Neutral gray is a chameleon—it looks cool and modern in some spaces, and warm and rustic in others. Take a look at our favorite ways to decorate with it
1 of 15Lincoln Barbour
Charcoal cushions ground this loft living room that relies on white built-ins. The hue also complements the polished concrete floors and contrasts well with the shaggy beni ourain rug and leather poufs.
2 of 15Thomas J. Story
Gray through the ages
Charcoal might not be a natural choice for a child’s room, but it makes a lot of sense: It keeps the room dark for sleeping, it looks good with the primary colors in children’s toys and furniture, and it’s flexible as they age.
3 of 15
All in the finish
With a wall of slate-colored tile behind it, the aqua fireplace becomes a showpiece. But it’s not just the shiny finish that makes it stand out—the texture gives the room a more layered look than a painted wall would.
4 of 15Thomas J. Story
Pop off it
This neutral wall color provides a quiet backdrop for graphic, bright art and the wire chair. But it’s not so quiet it disappears like white would. The darker shade shows off the crisp lines of the white desk and the floating shelf.
5 of 15Thomas J. Story
The ultimate backdrop
Charcoal gray—formed by charred wood slats here—is a beautiful foil to the bright greenery surrounding it. That makes it a great exterior color. If paint is used, play with the undertones to complement the foliage in your yard.
6 of 15Thomas J. Story
Made right for kids
A mid-tone dove gray is a smart choice for upholstery in a house with kids. It’s dark enough to not show every fingerprint and smudge, light enough that it doesn’t highlight dust, and sophisticated enough to make the grown-ups happy, too.
7 of 15Thomas J. Story
In a double-height room painted white, a gray floor covering grounds the furniture in the room so it doesn’t appear unmoored. It also contrasts the white French oak flooring.
8 of 15Thomas J. Story
Mod 60s colors give this plain hollow-core door character. The gray balances the bright chili pepper red.
9 of 15Lincoln Barbour
Helping tone-on-tone shine
Monochromatic bedding lets the different textures of each coverlet and pillow shine. The key is keeping everything else in the room relatively neutral as well so nothing steals attention from the intricate stitching in the pieces.
10 of 15
Gray is the perfect color for adding subtle detail, like this painted deck. Imagine it with a color—fun, but with an entirely different feel. Soft gray plays against the pink for a restful, feminine vibe.
11 of 15Lincoln Barbour
A gray plank ceiling makes this white kitchen a little more interesting. It’s a good idea to stay on the lighter side for this—a dark color usually makes the ceiling seem lower.
12 of 15Lincoln Barbour
Color from concrete
Gray doesn’t just have to be a paint color—concrete provides most of the color in the loft in both raw and polished forms. The other materials in the room—like the white tile and wooden table—balance all the gray.
13 of 15Thomas J. Story
This headboard is just a wall decal, but what makes it special is the almost jet black wall color behind it. The contrast elevates it to a modern statement.
14 of 15Thomas J. Story
Style with simplicity
The fastest way to a sophisticated look is tone-on-tone grays. This room gets it right with patterned chairs, a mid-tone rug, dark accents in the lighting and pillows, and monochromatic artwork.
15 of 15Thomas J. Story
The best plus one
Gray is the ultimate color partner—it goes with and tempers anything bright. See the way the two dark armchairs hold their own against the Kelly green sofa for evidence.