Fifty Shades of Grey, or Gray, in your Home

Neutral gray

Neutral grey shiplap walls

Let's begin with the spelling. Both gray and grey are correct. I find myself in the minority,  using the "e" all the time. After (easily) 5 years, it's still the "new" hands down favorite for a neutral home. Gray has nudged beige, cream and off-white aside, only lagging behind white as the "go - to" neutral for residential interiors. Depending on who you are; your taste, your sensibility, the style of your decor, you either love it or hate it. Deemed cold and blah by some, it is considered a very sophisticated choice by others. It will create a calm and neutral palette for your home. Some things to keep in mind to use it effectively:  If you choose a very neutral grey whose make up is purely black and white, there is little complexity to the color (not necessarily bad) and this allows you to decorate with either warm or cool tones around it. Most greys however are either warm or cool themselves with visible undertones which lean towards blue, green, violet, red or yellow. Each lends a VERY different feel to the room. Use the undertones to help decorate the room and tie one room's color to the next. There are many more than fifty shades of grey out there. Benjamin Moore say they have hundreds, Sherwin Williams has a lovely selection. C2 has some great full spectrum choices and Farrow & Ball excels at grey as they do with each and every other hue. The biggest mistake is to create a room ALL grey. No matter how beautiful the color, it will bore the heck out of you in short order. The human eye, brain (and soul!) needs variety and the inclusion of color to make a room feel visually ergonomic and to keep it from becoming sterile. While it may look great in a photo, I promise you, living in an all grey room is too dull. Here are some good ones.
Neutral gray dining room

Neutral grey dining area

warm gray wall

Warm grey distressed wall

warm gray kitchen

warm grey kitchen

warm gray dining room

Warm grey dining room

warm gray foyer

Warm grey foyer

cool gray dining room

Cool grey dining room

light neutral gray living room

Light neutral grey living room

Dont' do this!
The gray room is sterile

This grey room is sterile

And Don't do this! This room needs much more color to bring it alive and make it relatable.
Boring gray living room

How NOT to use grey. This room needs more variety in color.


Design Ascension: Color on the Staircase

It's not JUST a way to transport you from story to story. You can create a perfectly lovely traditional staircase with a runner over bare wood. But, it's an architectural feature that can be transformed into a major design element with the inventive application of paint, stain or wallpaper creating a new striking design feature which elevates it beyond its mere functionality. Think color, out of the box! painted staircase Especially for the property owner who is timid about adding color to the home, the staircase is an excellent place to dip your color-phobic toe into the paint bucket and create a bold statement in a very contained place. Even with an otherwise monochromatic space that's neutral; all white, beige or grey, a colorful staircase will transform the house. It's not unheard of to paint numbers or words on the risers. Get creative. You can play with its elements; painting just the treads or the risers, creating patterns on the steps or the side wall, using its graphic form to help create abstract art in your stairwell.
multi hued steps

Multi- hued steps

Ombre! Pink Ombre steps Here's a raw wood staircase where color is just used on the rising wall. Raw wood stairs Unstained or unpainted stairs surrounded by deep color. This treatment makes the staircase pop!
Unstained staircase, painted hallway

Designed by Rafe Churchill

yellow stairs

Boldly painted risers

patterned staircases

Patterns on the stairs: Nautical stripe and a geometric shape

patterned staircase

Wallpaper and stenciled risers

painted runner on stairs

Stylized floral pattern and an asymmetrical runner created with paint

Stained wood stairs

Gray wash stain by John Pawson and worn black stain on steps