Let’s be honest: Gray gets a bad rap for being boring. As a happy medium between black and white, gray is often used as a subtle accent color—you know, the kind of shade you pepper into your space when you don’t want to make too many waves. And when the rest of the color wheel is packed with fiery warm tones, moody cool shades, and high-contrast combinations, it’s easy to write gray off as a little, well, blah.
But in reality? Not only does gray have the potential to be exciting, but it’s also packed with design potential—you just need to know how to unlock it. "Gray interiors have been on trend for some time, but there’s no need for them to be lackluster," Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors tells MyDomaine.
Meet the Expert
- Marie Flanigan is the principal designer at Marie Flanigan Interiors. Based out of Houston, Texas, her firm focuses on spaces that celebrate individuality.
- LJ Savarie is the designer behind Savarie Interiors LLC in Winnetka, Illinois. Her interiors offer a fresh take on traditional design.
- Amanda Lantz is the president and lead designer of Indianapolis-based A. Lantz Design, which specializes in comfortable, practical, and well-designed environments.
- Isabel Ladd is the designer behind Isabel Ladd Interiors, where she marries her maximalist aesthetic and philosophy of making the ordinary extraordinary.
To help you nail the look, we’re sharing 20 living rooms that prove gray is far from boring and expert tips to keep your gray space from falling flat.
Layer Light Tones
Historically, gray is used as a soft, subtle alternative to white or cream. However, this classic living room designed by LJ Savarie proves these hues can be used together.
"I really wanted to evoke sophisticated and modern sensibilities in what is usually a traditional suburban setting," she explains. Savarie used Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter on the moldings and completed the room with cream cloth chairs, a marble hearth, and a crisp white ceiling.
Keep an Airy Atmosphere
You don’t need to use a dark, brooding shade of charcoal to make a statement. Jade and Anthony of House of Chais created a light and airy environment by pairing a tufted dove loveseat with blush accents and a white coffee table. A printed rug in shades of light orange, blue, and gray rounds out the look, proving that subtlety will never go out of style. And neither will house plants, if we have anything to say about it.
Jazz It up With Jewel Tones
As this room by Desiree Burns proves, gray and jewel tones are a match made in design heaven. While you’d think an emerald green couch would be an unapologetic pop of color, Burns gives this furniture a subtler approach by pairing it with gray walls and a matching couch. Together, gray and green are complementary, not in competition with each other. Burns expertly ties it all together with textiles and artwork in shades of blue, teal, and yellow.
Build Layers of Texture
Want to give your space dimension? Take a cue from interior designer Marie Flanigan and couple your gray tones with plenty of texturized accents. "The quickest way to liven up a gray living room is with dynamic textures and materials," she shares. Woven baskets, knit throws and pillows, sculptural artwork, and even unique architectural details will give your gray living room an effortlessly chic vibe.
The rich brown tones of natural materials will also help warm up your gray space if it's feeling a little too cool.
Make a Bold Move
Strike a balance between subtle and statement by mixing gray with a bold hue, like fire-engine red. A red living room might feel overwhelming—we all know how Mr. Big’s red accent wall in Sex and the City turned out—but designer Alexander Doherty managed to soften the look with a small charcoal accent wall and light gray sofas. This setup just gives off such a sophisticated energy.
Retreat to Nature
Turns out, gray looks absolutely fierce with earth tones. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this living room from designer Kevin Dumais. Here, a charcoal sofa is deftly combined with an olive green wall treatment, a reddish-brown ceiling, and yellow throw pillows and blankets, mimicking a luscious forest. When all these earth hues are paired together, they create a living room that’s moody but bursting with character and life.
Create an Orange Oasis
If you want to decorate with orange but are nervous your home will veer into Halloween territory, add some gray to the mix to keep things down to earth. In this cozy room designed by Arbor & Co., a slate couch punctuates the tangerine-colored walls. Fluffy throw pillows and a printed rug in lighter shades of gray soften the contrasting color palette, with no sign of Halloweentown in sight.
Wow With an Accent Wall
Want to have a total wow moment with gray? Create an accent wall. Here, designer Maite Granda zhuzhed up this living room with a moody charcoal wall. When framed by crisp white walls, this gray hue feels dramatic but not as drastic as, say, an inky black. This room might have a neutral foundation, but it’s far from dull. Granda adds a splash of personality with a striped area rug as well as blue and light gray seating.
Find Your Style Fit
"Gray is a perfect foundation and foil for any aesthetic as it is incredibly adaptable," designer Isabel Ladd tells us. Just take a look at this rustic living room she designed. To ensure a warm, welcoming environment that still feels fresh, Ladd paired the leather sofas and wooden barn door with Sherwin-Williams’ Dorian Gray walls and printed armchairs.
"Combined with the tactility of various textures, patterned throw pillows, and fabrics, this room is anything but boring," says Ladd. And we couldn't agree more.
Get Tangled up in Blues
Anyone who wants their living room to be the design equivalent of a breath of fresh air should consider pairing gray with blue. With a gray herringbone wallpaper, coordinating gray couch, and sky blue wainscoting, this space by Gail Davis Designs is equal parts soothing and statement-making. This color combination will instantly put you at ease without feeling like a snooze-fest.
Aim for High Contrast
What’s black, white, and chic all over? This living room from Katie Hodges Design, of course. While black and white is a timeless color combination, it can feel a little harsh if you're not careful.
Fortunately, Hodges peppered the high-contrast room with varying shades of gray to bridge the colors. A charcoal couch, matching throw pillows, and an area rug make the space feel less drastic.
Craft a Colorful Crib
Calling all maximalists: If you want to mix a bunch of bright colors into one space, paint your walls gray. This shade will add some extra nuance to your room, making your bold pops of color feel intentional, not erratic.
Let this joyful living room from designer Lucy Gleeson show you how it’s done with super subtle gray walls and bright-as-can-be blue seating that just works.
Dress the Hearth
Once the temperature drops, your fireplace will become one of the most beloved parts of your entire home, so it might as well look good.
We love how this living room from Gray Space Interiors reimagined its hearth in a cool, minimalist slate with lots of texture. The sliver of color makes a statement but isn’t as daring as, say, a full accent wall. Whether you use a coat of paint or slabs of stone, this hearth is just as mesmerizing as the fire raging inside.
If you want to up the warmth and sophistication of your gray, monochromatic living room, just add hints of gold to the mix. Designer Jojo Barr of House Nine gave this traditional space a modern edge with a slim gold frame and brass hardware and light fixture. Finished with a whiskey decanter, etched glasses, and an oil painting, this space strikes a stunning balance between old and new.
Have an Artful Eye
As the old adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and your living room is no exception. If you want to revitalize your gray room, take a page from A. Lantz Design and wow with a gallery wall.
"The good news is if you have gray as your base color throughout your home, you’ve got a blank slate to play with," president Amanda Lantz tells us. "Grays are fabulous when you want the focal point to be on the art." Gold frames and hints of mustard give this space an eye-catching edge.
Keep It Casual
Give your living room a cool California casual look by mixing gray with neutrals like cream, black, and brown.
This space by design firm LeClair Decor oozes a West Coast edge with a versatile wooden coffee table, deconstructed club chairs, and a massive tapestry. Anchoring the entire room is the gray couch, offering the perfect midpoint between the room’s light and dark hues.
Play With Pattern
If you want to up the ante in your gray living room, incorporate plenty of pattern—but do it thoughtfully. With a textural armchair, printed throw pillows, and patterned area rug, this living room by Tyler Karu Design + Interiors is like a masterclass in layering graphic patterns. Because she stuck with a monochromatic color palette and fairly small-scale prints, the living room feels opulent but not over the top.
In case you didn’t get the memo, painting your walls isn’t the only way to make a creative statement. Interior designer Sandra Weingort took the versatile shade to new heights (literally) by coating this ceiling with a light gray concrete treatment. Layered with blue and wood furniture and blush artwork, this room looks good from all angles. After all, the only way to go is up.
Give Off an Inviting Ambiance
When it comes to painting your walls, white might be the go-to hue. However, white walls can run the risk of feeling sterile. We love how Havenly’s Vivian Torres created a warm, inviting atmosphere by coating the walls in a soft gray shade and then grounded the room with a slightly darker gray rug. From the built-in bookshelves to the hints of purple, this living room feels incredibly cozy and plenty chic.
Mix Shades of Gray
Why settle for one shade of gray when you can mix and match several? While she didn't quite reach 50 shades, designer Gillian Segal offers some visual intrigue by pairing her light gray walls with a curvy charcoal couch and sculptural stone-colored accents. She also adds some black, white, and brown details to turn gray into a statement. The result? A living room that’s sophisticated but comfortable.