24 Ways to Decorate With Charcoal Gray

Charcoal gray wall in center of decorated living space with potted plant on wood table and wooden seat in right corner

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

The standard neutral decor—beige, tan, white—can be so dull. Charcoal gray, however, is a sophisticated alternative to black and a dramatic option when compared to the lighter neutral hues.

Some charcoal grays appear to be completely neutral but have a hint of brown or green as an undertone. The best way to ensure that your charcoal color is free of a potentially clashing undertone is to hold it next to a pure black color. The most versatile charcoal is free of noticeable undertones. 

To avoid a charcoal gray overload, pick one or two elements for this neutral hue and then complement it with other colors. To keep with a cool color palette, go with blues, purples, whites, and some greens. However, you could also contrast the cool gray hues with warm colors, such as pink, yellow, or orange. 

Whenever you decorate with charcoal gray, incorporate plenty of bright white into the decor, too, and the contrast highlights and brightens up space.

  • 01 of 24

    Opt for a Gray Sofa

    modern living room with gray couch

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Jump into charcoal gray with a sophisticated sofa. The visual weight of charcoal is the perfect match for a tailored sofa. Mid-century modern-style sofas are especially well-suited for charcoal gray, with a nod back to the menswear of that era.

    Choose a textured upholstery fabric, like tweed. The variations of color and light give the illusion of many different shades of color, making a slight mismatch unnoticeable.

    Once you've picked a couple ​of accent colors, contrast the gray sofa with throw pillows and a blanket in those colors. A fun contrasting color scheme is yellow throw pillows with a white blanket. Colorful throw pillows bring life to a room but are inexpensive enough that you can change them when you tire of the current color scheme. 

  • 02 of 24

    Incorporate Dramatic Wallpaper

    gray and white marble wallpaper in bathroom

    Erin Williamson Design

    Wallpaper has fallen in and out of favor as trends have changed, but one thing remains the same: It works only when used correctly. Rather than papering all your walls in charcoal gray, use it thoughtfully. Choose a charcoal gray wallpaper with an interesting texture, such as a woven pattern, or a fun design, like a geometric print. Use it sparingly, such as on just one dramatic accent wall or below a ​chair rail. 

    If you're unsure about the somewhat-permanent investment that charcoal wallpaper requires or if you're in a rental property, use peel-and-stick wallpaper that comes off easily.

  • 03 of 24

    Try Moody Gray Tile

    kitchen with charcoal gray zellige tile

    Brophy Interiors

    Wallpaper and paint aren't your only options for dark gray walls. Charcoal tiles are a fresh way to add the color to your walls while still retaining a sleek finish. The tiles break up the dark hue so that it doesn't appear too heavy or monotonous.

  • 04 of 24

    Add Sleek Curtains

    living room with long sleek gray curtains

    Gray Space Interior Design

    Blinds and shutters serve their purposes, but a room does not look complete without window dressings. Skip padded valances and ruffled swags in favor of flowing draperies in a sumptuous charcoal gray color with an interesting texture.

    Window dressings can easily become the focal point of a room, particularly if they're in a bold color such as charcoal gray. When making this decor choice, furnish the room in colors other than charcoal gray, such as selecting a white couch, and use gray in the accent touches, such as throw pillows or artwork to pull it all together.

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  • 05 of 24

    Opt for Bold Paint

    bedroom with charcoal gray wall

    D Burns Interiors

    Using charcoal gray paint can be a bold choice with a big payoff. Like charcoal gray wallpaper, this dark-hued paint should be used sparingly. Try it as an accent wall, use it on a bookcase or cabinet, or paint a dramatic powder room.

    Dark colors like charcoal gray can be surprisingly versatile if you effectively manage your lighting in the room. Other than a small powder room, charcoal gray paint should only be used in a large room with many windows. Small or dark rooms will only look smaller and darker if coated entirely with charcoal gray paint.

  • 06 of 24

    Use For Elegant Bedding

    minimalist bedroom

    Corner House Creatives

    Bedding can be a difficult choice as it's easy to tire of prints and fussy patterns. Charcoal bedding can feel slightly masculine at first glance, but the secret is in the fabric you choose. A luxurious satin or velvet fabric can soften the serious nature of charcoal bedding.

    Layer crisp white sheets underneath the dark charcoal pillowcases and comforter. For a feminine look, replace the white sheets with pale pink or lavender sheets.

  • 07 of 24

    Pair With Vibrant Artwork

    bedroom with charcoal gray wall

    Alvin Wayne

    Dark gray can create a moody atmosphere and requires some pop to keep things from feeling too dreary. Hanging a piece of vibrant, colorful artwork can help bring that much-needed boost. The contrast between the charcoal gray and the brighter tones are a match made in heaven.

  • 08 of 24

    Add Some Depth to Your Kitchen

    kitchen with gray island and cabinets

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    White kitchens are often a favorite, but adding a dose of gray into the mix creates some stunning results. Whether painting an island, cabinetry, or both, the dark hue creates plenty of contrast against white tile backsplashes and countertops, adding depth and dimension to your space.

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  • 09 of 24

    Try Rustic Vibes

    rustic living room charcoal couch

    Arbor & Co.

    Rustic themes in home decor pair perfectly with charcoal gray. Wooden accents, leather furniture, and a neutral color palette allow any form of dark gray to easily fit right in, especially for linens and statement pieces.

  • 10 of 24

    Opt for Modern Seating

    dining room with charcoal gray chairs

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Another theme that pairs well with gray is notably the modern style. Charcoal can easily be incorporated into the scheme, whether midcentury-inspired or more on the contemporary side. For example, in a dining room, modern charcoal seating suits the rest of the decor nicely and adds sophistication to the setup.

  • 11 of 24

    Pair With Light Wood

    dining room with charcoal gray chairs

    Brophy Interiors

    As another way to bring in contrast, pairing with light wood tones can be a real game-changer for this color. The key is surrounding charcoal with white or soft tones so it can really pop in the space. Light wood floors allow gray chairs or other furniture to shine rather than fall to the wayside.

  • 12 of 24

    Don't Knock an Eclectic Theme

    gray wall in eclectic living room

    Erin Williamson Design

    While dark grays are primarily associated with modern, minimalist styles, no rule says you can't step out of your comfort zone a bit. Using charcoal as a base color can work well in an eclectic, decadent-themed room. Bold patterns and muted hues can make a significant impact when contrasted against a solid gray wall.

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  • 13 of 24

    Keep Things Sleek

    charcoal gray wall in bathroom

    Brophy Interiors

    Speaking of bathrooms, one way to create a sleek presence is by adding gray as a backdrop to your vanity or sink. Wallpaper, paint, or tile can all work here, but the important thing to remember is what else you're using to decorate the space. Solid dark grays pair well with marble, metallic fixtures, and other neutral hues if the goal is to create something cohesive and cultivated.

  • 14 of 24

    Use As an Accent Wall

    charcoal gray accent wall in bedroom

    D Burns Interiors

    Using charcoal gray on walls can be tricky, especially in smaller spaces. Using it on an accent wall—especially when surrounded by lighter colors—can create a striking focal point without making the entire room too dark.

  • 15 of 24

    Pair Solids With Patterns

    small room with patterned gray wallpaper and bedding

    Erin Williamson Design

    If the choice comes down to solids or patterns, why not opt for both? Neutral colors have the benefit of allowing for diverse pairings and accents, and charcoal gray is no exception. Going solid on one wall while covering the other with fun prints can make a smaller space feel a bit larger—and using gray over black keeps things from feeling suffocating.

  • 16 of 24

    The Perfect Backsplash

    kitchen with charcoal gray backsplash

    Erin Williamson Design

    Adding gray in small amounts can still make a big impact. When working with the kitchen, opt for a gray backsplash rather than covering an entire wall. Playful patterns can help liven up the addition, but either way, the hue is sure to capture anyone's attention.

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  • 17 of 24

    Team Up Gray With Stone

    bedroom with twins beds and charcoal gray wall

    Erin Williamson Design

    Just like with wood, pairing with light stone elements can also allow gray to shine in a space. Whether it's a gray wall surrounding a stone mantel or a mostly gray bedroom incorporating a stone accent wall, the pairing gives a natural, finished look.

  • 18 of 24

    Go For Marble

    bathroom with gray marble tile walls

    Gray Space Interior Design

    When going for an elegant touch, there is no contest that marble usually comes to mind. Most marble pieces are a mixture of white with gray veins, and the addition of marble to any room instantly creates a chic environment. From bathrooms to kitchens, the possibilities are endless.

  • 19 of 24

    Try a Statement Piece

    living room with gallery wall and charcoal gray accent chair

    JK Interior Living

    If the idea of too much gray overwhelms you, then don't worry—there are plenty of ways to add charcoal gray to the mix without going overboard. Picking out a singular statement piece, such as an armchair, can be the perfect way to decorate with gray without it becoming the only focus in the room.

  • 20 of 24

    Go Gray In The Shower

    charcoal gray shower

    Brophy Interiors

    Turning your shower into an elegant spa-like atmosphere can be as simple as changing the color of your shower. Stone-like finishes or tones can make a shower feel dramatic yet sophisticated. Adding gold hardware into the mix brings the whole look together.

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  • 21 of 24

    Pair Charcoal Gray With Warm Wood

    bedroom with wooden wall and leather headboard

    House 9 Interiors

    Rather than gray and white, try pairing gray with warm wood tones. This gives the room closer to a farmhouse or cabin-esque feel, but the results are stunning. Opting for warm wood on the walls and furniture while adding charcoal in smaller doses like the bedding or curtains creates an ideal balance.

  • 22 of 24

    Try Bright Whites and Dark Grays

    dining room with gray wall

    Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions

    Charcoal gray paired with bright, cool whites adds serious depth and contrast to your space. Rather than choosing a black and white motif, charcoal and white are a lighter take on a classic color scheme that works well in just about any room you want to use them in.

  • 23 of 24

    Don't Hesitate to Use Patterns

    shower with zigzag pattern charcoal gray and white

    House 9 Interiors

    Proving that gray doesn't always have to be reserved, there are plenty of patterns that give gray a lively approach. From florals to stripes to zigzag—patterns can take a solid gray surface and give it new life.

  • 24 of 24

    Add Some Drama to Your Office

    office with charcoal gray wall

    LeClair Decor

    Give your office a polished look by using charcoal gray as the focal hue of the room. Using the color on the walls, paired with plenty of light accents, can help create a formal and focused atmosphere that encourages you to get your work done.