The Best Grey Paint Shades

Beige, you're history. Grey has cemented its place in our hearts as the neutral of choice. Never mind 50 shades, here's the only eight you'll ever need...

Grey is the perfect neutral; not too pasty, not too dark, not too bright, not too loud and effortless easy to live with. Better still, it goes with everything. But it’s certainly not boring, being versatile enough to be whatever you need it to be. Warm, cool, calming or electrifying, elegant or rustic, it comes in myriad shades that can work in all kinds of rooms, creating many different moods.

Wall (dark to light): Monument 151, Erica 346, Quail 154 – Pure Flat Emulsion. Woodwork: Masque 105 – Architects’ Eggshell, all from Paint and Paper Library

Grey instantly brings style and sophistication to a space. Layer its various tones to create interest and impact.

Wall (facing): Wood Ash 229, Walls (corridor): Grey Moss 234 and Cool Arbour 232, both from Little Greene

Grey is endlessly versatile. In a dark bedroom it’s restful and cocooning, envigorating in a Shaker-style painted kitchen, or unifying in monochrome bathroom schemes, pretty dressing rooms and cloakrooms. A darker shade of grey is also ideal for accentuating details such as the space below the dado, banisters and door frames.

Wall: Temple 238 – Pure Flat Emulsion. Lower Wall: Monument 151 – Pure Flat Emulsion. Detail: New Black 126 – Pure Flat Emulsion. Ceiling: Masque 105 – Pure Flat Emulsion, all from Paint and Paper Library

With so many available shades, the trick is finding the right one for you. So consider this your cheat sheet – our round-up of the best grey shades that are timeless, elegant and endlessly versatile.

SOFT AND COMFORTING: CORNFORTH WHITE BY FARROW AND BALL

This lovely warm neutral is both welcoming and enriching. It’s great for creating a sense of depth in a narrow area,  cosying up a small spaces or making a large room feel inviting. Cornforth White is understated and versatile, and neither too warm or too cool. The colour sits contentedly between Ammonite and Purbeck Stone to create a hushed and calming retreat. Named in memory of John Cornforth, the revered architectural historian, contrast with Farrow & Ball’s Wevet to make the most of its greyness.

Cornforth White from Farrow & Ball. Estate Emulsion and Modern Emulsion is priced £45 for 2.5 litres and £78 for 5 litres; Estate Eggshell is priced £25 for 750ml and £60 for 2.5 litres; Modern Eggshell is priced £27 for 750ml and £67 for 2.5 litres

EARTHY ELEGANCE: MONUMENT BY PAINT AND PAPER LIBRARY

Paint and Paper Library’s Monument paint is feminine and strong. It’s described as a deep earthy purple, but has definite hints of brown too which give it a warm and natural feel. Combine it with Paint & Paper Library‘s Salt in a sophisticated hallway or sharpen it with Felt.

PALE BUT INTERESTING: SUGAR BOWL BY CROWN PAINTS

This fabulous soft, cloudy grey is like a French porcelain — cool with a slight blue undertones. Light and crisp, Crown Paint‘s Sugar Bowl will make a space feel airy, bright and happy. Perfect for bathrooms, kitchens and hallways.

Sugar Bowl, Kitchen Emulsion, from £20 for 2.5L from Crown Paints

STONE TONE: COOL ARBOUR BY LITTLE GREENE

Little Greene’s Cool Arbour has a cool and slightly greenish tint that gives this paint colour an earthy almost stone-like look. It’s a subtle and chic colour that catches the light beautifully and works well with other light colours.

CRISP EDGE: GULLS WING BY DESIGNERS GUILD

Gull’s Wing is the perfect whisper of grey to add to a room where you want a crisp, tailored look but something more than white or ivory. It’s a bright yet delicate blue grey that is cool enough to provide a modern edge to more contemporary interiors.

Designers Guild perfectly plain paint in Gull’s wing no.31, from £25 for 1 litre.

CHALKY COOL: MERCURY LIGHT BY SANDERSON

Sanderson’s chalky Mercury Light is a soft and subtle light grey with a slight blue undertone. It’s the perfect backdrop to other hues, such as the salmon pink seen here. The soft, earthy neutral shade is a great backdrop for making bolder colours pop.

Mercury Light by Sanderson Active Emulsion (per 2.5L) £47, Stockist no: 0203 903 3700, stylelibrary.com/sanderson

DRAMA CLASS: DOWN PIPE BY FARROW AND BALL

Originally, Down Pipe was designed to help ‘imitate lead on exterior ironwork and to help ‘lose’ plumbing against brickwork.’ The smokey dark lead grey has come a long way since then, finding it’s way onto front doors, banisters, onto dados, millwork and moldings, and now finally people are diving in with dark bedrooms and living rooms. This sooty charcoal shade may be dark, but it’s not depressing, and has blue undertones to it which deepen the complexity of the finish. This daringly dark hue is fabulous as a background to art, and extremely effective for use in halls to create a deeply dramatic entrance to the home.

Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball. Estate Emulsion and Modern Emulsion is priced £45 for 2.5 litres and £78 for 5 litres; Estate Eggshell is priced £25 for 750ml and £60 for 2.5 litres; Modern Eggshell is priced £27 for 750ml and £67 for 2.5 litres

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