a theme in your home décor makes a very contemporary design statement. The color has a more distinctly defined personality than the traditional white, yet still gives a neutral impression. This is an essential element in curb appeal, especially if you're looking to attract hip young buyers.
Neither stereotypically masculine like stark black nor feminine like dainty pink, gray is serene, harmonizing with almost every other hue. Its casual feel fosters a sense of comfort and intimacy.
Gray is useful for cooling a hot or overly sunny space, such as a kitchen or closed porch.
In a room with limited natural light, gray will make its surroundings appear dim, gloomy, and cold unless the atmosphere is enhanced by appropriate light fixtures. Opting for a subtle pearly gray with warm undertones will help as well.
The color may also induce a cramped feeling, although this is less of a problem in homes which are designed with a spacious open floor plan or soaring ceilings.
How to Use Gray with Flair
Dark grays like jet are striking when combined with lighter trim, such as crown molding or board and batten in white or off-white. Try a contrast wall (otherwise known as an accent wall a la 2015), or complement using colorfully upholstered furniture or bright full-length curtains. Splash with red to create a sense of drama, particularly if it's punched up with a high-gloss finish. How about a lacquered scarlet coffee table?
Alternatively, rev the walls up with a bright, bold color like amethyst or brick, highlighted with a rich gray carpet or stone floor.
Gray is adaptable to fit in with any decorating style -- just be flexible and use your imagination. For instance, the creamy classical pewter walls of a formal dining room can translate into silvery weathered reclaimed wood panels in a country farmhouse setting.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.