When is This Horrid Gray Trend Going To End?

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

I enjoyed the post from Sunday even though I’m not so fond of the Sherwin-Williams Color of the year.

But anything is better than the gray trend.

*I have never liked the color gray; it depresses me. But give me greens, blues and pops of my favorite color orange and I’m happy.

 

And I know that you say to not pay attention to the trends, but still… Why is there still so much gray and when is this gray trend going to ever end? I don’t get it.

 

Betty Sikovgrey

 

Hi Everyone,

*The one sentence was taken from a kind comment from Sunday’s post about Sherwin Williams color of the year 2019.

 

The rest, is fiction, but based on the words I’ve been hearing for the last half-dozen years or so.

 

However, before we begin… I have a little musical accompaniment for you.

 

Piped in from heaven. (link is here)

It goes very nicely with this post about the gray trend, I think.

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp KV 299

Emmanuel Pahud, flute (nobody should be THAT cute AND that talented, but alas he is)

Marie-Pierre Langlamet, harp

Claudio Abbado, conductor Berlin Philharmonie, 1998

ENJOY!

 

Betty asks a very good question and it’s one I’ve heard many times.

 

When oh when is this horrid gray trend going to be over already? Gray, gray, gray, Laurel. Yuck.

 

Well, sorry that you feel that way because the answer is never.

Yes, that’s right. It’s not ever going to go away.

 

And that’s because the gray trend is NOT a trend.

 

via @limestoneboxwoods - instagram JohnStuartHouse - gray and white house - Charleston, SCvia @limestoneboxwoods – instagram John Stuart House – A fabulous example of American Georgian or neo-classical architecture – Charleston, SC.

Gray is as classic as this gorgeous home in Charleston SC built in 1772, the height of the neo-classical period. More coming up in a sec about neo-classical architecture, interiors and the color gray.

 

So, what’s the problem? Why is the color gray, currently despised by so many?

 

I firmly believe that it’s usually not the color, itself. It’s EVERYTHING ELSE. Bad, banal, boring interior design.

 

Here’s what I’m talking about. And please do not pin these next four images to pinterest or anywhere else. They are here for demo purposes only. If any of these are your rooms, please forgive me.

Please note, that I am not perfect and have displayed my imperfections (or lack of getting it together) numerous times.

 

please do not pin - depressing gray trend living room

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this room, except that it’s not balanced. I’m longing for more white, more black and some color– somewhere. Even a beautiful plant.

 

And some brown.

 

Gray needs brown, like we need oxygen. Gray needs warmth and it loves gold, the same way that its cousin blue does.

Oh, that reminds me that some jerk lambasted me for saying that. Whatever. I don’t care, except for his rudeness. It’s fine if he doesn’t see it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion as long as it’s said in a respectful tone.

 

 

gray-please do not pin-gray-gray trend living room

You know, that’s a gorgeous fireplace mantel.  That chair, shoved into it needs to go. Overlapping is a huge no-no in space planning as we’ve discussed recently.

Here, we can see why some find gray to be depressing. The wall color is fine, I think and I don’t mind the furniture. However, it’s either in the wrong configuration and/or the wrong size. Although the scale is actually quite good.

Please fill your pillows with down and feathers!

How do you know that these pillows aren’t filled with down and feathers?

 

Please check out this post and you’ll see the difference. These pillows above are too stiff which means that they are filled with cheap dacron. That’s how I know.

But, the room needs more variety in tone, more white, black, art, maybe some color too.

 

do not pin please - ugly leather sofa - bad art gray walls - gray trend

Oh, that glorious music is making me forget how bad this room is. And it really doesn’t have to be. However, cranberry does not go with gray. It’s like the revolting mauve and gray (with shiny fake brass) which I have to say was one of the lowest points of our modern-time interiors.

 

And then, we have more of the same with the ottoman. But, I do like the velvet.

 

Of course, there’s the art. You saw that one before your eyes could focus. There needs to be a minimum of four inches of breathing space between the art and sofa. This is a tall ceiling, so I’d probably raise everything up about six inches and it will be fine.

But, what ARE those things hanging on the wall, on the left? Strange.

The light fixture is just plain wrong. That belongs in a lady’s dressing room. We need something hunkier with a leather sectional.

 

please do not pin - ugly gray living room furnitureThis is from one of those furniture companies that sells cheap crappy sets of furniture that they so not-cleverly refer to as transitional. Transitional what? Honestly, I would rather sit on the floor than have anything remotely like this in my home.

 

No wonder Betty finds gray depressing. I am surmising that is because when she thinks of the gray trend in interiors, she is thinking along the lines of the rooms above.

 

Below is what I am imagining that she’s not thinking of when she’s thinking of the exquisite beauty of the color gray.

 

04379357f8f8a3a6a657af4da04263fb

original source unknown

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

bleinheim-palace-christmas-fair-201115via

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

And gray and the not-boring beige can be seen here. Sublime.

 

And for a warmer beige, one of my favorite rooms ever!

 

The Greeks and Romans understood design and classical proportions and color.

 

I don’t know how or why at that time in history, but they did. But thank God, is all I can say!

They embraced classical forms and loved gray. After-all, gray is the color of limestone.

Then, perhaps due to an increase awareness of other cultures,(particularly Asian) the 18th century brought about a resurgence in classical forms and colors. The work of Andrea Palladio, an Italian Renaissance architect was discovered and inspired all design of the 18th century.

 

That is the aforementioned neo-classical style, but it also goes by these terms:

 

Georgian (mostly Great Britain)

Colonial (American)

Federal (American)

Adam (Scottish Architect)

It permeated everything from architecture, interiors, clothing, art and music.

It was the time when my favorite composer lived and worked. The one you’re presumably listening to.

Below is one of the most famous architects of the neo-classical period, Robert Adam.

You can see his younger, handsome bro, James here. He was also a renowned architect, but over-shadowed by Robert.

george willison portrait of robert adam neoclassical architect

George Willison portrait of Robert Adam neoclassical architect

 

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

 

Robert Adam is the architect who embraced the style of Andrea Palladio

In the early days of the United States, our answer to Robert Adam, was Thomas Jefferson.

 

Let’s look at more examples of gray throughout the last few hundred years in art, interiors and architecture.

 

Georg_Engelhardt_Schröder_-_Fredrik_I,_King_of_Sweden_1720-1751_-_Google_Art_Project

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!

Napoli_Palazzo_reale_-_ingresso_e_scalone_1040725Royal Palace in Naples

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

I swiped a couple of images from the film Amadeus.

Fabulous set design of Mozart’s 18th century neo-classical home in Vienna.

And while not much gray, I love the pale tones spiced with gold.

Plus, look at all of that not-boring beige!

 

Back to not-boring-gray

 

 

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! And more Hammershoi here!

le-grillon-voyageur Gray Paint TrendLe Grillon Voyageur

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

cy-twombly-rome

I first came across this photo a few years ago and thought it was some totally cool couple hanging in their pad in TriBeca or something like that. But no. The photo by Horst P Horst for Vogue Magazine is 50 years old. This is Cy Twombly and his lovely wife hanging in their pad in Rome. Talk about timeless.

Below are some of my favorite designers who embrace the color gray in their work.

 

John Jacob - enduring gray trend - gorgeous living room

Above and below by the fabulous South African interior designer, John Jacob

John Jacob - not boring gray trend living room - gorgeous grisaille wallpaper

I adore the grisaille wallpaper mural. If you love it too, then you will most likely enjoy this post and this one too.

Ben Pentreath - The Parsonage, Dorset (24th November 2014)

Ben Pentreath above and below

Ben Pentreath - The Parsonage, Dorset (24th November 2014)

For more Ben, please click here.

George Saumarez Smith living room- enduring gray trendAbove and below, Ben’s colleague, George Saumarez Smith

George Saumarez Smith instagram gray kitchen

How cool is George’s kitchen! That’s a true English unkitchen!

I was incredibly lucky to get to meet Ben, George and Francis Terry on my trip to England last year. (that link has some of their work)

What cracks me up is that George works for a firm called [Robert] Adam Architecture. And no, there is no relation to the Robert Adam from the 18th century. That’s what they say, anyway. I love stuff like that!

 

jessica Helgerson - instagram - beautiful mouldings - primed

Gorgeous in progress room by Jessica Helgerson on instagram.

 

Does anyone else love rooms when they’re only primed? Or am I the only nutcase who does? lol

Adore Jessica’s work. You can see more of it here.

 

Galbraith and Paul lotus smoke- Tone on Tone blog - classical, enduring gray trendAnd it’s not possible to do a post about “gray” without including at least one image from the fabulous Loi Thai of Tone on Tone. Not only is his blog smashing, but he’s become quite the thing on instagram. And for good reason. The man is bathed in beauty. Every single time!

 

gray paint trend

 

No, the gray trend and gray paint trend are not over. And if used the right way, can be one of the most glorious colors, IMO.

 

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

 

***A few important notes***

 

The voting for the Amara Blogging Awards is closing at about 7:00AM on the 19th New York Time. So, if you have not, please vote for me.  I very much appreciate that! There is a lot of competition, so we’ll have to see.

 

You can vote for me here.

 

In addition, the Serena and Lily custom upholstery sale is ending on the 19th at midnight Pacific time, so if you’d like to take advantage of the 20% percent off, now’s the time! Use code: OPTIONS

xo,

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Susie - September 28, 2018 - 1:13 PM

    I love gray. I’d much rather have gray than beige. I love silver. I would much rather have silver than gold.ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis E - September 21, 2018 - 9:04 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I loved listening to the music while reading your blog. I love classical music and reading design blogs, but never thought of combining the two before!!! What a delightful way to spend the evening, imho. Maybe next time I will pour myself some wine, too!
    I especially enjoyed the “don’t” photos with your suggestions on how you could improve; it is so helpful. I feel like you are doing a “public service” of sorts–educating the public and helping “improve” the general design aesthetic overall.
    As a real estate agent, I see the gray interior wall paint so misused–often a too cold, blue-gray is picked in a misguided attempt to “update” the home, because they heard that gray is “in”, even though it clashes with everything else in the home! I imagine that is also part of why people are starting to “revolt” against the “gray trend”–they see so many poor examples of it. I have a theory, from decades of observation, that when even the normally “design-clueless” start picking up on a trend, (and adopt it badly, too)–it is on its way out as a trend!
    But I agree that gray used right is timeless and beautiful!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2018 - 12:54 AM

      Hi Phyllis,

      This is reminding me of the place I go to that blow dries my hair. The original salon had a “Tuscan” well, the American version of Tuscan theme. A few months ago, the owner said that they were going to be doing some minor renovating. And of course, I asked her what she planned to do.

      “Gray, But we’re keeping the wallpaper” she said.

      The gold-ish wallpaper.

      I’m thinking. “oh brother, this is going to be a hot mess.”)

      Fast forward a few months and it’s all finished.

      She chose two shades of a Benjamin Moore “gray” that is actually rather nice, with a slight lavender undertone. It’s not hideous with the wallpaper, but the trim surrounding the wallpaper in many places including the front desk is the top color in the fan deck and that one is actually an off-white with a red-gray undertone. In fact, it’s not really that “under” in most spots. It looks absolutely TERRIBLE with the wallpaper, like a pink-y white next to the gold-ish wallpaper . Every time I’m sitting there it’s like clashing notes on the piano.

      I would’ve been happy to help her, but she didn’t ask.ReplyCancel

      • Phyllis E - September 23, 2018 - 12:39 AM

        And I’ll bet that the owner thought, “Gray is popular, lets update this salon with some gray, ” without thinking about it much.
        I was talking with an agent at an open house for a beautiful waterfront (i.e. expensive) home that had been done very tastefully and attractively in warm beiges and creams (kitchen cabinets were creamy beige with a brown and white granite), with lots of natural texture (much like Joanna Gaines’ style.) The home was beautiful as is, but a home stager had come in and advised them to just paint all the walls gray! Fortunately, the owner and real estate agent had the sense not to take that advice. Just because gray is “trendy” at the moment, doesn’t mean it is going to look great anywhere and everywhere!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - September 20, 2018 - 4:12 PM

    I DO like a primed white room, it feels/looks like a new piece of paper. Like a new notebook, full of possibilities.

    Recently I realized how much the season changes my color mood. In winter I like ice blues & greys. I save pictures of cement & glass. Then in the spring I start to ramp up the green-joy that reaches a peak in probably the 2nd week of August. When the colors of the trees are at their peak, the silver willows & the dark of the evergreens, the burgundy of the sumac? plants, the tan in the tops of the corn or the edges of the grass. All covered in the golden light of August! It’s the worst weather, but the BEST light.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 20, 2018 - 8:59 PM

      Hi Megan,

      I love the light at many times of the day throughout the year. The only light that is difficult for me is the blinding sun in winter. I actually prefer cloudy days in the winter. Ironically, the cloudy winter days tend to be warmer than the the bright, sunny days.ReplyCancel

  • Noel - September 20, 2018 - 1:27 PM

    My main living space walls are painted SW Repose Grey and I LOVE the color! But I also have a peacock blue sofa, an orange ceiling in my kitchen, SW Framboise for the bathroom, and SW Dover White in the kitchen and both bedrooms. Original hardwoods are a dark walnut. The grey looks wonderful with those floors and a nice bright white ceiling and trim. Agree that grey, on grey, on grey is a bit drab.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - September 19, 2018 - 11:52 PM

    Random history, the Greeks loved . . . COLOR! This is an interesting article about how our notion of Greek aesthetics are the renaissance and neo classical conceptions of greek aesthetics. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/true-colors-17888/

    Just an interesting fact from an Art history nerd. I love the irony of 19th century “restorations” included scrubbing the original paint off marbel statues so they would look “classical”.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 20, 2018 - 11:56 AM

      Hi Jennifer. That is so interesting. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - September 19, 2018 - 10:35 PM

    I love grey. When we purchased our current home it was stark white inside and so bright you had to squint. I could have gone with a more fitting white paint, as you’ve repeatedly shown the right white can be lovely, but I love white as a trim color with my walls a soft but deeper shade. I went with SW Gossamer Veil for walls and SW Origami White for trim. The Gossamer Veil is a pale shade of grey and I love it. A bit of color and warmth and my trim really pops. Grey is so versatile and classic.ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - September 19, 2018 - 10:23 PM

    Hi Laurel, Wow, I loved your idea for showing many of us how beautiful the color gray can be! Also, explaining that if a color appears abundantly in nature it’s not a trend. It startled me when after I read this and looked at the cat asleep on my lap. He is magnificent with his coat made up of many different shades of gray. He has a white belly, rings of black around his golden eyes and pink inside his ears. Thanks for helping me to understand when colors are not trends!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - September 19, 2018 - 2:00 PM

    Your examples of what a “good” gray room can look like look nothing like what I see happening in my area. For one thing, most of your pics have warm wood floors instead of the fake looking gray washed laminate (fake driftwood/barnwood) wood floors around here. Gray walls, farmhouse decorations and gray wood floors. You have the gift of knowing what colors, textures, furniture, etc to mix together to look beautiful. That’s why I follow you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 4:53 PM

      Hi Cheryl,

      This is reminding me of the parable of the man who was making bread. He used twice as many ingredients. (doubling the recipe, I guess.) Let it rise twice as long to make it light and fluffy and to make it extra special good, he baked it twice as long.

      oops.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Wayand - September 19, 2018 - 12:00 PM

    Lucky me! Christmas in July brought new kitchen appliances on sale. BUT they are sitting in the garage since the choice of refinishing the cabinets did not work and we are replacing them. In Tucson the price is not outrageous. The new generous pullouts will help tremendously aa well as microwave within reach. I have struggled with looking at GRAY KITCHENS. It just does not work in my home, nor does white. My mind has finally settled with Ginger Maple for top cabinets and Soft Black for the island. A total unkitchen is not possible but I am eliminating a large wine rack and cabinet to replace with shelves. My love of orange or rust with appear in a tile behind the cooktop and possibly on the wall behind the shelves. My heart melts for old English kitchen design but I think I have found the choice for this home. My splurge is Full Overlay doors for a smooth look.
    Love your blog that I sometimes spend too much time with! Hi from a girl from Yonkers who once worked at Mrs. Morgan’s Flower Shop in Bronxville.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 4:51 PM

      Hi Cathy,

      Yes, one always needs to do what’s right for their home, taste, where they live, on and on. And, what a small world it is!ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Martine - September 19, 2018 - 10:32 AM

    Another set design aside from “Amadeus” (one of my favorite movies”) that makes use of only greys and other neutrals are the sets from “House of Cards” They are gorgeous.
    https://nonagon.style/house-of-cards-interior-design-inspiration/

    Also worth noting for the neutral color schemes are the exquisite paintings of
    James McNeill WhistlerReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 4:44 PM

      Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for that. I did not see that movie, but agree that the sets are gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Pamela - September 19, 2018 - 10:23 AM

    Thank you for the neo-classical lesson. That was very helpful for me to understand why I’m drawn to seemingly incoherent styles…Georgian, Federal, Colonial. Also your definition of the (so-called) trend of gray being boring now makes perfect sense. I never referred to gray on gray on gray as a trend, per se, but always thought it looked like the movie Water World which I did find drab and depressing. Also because I started home making in the early 70s I have seen things come and go and it concerns me to do a whole house in this, or any other, total trend because good grief these gals will have to replace everything as their taste change. I do love certain gray colors and gray things but just not everything gray because I personally like high contrast and color. Also, I’m not sophisticated or dedicated enough to pull off a totally neutral space.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 4:43 PM

      Hi Pamela,

      I don’t think one needs to be sophisticated, but needs to understand certain principles about design. Everything can be learned. But, I suppose it comes easier to some than others.ReplyCancel

  • Laura Omgapipeorgan - September 19, 2018 - 9:34 AM

    As if I didn’t already love you and your blog enough—hanging on your every word because I love and trust your expertise/style/tastes so much—you go and post a flute concerto!? By Mozart!? Performed by the one and only (and I agree, totally hunky) Pahud!?

    My reaction when reading your post by phonelight last, my husband thought something wonderful (or terrible) had happened. We’re both musicians (I’m a flutist among other things, he an Organist, among others) and I *think* this may have just elevated his respect for you, in that he might actually agree to paint all (or at least A LOT) of the orange wood in our new house (as I have shared with him every point of your argument to just paint it, multiple multiple times).

    Can I tell you what a miracle that is?! Wow. Okay. Anyway, your post: gray will be a lifesaver for me and this house full of orange wood. When we moved in this spring, I was so overwhelmed by how and what to repaint everything (because every wall was a version of putrid yellowish brown green-either that or Or late 90s adobe red or painters tape blue, no joke) that I splurged and purchased all your Paint guides.

    I’m a graphic designer and already very visual person, but I am just at a total loss trying to transfer this place into MY home. Colors really close to Pale Oak and Stormy Monday are slowing transforming things. The only walls I didn’t want to paint are in the living room, which are BM Washington Blue, super close to your fav Gentleman’s gray. But so sadly, I think that must go as well, since the room is just way too dark, with our black grand piano, the enormous wood wall to wall fireplace/tv/niches built-in (I’m talking like 30 ft long— talk about a space planning horror!) and the same colored coffered ceiling – which is about the only wood I don’t want to paint in the whole place.

    So gray to the rescue!! Probably either Classic Gray or Smoke Embers because with the reflection of all the wood, plus being north facing, most every color I’ve tried goes a totally different direction when on the wall. It’s been a nightmare. My biggest win so far was BM Jack Pine in the dining room (now turned Pipe Organ room). It perfectly balances the orange floors, and Dark Organ case, goes perfectly with the gold facade organ pipes, and updates his collection of primitive/antique clocks, phonographs, etc. God bless Laurel Bern! (Sorry to gush, I just adore you).

    PS: If you ever felt inclined to do a post on furniture sized for very very tall husbands (who already play the God of all Instruments, so he doesn’t want to do anything “human size”) or basically anything else, I’d be a willing participant! 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 11:02 AM

      Oh wow! Laura– What a comment! And you totally got me for a couple of seconds with your last name. hahaha! The joke is on me. Thank you so much for making my day!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Chatelain - September 19, 2018 - 9:18 AM

    We are considering down-sizing. I have been looking at many listings online. The problem seems to be the lack of accent colors with the gray. There is so much gray that my eyes start to glaze over, and I don’t notice any of the architectural aspects of the room. (Assuming there are any.)
    Most of these homes have had too many walls removed and are inundated with Hobby Lobby kitschy-cute fake architectural elements and sayings. Please quit telling me to be Thankful and to Live, Laugh, & Love.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:57 AM

      No, I’m going to tell you “Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.”

      hahahaha! Couldn’t resist the grand-daddy of all asinine quotes.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - September 19, 2018 - 9:13 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I love gray, but agree it needs browns and golds. When paging through magazines over the past 5-8 years I’ve often asked myself, “Wait, is that a black and white photo?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:46 AM

      haha! It’s true. I’ve asked myself the same question sometimes.ReplyCancel

  • Dee-dee - September 19, 2018 - 9:12 AM

    So relieved Laurel! My new great room has Pale Oak walls ( Kendall Charcoal on the ends) with a warm wood floor, gray, black and white, with emerald green accents. If gray is out I’m in trouble! Your posts always bring the sanity we need in a confusing design world. Thank you.
    As a designer (who has done some gray in client’s homes), I always appreciate your balanced and historic approach to design. It’s like continuing education- with humor!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:46 AM

      Thank you so much Dee-Dee. And yes, my headline is working. lol It’s all good. I think that the message I’m trying to convey and all of the great comments make this post one to open up and read.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - September 19, 2018 - 9:09 AM

    I loved grey until… Everyone who has updated a house here has used all grey. Ugly grey wood flooring, grey cabinets in both the kitchen and the bathrooms and various colors of grey walls. I cannot imagine living in any in any of the homes I have seen. I think they take it too far and it becomes horrid and depressing. I can’t think of any color you could use on everything that would not get tiring.

    I love the rooms you have selected with grey in them.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:44 AM

      Bingo! It’s true. No room in ONE color will look good. Variations of the same color is a good start, but as we saw in the one all-gray room that is actually a nice room, it falls flat because we’re craving another flavor!ReplyCancel

  • Marg Murphy - September 19, 2018 - 8:44 AM

    Brilliant post Laurel!

    Can you also write about the ubiquitous farmhouse style of all white furniture, walls and accessories? Getting very tired of that too.

    Cheers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:41 AM

      Hi Marg,

      Some farmhouse I really like and some is pretty awful; it’s true. The problem as I see it is that folks forget that their rooms are compositions, just like a painting or music. Imagine a piece of music that had nothing but quarter notes and all of them were on the note of B-flat. It wouldn’t take more than a few seconds of that to run from the room screaming.ReplyCancel

  • Julia Maher - September 19, 2018 - 8:17 AM

    Wonderful post! I humbly suggest a follow-up on incorporating more color, plus black and white, and texture, into an other-wise all-grey interior – as you so desired in that first photo example. (I am also a “grey” person!) As a stager who uses a lot of grey tones for the larger “basics” (rugs, sofas, etc., I incorporate a punch of color and green plants to add the punch but many clients think everything should just be grey. Luckily for me – and them – buyers like my work and the houses usually sell quickly! xoxoxoReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:37 AM

      Grrrr on the clients who don’t trust your expertise, Julia. I mean, why are they hiring you then? I’ve often thought of doing a post entitled “Spicing Up Your Decor with Punches of White!” Or something like that. Punches of color works too, but everyone expects to hear that.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - September 19, 2018 - 7:32 AM

    Oh Laurel,
    Love this post about grey. Knew your answer before I hit the link.
    Grey is beautiful in your examples. I know of the house in Charleston, absolutely lovely, makes me miss it there…Love Charleston!
    The painting of the frock coat is simply GORgeous. I wouldn’t mind having one like that myself.
    Your Fan GirlReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:31 AM

      Hi Susan,

      I’ve never been to Charleston, but know that I would love it too! I’ve actually spent time looking at houses for sale there. Of course, I can’t afford so much as a garage, but a girl can dream, can’t she?ReplyCancel

  • Mary Thompson - September 19, 2018 - 7:32 AM

    Love this article!! It is so well thought out, written and illustrated. I have been living with what I call the “new builder beige” (SW Agreeable Gray) for a year and a half since moving to Colorado from PA. I have done a bit of painting in bedrooms and baths, but, in the main (very open) living area, the grey works beautifully. It is neutral and versatile. I’m keeping it around for awhile…trend or no trend. Thanks for a really enjoyable read.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:30 AM

      Thanks so much Mary. And I’ve always thought how clever Sherwin-Williams is for the naming of their colors. I mean. How can one go wrong with Agreeable Gray? Right?ReplyCancel

  • Bobbie - September 19, 2018 - 7:15 AM

    Great post and mini concert, Laurel! You know, it seems lately I’m seeing more and more bright colors in design especially shades of Pepto-Bismol pink. If you can make THAT color work outside of your little girl’s bedroom, (and it can), it’s clear it’s not the color, but the eye of the designer and of course, personal preference. Long live Gray/Grey!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:28 AM

      That is true Bobbie. Miles Redd is the perfect example of a designer who can make ANY color look smashing! So, it can be done; but it’s not always as easy as he makes it look.ReplyCancel

  • Claudia - September 19, 2018 - 6:49 AM

    Furlow Gatewood is another great reference as to the beauty of this timeless color.ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - September 19, 2018 - 6:20 AM

    Hi Laurel…I had to chuckle when I read your comment about anyone loving the colour of primed walls…After the painters had primed my walls everyone kept bugging me about what colour of paint I wanted and I just kept telling them I really just liked the colour of the primer! Of course they couldn’t understand it or see it, but I honestly, I thought it was the perfect colour. As it turns out (and I think I have told you this before), I ended up going with just straight up ‘out of the can’ white paint. And we love it. With the difference in the sheens between the baseboards and the walls, the walls actually look like the palest baby grey. Now..if I could only figure out what colour of bedding to go with a charcoal grey headboard, I would be happy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:24 AM

      Hooray, I’m not the only one! Thanks for sharing your story and I love that you used the white base which ended up looking ever so slightly gray. This is making me think of the 50% or whatever percentage nonsense. I mean, it’s not a diluted factor of the same color. It’s a DIFFERENT COLOR. If one likes it, that’s fine, but it’s not the same color at 50%. Impossible; because the base itself as you pointed out, IS a color!ReplyCancel

  • Michele - September 19, 2018 - 5:58 AM

    Hi Laurel, thanks for your post – and the great music! Will leave it on as a calming influence while starting on my bookkeeping chores now (sorely needed ;)!).

    We live in Norway and there is A LOT of gray going around in interior decorating here. Now supplemented by loads of very dark green and blue. Have to say that I am fed up with buying interior decorating magazines that look like they have been mistakenly printed in black and white only… nothing against gray, just feel that it has gone a bit over the top here. Many decorators here seem afraid to use color at all, it seems. For a country where we have so many gray days and so many months of bad weather, I feel that I need color and light inside my house. Love the interiors you show, but then we would first have to buy a beach house in a warm climate or something like that.

    On to office duty now! With Mozart! Thanks again!!

    MicheleReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:20 AM

      Hi Michele,

      “Scandi” is what I think they call it. We don’t call it that here. Or at least it’s not a prevalent term, but a designer from Australia that I met at the High Point market called it that a couple of years ago.ReplyCancel

  • Cécile Bargues - September 19, 2018 - 3:45 AM

    Hi Laurel, thank you very much for your wonderful post. I love your “historical” approach to decorating, that makes so much sense to me. I totally share your view that gray is by no way a trend — I live in Paris, France (excuse my poor english!) and I just thought that you may have added that it is also a classic color from French XVIIIth century, if not the color par excellence of that period of time, where grey married with gold-gilt mirrors and consoles obviously, but also with touches of pink, yellow, green, orange in the fabrics…Grey shall not be boring, on the contrary it allows a lot of fantasy!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:18 AM

      Bon Jour Cécile!

      Votre Anglais est far better than mon Français. Seeee??? Understatement since your Anglais est parfait! And yes, absolutement.Gray/Grey :] was a classic color all throughout Europe. There are posts about 18th century Swedish and French decor as well. One of my favorite posts is about the phony French decor. I imagine that the French do a lot of eye rolling when they see our version of “French.”ReplyCancel

      • Cécile - September 20, 2018 - 5:29 AM

        Ah ah, yes, that can be fun sometimes! But, you know, I love to mix influences and styles just as you Americans can do so well — to me that would be horrid to reconstitute such grand gray 😉 settings out of context (there’s only one Malmaison or Versailles!) However I believe it is very helpful to have them in mind when decorating to make your own thing.ReplyCancel

  • Ann Wilkins - September 19, 2018 - 2:01 AM

    I sell real estate and for the past four years we have been heavy into gray interiors. One thing that I notice, the right gray photographs beautifully. The first house that I did with Revere Pewter and Edgecomb Gray had such fantastic photos that we thought the photographer had a new camera! What is happening now…all white even in our California bungalows and Victorians. Not sure what I think about the all white.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:06 AM

      Hi Ann,

      All white is the same problem as all gray, but not as oppressive, I suppose. What’s missing is a lack of black accents, brown, gold, textures, greenery. There are a lot of posts here that hi-light white rooms that I think are done well.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - September 19, 2018 - 1:46 AM

    I love the airy, clean crispness of gray and white. Your blog has helped me refine my style and much of my house is in shades of gray, white and black. I just painted the kitchen ceiling Quiet Moments, or as it’s called in Canada, Smokey Green (like the US name better). I’m gaga over it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 10:03 AM

      Hi Gail,

      That sounds terrific. I’ve always wondered why BM changes the names in Canada. That doesn’t make sense to me, but I’m sure there’s a reason. It sounds like they wanted to separate themselves from their US brand? Oh well. And yes, smokey green is not nearly as good as quiet moments.ReplyCancel

  • Morgana - September 18, 2018 - 11:56 PM

    Laurel, I hear you. I’m sitting in my living room with my favorite color, BM Greytint with tan accent walls. BUT, a friend excitedly posted her finally arrived at flooring choice on Facebook. And I had to wince and not comment. Because it was that faux weathered wood gray floor. And everyone was gushing about her choice. I passed on that choice 5 years ago because although pretty and light it was trendy. I truly and sincerely believe that within another 5 years that floor will look trite and dated. But we all have the right to make our own mistakes, and for the next 5 years she will love her flooring.I’d rather use gray on walls (it’s just paint)and stick to a neutral beige flooring.ReplyCancel

    • Lorri - September 19, 2018 - 2:46 AM

      I’ve seen gray floors I’ve hated and gray floors I’ve loved. The ones I loved had a lot of brown showing through.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 19, 2018 - 1:00 AM

      I agree on the floor issue. Weathered gray is a trend, for sure.ReplyCancel

  • Genie Krivanek - September 18, 2018 - 11:48 PM

    I’m with Betty! I can’t stand all the gray!!! I’m sick to death of it. It puts me in mind of a mental institution where I went to visit a friend who’d been admitted. Everything was gray and it was so depressing!!!!! And that’s just how I feel each time I go into a gray room…depressed. I don’t mind some dark gray but to have walls of gray and furniture and carpets….BLECCCCCHHHHH….ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:50 PM

      Well, if you see this Genie. How do you feel after reading the post?ReplyCancel

  • chris - September 18, 2018 - 11:38 PM

    Love the Mozart- a nice performance. Did you know that Mozart hated the flute. He said that he couldn’t abide the sounf of a solo flute and disliked composing for it. Coulda fooled me!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:54 PM

      I think I heard or read something to the effect, “what’s worse than composing for one flute? Two Flutes.” And that is because the instrument goes out of tune so easily. That’s true. I played the flute for several years and it used to drive me nuts sometimes. But, it may also have something to do with what the flute is made out of.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - September 18, 2018 - 11:09 PM

    PPS Thanks for the gorgeous Mozart concerto!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - September 18, 2018 - 11:08 PM

    PS Since before design school gray has always been my favorite neutral.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - September 18, 2018 - 11:06 PM

    I love when you post 50 year old magazine photos – Cy Twombly, et al. So cool and impossibly chic! I have collected lots of design magazine photos myself over the decades and I have referred to them countless times. There’s never an expiration date on timeless design.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:45 PM

      Hi Michelle,

      I love that too. Aside from the photography, which actually looks a little painterly, I would not have known.ReplyCancel

  • Anne Olson - September 18, 2018 - 11:05 PM

    Laurel! Oh my gosh!! Mozart Concerto in C for flute and harp! I played this, flute part, all movements, for flute adjudication in Oregon when I was a senior in high school! 1971! I had forgotten all about this. I am going to dig up my music and take a look. I didn’t have to memorize it but we both nailed it! I can’t believe I had the guts to do this. So long ago… Thanks for the memory, Laurel! I need to see if I can play in now. It won’t be pretty, I can tell you that 100% hahaha.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:44 PM

      Hi Anne,

      Well, get this. I too played the flute. Here, you can see me here back in 1970.

      And I wasn’t terrible, but the double tonguing thing was a problem. My musician-son however, got what I didn’t get in spades. He’s a beast. But it comes completely naturally to him.

      Realizing at 16, that ballet was my passion, coupled with a creepy band teacher, I gave it up and sold it.

      But, I’m immensely impressed that you were at the level to have played this piece! Pahud’s tone reminds me a lot of my flute teacher. She had gone to Julliard and was amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - September 18, 2018 - 11:04 PM

    When the dirty colors of the the Tuscan trend died down, clean fresh colors became popular. Grey was the perfect backdrop for it.
    I do think the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way. But it takes a long time for trends to fade away.
    I had a lot of grey in my first home, back in 1985. My next home had beige walls. My current home has aqua walls. And I’m getting too old to think about changing everything now. 😂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:39 PM

      I hear ya Mary! I love a lot of different things. That’s not a bad problem to have.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - September 18, 2018 - 11:01 PM

    A few years ago I hated the ”gray trend”, but I think it was because I saw so many poorly decorated gray spaces. Gray is a wonderful backdrops for many colors. We used Agreeable Gray in our kitchen and living room in our new home and wish we had it in all the rooms. It’s very classic looking to me and calming, as well. Our furniture is shades of blues. Of course we seem to be in the white trend now.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:38 PM

      Hi Susie,

      I will always love white. And perhaps my point, that I implied but didn’t really come out and say is that I abhor the word “trend.” When it comes to interiors, I do. Everything I loved 25 years ago, I still love. not everything needs to change. The world changes enough, in any case.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth G. - September 18, 2018 - 10:42 PM

    Grey always makes me think of Jean-Louis Deniot. I will confess that an entire book of his interiors (creatively titled “Jean-Louis Deniot Interiors”), is a bit too much grey in one sitting for this color lover, but there is never anything boring or banal in his designs. It is fun to see him toggle between (or combine) classical design and modern styles (particularly mid-century modernism). An RH catalog on the other hand just goes straight into the recycling. It’s huge, unrelenting, and just completely depressing.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:36 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      This is funny. I had a photo of J-L Deniot, but it didn’t make the final cut. I do like it, but felt that I had enough with everything else. Ahhh… yes, RH. You know, about a year ago or so, I opened the door of my apartment and there was one of those huge heavy things and I nearly broke my toe on it! And yes, their gray tends to be rather one-note. D flat.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - September 18, 2018 - 10:40 PM

    All of the grey rooms, painting, houses that you sighted as examples are just beautiful to me, and I don’t really think of myself as a person who is particularly fond of grey. Perhaps it’s the historical context of the examples you chose that I love. Thanks for the pretty grey post, Laurel.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:32 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      I guess one could say that just about everything is context. And, I love that idea.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - September 18, 2018 - 10:02 PM

    Great post Laurel and I voted for you earlier so best of luck. Love Mozart 🙂
    Thanks for reminding us that gray is not a fad and how to use gray . I don’t have any gray in our house but I’ve learned from you that it can be beautiful and have come to appreciate it. (Currently considering Edgecomb Gray for my home office. That will be a real departure for me. ) I saw a house for sale recently in my home town that was just ghastly. It was empty of furniture, the people had obviously moved out and every single room in this 2 story open-plan house was painted a cold cement- bluish medium gray. It was truly hideous. Someone thought, oh grey is in right now, let’s paint everything gray and it’ll be all updated and ready for sale. Ugh. I nearly died from the ugliness. That’s how not do to grey. Sorry for the “grey” and “gray”. I’m a Brit in the USA and now forget which is correct here so I end up using both !ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 11:31 PM

      Hi Maggie,

      Well, most Americans, but not all, spell it “gray.” I grew up with “gray,” but I often see “grey.” haha. Edgecomb gray is a very beautiful subtle color. It’s one of those that has to be on the wall, to appreciate.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Aber - September 18, 2018 - 10:01 PM

    Hooray for gray! Gray is the color of my heart. For me it’s soothing, calming, and comforting. I have lifted it in my house with BM Navajo White, BM White Dove, and BM Cookie Dough tinted back 50%. All with brushes brass trims and it makes me very happy!ReplyCancel

  • maureen E Herriman - September 18, 2018 - 9:56 PM

    Thanks for sharing your opinion on gray. I see a lot of homes in my job and gray can be beautiful or boring. It’s what’s with it that makes or breaks. It’s also lovely to wear with the right accessories. There’s truly lots of boring interior design out there because people don’t understand gray and it’s potential. Also there are many different gray undertones so be careful putting together.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 18, 2018 - 10:11 PM

      Yes, it’s true. And it’s more in the linked to posts about warm grays and cool grays. But most “gray” colors are really, not pure gray. They are blue, green, violet, just verrrrrry grayed down. Undertones can change too. I have seen colors go from slightly lavender to slightly green. Same wall. Same home. Just an hour or two later is all.ReplyCancel

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