It's said that three times is a trend, but what happens when an aesthetic has been repeated three too many times? A good chunk of homes that have been flipped over the last few years all seem to share a color palette similarity that a handful of designers just aren't fans of. Stepping into these said homes is like stepping into a grayscale photograph—everything from the walls to the floors is a variation of gray. For the most part, they're void of color and understandably can come off as flat and dull.
Though everyone has their own taste in home design, this cookie-cutter trend isn't the most personal or full of character. If all-gray is your thing, by all means, tinge every corner gray. But if you're looking to create something with a little more flair, designers have pitched in their ideas for side-stepping the all-gray house flipping trend.
Meet the Expert
- Stephanie Parisi is an internationally recognized interior designer and the owner of Stephanie Parisi Studio.
- Elizabeth Benedict is an interior designer and founded Elizabeth Home in 2005.
- Zaeem Chaudhary is an architectural draftsman and partner at AC Design Solutions.
All-Gray Everything: A Trend Worth Skipping
“It seems that every home that’s been flipped these days is designed in a gray and white color scheme," says Stephanie Parisi of Stephanie Parisi Studio. What originally began as a safe, neutral color palette for flips and new builds is beginning to feel stale. With zero saturation, it's easy for gray to look dated and cold, but when done correctly it can be a laidback neutral that provides a calming presence.
Such an unassuming color seems like a good move at first, and flippers and home reno enthusiasts may be wondering if there's any staying power in the trend. While it had its rise in popularity, Parisi believes the look is far past its prime. "More and more clients are asking for something new," she says.
Elizabeth Benedict of Elizabeth Home is receiving the exact same requests in her business, too. "While flippers often consider an all-gray house to be a clean palette for a potential buyer, we find that it is usually the first thing our clients want to change when they move in with comments such as 'the interiors are too blah, sterile, or have no character.'"
She notes that more work on the designer's side is never a bad thing, but it's not so thrilling when the house is already brand new. "Paint is easy, but it gets very expensive to strip floors, redo backsplashes, replace wall coverings, and now with backorders and price increases, this makes the new house more expensive, not to mention the incredible waste of resources," she says.
What to do when the draw towards gray is calling? Or how should customize an all-gray home you'll be moving into if it doesn't quite embody your personal taste? The experts aren't short on suggestions.
Alternatives to All-Gray Palettes
It's often the case in trend cycles that the opposite can be expected to erupt after a long-standing push for one color or scheme. Cozier palettes are beginning to seep in, which is a nice contrast from the cooler tones grays normally bring. "These colors are warm and neutral enough to be a backdrop for most people’s tastes—much more interesting than gray," says Parisi.
But gray isn't inherently a bad color and doesn't need to be avoided flat out. As architectural draftsman Zaeem Chaudhary of AC Design Solutions notes, "Gray, like white, will always be an important neutral and popular color for DIYers and designers." If you love the tone, there are a few ways it can be spruced up to keep it from feeling overwhelmingly blah.
"I'd advise contrasting these grays with a really bright white—say, on the woodwork and the ceiling—and put in some dark hues like black and charcoal through your soft furnishings to keep them from being too unpolished and relaxed," suggests Chaudhary.
Benedict agrees with the choosing white over exclusively gray: "Given the opportunity to build a spec house, my choices would be less trendy—white never goes out of style." A different shade altogether is optimal, but in theory, combining gray with another color is a fail-proof way of keeping the tone involved without it infiltrating every square inch.
Another route is leaving gray out (or just as an accent) and choosing more vibrant colors. Neutrals have had their reign on rooms for years now. They're safe, comfortable, and certainly stylish when done right, but it might just be time for palettes with a maximalist slant to make a bigger splash and serve as the main character-defining feature in homes.