By Hebe Hatton
Looking for gorgeous ideas and expert tips on colors that go with grey? Although you may often dream of going bold with a bright color scheme and straying from your much-loved neutrals, grey still remains one of the most popular shades for decorating our home. And it's easy to see why – calming, easy to use and incredibly versatile it suits so many different styles. Plus, there is a grey tone that will work in any sized room and with any amount of natural light too.
And because it's such a neutral, versatile shade it lends itself perfectly to being part of a pairing. Now, grey is a pretty safe color and while it pairs well with almost any other color, there are some shades that will work better than others and there are some vague rules to follow too. Most of those rules come down to the undertones of the colors you are combining, but we will cover all that here.
What colors go with grey?
'A lovely way to bring out the undertone in a grey is to partner it with the same, or similar colour, for example, a grey with a green undertone decorated with green will make the undertone more dominant and a grey with a pink undertone will partner beautifully with lilac or even red. This is because we never see colors in isolation, we take them in as a pair so you need them to harmonize and work together.' explains Tash Bradley, color specialist at Lick Home.
So if you love grey bedroom ideas but are looking for ways to soften up steely walls with or add some lighter hues to a charcoal grey kitchen, here are the best colors that go with grey to try out.
1. Grey and white
A total classic. White is one of the most popular colors to go with grey and can be adapted to suit any room and any style. You can pair a barely-there grey with a crisp white for a bright and airy space or contrast white with a deep, moody charcoal.
'Depending on your styling, the look can either be relaxed and dreamy or quite tailored, but it does always tend to strike a modern Scandi note. The key is to vary the proportions of grey and white; a 50/50 split will feel quite cold. Texture is a vital additional ingredient - chunky weaves, rough timber and marble all work well.' recommends Sarah Spiteri, Editorial Director of Livingetc.
As simple as this paring is, not all white shades are going to work with any grey shade. The undertones need to work together, so warmer whites are likely to work best with warmer greys and vice versa, cool-toned greys with purer whites.
Just be sure to test out your pairings in your home to ensure they work together in the lighting of your space.
- See also: grey and white living room ideas - how to pair this perfect colour combo
2. Grey and pink
Blush pink is the ideal shade for just slightly warming up grey tones without actually adding too much warmth to a space or being too saccharine. A muted, dusky pink 'will make a room more inviting. For this effect, blush is the right choice as it is more subtle than other pink tones and less daring than red.' explains Sarah.
'Soft, naturalistic greys look beautiful with a neutral pink.' says color expert Annie Sloan. 'I often use French Linen with Antoinette (my earthy-neutral pink), because French Linen is a complex grey that allows the pink to grow and breathe and warm up. It’ll bring out the earthiness and the warmth of the pink.'
You can totally adapt this combo to suit your tastes too. Pair with clean lines and a touch of black or deep grey for a more contemporary feel or bring in wooden textures and stick with pale greys for a soft, subtle feel that would work perfectly with a more traditional, country vibe.
3. Grey and yellow
Want to be bolder in your color schemes but not quite ready to say goodbye to grey? Well, combine your need for brightness with your love of neutrals. A bright sunny yellow, a soft pastel lemon or even a more muted ochre will cut through those cool grey tones adding both warmth and freshness.
'Sometimes the most successful use of color relies on less, not more and adding a pinch of the unexpected.' explains Sarah. 'Cutting through a soft color with a bold hue works brilliantly. A statement piece of furniture is great for bringing in high-impact color.'
- See also: grey living room ideas - tips for using this moody neutral
4. Grey and earthy reds
Grey and red may sound a bit intense but it can work if you pick the right tones. For a bold look pair deep charcoal walls with a pop vivid red in the form of a statement sofa or armchair. And if you want a more subtle look tone down that red and choose an earthy, terracotta tone and pair with a lighter cloud-like grey.
'If I’m using a cool-toned grey I like to use pops of a hot color. It’s a very effective way to make a room vastly more lively and rewarding to look at, and you only need small amounts of your accent color.' says Annie Sloan. 'I also love a blue-grey with terracotta as these colors contrast beautifully to give a delicious, juicy, contrast. In the past I’ve painted a wall in grey, then used terracotta tones to accentuate panels on the wall.'
'These spice-inspired colors are a big story at the moment and I love the way that they work with grey. Use the hotter, brighter colors in moderation as more of an accent. This combination is also worth remembering if you have an exposed red brick wall inside.' explains Sarah.
When pairing grey with any red tones, be sure that the grey you choose has a reddish undertone too.
- Find more grey bedroom ideas in our gallery.
5. Grey and sage greens
Sage green has been growing in popularity for months, you see more sage green kitchens and feature walls than you do navy blue nowadays. And it works so well with grey because they have those same calming, grounding, soft tones and in fact when paired with grey this muted green almost becomes and neutral too. Perfect if you want to introduce second color to a grey room but not lose the overall serene, neutral scheme.
Pair the palest of greys with a cool, light green for a contemporary combination that works particularly well in kitchens. Then ground all those light, airy colors by adding just a hint of black or dark woods.
- Find more: sage green kitchen ideas to inspire a new color scheme.
6. Grey and navy blue
If you are looking for a color that effortlessly works with any grey shade, navy blue is it. Pair it with a soft, light grey to warm up the space or create some drama with a deep almost black grey.
The richness of navy blue lends itself so well to tactile fabrics, so add grey at the walls and bring in blue with your soft furnishings. A velvet blue sofa is a classic piece that isn't going to date any time soon or add layers of texture with navy blue throw cushions and blankets.
- Love these ls living rooms? Check out more blue living room ideas.
7. Grey and orange
A pop of vibrant orange is sure to bring freshness into an all-grey scheme. There are plenty of orange tones that the perfect colors to pair with grey, so you can go and bold or as subtle as you like.
Burnt oranges paired with a mid-grey for example could be the perfect rustic color scheme whereas a charcoal grey and bright tangerine hue will be more modern and striking. Whatever look you go for, introduce a clean white into an orange and grey color palette to up that contrast and make the orange stand out.
8. Grey and more grey
If a monochromic color scheme is more your vibe, pair grey with grey. Perhaps that sounds a bit... dull but laying grey on grey can create just as interesting a space as pairing grey with any other color. The key is contrast, contrast and texture.
You don't want your grey shades to be too close in color and you want to have some varying tones going on too as that will add the interest. So pick greys from across the color spectrum, even if you want a room to be light grey over all, add in some middle-ground greys and some dark tones too.
'Whether you are striking a dramatic note or going for a lighter scheme, combining different tones of grey can work very well. Pale shades will create a more relaxed look, while darker, richer hues will have impact and can enhance the cocooning feel of a compact room.' explains Sarah.
The risk with pairing grey with grey is that it can look a bit flat. Avoid this by adding plenty of textures and mix in some natural materials too like rattan and wood. Accessorize with different materials and finishes too.
Sarah recommends to 'bring in brass or bronze alongside linen, velvet or chunky knit. Another trick is to add in warm metallics and subtle shimmers on fabrics, cushions or rugs to introduce a flattering luminosity to a space.'
- See also: grey and white living room ideas - how to pair this perfect colour combo
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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