It’s no secret that gray is having a moment. Often overlooked for its place in the gradient of neutrals, this soothing color holds a lot more personality than we give it credit for—and it plays well with others. We’re seeing it everywhere as design-lovers integrate it into their homes at a rapid pace.
Maybe it’s the uncertainty of our daily lives that is driving us to turn in early and seek sanctuary in a soothing dove gray room. Or it might be that Scandinavian style has had deeper inception into our design habits than we originally thought. Regardless, we're all for this monochromatic moment, and it's anything but boring. In the event you too are struck by this silver-lining trend, look no further, as we've tapped industry experts for 35 easy tips to master a gray bedroom.
It’s important to do some homework before you invest in gallons of paint. “Consider your home’s position in relation to the sun, as it will drastically impact how the gray tone appears on your wall,” says Erika Woelfel, vice president of Color and Creative Services at Behr. Colors are complex and each shade has its own personality complete with undertones—brown, beige, pink, blue, yellow, etc.—which can completely change the feel of a room.
Consider Sheen Carefully
If you've purchased paint before, you know there's more to consider than just color. You'll also have to select a sheen ranging from flat to glossy. Once upon a time, eggshell or satin were the only acceptable choices for interior walls, but times are a-changing, as we've noticed a rise in flat and matte walls lately. Thanks to a total lack of reflection, these sheens add a decidedly rough and cozy look that we're just crazy about.
Dark and moody interiors have been making a comeback lately, but light and airy design is still dominant for good reason—when your surroundings feel clean and bright, it's that much easier to feel calm and cheerful. Enter: the I-can't-believe-it's-not-white gray, perfect for adding just a hint of color and depth to your walls.
Find Your Perfect Match
So you’ve set your mind to a gray bedroom. The next step is to head to the paint store for swatches. You may think you know what shade is right for you, but in the end, it’s actually the bedroom that will be making the final call. Hannah Yeo, color and design expert at Benjamin Moore advises you to place those swatches on the wall and monitor. “View the color throughout the day as the daylight can dramatically impact the final result," she says.
We'd also recommend going one step further and purchasing paint samples. Paint at least a 12-inch square, observe it in different lighting, and compare your decor to make sure you like the look.
See It in Black and White
Some people love color and some people don't. If you're one of the latter, consider throwing some gray into the mix in a classic black and white bedroom palette. We guarantee the result will be chic and sophisticated, no color required.
Try Tone on Tone
Interior designers know that it's all about creating layers. For a chic and fresh look, layer up grays from walls and furniture to lighting and decor. Even the subtlest tone-on-tone effect can have a major impact on how curated your bedroom feels.
Play With Dark and Light
Delve into darker hues like charcoal for a stylized dreamscape. Woelfel notes you can nail this look by adding unexpected design details like natural wood tones, leather furniture, or a colorful accent wall to balance the depth.
Pop in Some Color
Gray is easily one of the most versatile colors out there. In fact, it's hard to think of another color that gray doesn't play nice with. See for yourself when you pair gray walls with colorful bedding, art, and decor in any hue that pleases you. Just remember to keep those undertones in mind when picking out your paint.
White may be your go-to color for rooms that you want to feel fresh and clean, but we think it's time to reconsider. With the right styling—think cream linens, shades of blue, and minimal decor—gray walls create just as clean a backdrop plus add a calm and cozy factor that white simply can't compete with.
Test the Temps
Picking a color will be dictated by your intended outcome and preference towards the overall mood of your bedroom. Ask yourself if this is to be your sanctuary of peace and quiet or a contemporary cuddle puddle. Yeo tells us that warm grays such as Benjamin Moore’s Wish AF-680 leave a warm and cozy effect while cool grays such as Wickham Gray HC-171 can feel fresh and calm.
Balance Warm and Cool Tones
Perhaps you're worried that your gray walls might come off too cool. If so, warm them up through cozy brown accents in natural materials like leather, wood, and linen. On the flip side, if your gray feels too muddy, tone it down with cool blue decor and sleek metallics. Opt for artwork that incorporates both warm and cool tones to tie it all together.
Go Au Naturel
When you think boho chic, the first room you picture has white walls, right? Well we're here to tell you that gray walls can look just as fresh and can even add an element of sophistication that white sometimes falls short of in bohemian interiors. Layer in natural materials and global eclectic decor to get the look.
Get Your Surfaces Covered
Go gray from top to bottom and maximize the impact of your chosen paint color with monochromatic flooring. Opt for ashy wood planks or a steel-hued rug to tie in the look. Further, “Pulling in hues from other room elements like your favorite piece of art or rug will create a cohesive look and add dimension to keep the room from feeling too uniform,” says Woelfel.
Create an Ombré Effect
You read that right—ombré isn't just for hair anymore. DIY a chic gradient effect on your bedroom walls for an edgy and totally unique look. Think carefully about where you want the transition to be; consider lining it up with a piece of furniture for an intentional dramatic moment.
A bedroom should be a soothing space to encourage sleep, so what better way to achieve that than by taking inspiration from nature? Channel forest vibes with dark earth tones, floral prints, and wild houseplants, or convey coastal bliss through fresh, light shades, beachy prints, and tropical touches—whatever natural oasis you take cues from, you'll feel relaxed in no time.
Think Outside the Gradient
Don’t shy away from incorporating complementing colors. Designer Abbe Fenimore inspires us to think outside shades of gray when polishing off the look. She recommends sophisticated accents such as navy, blush, lavender, and even yellow.
Style According to Undertones
Remember those undertones we talked about? Well, they're more important than you might think. Everything from lighting to furniture to decor can affect the appearance of your chosen paint. Consider your styling carefully to make sure you're getting the result you want.
Anchor Your Space
Choosing one accent wall to paint isn't a new concept by any means, but we're taking it a bit further to suggest that a gray accent wall is the perfect way to anchor a busy space. A studio apartment or shared bedroom, in particular, would benefit from having one wall that draws the eye and unifies the space.
Make It Work for You
If you bore easily, choose a paint that shifts with the light medium grays like the aforementioned Metropolitan AF-690 are not to be overlooked. “This comforting and composed mid-tone gray can shine with light for a glamorous room, or it can gracefully fade in the background, leaving nothing but a comforting ambiance,” says Yeo. It wasn’t color of the year for nothing.
Paint a Mural
Stretch your creative legs by transforming your walls into a mural. Keep it abstract with a watercolor look or go more literal with shapes and graphics—whatever inspires the artist in you. If it doesn't turn out, you can always paint over it. No judgment here.
Paneling isn't just for your grandparent's house anymore—it's back and looking better than ever. Slap some up in your bedroom as an accent wall or wrap it all the way around, if you prefer, and give it a coat of calming gray for a decidedly modern take on the traditional treatment.
Fear Not Heavy Metals
For taking the look to another level, Fenimore turns to metallics. Sleek metal accents and textural elements on pillows or accent benches are her secret weapons. Source metal light fixtures, frames, or furniture with metallic finishes to tie it all in.
Show a Softer Side
Consider opting for gray in softer applications, too, like in children's bedrooms or nurseries. For one, it's completely gender-neutral. But what's even more appealing is how it'll grow with your kids, looking great through every style upgrade from tot to teen.
In case there were any doubts, gray is also perfectly capable of serving up major drama, especially in the form of stone-look feature walls. For maximum edge, pair gray walls with black accents, mixed metals, and luxurious fabrics like velvet and cashmere.
Just Add Cream
If you’ve gone for deep and moody shades, anchor those pebble tones with neutrals. If your paint leans more towards a purple or blue shade of gray, like Silhouette AF-655 by Benjamin Moore, Yeo suggests balancing the room with lighter colors such as off-white and creams. This combo will instantly elevate any space.
Define a Focal Point
We all know paint is hands-down one of the most affordable ways to transform a room, but did you know it's also a cheap way to create a focal point? Define a space with painted areas like around shelves, behind headboards, in alcoves, or wherever else you want to pop.
Look to the Top
For those of you blessed with lofty height in the bedroom, painting your ceiling gray can pack a punch in the personality department. Aesthetically, it'll add dimension to your space and showcase your offbeat nature. Practically, it'll reflect less light into your eyes in the morning when you're trying to get in those last few precious minutes of sleep. Truly a win-win.
Make a modern statement by mixing textures. Yeo recommends layering luster and matte surfaces that will give your bedroom the illusion of depth. “Pulling in hues from other room elements like your favorite piece of art or rug will create a cohesive look and add dimension to keep the room from feeling too uniform,” she says. Velvet and satin fabrics flatter a matte paint job elegantly.
Play With Shapes
Of course, we couldn't miss an opportunity to recommend wallpaper for making a statement. Geometric shapes and patterns are particularly striking in shades of gray, especially when paired with fresh, white bedding and Mid-Century Modern-style furniture.
Aim for Abstract
For an airier feel, opt for gray wallpaper in an abstract pattern—clouds, agate, and brushstrokes are just a few ideas. You'll love the dreamy vibe it puts off as it soothes you to sleep. To keep your bedroom feeling mature, pair with furniture that has sharp, clean lines to create contrast and bring in rich, earthy colors to ground the space.
If you've outgrown your current bedroom style and are craving more sophistication, adding gray into your aesthetic may be the perfect jumping-off point. It sets the stage for an elevated, chic space while letting other star elements shine.
Another way to up the sophistication in your bedroom? Swap out your standard light fixture for something more glamorous that speaks to your personality.
Make It Monochromatic
Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer when 50 shades of gray refers to our interiors. When done right, the monochrome look from top to bottom can be sleek and oh-so-chic. For best results, stick to grays with common undertones and incorporate just a touch of warmth through fixtures, art, or accents (houseplants work great).
Think gray is only for small and cozy spaces? Think again. Gray is a true neutral that can swing from comfy and intimate to fresh and bright with ease. If you've got more of an amphitheater than a bedroom, surround yourself in gray to create a soothing backdrop, then supersize your furniture to fill the space appropriately.
If your bedroom has traditional built-in closets that you're looking to update (or any built-ins, really), gray is a classic choice. Paint your walls in the same shade for a modern, streamlined look, or mix it up with a different hue for a bolder look.
Skip the Paint
If you're a renter or just someone who's terrified of painting, don't worry—you can still achieve the gray bedroom look without changing your walls. Gray furniture, textiles, and artwork are a great way to incorporate the color without ever touching a paintbrush. Floor-to-ceiling curtains are especially helpful in capturing the dramatic look.