Recently, I’ve read that the gray trend is over and, gasp, we are going back to beige. Do you know? Is it really true? And, why beige, for Pete’s sake?
And I know you say not to pay attention to the trends, but still… Why is there still so much gray, and when is this gray trend going ever to end? I don’t get it.
Betty is a fictional reader, but these are the words I hear all of the time regarding the gray trend!
However, before we begin… I have a little musical accompaniment for you.
I think it goes very nicely with this post about the gray trend.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp KV 299
Emmanuel Pahud, flute
Marie-Pierre Langlamet, harp
Claudio Abbado, conductor Berlin Philharmonie, 1998
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.
I will explain.
via @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. I think that most people will agree that this is a beautiful home, even those sick of the gray trend.
Here’s what I think is the problem.
It’s not the color gray at all. First of all, most shades of gray are actually very muted shades of blue, green, or violet. Some shades of gray are cool. And, some are warm.
So, what IS the problem, Laurel?
Right. The problem, I think, is three things.
1. Boxy, boring architecture. Anyone who’s read this blog for a while is probably sick of me harping on this one, but it’s true.
2. The word “transitional.” In my opinion, that word should be removed from the English language. lol Although, I, too, have been guilty of using it. Why should it be stricken? Well, what does it actually mean? It’s like the furniture can’t make up its mind. Can you imagine Thomas Chippendale designing a transitional chair?
Unfortunately, as I’ve also brought up numerous times;
“transitional” furniture is, more often than not, big, bulky, and boxy. Some transitional furniture is a completely made-up design bastardization of a traditional design. I feel most transitional furniture is poorly designed contemporary furniture. Of course, not all of it is.
The third problem with why so many are sick of the gray trend is how gray is used.
Here’s what I’m talking about. And please do not pin the following four images to Pinterest or anywhere else. They are here for demo purposes only. If any of these are your rooms, please forgive me.
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.
Gray needs brown like we need oxygen. Gray needs warmth, and it loves gold the same way that its cousin, blue, does.
You know, that’s a gorgeous fireplace mantel. That chair, shoved into it, needs to go. As we’ve discussed before, overlapping is a massive no-no in space planning.
Here, we can see why some find gray to be depressing. I think the wall color is fine, and I don’t mind the furniture. However, it’s either in the wrong configuration and/or the wrong size. However, the scale is quite good.
But, the room needs more variety in tone, more white, black, art, maybe some color too.
Oh, that glorious music makes me forget how bad this room is. And it doesn’t have to be. However, cranberry is not helping this gray. Gray needs some warmth, I think.
Then, there’s the art.
You saw that one before your eyes could focus. There should 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 about six inches, and it will be fine. Do you want to find out 100s of rules and tips for furnishing your home?
Hmmm, are those some sort of dusters hanging on the wall? Maybe the cleaning service put them there.
I would also do a hunkier light fixture with a leather sectional.
The above is from one of those furniture companies that sell cheap crappy matching sets of, yes, transitional furniture.
No wonder Betty finds gray depressing. I am surmising that is because when she thinks of the gray trend in interiors, she thinks along the lines of the rooms above.
This makes me sad because gray can be a charming color when used in the right way. Let’s take a look, and maybe we’ll be able to do away with the gray trend. And, we’ll make mainstream, classic gray rooms. I know; nice fantasy.
However, we can find beautiful gray colors in nature.
Any color existing abundantly in nature can’t possibly be a trend. One might not like it, but some people do.
I don’t know how or why at that time in history, but they did. But thank God, that 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 increased awareness of other cultures (mainly Asian), the 18th century brought about a resurgence in classical forms and colors. 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 (primarily Great Britain)
- Colonial (American)
- Federal (American)
- Adam (Scottish Architect)
The neo-classical style permeated everything from architecture, interiors, clothing, art, and music.
It was the time when my favorite composer lived and worked. The one put on for you. :]
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
Robert Adam is the architect who embraced the style of Andrea Palladio
Thomas Jefferson in the US was our version of Robert Adam in the 18th century.
Let’s look at more examples of gray throughout the last few hundred years in art, interiors, and architecture.
I imagine some poor woman going blind creating this, but it sure is glorious!
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.
via @rupert.dixon on Instagram – Houghton Hall. This is a gorgeous Insta account with gorgeous images and architecture.
How beautiful are these colors! And more Hammershoi here!
I’ve long adored this image with the huge windows and interior paneled shutters!
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 was taken in 1966! This is Cy Twombly and his lovely wife hanging in their pad in Rome. Truly timeless.
BTW, I came across the entire set of these fine Horst photographic prints, which you can purchase here.
Below are some of my favorite designers who embrace gray in their work.
I adore the grisaille wallpaper mural. If you love it too, then you will most likely enjoy this post that’s all about grisaille.
I took this image in the fall of 2017 during my trip to England. This gorgeous home (you can see more of it here) was designed by the young, classical architect George Saumarez Smith.
George, Francis Terry, and Ben Pentreath are all classical architects striving to keep the art of classical architecture alive. Thank God! I was so lucky to meet them during my trip to England in 2017.
Above is from George’s own home. What a gorgeous entry painted a cool gray. Does this look like that tired gray trend we wish would disappear? I don’t think it does.
George has various shades of gray all over his home!
A cool deep shade of gray-blue in George’s home office. I adore all of the beautiful architectural prints framed throughout his home.
Below is something super interesting regarding the gray trend.
But, but, but…
They repainted! What do you think? I think I love it. However, I think it would look great with maybe a bright yellow accent or two somewhere.
I was fortunate to meet Ben, George, and Francis Terry on my trip to England.
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!
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.
Here is the finished dining room. Although I love both, the chalky gray of the first one, I think, is so cool. I usually feel that way with primed walls. Please also follow Jessica’s exquisite Instagram!
No, the gray trend and gray paint trend are not over. And if used the right way, it can be one of the most glorious colors, IMO.
Below are some additional designers or firms I love who’ve been featured on the blog. Each has embraced the color gray in their interiors.
Above and Below DeVOL kitchens. Gosh, so many of them are some shade of gray!
Please click the links below for more ideas using the color gray and some of my favorite gray paint colors.
I’m sure there’s more than that, but that’s enough gray stuff for now.