Are Gray Kitchens Still in Style? Experts Give Their Honest Opinion on This Classic Color Scheme

Grey has been a timeless kitchen color for a while but does it still hold relevance in today's modern homes? We find out

A kitchen with gray cabinets and backsplash
(Image credit: Lindsay Reid. Design: Secter Architecture + Design)

In conversations about design, you might find that gray is a controversial topic — and nowhere more than in the kitchen.

It feels much more embracing than pure white or cream and has the ability to subtly hide stains and scratches that are always part of a kitchen's lifecycle, but in today's modern homes where bolder tones are taking center stage, is a gray kitchen still relevant? Is it time to move away from this neutral or does it still feel contemporary?

To answer these questions, we asked top experts to weigh in on this divisive kitchen color scheme. Take a look and consider these points for your next reno.

Are Gray Kitchens Still in Style?

A kitchen with a gray island and gray cabinets

(Image credit: Lindsay Reid. Design: Secter Architecture + Design)

On the whole, the designers we asked are still using gray in their modern kitchen designs.

'I consider gray kitchens as classic and timeless options for many homes,' says Ryan Austin Hagood, principal designer with r.a.d. Interiors. 'The beauty of gray lies in its versatility — the color can lean warm or cool, providing a neutral foundation that complements colorful spaces nearby.'

This tone can create a soothing, seamless look and give the space a clean, neat look. 'The kitchen and dining area illustrate our commitment to material impact,' says Dovide Secter, founder of Secter Architecture + Design. 'Here, the integration of storage solutions and appliances with the smooth gray tone is so subtle that they do not interrupt the visual flow of the space.'

This is also a tone that complements other colors from the spectrum, should you wish to design a two tone kitchen. 'Gray is used as a stabilizer so when choosing a palette you have two options,' says Bea Pernia, founder of Bea Interior Design. 'Use the grey to stabilize the strong color palette you chose or use grey as the main tone and add colder tone colors like black or white to add seriousness to the room.'

How can you use gray in a modern way in kitchens?

A kitchen drenched in gray

(Image credit: Tim Veresnovsky)

'If you have an outdated gray kitchen, start by refreshing your cabinets,' says Ryan. 'Swapping out old hardware for warm, unlacquered brass fixtures can add an instant touch of modern elegance. Another great option is to apply a troweled Roman clay finish from Portola Paints to your walls to introduce some texture. Completing the transformation with some green plants or fresh flowers can bring organic layers that breathe new life into the space, enhancing its modern appeal.'

Another way to make your gray kitchen stand out is by choosing interesting materials drenched in this tone. Think fluted gray marble kitchen, or a ribbed look on the kitchen shelf.

'In this space, we designed the kitchen with eucalyptus veneer,' says Tim Veresnovsky, founder of Veresnovsky Design Interior. 'I wanted to make a monochrome kitchen design, but by diluting it with the rhythm of the stripes.'

If materials and finishes are not the way you want to induce gray in the space, consider the injection of this tone via appliances. Think stainless steel gadgets. A light-toned kitchen with stainless steel appliances creates a striking look. It'll almost resemble a high-end restaurant. Additionally, you can add pops of gray with hardware, like door handles and taps. By choosing this color, you will instantly bring a feeling of warmth to the space.

What should you keep in mind before choosing gray for kitchens?

A kitchen designed with gray tiles

(Image credit: Kristin Karch. Design: r.a.d. Interiors)

Some designers think that while gray is still a winning, timeless color, there's a way to use it in modern homes. Instead of color drenching the kitchen, consider using it on smaller elements such as kitchen cabinets, hardware or kitchen island, while choosing a largely white kitchen, or a blue kitchen.

'It's important to be judicious with its use,' says Ryan. 'Incorporating different shades of gray through various materials, such as marble or backsplash tiles, can enhance its appeal. Pairing gray with wood stains also tends to work wonderfully, creating a balanced and inviting aesthetic.'

If that's not convinced you that this kitchen color really isn't past it, editor Hugh Metcalf has this to say: 'It's true we've seen gray fall off dramatically in popularity from where it used to be some years ago, but trends are all cyclical, and I'm already started to notice a wave of fresh gray colors coming back into kitchen design.'

'Think near-blacks and brownish grays that add drama, without going too far — as the gray really helps tone down these shades,' Hugh says.

So, there you have it — embracing gray in a kitchen may just be the way to get ahead of the curve right now, rather than falling behind the bandwagon.

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.