What Colors Go With Gray? Design Experts Showcase The 15 Chicest Color Combinations

Want to pep up a cool, neutral scheme? These are the colors that go best with gray, whether your favorite shade is light and airy or dark and dramatic

Kelly Hoppen's rule of four in a dark gray living room with cream furniture and wooden floor
(Image credit: Kelly Hoppen X Lick by Toby Mitchell)

Gray is a wonderful, chameleon-like hue that can change dramatically throughout a day as the light shifts from cool to warm to muted. The key to gray's mutability, and to pairing it successfully with other colors is to pay attention to its undertones. Grays with a steely blue undertone will always look cool, even in the sunniest, south-facing of spaces, while grays with undertones of yellow can be warmed by the sunshine and lamplight to a near beige.

'If you are decorating with gray and looking for color pairings, you'll have greater success if you choose colors that match the undertones of your gray,' says Hugh Metcalf, Livingetc's digital editor and gray decor fan. 'So, warm-toned grays with warm-toned color pairings, cool-toned grays with cool-toned matches. This will allow you to combine most colors with gray successfully, though not all combinations suit all rooms, which is where our experts' advice comes in useful, below.'

Before you dive in, consider your room and decor goals. How much natural light does it get? How much warm west- or south-facing light does it receive versus cool north- or east-facing light? And do you want the room to feel warm and inviting or cool and elegant? Obviously all colors you're considering putting with your chosen shade of gray should be tested on large swatches, on all four walls, and viewed throughout the day and night. That way, you can see how the gray reacts with its potential new partners.

Colors that go best with gray

'You can create a sophisticated or a fun, fresh color combination with gray using soft pastels to dark tones,' suggests Milan-based designer Jane Nicholson, co-founder of House of Dome. 'The delicate nature of muted shades allows you to be a little more experimental.'

Below, we bring you the best color pairings for gray, according to design experts.

1. Clay

Gray and pink tile in bathroom

(Image credit: @pierce__dev)

If you've been searching for gray bathroom ideas, you'll probably know by now that it's one of those colors that can make a space feel smart, but cold. This is where the most muted of natural tones can be introduced to bring warmth to even the coolest of gray schemes. And it's a gray color combination that needn't be limited to a bathroom.

'Soft earthy shades, such as the palest terracotta, the most washed-out plaster and even just-pink grays can be a wonderful match for gray in almost any room,' says Livingetc's deputy print editor Ellen Finch. 'It's a color combination you'll often find in the most beautiful marble, such as in the bathroom above, it fits my design motto: "if it works in nature, it works in design". The beauty of these colors is that they will sit well with both warm- and cool-toned grays, so you really can pick both the gray you love and the accent color you love.'

2. Silver

Gray kitchen with large white pendant lighting, mirror detail and central dining table

(Image credit: Stephanie Coutas)

We're not suggesting a silver wall paint here: instead, matching gray to silver appliances (gray kitchen ideas anyone?) or simply silver accessories, can create a space that feels both contemporary and sophisticated.

'I have a gray kitchen with plenty of silver accessorizing – including cabinet handles and accessories,' says Livingetc's content director Lucy Searle. 'The room is a sunny, busy space, so this toned-down color palette allows the space to feel smart and streamlined too. I have mitigated this gray-silver color pairing with warm wood flooring and touches of deep rust on an accent walls and soft furnishings.'

3. Brown

Kelly Hoppen's rule of four in a dark gray living room with cream furniture and wooden floor

(Image credit: Kelly Hoppen X Lick by Toby Mitchell)

'One of the best colors that go with gray is brown,' says Livingetc's news editor Lilith Hudson. 'But let me be specific: when I say "brown", I generally mean within wooden finishes, whether furniture or flooring.

'Matching gray with woody tones makes for a wonderful contrasts: flat vs grained, cool vs warmth. When I'm looking for gray living room ideas, I am mostly drawn to those with a warmer contrast in wood because it can make even the coolest of rooms feel inviting.'

4. Sage green

A bedroom with sage green walls and gray bed

(Image credit: Color Atelier)

Gray is amongst the safe colors that go with sage green, as both tones are dipped in nature's palette, and create the most soothing setting. The two tones can be used liberally together as neither overwhelms. What you get is a layered, soft interior.

'Sage green with gray remains very popular amongst homeowners, and one we suggest as a versatile and a timeless color combo that won't gone out of style quickly, not to mention it complements a variety of design styles,' says designer Cat Dal, founder of Cat Dal Interiors.

5. Black

Living room with dark gray walls

(Image credit: @theintrovertshome / Instagram)

When it comes to colors that go with black, gray ranks high on the list. The two extreme neutrals can offset each other and create a deep, moody interior that's hard to ignore. Plus, the colors allow a third tone to slip in, without throwing off the room's balance.

'Just because gray and black are very similar does not mean they can't be used together,' says interior designer Lindye Galloway, founder of Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop. 'Utilizing dark or light gray with black can create a gorgeous and bold monochrome space. If the space feels too cold, you could consider accenting it with pops of color via paintings, pillows, and curtains to create more dimension against the dark background without detracting from the bold impact.'

6. Cream

A living room with gray walls and cream sofa

(Image credit: Fabian Martinez. Design direccion)

'Achieving a serene and calming interior with gray and cream involves embracing subtlety and softness,' says Meera Pyarelal, founder & interior designer at Temple Town.

'Choose light and muted shades of gray and cream that emanate tranquility. Layer different shades of gray and cream in textiles, such as curtains, throws, and cushions, to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Consider incorporating natural materials like wood and stone to add warmth. Avoid using highly contrasting colors and patterns, focusing instead on creating a seamless and harmonious environment that promotes relaxation and comfort.'

If you're worried that decorating with neutrals will make your home feel too one-dimensional, then consider layering in more textures for a cozy, tactile mood.

7. Blue

A living room with a large gray sofa and blue cushions

(Image credit: Tara Bernerd & Partners)

If you're looking for colors that go with blue, look no further than gray, especially if it's a more calming interior you want to create. From light gray to even charcoal gray, these velvety tones go brilliantly with dark blue. In a dark, earthy interior like this, other organic tones and materials fit perfectly well. Perhaps add a wooden vase, or a jute hanging light to the scene.

'I like to pair gray together with other cool tones such as teals and blues,' says Grace King, design director at Studio Rey. 'This creates a feeling of warmth and also lays the grounds for more texture and layering, plus the inclusion of subtle contrasts.'

8. Yellow

A gray living room with yellow pillows

(Image credit: Michael J. Lee. Studio credit Robin Gannon Interiors)

When it comes to colors that go with yellow, gray will help level out the energy. This combination can create different yet equally interesting looks. If you choose a bright yellow and pair it with a dark gray, you'll get an interior that is lively, upbeat, and refreshingly modern. Choose the lighter tones of both, and you get a subtle, soothing space. Yellows that have a brown or gray undertone usually do better with neutrals and are also easier to live with.

'There's a famous quote describing gray as the queen of colors, and I concur – it's an ideal neutral,' says Robin Gannon, founder of Robin Gannon Interiors. 'As for pairing partners, it goes with just about everything. And when you have a box of crayons, why pick just one or two? Don't be afraid to go a bit bold.'

9. Red

A dining room with red walls and gray furniture

(Image credit: Pion Studio)

Gray works as a color that goes with red for its ability to tone down this intense color. For a bold red sofa, consider a lighter gray wall if you want to ensure the interior is light and breezy. But it if is drama you're looking to create, go all in with a charcoal gray and a fiery red.

'Gray and red create a striking contrast when paired together,' says Saba Kapoor, co-founder of Nivasa. 'The key to an effective combination is selecting shades that complement each other. For example, pairing a light gray with a bright red can create a visually balanced and harmonious contrast. Light gray serves as a neutral and sophisticated backdrop, allowing the vibrant red to stand out.'

'To create an effective pairing of gray with red, embrace the power of contrasts,' says Meera Pyarelal, founder and interior designer, of Temple Town. 'Opt for a cool-toned gray that exudes modernity and sophistication. Complement it with a bold, warm-toned red for an eye-catching and dynamic effect. Strive for a balanced composition by allowing gray to dominate larger surfaces like walls and furniture, while red takes center stage in accent pieces and decorative elements. '

If you want to ensure that this daring combination looks great and also timeless, choose a gray that has a reddish undertone to it.

10. White

A bedroom with a gray headboard and white bedding

(Image credit: Ben Parry. Studio credit Budge Construction)

You can pair a barely-there gray with a crisp white for a bright and airy space or contrast white with deep, moody charcoal. In this white bedroom, a touch of gray in the side table and headboard helps to add depth to almost all white space.

As simple as this paring is though, not all white shades are going to work with any gray shade. The undertones need to work together, so warmer whites are likely to work best with warmer grays, and, cool-toned grays with purer whites.

'Opt for light and subtle shades,' says Saba. 'Light grays with cool undertones and warm creams and whites work well together to create a serene atmosphere. Layering different shades of gray with neutrals will add depth and visual interest to the space. Consider incorporating various textures, such as soft fabrics, natural materials, and tactile elements like cushions or rugs, to enhance the overall cozy and comforting feel.'

'Lighting plays a crucial role in creating a calming ambiance,' says Saba. 'Soft, warm lighting can enhance the relaxing effect of the gray and white color scheme. Additionally, adding accents of other soft colors, such as pastel blues or greens, can introduce subtle pops of color and prevent the design from feeling monotonous.'

11. Pink

A pink living room with a gray sofa

(Image credit: Ercol)

Pink and gray living rooms are so soothing – the tones feel welcoming and restful and also on-trend. 'Gray and pink is a classic color combination,' says Grace King, design director at Studio Rey. 'Why not try combining a soft pink paint with a combination of light and dark gray fabrics and soft furnishings in various textures to create a calming scheme? Don’t be afraid to add in some pops of bright color such as a bold teal blue as an accent.'

'Opt for a light, cool-toned gray as the neutral backdrop and pair it with dusty rose or blush pink,' says Saba. 'This combination evokes a sense of tranquility and sophistication. To achieve a balanced look, use gray as the dominant color in larger areas like walls or furniture. Introduce pink as accents through textiles, such as throw pillows, curtains, or rugs. Consider incorporating patterns that combine both gray and pink elements, such as floral or geometric designs, to create visual interest. These patterns can be applied to wallpapers, upholstery, or decorative accessories.'

12. Taupe

A bedroom with gray walls and taupe bedding

(Image credit: Joe Kramm. Studio credit Project AZ)

The key to a great match for colors that go with brown or taupe lies in coordinating this tone with other warm shades. Think of a warm gray, buttery yellow, burnt orange, or black. Layering these colors will create an interior that looks and feels cozy, enveloping and, relaxing. Ideal to use in bedrooms or lounging areas.

'Consider incorporating natural materials like wood and stone to add warmth to a gray space,' says Meera. 'Avoid using highly contrasting colors and patterns, focusing instead on earthy hues like taupe, creating a seamless and harmonious environment that promotes relaxation and comfort.'

13. Purple

lilac living room

(Image credit: Michael P. H. Clifford. Design by Jake Arnold)

Several colors go with purple but one that balances it, and makes it a more livable hue is gray. Purple, with a spectrum stretching from the deepest aubergine shades and striking royal purples, through to lavender, mauves, and soft lilac, can sometimes feel like an overwhelming shade, and can do better with a little help from warm neutrals.

'I’ve used purple on upholstery and decor pieces,' says Kim Armstrong, interior designer and founder of Kim Armstrong Interior Design. 'I think this shade effortlessly blends with so many colors, but my favorite colors to blend with purple are gray and blue. These colors together are soft and watery, and very easy on the eyes.'

14. Gray  

A bedroom drenched with light and dark shades of gray

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Studio credit NICOLEHOLLIS)

When designing a gray bedroom, if a pure monochromic color scheme is more your vibe, pair gray with gray. Perhaps that sounds a bit...dull but layering gray on gray can create just as interesting a space as pairing gray with any other color. The key is contrast and texture.

You don't want your gray shades to be too close in color and you want to have some varying tones going on too as that will add interest. So pick grays from across the color spectrum, even if you want a room to be light gray overall, add in some middle-ground grays and some dark tones too.

'You can pair shades of gray together in a room but try to pair cool gray shades with other cool tones such as greens, teals, and blues and warmer grays with warm shades such as pinks, burnt orange, or mustard,' says Grace. 'If you are pairing grays with grays I would also make sure to bring in varied, layered textures to create subtle contrasts.'

Mix in some natural materials too like rattan and wood to warm up the scheme. Accessorize with different materials and finishes too.

15. Orange

A living room in tones of grey, with couch pillows in orange

(Image credit: Mark Baxter)

Many colors go with orange, but a combination with gray in particular is sure to bring freshness into any scheme. There are plenty of orange tones that the perfect to pair with gray – be it light, mid-tone to reddish-orange – so you can go bold or as subtle as you like.

Burnt oranges paired with a mid-gray for example could be the perfect rustic scheme whereas a charcoal gray and bright tangerine hue will be more modern and striking. Whatever look you go for, introduce a clean white into an orange and gray color palette to up that contrast and make the orange stand out.

'Select a mid-tone gray that complements the richness of the orange hue,' says Meera. 'For a contemporary approach, opt for a light gray with pops of orange.'

What colors go with gray walls?

'The first colors to consider when matching to gray walls are those of your ceiling and floor,' explains Lilith Hudson. 'The colors you choose for these will be very dependent on the effect you want to create. For example, if you want the room to feel taller and airier, you should pick either a white or a lighter gray than that of the walls; if you want the room to feel cozier, I would suggest wrapping the gray of the walls right up and across the ceiling, bearing in mind that the darker the gray, the moodier the room will feel.

'As for flooring, the same rules apply, but remember that it's important to create contrast within a room, so I would choose a different color to the walls and ceiling for my flooring. Again, what you choose will really depend on the effect you want to create: warm colors that are darker than your chosen gray will make the room feel inviting but perhaps smaller; lighter floor colors can make the room feel larger but perhaps also a bit cool.

'Finally, to accessories, accent walls and furniture: my favorite colors that work best with gray are those that are warmer, from earthy yellow to rusty terracotta, always with an eye to matching the tones of the gray to the tones of the accent color.'

What colors go with light gray?

Light gray is an excellent option for tempering the light that is reflected around very sunny rooms; in cool, north-facing rooms, it can feel a little cold on walls, unless you choose a gray with a yellow-ish undertone. So, before you ask yourself for the best color to match with light gray, consider the orientation of the room, how much natural light it gets and its temperature, and the effect you want to create within the space. Consider the room's use, too: after all, you're far more likely to want your bedroom, viewed mostly under artificial light, to feel warm than you are your kitchen, where you might spend all day long, but not a ton of time in the evening.

All that said, the best colors to match with light gray are those that tend to be bolder: yellow, orange, terracotta, deep royal blue and even red.

What colors go with warm gray?

'If the room has a lot of natural light, or has southern exposure with all day light, any size room should be successful using a dark wall color like dark gray,' says Amy Krane, architectural color consultant and founder of Amy Krane Color. 'Keep in mind the color of the floor, the trim, and the ceiling greatly affect how it will look as well as the color and value (lightness/darkness) of the furnishings.''

If you're choosing a warmer or darker shade of gray, like charcoal or mid-tone gray, then there are several tones to match. Think of colors like taupe, blush pink, butter yellow, royal blue, or burnt orange. If you're painting a room with these shades, a matte or eggshell finish will ensure that the room feels cozy and inviting. Interested in embellishing it a little? Metallic tones like bronze or silver look particularly interesting inside warm-toned rooms.

Though, last year, many design professionals were asking what color was replacing gray (answer: beige, amongst others), it's undeniable that the popularity of gray endures, and will continue to, simply because it is so versatile as a neutral. We have spotted that subtle gray is the latest gray to be on trend, so if you are looking for a gray to match with another color, this barely-there shade is a great place to start.

Hebe Hatton

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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