50 Shades of Greige for the Design-Challenged

For a few years now home decorators have been moving away from beige and taupe to the modern alternative, grey. It seems that 2016 has finally become the year of grey. For those of us who are design-challenged, how do we embrace the new neutral?

For a few years now home decorators have been moving away from beige and taupe to the modern alternative, grey or “greige”. And for good reason, Grey is versatile and edgy. But for those of us who are design-challenged, how do we embrace the new neutral?

“Don’t think color, think tone and value,” says Dallas designer Elaine Romero of Elaine Romero Designs. “Grey is a neutral so you can’t approach it like you would a color,” she explains. So, how do you approach it?

Knowing what you want is key. Do you want to update or do a complete makeover? No matter what your goal is, you don’t always need a professional to help.

Getting Greige

So how can we mere design mortals make the change to grey without going horribly wrong? Here are some simple tips.

  1. Consider the entire room or house not just the walls. According to Romero this is the biggest mistake people make. Stop looking at the paint and start looking at the room. What do you see? What do you like? Don’t forget to notice window treatments (read curtains), the floors, and rugs. Notice contrasts.
  2. Don’t go too light. If you were afraid of color, then you will be terrified of grey — but don’t dismay. In contrast to beige, when painting a room with grey it is better, as a general rule, to go with a medium Grey like Kendall Charcoal from Sherwin-Williams, than a Grey that is too light. And don’t be afraid to update your trim color. Think contrast.

  3. Stick with what you know. Match the contrast and tone values you already have. The easiest way to do this is to go to the paint store and find a paint strip with your current color on it. You know, the strips with one color in several “tones” on one strip of paper. Next, find a Grey strip you like. If your existing color is number four from the bottom on its strip, then choose a Grey that is also four or five samples up from the bottom on that strip. Although Grey is a neutral, it has an almost limitless variety of values, tones, and depth. Picking the right one will make your entire room or home fit together.

  4. Warm equals darker and cool equals lighter. Let go of your old notions of warm and cold meaning red versus blue. Grey is a combination of two neutrals, so finding the right tone will mean the difference between a room feeling sterile and one that hugs you. Darker walls will need lighter trim and vice versa.

  5. Out muscle undesirable features you can’t afford to replace. You have to take what doesn’t seem to fit into a grey scheme and make it work. This is most notable in the kitchen, says Romero, where replacing countertops or cabinets can cost thousands of dollars. Let the counter tops be the accent and then match the existing contrast that’s already working in the kitchen. The same goes for flooring.

  6. If in doubt, PAINT! It might be a hassle to repaint a room if the tone is wrong, but it costs a lot less than replacing furniture or swapping out countertops. Staring at paint strips or painting small sections of the wall just doesn’t work. Start painting! Once a wall or room has been painted you can decide if you have the right tone.

Following these steps will help you overcome your fear of Grey, and hopefully help you update your home. Pinterest is a great place to get design ideas and examples.

Image Source: StockSnap.io


Christopher Williams is a Real Estate professional based in Frisco, TX home to the $5 Billion Mile, epicenter of the economic boom in North Texas. His work has appeared in technical publications, Inman News, and other publications.

Williams believes in providing World Class service with local expertise. He has always been able to make complex concepts easy to understand and applies this talent to the constantly changing vista of Real Estate. He sorts through the avalanche of online information related to national and local real estate markets and trends in his articles and brings insight in the midst of data overload.

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