Green is often described as nature's neutral — it's neither too warm nor cool, and it never overpowers or recedes into the background. This means it's the ideal color to introduce into an existing grey living room scheme. But what shades should you choose and how do know they will work together?
Because of its roots in nature, there are lots of colors that go with green. It blends effortlessly with all kinds of neutrals, as well as being an incredibly soothing and naturally uplifting color. From olive to sage, lichen to pistachio, green can combine beautifully with various grays, like stone, dove gray and charcoal. The key is, of course, in the undertones, so choose a gray with either a green undertone or a warm undertone such as pink, to stop the room from feeling too cool.
Below we have gathered five rooms that show how — and why — to pair green with gray. Whether you are looking for ways to update a green bedroom or want to give a gray bathroom a lick of paint, you'll be surprised by how versatile this winning combination can be.
1. A calming but striking living room
In this bright and airy green living room, a grounding olive green on the walls (Bancha by Farrow & Ball) pairs beautifully with a gray sofa. When combined with a warm grey on the soft furnishings and rich, warm-toned wooden flooring, this bold use of green creates a space that feels striking and impactful without feeling 'too much'. This mid-century modern green by Farrow & Ball is named after Japanese tea leaves, and like a cup of green tea, it provides a sense of security and comfort.
Another reason why this use of color is so successful is because it connects with the greenery outside, softening the barrier between indoors and out. This connection between the indoor living space and garden is also echoed by the houseplant tucked in the corner by the window.
2. A contemporary statement
If you want to take this traditional color combination and give it a modern twist, you can actually do the opposite of the image above and go for a dark gray paint with a green undertone, and add an olive green couch.
We love this idea as a way to make a real statement. Color psychologist and interior design expert Tash Bradley explains how to make it work in your space: 'The norm would be to do the walls in sage green and get a sofa or bed in a gray — stunning, but, flip it round, and this is where you can be much bolder.
'I would go for a dark gray, like Grey 07 from Lick which has a green undertone, and I would color drench that room so I would paint the walls, the ceiling, and the woodwork all in that color and then I would bring in a velvet olive green sofa. That's a lovely way to do an amazing statement living room in a winning color combination but in a bit more of a contemporary style.'
Choosing a darker gray on the walls, layered with plush fabrics is a sure-fire way to a cozy grey living room that looks great under electric light come evening.
3. A fresh, farmhouse feel
If we move down the color chart towards some less highly saturated tones of green and gray to softer, barely-there neutrals, we land on a very soothing palette of light and bright hues that complement a farmhouse aesthetic.
In contrast to the two examples we have seen so far, which use highly saturated tones, lighter shades of gray and green work beautifully together. Interior designer Kathy Kuo recommends using pale gray and a darker green or a dark grey and pale green for contrast.
'Green and gray together make for a lovely color combination that works well for a number of design styles — including French country, modern farmhouse, and cottagecore,' says Kathy. 'Both colors are rooted in nature and also take on so many different variations. I love the idea of aiming for contrast by pairing forest green with a light misty gray, or my pairing a muted sage green with deep charcoal gray.'
So calming green and gray are a good option if you're thinking of going for more of a cottagecore color palette.
4. A restful bedroom
The minimalist sage green bedroom above shows just how restful and easy on the eye gray and green can be. Here, the combination creates a hotel bedroom look that feels pared-back and sophisticated. 'Sage green, so Lick's Green 02, for instance, has a grey undertone so I always think sage green pairs beautifully with a grey and they create that earthy, grounding, calming feel to a room,' says Tash Bradley, director of interior design at paint company Lick.
For a cocooning and sleep-inducing space, we recommend taking the paint up and over the ceiling, covering all woodwork, as above. After all, lots of lighter colors can be introduced through soft furnishings, such as bed sheets, throw pillows and curtains, as well as items of furniture, such as the wardrobe in the image above.
When using gray in the bedroom, it's best to opt for warm grays in textured fabrics such as shearling, velvet or bouclé as this will create a cozy feel with plenty of visual interest.
5. A laid back living space
Green and gray combine in this open-plan living space to create a light and bright area. But the magic ingredient here is the addition of a third color in the form of rusty, mustard tones in the throw pillows and even the tan brown of the leather safari chairs.
Green tongue and groove panelling draws the eye to the fireplace, with the vertical lines leading the eye up and creating a sense of grandeur and formality. The neutral walls, couch and rug enhance the airy feel, but the warmer tones stop it from feeling cold. Tash Bradley recommends following this approach and adding a third color to lift a green and gray scheme. 'A color that would go really well with a gray and a green scheme is a mustard yellow, or a burnt, rusty orange would be unreal,' she says.
'But I would stick more with those warmer tones, so a gold, dark wood, and a black accent. Layer on the tones of the gray and the green and you need the third color to be a warm color.' Other than rust and mustard, pink is one of the colors that go well with gray.
How can I pick the right shades?
Of course, you have to feel comfortable with your color choice, but going a little out of your comfort zone is often the key to creating a space that feels like a totally new room. Chicago-based interior designer April Gandy says, 'I’m a firm believer that every space in a home should be reflective of the people who live in it. If green and gray resonate with you, get plenty of samples to ensure you are getting the right shade and leave the samples on the walls for a few days.
'That gives you a chance to see how you like these colors in different lighting and times of the day before making the commitment.'
April Gandy is the principal designer at Alluring Designs Chicago, a full-service luxury interior design firm offering design services for residential and commercial interiors primarily in the Chicagoland area.
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Millie is a homes writer and journalist renting in North London. She contributes regularly to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Real Homes. As well as covering shopping trends online, she loves vintage furniture, candles, Interior Design Masters and a Facebook Marketplace bargain. She has previously written for Fabulous, Stylist and Marie Claire.
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