Shades of Gray

Shades of gray in a family room

Gray has been popular for a number of years now and I have read that it will continue to be popular for another five or so.  It’s a good neutral if you like gray and you get the right shade.

Once while visiting a large custom home that a client was considering buying, I was told that the builder had brought in a color consultant to choose the paint colors.  The selection and intensity of the colors surprised me:  strong gold for the two-story family room leading into the kitchen and open foyer.  Battle ship gray for the dining room.  The colors looked heavy and overbearing.  I would have repainted.

Another client was in the middle of a major addition/renovation.  She wanted pale gray for her dining room.  The dining room was average size with a wall of windows  and a large mirror on the opposite wall.  It was also completely open to the two-story foyer.  Light gray was just going to look blah.  I suggested charcoal gray.  My next visit to her home I saw the charcoal gray walls. It was stunning.  I was happy and my client was thrilled.  She had a tall glass cabinet rimmed in brass that really stood out against the charcoal gray and tied beautifully with the brass chandelier.  The pale foyer walls made the dining room gray look very dramatic.

Two dining rooms, two different shades of gray.  The battle ship gray in the first home was wrong no matter how you sliced it:  the wrong color and definitely the wrong shade.  The charcoal gray in the second home was darker, dramatic with different lighting circumstances but it was beautiful.

What makes one gray heavy and overbearing and another dramatic and beautiful?  Lighting, for one thing.  The exposure and the number of windows allowing natural light into the room matters more than anything else.  The size of the room matters and the amount of reflectance the paint will have from one wall to another.

The Pantone Color Institute says, “If gray feels natural and comfortable to you, then use it.  But, if you are using it because it is the trend and someone has advised you, you will never really feel at home with it.”

I completely agree.

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