Are you stuck in neutral?

Trends in design, much like fashion, come and go. We have written in the past about how we view trends and how you might approach your décor to not get caught up in them. In a nutshell, we don’t believe in jumping on the next new look to hit the showrooms. We believe in digging deeper to create a personal and meaningful home.

50 Shades of Grey Design

Having said that, we find homeowners are largely influenced by what is available in showrooms and grey has been ubiquitous up until recently. This is one reason we suggest working with a designer. We don’t shop retail. We aren’t driven by the few pieces selected for a showroom display, but instead have hundreds of suppliers of furniture, and fabrics so that we can create a look that is uniquely yours.

That aside, I know many of you are sitting on a grey sofa right now reading this. We are not here to make you regret that. Grey is a lovely soothing color, and classic neutrals will always have a place in a beautiful home. We are here to tell you that you don’t have to move on if you want to add some ooooomph to your room.

Grey Trends

I can’t be the first you’ve heard mention that grey is not trending anymore. I’ll never forget reading the elevator news in the late 1990s when it was announced that “grey was the new black”. An expression that has outlived the trend it was coined from. Design trends, like trends in fashion, are strongly shaped by the political socio economical macro trends on a global level. Monochromatic grey was the soothing palette that ushered in the new millennium in a time of uncertainty and took us out of the Tuscan brown trend that preceded it and dominated design in the 90’s. Grey was a relatively new player in the field of design and quickly became synonymous with style. Wanting something fresh and new, homeowners eagerly jumped on the bandwagon. 

Neutral colors will always have a place in your home, but grey is absently marked in showrooms for 2020. Neutral colors will never go out of style, but using it as a central focus can be rather lifeless. Fortunately, there is lots of color showing up in showrooms and I’m pretty happy about that.

Now I’m not here to tell you that you need a complete overhaul of your home to throw out the grey. But a bit of tweaking may be necessary if you want to freshen up your room. 

Neutral Colors in Design

I mentioned in a previous post about what I learned from Maria Killam’s theory on reading the undertones of neutral colors when picking paint colors. The same lessons apply here. Grey can be quite tricky to work with because it can have different undertones. What is almost never simply black and white mixed, green-gray is most common, but blue-green-grey is another, violet grey, then there are the chameleons, greige and taupe.

Here is where I found a homeowner trying to pick a new fabric for her sofa. How was she to know which was the right one? Well, to simply put it, you need a plan! That’s where we can come in to help you develop a scheme for your entire room that will let you know which one is EXACTLY the right one for you.

When selecting neutral paint color, my color sampler page is an essential tool. We need to read the undertones of the neutral to see what other colors are playing into it.

Here’s a shot from one of my to-the-trade suppliers. They will always show furniture in neutral colors so we can easily see the lines of a piece and homeowners aren’t distracted by a pattern or color they don’t like. Until recently, this is what many retail furniture showrooms also looked like. A vast sea of grey furniture!

If you bought into the trend and are now looking to update the look, we’ve got you covered right here.

You see, grey can be a pretty dreary and lonely color all by itself but it really comes to life in the company of rich jewel tones, wood, and anything but more grey!

Here’s an example. Restful, certainly, but the neon light says it all. A bit sleepy, yes? 


Grey needs a pop of energy. Here are a few suggestions to breathe life into your gray décor.

Gold Brass, warm color

Even a little bit of warm colors adds energy to an all grey palette. Notice the drapes, the brass table to the right, the sculptural wall art and the accent pillows in this elegant room by Georgio Posenti. If you love grey, you don’t need a lot of accent, but you do need a bit to bring it to life.

Photo Credit: Gorgio Posenti

 This grey room is saved only by the natural wood railings. Without those it would be too flat, drab.


Look at these examples of two vignettes where brown and wood-tones come to the rescue.


In designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen’s revamped  London flat, a neutral hue brightens up the small foyer, which brings together a small watercolor by Christian Bérard, a garden statue of Mercury, and an 18th-century Swedish console.

You don’t need a lot of colour to pick up the energy in a room. Small accents can go a long way.


There is nothing wrong with a monochromatic palette but it really comes to life when you vary textures and add greenery. The chrome, fluffy rug, small scale pattern on the chairs, and stripes on the drapes all work together to add interest.

Designer trick

This may be small but it sure is powerful. Take a moment to block out the hits of greenery to see how the room would look without these. A room really comes alive when you add greenery or florals. Designers use these for professional photos to take their photos to the next level.


If you don’t believe me, picture this photo without the tree.

With the help of designer Mark Haddawy, Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine turned his  Hollywood Hills home into a dramatic bachelor pad. The minimalist master bath is clad in cool grey marble and features an antique claw-foot tub and a simple Paul McCobb table.”

Here are a couple of rooms that do everything right. Colour, wood tones, warmth, greenery…

By Taylor and Taylor

Grey is certainly a side dish in the overall scheme but it still entails all of the upholstered pieces in this beautifully balanced room.


So there you have it. If you are surrounded by grey, there are lots of ways to breathe new life into your decor without breaking the bank. If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to call us, We can give some direction in a consultation either in person or online. You can contact us here.