Is Gray On Its Way Out? Designers Tell Us Their Opinions

Pretty greige sitting room

Arbor & Co.

After years of seeing all-gray-everything, it seems interior trends are officially shifting away from the palette that became a staple in the early 2000s. According to some experts, there isn't a moment too soon to say goodbye to gray. But, don’t bust out the paintbrushes quite yet. Some of our other favorite design experts insist gray isn’t gone—there are just ways to give the cool hue a refresh. 

Read on to find out what designers say will become of gray interiors now that warmth is on the rise.

In Favor of Gray

Gray is classic

It seems that one of the biggest complaints about gray is that it’s boring, drab, and overdone. But as designer Ami McKay of PURE Design explains, it’s all in how you use it. 

“Color is subjective—there will always be people who find gray to be classic, and it will continue to have a place as a useful neutral,” McKay says. “It's all about balance and visual math. I'm not overly fond of too much gray because it can be listless, but layering it with warm sandy tones works.”

Just add more color

If you treat gray as a classic neutral, then it’s incredibly easy to update it to fit with the current aesthetics. If you're looking to modernize your greige space, add some more layers, or use it to complement bolder accent colors, suggests McKay. For example, wainscoting painted greige could be jazzed up with a colorful wallpaper above.

Neutral gray sitting room

Arbor & Co.

A touch of gray will always work

Designer Caitlin Kah of Caitlin Kah Interiors says gray is just fine, as long as you use it in moderation. 

“I think a touch of gray, in a room that needs it, is lovely,” she says. “I don’t usually use gray as my kick-off inspiration for a space, but rather a color that is layered in later, whether it's in a rug or a background of a textile.” 

Pretty room with subtle gray accents

Ashley Webb Interiors

It’s a “chameleon color”

While gray can be a great neutral base, designer Dan Mazzarini warns it shouldn’t be seen as interchangeable with other neutrals. Instead of thinking of gray as another neutral besides white, think about how it can enhance your room's color palette.

With that in mind, Mazzarini doesn’t see the tone going anywhere any time soon. “Gray will always have its place!—it's a chameleon color that nicely complements both warm and cool tones as long as it's used intentionally,” Mazzarini says. 

No color is truly out

According to designer Kate Marker, gray isn’t going anywhere, as colors rarely do. While warm whites and soft beiges are definitely replacing the crisp whites and grays, she knows from experience that no color is truly ‘out.'

“New color combinations refresh a color palette, and we love pairing gray with a rich caramel tone or brass accent," she explains. "As wood tones deepen and woven textures stay strong, gray is a nice balance to the warmth of these natural materials.” 

Against Gray

Gray has had its time

According to designer Peter Spalding, this shift away from gray isn’t just a welcome change: it was inevitable. As the trend cycle shifts so often, it was a matter of time before gray went out of fashion.

“Anything that defines one decade is likely to be out of fashion the next,” Spalding says. “Cool, gray walls with gray floors and gray furniture were a go-to for many during the 2010s. This shift was inevitable—and is now welcome.” 

It’s not as safe as it seems

One reason gray reigned supreme for so long, according to Spalding, is because it felt safe. But, he also insists this is a misnomer.

“Sometimes, playing it safe is ultimately not that safe at all," Spalding says. "As people create the next iteration of their home, they should make it a reflection of themselves and not everyone else." And in doing so, try reaching for other colors that speak to you beyond gray.

We’re ready for warmer spaces

While there are, of course, warm and cool grays, designer Jillian Hayward Schaible says design is recently leaning toward warmer palettes and cozier spaces—and this is ultimately responsible for the decline of gray. 

“Bringing in warmer tones and natural elements into our homes helps to bring that feeling of sunshine and the outdoors that we so desperately need,” Hayward Schaible explains. “And I predict this trend will be around for quite some time"

It’s time to make way for florals

Along with warmer spaces, Hayward Schaible says there’s another reason grays are decreasing in popularity. Big floral patterns are making their way back into the home, and she expects we'll see more pops of color, highlighted walls, and warm tones taking gray’s place.

It All Depends

Some designers weren't ready to say one way or another if gray is on its way out. While Spalding is mostly happy to see us take a collective break from this hue, he admits some variations could still work—but you have to be highly selective. Try opting for warm-toned neutrals as opposed to cool, blue grays.

Mazzarini points out that the problem might not be with gray itself—it could be with the shade. If you’re feeling drab and dated, consider pumping up the drama and going bold. And Hayward Schaible agrees, noting that your best bet is to simply add new items that are more on-trend. To give your home an update, try layering in natural woods for texture and warmth, and some plants for pops of that outdoor feel, she suggests. 

Designer Benji Lewis has a similar feeling on the matter. If you’ve gone all gray and you’re concerned about things looking dated, try to incorporate colors and finishes that shake up the formula and add warmth, he suggests.

If you're finding gray fixtures are your problem, Lewis says there's a solution to that, too.

"If, as the safe bet would suggest, you chose nickel or chrome as the trim in your gray room, explore the possibility of including a little polished brass somehow," he says.

Gray room with natural texture added
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