Grey remains one of the most popular neutral shades when it comes to decorating our homes. As a colour with many undertones grey the ideal choice for adding accent shades, to enhance the tone within it and give the look more personality. But what are the best colours that go with grey? It all depends on the look you’re aiming to achieve.
Shades of grey are hugely versatile – from cool off-white shades, through to warmer neutral mid-tones to the very deep and mysterious charcoals.
Key colours that go with grey
Whichever shade of grey you plan to use, get to know how the light works in your room first. If natural light is limited, then pale greys may look cold or charcoals too dark and saturating. Paint a sample on the wall and observe how the colour changes throughout the day, until you are satisfied that it will suit the space. This will also determine the best accent shade to use against the grey you’ve chosen.
‘Grey can be surprisingly versatile and will happily layer with many colours such as inky blues, smoky greens and rose pinks,’ explains Patrick O’Donnell on behalf of Farrow & Ball. Giving Sulking Room Pink, Inchyra Blue and Green Smoke as examples. ‘However, if you want to keep the palette more monochromatic, layer tones of grey like Ammonite with Mole’s Breath.’
If you’re committing to grey walls you can change the overall look, as and when the mood takes you, by simply adding different coloured accessories – at very little cost.
1. Pale grey and ochre
Very much the colour of the moment this elegant shade of yellow is being teamed with everything right now. Luckily it’s the perfect colour to give purpose to any neutral, making it the perfect bold accent for any shade of grey.
Against a pale grey a strong mustard yellow helps to add depth to the tone. Punchy ochre accents allow the grey to be an inviting blank canvas to soak up some of the warmth.
This colour combination doesn’t mean you have to opt for a modern decor. The richness of ochre/mustard yellow makes it ideal for a country, contemporary or retro setting. Adding rich pigments to a grey colour scheme helps to make even the coolest temperature of grey feel as close to cosy as it can.
Add a rich yellow accent to a deeper, sludgy green grey. A flash of paint on architectural details can incorporate the colour without having to make too bold a statement with entire feature walls. Tie in the highlighted painted areas with co-ordinating furnishings and modern artworks.
Teamed with velvet accessories the layers of rich tone and texture create a warmth to stop the grey walls from looking too cold.
2. Grey and pure white
Glamorous yet relaxed, a grey-on-white scheme can make a surprisingly bold style statement. The first thing to bare in mind, however, is that not all greys and whites match, so it’s often best to stick with a pure white that will complement everything from ‘greige’ to silver. Consider the best white paint for walls, because choosing the right shade will make or break the overall look.
One great thing about this combo is that it will work in all styles and ages of home, and with most styles of furniture. Wood will warm up a cooler scheme, as will woven tone-on-tone fabrics, such as herringbone. Throw in some pale marble surfaces and glass to luxe up the look.
Add gentle colour accents to this classic colour combination for a contemporary Scandi spin – with black highlights for textiles, lighting and occasional furniture.
The choice of accessories will be what determines the outlook of this clean colour combination. Brilliant white and grey can be ultra contemporary in one decor, then as is proven by this French-style white bedroom idea it can be beautifully classic.
3. Grey and blush pink
Muted and mellow, this chic combo gives grey a whole new gender neutral identity. Whether you’re a fan of industrial chic, modern country, Scandi style or classic elegance, the pairing of pale pink and grey can be adapted to suite your tastes.
Furniture and accessories in reclaimed or raw-wood finishes warm up this subtle colour duo and help to ground the scheme. Look for simple rustic pieces in blocky shapes, and open shelving with a modern vibe.
Need helping choosing the perfect grey? See the best grey paint for walls, as chosen by Ideal Home’s editors & interior design experts
Metallics like brass and gold work well with blush and grey. The trick is to treat them as a finishing touch that will prevent the scheme from looking flat. Try delicate lighting, fittings and accessories with a bit of shimmer.
Another trick here is to pair the rough with the smooth, contrasting matt and gloss finishes. Try slate flooring with pretty polished mosaics in a bathroom, or a zinc tabletop with blush-pink, grainy-glazed ceramics in a grey bathroom idea or kitchen-diner.
4. Grey and navy blue
As with any dark paint colour it’s important to balance it with large areas of neutral to stop it being too overbearing in a room. This deep blue accent against the light grey creates a cocooning, comforting feel in this bold grey living room idea, without it feeling too much.
The rich navy mixes beautifully with pale greys and lighter blues to create a gentle, natural colour combination. Layer with plush velvets and faux furs to give to an inviting tactile quality.
Contrast a delicate pale grey on the top half of a wall with a deep blue, to anchor the room – helping to add depth to the decorating scheme. The heavy colour used on the lower part of the room helps to create a sense of more height, making this a clever grey hallway idea for a narrow space, or as a small bedroom idea.
Compliment light grey walls with a statement navy feature wall. Be even more daring by making that feature wall idea the ceiling –reminiscent of the night sky. So often pale grey rooms can seem chilly and cold, especially in a bedroom environment and in artificial light. Keep the results warming and inviting with a deep colour of the ceiling to create a cocooning, enveloping feel.
Embrace the same sumptuous navy tones for bedding and throws to tie to the look together, adding hints of soft pink as a way to make the look feel pretty.
5. Grey and yellow
Teaming versatile cool grey with soft yellow creates a soothing yet upbeat feel. Scandi fans will feel at home with this colour combination, as it works well with clean lines and colour-pop accessories. When it comes to yellow and grey living room ideas there’s a shade pairing for all, from subtle hues to bold brights.
Pair geometrics with primrose yellow for a vintage look with a modern twist. Keep the scheme contemporary cool with a backdrop of grey walls and furniture, then add warmth with hints of yellow in geometric prints and accessories. Wood cube tables and copper details complement the retro vibe.
Add texture by combining furniture and accessories in different finishes from wood and metal to marble and wicker. ‘You can introduce a pop of yellow with more than just accessories,’ advises Ideal Home style editor Michela Colling. ‘Use it to paint a fire surround or go for a bold yellow armchair.’
A combination of grey and yellow offers a pleasing gender neutral nursery decorating idea. This colour combo often needs pattern to bring it to life. There are plenty of mid-century-style graphic prints around, but also try softer florals and stripes. Use on wallpaper, curtains, rugs and cushions – but keep window treatments casual and free from fussy trims. Stick to a plain block colour on fabrics, or opt for shutters in white or grey.
A hit of vibrant yellow can lift darker grey tones, making the mood more uplifting rather than too brooding. The darker tone of the grey allows the saturation of yellow to really pop. This colour combination is ideal for a bathroom to invigorate the senses.
6. Grey and green
Grey and green should be seen. Especially a bold bottle green. Grey is the perfect neutral when combined with a splash of colour, it can really bring a room to life – especially a vibrant green. Associated with nature this revitalising shade can perk up all shades of grey, from soft almost lilac tones to more brooding charcoal tones.
Green bedroom decorating ideas from olive to emerald green can create a luxe retreat, ideal for calming slumber.
Darker brooding shades of grey are beautifully soften with shades of rich green. Even by way of accessories, introducing any element of this glorious shade helps to give the colour scheme to life – especially when it’s adorning sumptuous velvets.
7. Grey and indigo blue
If you want your grey to remain cool and tranquil, watery shades of blue are the ideal colour to introduce. The grey retains an air of sophistication to stop the blues becoming too coastal when layered together. Painted furniture, statement artwork and soft furnishings are a great way to add this deep blue without it overpowering.
Define blue-greys with an indigo blue accent. The darkness of the indigo will highlight the blue undertones in the grey, if you want a cooler shade. When used in a bedroom you can always layer linen throws, wool blankets, wicker baskets and felt cushions to cosy up the look. A blue patterned wallpaper helps to add personality to the scheme.
8. Mid grey and orange
Ground vibrant orange tones with muted grey colour scheme. Because grey can have warm and cool undertones it’s the ideal colour to change the visual effect of a bold orange colour. Whereas against a purely brilliant white for instance, that has no other colour in it, it can make the orange jump out even more so. If you want to use this punchy accent colour fear not, there’s a wealth of grey tones to help it sit beautifully in your home.
If you’re choosing to mix with white and grey choose a brunt orange shade to give the look a rustic edge. The earthy pigment of the orange sets a beautiful contrast to the clean white and light grey tones, allowing the orange to standout without being too attention seeking.
9. Grey and Chartreuse green
Darker tones of charcoal can be used to add drama anywhere in the home, from a living room to a bedroom or even a small hallway. ‘Dark greys are a perfect strong background for small amounts of brighter colour, like chartreuse or mint,’ says Judy Smith, Crown’s Colour Consultant.
Mix just the right tones and you’ll create a modern-country look with a very particular mood. This chartreuse green and dark grey living room has been given a cosy cabin vibe with a white wood wall panels. Such a zingy sofa colour needs a grey of equal depth so works perfectly with the charcoal tones.
Channel the 1950s Mid Century mood with a retro colour palette of chartreuse green, blue and mustard yellow. Neutral grey carpet and grey-scale rugs all the captivating colour palette of this vintage style to take centre stage. Grey ceramic lighting and cushions help to tie the grey tones in seamlessly without them distracting from the main attraction of retro greens and blue.
10. Grey and duck egg blue
Duck egg blue teamed with grey and yellow creates a classic Scandi colour palette. The softness of the blue shade balances the yellow tones and lights the grey.
Choose a grey with blue tones to match the same colour spectrum of Duck Egg Blue, for the perfect complimentary pairing. A grey feature wall provides the perfect backdrop to a modern L-shaped sofa in this soft blue hue.
What colours go with light grey walls?
‘Between light greys and dark greys, warm greys and cool greys – and not forgetting all the greys in between – there’s more to this ultra-versatile neutral than you might think’ says Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative at Farrow & Ball. ‘Equally beautiful in its own right or supporting brighter and bolder shades, grey paint has an unparalleled ability to create different moods depending on both the strength and warmth of the shade you choose.’
’When introducing colour accents to lighter greys, think about the undertones of the pairing first and then the contrast you wish to achieve. Ammonite a soft stony grey will team beautifully with blues and greens such as Inchyra Blue or Hague Blue as both have the gentle undertones of nature, such as the delicate brown note found in Ammonite and the green in Inchyra Blue.’
Which shade are you most inspired to pair with grey in your own home?