Is The Gray Paint Fad Finally Over?



Is the gray paint fad over?

Well no.

And here’s one reason why.

It’s not a fad.

The marketers have tried to convince us that gray paint colors are something new and different but gray interiors have been around pretty much forever.

Here’s my rule of thumb.


original source unknown

If a color exists abundantly in nature, then it’s not a fad


gray sky + gray water + gray clouds + snow = classic

But gray has also been around in interiors since men lived in caves.

Stone = gray

NPG 2953,Robert Adam,attributed to George Willison

This handsome dude is architect Robert Adam who deserves his own post. He’s the name that I most associate with the neoclassical style of architecture which had its heyday in the mid to late 18th century. And yes, that’s  a big topic. But… they used lots of gray.

osterly-park-entrance - designed by Adam - gray paint trendEntrance at Osterley Park by Robert Adam


Excerpt of Fredik I King of Sweden painted by Georg Englehardt Shroder

I am imagining some poor woman going blind creating this but it sure is glorious!


A Dutch artist named A. Boogert penned a completely hand-written 800 page book. It depicted every color he knew. This was the precursor to the Pantone Color System!


This is a study based on Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a pearl earring. I love the grisaille which is actually the base for the finished work of art. You can see the technique here which I think is very interesting. However, even in the gray, I see colors. That’s why I added it in here.

met-museum-18th-c-gray-fragmentFrench Gray Architectural fragment from the Met Museum

Napoli_Palazzo_reale_-_ingresso_e_scalone_1040725Royal Palace in Naples

This phenomenal building in the neo-classic style went through several incarnations between 1730-1860. It is very much in the style of Robert Adam.

Compiègne Castle Picardy France - Gray Paint TrendA Fabulous Enfilade at the Compiègne Castle, Picardy, France

interno-con-giovane-donna-vista-di-spalle-vilhelm-hammershc3b8iInterior with Young Woman from Behind (1904) by Vilhelm Hammershoi

How beautiful are these colors!

le-grillon-voyageur Gray Paint TrendLe Grillon Voyageur

Those interior shutters made my heart skip a beat or three!

If you love gray, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s a fad or you’ll grow tired of it or anything.


I first came across this photo a few years ago and thought it was some total cool couple hanging in their pad in TriBeca or something like that. But no. The photo by Horst P Horst for Vogue Magazine is nearly 50 years old. This is Cy Twombly and his lovely wife hanging in their pad in Rome. Talk about timeless. For more incredible photos, please check out this post over at Mark D Sikes

jean-louis-deniot-elle-decor gray paint trendJean-Louis Deniot

gray paint trend


I promise that the gray paint colors will be coming soon. However, I wanted to give a bit of the history of gray and demonstrate that it most definitely is not a fad. It’s as classic as can possibly be!

For more ideas using the color gray and some of my favorite gray paint colors, click here, here, here and here.

And struggling with your white paint colors? You might want to check out this post.



  • Tom Noble - November 22, 2015 - 11:44 AM

    Hi, I just read your comments on selecting gray paint. We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. We are at the point of selecting a gray paint. The kitchen faces the east with light tan and specs of gray in the countertops of granite. The backsplash is a grayish colors with dove gray grout. Please help in my selection of a paint suitable for our kitchen. Thanks. TomReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 22, 2015 - 6:06 PM

      Hi Tom,
      I’m sorry, but I’m not doing paint consultations at this time. If you’re a subscriber you’ll receive a guide which spells out how to choose paint colors. ReplyCancel

  • Dovie - September 21, 2015 - 8:08 PM

    I have been searching for the years for the perfect “white” but am leaning toward the perfect “gray” now so thank you for this article. I love to change colors too often trying to find the perfect paint pallet.I have loved colors since my days of coloring books and crayons. Now it is paint samples trying to find the perfect color. My master bedroom and great room/living room are facing north with golden oak flooring.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2015 - 1:36 AM

      Hi Dovie,

      Maybe take a look at Benjamin Moore Classic Gray. It’s a little warmer and good for north facing rooms.ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - July 9, 2015 - 9:00 PM


    I appreciate your comment and I don’t disagree with you, but that’s not what I said. If you read the post more carefully, perhaps you’ll see that gray was very popular in 18th century European interiors. My point is that gray is actually a very classic color. My philosphy is that anything classic is not actually a fad. It may fall out of fashion, but if it is truly classic, it’ll be back.ReplyCancel

  • sim - July 9, 2015 - 7:22 PM

    Actually, yes it is. A fad, that is. If you look at photos of interiors from any decade beginning more than 7-10 years ago, none of them constantly feature so much grey. Hence this is happening now, yet wasn’t before.

    It may be a big theme in nature, and always has been, but it hasn’t always been a big theme inside houses.ReplyCancel

  • Autumn Leopold - March 6, 2015 - 6:35 PM

    I sure hope not! Believe it or not I am just getting into gray! I just painted a those horrible teal bookshelves you may remember from the pics of my basement…wait for it…gray! I also just bought a gallon of a brighter gray for my son’s bedroom! Glad gray isn’t going anywhere!ReplyCancel

  • Jo Galbraith - March 6, 2015 - 12:11 PM

    Thanks for this timely post. I agree that gray is a classic and timeless colour! And can look stunning with lots of white and colour. Interested in seeing your favourite gray shades. I just painted my dining room a gray shade!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - March 5, 2015 - 11:06 PM

    Hi Margot,

    Thanks so much! Cloud white is a great white and goes with just about everything most of the time.

    I will be doing a post soon about specific shades of gray paint to try. But in the meantime, you can check out this post.

    They are all lovely, just remember to test, test, test!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - March 5, 2015 - 11:05 PM

    Hi Amy, I love Chelsea Gray! I agree. It’s one of those go-with-everything shades. xo, LaurelReplyCancel

  • Margot - March 5, 2015 - 10:51 PM

    What an interesting post. I’m now really thinking differently about gray, and I can see that you are correct, it’s not a fad really. Gorgeous pictures to illustrate your point too. Are there any grays that one could pair with BM Cloud White Trim ? I can’t repaint that trim again, but I’d really like to try a light gray on my walls.ReplyCancel

  • ABC Dragoo - March 5, 2015 - 8:19 PM

    As much as I didn’t want to do a lot of grey in my new house, (because it is so “on trend”) I could not help myself. Chelsea Gray by Benjamin Moore has got to be the most perfect shade – it looks pretty with every single color it is paired with. Honestly, I had it in a bathroom in 2006, our dining room in 2010 and now I am using it in a bedroom. If you love it, you won’t tire of it.

    Great post!