At first glance, pairing colors together might seem easy, but it's a delicate art that can take decades to perfect—just ask any interior designer. The easiest, of course, is to start with neutral tones, but even these have intricacies that can be hard to get right. While it's true that gray paint colors typically pair well with anything, some hues are better suited together than others. Much of this science has to do with undertones, which can help inform your decision when picking a paint color or accents for your home.
If you're looking for the perfect shade to complement your charcoal walls or gunmetal sofa, here are nine great colors that go with gray, courtesy of paint experts and designers.
Cool Gray + Green: Cool & Natural
When dealing with cool mid-tone grays that have blue undertones, consider cool green hues like fresh pistachio, light olive, or even a soft turquoise. Cool colors typically pair well with other cool colors. Following this rule will typically help you make the right paint color choice.
Charcoal Gray + Pink: Sophisticated & Playful
Pink and gray have always been a popular color combination. The contrasting hues play off each other well and create a balance between the more serious gray shades and the playful pink hues. For a more sophisticated take on this combo, try a burgundy with hints of brown and gray undertones.
Dark Gray + Blush: Soft & Elegant
Dark gray hues typically pair well with pastels. For instance, try pairing warmer charcoal with a soft blush for an elegant feel. Just remember to add in a few light ivory tones to balance everything out.
Steel Gray + Black & White: Classic & Striking
If you're averse to color, black, white, and gray are your best choices to create a striking contrast in your space. When using this combination, just be mindful to also add in a few warmer tones, like sand, chocolate brown, and taupe, to warm up the space.
Green-Gray + Pale Green: Tranquil & Elegant
"This pale, slightly-green gray is tranquil and elegant," says Andrea Magno, a color and design expert at Benjamin Moore. She recommends using Silver Marlin in a living room, bedroom, or bathroom. For a monochromatic look, accessorize in varying shades of gray.
North-facing rooms don't get a significant amount of natural light, so a cool gray paint color will make it feel even colder. In this case, opt for a warm gray paint color.
Fossil Gray + Taupe: Neutral & Romantic
Emma Beryl swears by Farrow & Ball’s beloved shade Elephant Breath. “It brings a rich sense of warmth to a space, but its gray undertones feel totally new and fresh,” she says. Renowned for its original inception by sought-after British designer John Fowler, this taupe has made its way to bedrooms the world over. “It is the most perfect neutral taupe with a magenta undertone,” adds Decorist designer Jessica McCarthy, noting its earthy yet romantic feel.
Cloud Gray + White: Airy & Bright
White shades may seem similar, but they look vastly different once painted on your walls. "If you choose a shade with the wrong undertone for your lighting and space, instead of feeling airy and bright, it could end up looking dingy, cold or dusty," says Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services at Behr.
A white with gray undertones is ideal for spaces with a lot of natural light.
Light Gray + Tan: Earthy & Calm
"I love using earthly ochre such as taupe to create a calm atmosphere in a room," says London designer Sophie Ashby. Here, a neutral tan paint color contrasts with a lighter gray wall to give dimension to this living room.
Pale Gray + Crisp White: Clean & Open
When in doubt, go with a crisp and clean white with a pale gray hue. "Paint color sets the tone of the space," says Utah-based interior designer Shea McGee. "A fresh white will make most spaces feel clean and updated instantly." This small living room looks light and refreshed thanks to the white paint color and large windows, which both make the space appear quite large.