Color of the Month—Gray, 2017

By Contributing Writer,

  Filed under: Color of the Month, Feature

Gray Has its Day

by Miranda Lipton


Every color elicits a unique mood. While gray often gets a negative rap for being boring or dull, our color experts describe it as clean, fresh, peaceful, gentle, and calming. Personally, the only thing that comes to mind when I think of gray is scarlet, the other half of Ohio State’s team colors. As an OSU student and fan, it would be a crime for me to pair gray with any color other than scarlet! However, our more unbiased professionals are willing to share some popular color ideas for any non-Ohio State fanatics.

Our color authorities emphasized the appeal of combining gray with other neutrals. “Grays can feel more livable when paired with a touch of warmth through brown or yellow shades,” said Sue Kim, Valspar color strategist.

Mary Lawlor, manager of color marketing at Kelly-Moore Paints, leans towards the combination of grays and whites, but keeps to the theme of a neutral pairing. “The most popular colors to combine grays with are whites,” she said. “Consumers seem to be having a love affair with creating this refreshingly neutral look in their homes and adding in lively colored accents like lime green, lively corals, and aquatic blues.”


Sophisticated Ladies

Neutral color combinations allow for more creativity when adding accents around the house, points out Hannah Yeo, Benjamin Moore color and design expert. “Many people are pairing grays with whites, blacks and other neutrals,” she describes. “Because they are keeping the color scheme neutral, homeowners are playing with texture instead. Extra fluffy bedding, big-knotted throws and rugs are brought to the forefront. Metallic accents also play a key role. Copper, gold and bronze tones add a wink of color with a little bit of glimmer.”

This neutral trend goes along with a calm and relaxing vibe that many of today’s consumers desire in their homes. (If your family is anything like mine, you will take any extra kind of calm that you can get!)

Sue Kim agrees, gray can save the day. “I love using grays in a space where you need a peace and quiet. We all need a place where we can unwind and feel anchored,” she said.

Lawlor expands on the previously stated characteristics of gray. “I find that many light to medium grays provide a clean, fresh and open look for interiors. Dark gray accent walls paired with white trim look sophisticated yet subtle. Overall, the trend to this cooler neutral is quite refreshing. It offers the opportunity to pair with brightly colored accents,” she said.

Kim also uses “sophisticated” to describe gray. “People are embracing the color as a sophisticated and versatile neutral for interiors instead of turning to a traditional white and beige,” she said. “Gray has historically been used as an exterior color; however, it is now a popular hue for interior application. It can be found in all aspects of home life including bedding, cookware, and even children’s décor.”

Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball, has a sophisticated take on the color as well. “Gray shades can be used like the accessories of the home color palette,” she said. “They can dress a room up and layer on an unexpected but chic element that can completely transform a space.”


Going Mainstream

Gray continues as a high demand, mainstream color this year. Yeo lists the most popular Benjamin Moore grays for 2017: Revere Pewter (HC-172), Edgecomb Gray (HC-173), Silver Satin (OC-26), Balboa Mist (OC-27), and Collingwood (OC-28), all of which are on the warmer side of gray. “These hues are often used on interior spaces because they are light and airy, but still subtly add hints of color,” she explains.

Cosby from Farrow & Ball adds her company’s tints to the list of popular warm shades. “Slightly warmer grays like Ammonite, Cornforth White, and Purbeck Stone have remained popular since their introduction a few years ago,” she said. “They partner nicely with both cooler and warmer tones, so they are inherently versatile.” Gray highlights, Cosby describes, are a way to add a bit of an edge to neutral palettes.

While the uses of gray have changed frequently throughout history, there is still a connection between historical applications of gray and how it is now used in a more modern setting. “Traditional grays are historically found in exterior applications of Northeastern/Cape Cod style structures. Today, we are embracing this rustic style within the home to feel connected with nature,” Kim explained. “Bursts of bright décor are a way for homeowners and designers to modernize this look and bring it into their homes.” Gray also works well on ceilings or traditional brick fireplaces, she suggests.

The versatility of gray is a great draw when choosing a color, so it might just calm down those confused customers! Yeo sums it up: “It can be warm or cool, subtle or dramatic depending on how you use this color. With so much potential, it’s a great canvas to infuse your personal style.”

So despite what the popular trilogy tells us, our experts confirm that there are far more than 50 Shades of Gray for your customers to choose from when painting their homes. (Plus, their color tools are probably better reading material.) And while the options for color combinations are plentiful, we all know that in the end, there is no better color combination than OSU’s scarlet and gray!