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— know, the kind of shade you pepper into your space when you don’t want to make too many waves. 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 use it. To help, we’re sharing 20 living rooms that prove gray is far from boring. From traditional spaces to modern marvels, and everything in between, there’s bound to be design inspiration for everyone.
Au Naturale Accessories
Want to strike a balance between subtle and statement? Take a cue from Marie Flanigan and couple your gray tones with texturized accents. “Gray interiors have been on trend for some time, but there’s no need for them to be lackluster,” she shares. “The quickest way to liven up a gray living room is with dynamic textures and materials.” Woven baskets, knit throw pillows, and sculptural artwork will clean your gray room an effortlessly chic vibe.
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 competing with each other.
Layer Light Tones
Historically, gray is used as a soft, subtle alternative to white or cream. However, this classic living room from 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. “The millwork is new but made to look vintage with an arched window and intricate details.” Savarie used Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter on the moldings, and completed the room with cream cloth chairs, a marble hearth, and crisp white ceiling.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Strike a balance between subtle and statement by mixing gray with a bold hue, like fire engine red. A red room might feel overwhelming—we all know how Mr. Big’s red accent wall in Sex and the City turned out—Alexander Doherty soften the look with a slim, charcoal accent wall and light gray sofas. Big’s wall might’ve been good in theory, but somehow it didn’t quite work; however, this setup oozes a sophisticated energy.
Back to Nature
Turns out, gray looks absolutely fierce with earthy tones. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this living room from Kevin Dumais. Here, a charcoal sofa is deftly combined with an olive green wall covering, brown ceiling, as well as 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.
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. In this room designed by Arbor & Co., a slate couch punctuates the tangerine-colored walls. Fluffy throw pillows and a printed rug soften the contrasted color palette, with no signs of Halloweentown in sight.
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 dove loveseat with blush accents and a white coffee table. A light orange and gray printed rug rounds out the look, proving that subtly will never go out of style.
Wow With an Accent Wall
Want to make a statement with gray? Create an accent wall. Here, Miami-based designer Maite Granda zhuzhed up this living room with a moody charcoal wall. When combined with 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 boring. Granda adds a splash of personality with a striped area rug as well as blue and light gray sofas.
Tangled Up in Blues
Anyone who wants their living room to be the design-equivalent to a breath of fresh air should consider pairing gray with blue. With a gray herringbone wallcovering, matching couch, and bright blue wainscotting, this space by Gail Davis is equal parts soothing and statement-making. (It makes sense: Blue is known for exuding chill vibes.)This color combination will instantly put you at ease, without feeling like a snooze-fest. (Psst...if you want to give your living room a beachy feel, opt for a soft, muted sky hue.)
What’s black, white, and chic all over? This living room from Katie Hodges, of course. While black and white is a timeless color combination, it can feel a little harsh. Fortunately, Hodges peppered the high-contrast room with a charcoal couch, matching throw pillows, and an area rug, making the space feel less drastic.
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 colors feel intentional, not erratic. Let this joyful living room from Lucy Gleeson show you how it’s done.
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 says. “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.
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 Grayspace Interiors reimagined its hearth in a cool, minimalist slate. The sliver of color makes a statement but isn’t as daring as, say, an accent wall. Whether you use a coat of paint or slabs of stone, this hearth is just as stylish as the fire raging inside.
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. From the built-in bookshelves to the hints of purple, this living room feels incredibly cozy.
If you want to shake up your gray, monochromatic living room, add hints of gold to the mix. Jojo Barr of British-based design firm House 9 gave this traditional space a modern edge with a slim frame, hardware, and light fixture. Finished with a whiskey decanter, etched glasses, and an oil painting, this space strikes a balance between old and new.
Give your living room a California cool look by mixing gray with neutrals like cream, black, and brown. This space by Ottawa-based firm LeClair Decor oozes a west coast edge with a versatile wooden coffee table, deconstructed club chairs, and a massive wall tapestry. Anchoring the entire room is the gray couch, offering the perfect midpoint between the room’s light and dark hues.
The Textured Treatment
If you want to up the ante on your gray living room, up the ante by incorporating different textures. With a tactile armchair, cloth couch, and patterned area rug, this living room by Tyler Karu is like a masterclass in texturized decorating. Since she stuck with a monochromatic color palette, the living room feels opulent, not over-the-top.
In case you didn’t get the memo, painting your walls isn’t the only way to make a statement. Interior designer Sandra Weingort took the versatile shade to new heights (literally) by adding a coat of gray paint onto her ceiling. With blue furniture and a blush artwork, this room looks good from all angles. After all, the only way to go is up.
Gray can look great with any interior designer style—like this rustic living room from Isabella Ladd. “Gray is a perfect foundation and foil for any aesthetic as it is incredibly adaptable,” she says “Combined with the tactility of various textures, patterned throw pillows, and fabrics, this room is anything but boring!” To create a warm, welcoming environment, Ladd paired the leather sofas and wooden barn door with Sherwin Williams’ Dorian Gray and printed armchairs.
Shades of Gray
Why settle for one shade of gray when you can mix and match a few. Designer Gillian Segal offers some visual intrigue by pairing her light gray walls with a gray, curvy couch and sculptural stone-colored accents. She also adds some black, white, and brown accents to turn gray into a statement. The result? A living room that’s chic but oh-so-cozy.