Gray walls look beautiful all throughout the home in rooms both large and small. We see them shine in both modern and traditional homes alike, and the color can be made to appear soothing, sleek, or somewhere in between—it all comes down to styling. "Gray walls are a great neutral base," designer Sydney Markus says. "There are so many grays in the market, with some of them reading very cool blue, while others are very warm. Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore or Chelsea Gray by Benjamin Moore are two of my favorite gray paint colors. Gray Owl is a very classic very light warm gray, while Chelsea Gray is a moody medium dark gray."
Even if you've already chosen the color of gray you'd like to incorporate in your bedroom, living room, or dining room, your work isn't quite done yet. Rooms need window coverings, after all, and you may be uncertain about what shade of curtain will best complement the gray you chose. We tapped interior design pros who weigh in below with their go-to curtain color recommendations for gray walls.
Meet the Expert
- Sydney Markus is an interior designer at Anthony Wilder, a design and construction company based in the Washington, DC, metro area.
- Catherine Goodsell is the founder of Lecate Design in Salt Lake City.
- Cindy Smith is a designer and the owner of Circa Interiors with locations in Charlotte, NC, and Birmingham, AL.
Shades of White
As designer Catherine Goodsell notes, "White drapes on a gray wall are instantly classic and fresh." The exact shade of white can vary, though. "I would consider gray as a neutral," designer Cindy Smith adds. "One option would be to go with a very light off-white and silvery whites as a palette of color."
Designer Brynn Olson can't resist going with ivory. "Our favorite pairing with gray walls is soft ivory drapery panels," she shares. "They soften the space and give a luxurious feeling that welcomes you into a room and makes it instantly comfortable." If ivory alone seems too plain, Olson finds ways to jazz up the look. "For our clients who want a little more punch, we love doing leading edge tape trims with contrasting colors and patterns that feel unique and never overwhelming," she comments. "We feel like gray walls and ivory panels are a timeless classic pairing you’ll never tire of."
Designer Michelle Gage also gravitates toward white window coverings, explaining that she prefers to let colorful furniture pieces make a bold statement. "When designing a room with gray walls, we usually do so to make the furniture the star of the space," Gage shares. "We select jewel tone punchy velvets or eye-catching prints that really pop against the gray, and the window treatments become the backdrop. We’ll select either a light gray or white dressing, allowing the furniture to really shine!"
In the above home office space, designer Tracy Morris looked to the flooring when settling on a curtain color. "Since the rug had many warm shades, we decided to take the oatmeal color up the walls and onto the drapes," she says. "This added much needed texture, blocked the afternoon sun, and enveloped the space in warmth." However, Morris notes, it is most certainly fair game to incorporate louder colors into a gray room. "For a bolder choice in this space, you could use coral for the drapery color," she explains. "Additional drapery colors that would go with gray walls include: taupe, navy, deep pink, spring green, and orange."
Is there such a thing as too much gray? Never, as long as it's used thoughtfully. So why not go for a tone-on-tone look? "For a clean, modern feel, pair gray walls with gray drapery in a tone that's one or two shades lighter or darker than the wall color," designer Mel Bean suggests.
When incorporating curtains in a saturated shade, go ahead and have some fun with texture, too. "Velvet drapes can make such an impactful statement in a room," designer Lance Thomas shares. "A rich navy blue works well with gray walls." Talk about sophisticated and regal!