If you've seen one gray, you might think you've seen them all, but an interior design lover knows there's no gray as interesting or rich as a finely picked pewter. It's a neutral that doesn't give in to boredom, and its storied history as a decorative metal dating all the way back to the Egyptians and Romans ensures it'll always look timeless, not trendy.
What Is Pewter?
Pewter is a metal made out of tin with copper and lead, and the color has a range of blue undertones and a darker, more matte sheen than other metallic shades.
Designer Marlaina Teich describes pewter as a typically darker shade of gray with a duller sheen. Whether you’re using pewter as a color or material in an interior, Teich says its cooler characteristics are “refreshing, grounding, and can add a sense of confidence to any room.”
Designer Lance Thomas describes pewter as a gray with an old soul. "There is depth and warmth to pewter shades that give richness to a space that a one-dimensional gray cannot," he says.
Meet the Expert
- Marlaina Teich is the owner and founder of Marlaina Teich Designs in New York since 2004 and is an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers.
- Lance Thomas is the principal and co-owner of Thomas Guy Interiors in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is known for Southern tradition style with a bit of edge.
If you're looking for the perfect metallic to elevate your space—and aren't already convinced—read on for tips from Teich and Thomas on how to use pewter in your home.
Play With Sparkling Complements
Teich designed this an entry wall with pewter-colored panels in-between sleek white molding, which looks crisp and gives a clean first impression to visiting guests.
"The pewter color compliments the striations in the marble flooring while also acting as a base for the glass table to shine against," Teich says.
In the wrong shade, gray can look depressing, clinical, and flat—majorly cheapening a space. Pewter pairs perfectly without old-world antiques, according to Thomas. "I always opt for an aged pewter tone when I want to achieve a sophisticated, classic space," he says.
Keep it Crisp
A soft pewter paint is a beautiful swap for white if you want a kitchen that's detailed but still bright. In addition to the pewter walls, Teich layered a metallic pewter table base and upholstered chairs with pewter nailheads here.
"Mixing cooler shades of pewter with warmer tones of wood created a space that was dynamic and balanced," she says.
Stand Out in the Light
Ultra-light pewter walls contrast with the red canvas and absorb just a bit more of the sunlight than white walls in order to help the bathroom feel less stark. It's airy, yet still calming.
Mix and Match Grays
Pewter blankets and curtains add depth and interest to a quiet room. The darker tones play off the shadows of architectural details here to help the room look even grander.
Play Well With Others
While gray is a tried-and-true traditional neutral, Thomas warns you about its fickleness.
"A lot of times warmer grays will still tend to push pink or yellow depending on what else is in the room," he says. "They never quite know which way they want to push."
Pewter, on the other hand, is more confident in itself and can ground itself in a nice earthy tone. As Thomas puts it, pewter as a gray "just plays much nicer with others."
Give the Eye a Resting Point
We love a sprawling statement wallpaper and love a chance to play with heights and depths via shelves, hanging plants, and more. But a lot of details can mean a lot of strain on the eye, and this soft pewter headboard gives the eye a solid place to rest in a more dynamic room.
Keep It Cool
We love how the depth of this glossy pewter tile creates almost an ombre effect as it reflect light. It's sparkling and clean but varied enough to not show every speck of dirt and soap buildup.
Flirt With the Industrial Look
"Pewter, as a metal, tends to rest confidently somewhere between the industrial look of iron and a contemporary chrome," Thomas says. If you want to add a bit of edge to a white marble bathroom, pewter accents and a pewter-painted clawfoot tub—a dream combo, if you ask us—do the job with ease.
Stay Neutral But Interesting
Teich's favorite shade of pewter paint is a soft gray with blue undertones. "It pairs well with so many other colors and is a refreshing way to add a subtle vibe," she states.
These pewter stoneware bowls are in perfect harmony with the light mint cabinets and the tile's many thin grout lines.
Go Bold With Pewter
As a cabinet color, Teich says, pewter is bold and inviting. This deep bluish pewter is both playful and sleek, helping draw the eye down the line of the room but matching the casualness of a modern home.
Temper a Room's Softness
"In a bathroom, pewter hardware stands out against both white and dark cabinetry," Teich says, and the pewter hardware in this gray-and-white bathroom helps ground the design.
Because of its duller sheen, pewter hardware adds weight to a room without competing with statement details, like the finely etched wallpaper here.
Make Cabinets Feel More Modern
Installing a bottom row of pewter cabinets just make a kitchen feel more full, as they ground and center white cabinets and marble up above. Using darker pewter also gives you more leeway to mix metals, such as the sparkling gold lights here.
Elevate Your Bathroom Accents
For a sophisticated bathroom that feels more powerful lunch, pewter looks sharp and modern next to traditional tile and wood. It's also less likely to show fingerprints and soap smudges as chrome or silver, too.