Many of you out there have been going gray in your home for the past 10 years. It was slower to arrive in the suburbs, as builders kept putting up houses with warm color tones, travertine tile, and spotty warm-toned granite for some time.
However, gray has slowly come to us, out here in the burbs, and I have to say, this is one of my most frequently asked questions. Clients want to go gray, but don’t really want to paint every wall, ceiling, or piece of yellowish moulding and cabinet in their house.
I can understand that, it gets expensive.
Add in the fact that you might have shutters the same color as your moulding, AND that your switches and outlets may not be white either because they were chosen to work with a more yellowed tonality, and you’ve got a pricey investment.
I have two popular blogposts with some good suggestions, linked below, but I’m going to lay a few more on you here today that I discussed in my teleseminar with Amanda Gates this week.
I recently had a reader upload this pic to one of those blogposts and I can see clearly what the deal is here. I saw it recently, again, when I went out to a consultation in a home locally too, as they had a similar situation.
Both had the problem of the gray color looking blue next to travertine or a pinky beige color. That’s what happens when you put a cool-toned light gray next to a fleshy beige color. It turns very blue by comparison.
how can i go gray in a room with pinky beige?
The solution for this is to go more taupe with your color. So, if you want to paint your walls and NOT your mouldings, and your moulding paint color is really pinky beige (not an off-white), then going for something like SW Accessible Beige is good. I love one shade lighter, SW Aesthetic White. It won’t go blue like the paint did in the photo above.
Is it a real gray? No. But it appears much more neutral and it works well with many travertines. It also won't go blue on you.
I've used these in my home below. Aesthetic White is much brighter in person and on the walls than it appears in the chip above. Especially when it IS the white in the room and there is no brighter white moulding or ceiling white.
Now, most people want to go cool light gray and keep all their pinky-beige or yellow toned mouldings and trim. They think they just need to find that one magic color that will tie it all together and make it all gray and beautiful.
I’m here to tell you that is just super hard to find and not likely going to make you happy. The moulding color will be accentuated and nothing will really look harmonious or like it was intentional.
In that case, here’s one direction I would suggest and I’ve done so in the past.
Paint the walls, ceilings, etc., to MATCH the mouldings.
No, it won’t be gray, but it will be a lighter neutral that you can then inject gray into in other ways….ways that will make the space feel grayer, more neutral and not so gold or beige.
So, for example, you take a space that had yellow-toned trim and doors, like a SW Antique White (I see a lot of that around here), which is quite a creamy yellow, and now you’ve painted the walls the same color.
How do you make that space look gray now, when it’s all a yellow-toned white?
- You add gray soft goods. Drapery panels (a great way to add big splashes of color), upholstery items, gray and cream pillows, even rugs. Don’t think for a minute that you can just paint only and it will look gray. It won’t. However, it will start to look more gray, more neutral, more cool-toned, once you start to layer these things in.
- You add cool metal finishes. If you’re working with a warmer envelope and want to go cool, don’t add brass. Add antique pewter, brushed nickel, polished nickel. Even black works for a more rustic or graphic vibe. Don’t do brass, oil rubbed bronze, or antique brass.
- Use LED lighting. I’m not talking about the blue stuff, I’m talking about white light. If you have incandescent lighting everywhere, everything is going to go more yellow or warm. White LED lighting can make all the difference.
Beyond all these tips and work-arounds, the number one way to go gray in your home that has all warm tones is to paint it all, change out the outlets and switches if they are ivory or almond, tear out that warm toned granite and tile.
I wish I had a could a magic wand I could wave around and make it happen easy and cheap for you, but well, I don’t. :-)
Want even more tips on going gray? Here's our chat.
And here are the three posts I reference within our conversation.