The Graying of America

Gray has emerged as the super-hot home color, easily usurping all the brown/tan/beige tones that dominated in years past. Some critics argue that we have reached peak-gray, and the time is ripe for more vibrant color palettes or a new neutral pick. Others contend that gray is institutional, dreary, or a misfit in classic homes.

We understand the critics. Still, we like the way some grays add depth against white trim, provide a neutral background for more colorful art and furnishings, and convey a calming mood in certain rooms. We admit we are guilty of applying many dozens of gallons of gray paint in recent years, and while we don't want to reflexively recommend gray paints when circumstances call for better alternatives, we prefer a short list of gray tones when set against the warmth of dark hardwood flooring or layered fabrics and cozy bedding. A bit of warm-cool contrast in a room can add interest to many design styles and furnishings, and on the exterior, the contrast with white window casing and other trim is stunning. Some of the muddy or in-between gray tones are perceived as "safe" choices (we're talking to you, so-called greige) but add little interest to a room and are soon forgotten. Don't forget to check your natural light (quantity and exposure) before going down the gray rabbit hole.

Here is our first team All Gray:

  1. C2-996 Mainsail: A very light gray, possibly better characterized as an off-white with gray undertones. We like this best in a supporting role, when layered with more saturated colors. C2 has an an extraordinary selection of high quality paints and is unfairly under-represented in this list. We plan to correct this later.
  2. BM 1591 Sterling: A lighter shade of Adagio below, flexible in classic and contemporary homes. We prefer the eggshell finish for a little sheen.
  3. BM HC-171 Wickham Gray: A soft and versatile cool gray that is flattering to many interiors, it shows a hint of blue-green undertone with indirect natural light. One of the most popular choices based on the feedback we've heard at open houses.
  4. BM OC-52 Gray Owl: Another soft gray that goes well with dark wood flooring. One of our preferred warm gray tones, good in bedrooms, and capable of standing on its own.  
  5. BM 1593 Adagio: A mid-tone gray that adds some punch to a smaller room and complements the beauty of predominantly white marble varieties. Elegant in the eggshell finish.
  6. BM 1610 French Beret: A rich gray. Dramatic, with a certain depth of color that is missing in several more muted grays. A good exterior choice, too.   
  7. BM 2134-40 Whale Gray: Sometimes graphite in different lighting, this gray is substantial and provides a great backdrop for high contrast against other colors. Another good exterior choice, with something of a modern feel to it.
  8. No. 26 Farrow & Ball "Down Pipe": Yep, we know it's a designer favorite and pricy, too, but we have to admit it's rich and unforgettable with blue undertones. Dramatic like French Beret, and best for rooms with abundant natural light.     
Remodeling and Home Design