Decorating with Gray

A large gray area rug helps ground this large living room. Gray chairs complete the look. (Photo: Design Recipes)

The color gray is often considered to be drab and gloomy, but the reality is, gray is one of the most versatile colors in home decor. Why? It’s a foundation color that can easily be paired with other colors and can be used for foundation pieces such as sofas, beds and chairs. Use gray to help ground a space, as well as for accents.

Looking for ways to use gray in your home? Here are some Design Recipes do’s and don’ts.


  • Use light gray in spaces that don’t get much light. Light gray can help make a space feel light and bright.
  • Use gray for primary pieces in rooms such as sofas, chairs and beds.
  • Mix warm and cool grays. Warm grays are creamier, while cool grays are bluer.
  • Pair gray with strong contrast colors such as indigo, black or brown.
  • Use gray in unexpected areas such as dining rooms.


  • Be afraid to use dark shades such as charcoal gray. Smoky shades can be luxurious.
  • Be afraid to mix different shades in the same space.
  • Be afraid to use gray as accents. From artwork to pillows, gray can be a smoothing addition.
  • Use dark shades of gray in spaces that don’t get much light, as it will likely make the space feel overly dark.
  • Forget that finishes can be used as a way to add gray to a space. Chrome and nickel finishes are great ways to infuse the color into a room.

By Cathy Hobbs, Tribune News Service. Cathy, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at