An Interior Designer Explains Which 5 Colors Go With Gray, So You Can Nail the Look

Updated 04/24/19

  Amy Bartlam Photography; DESIGN: Katie Hodges Design

For the last few years, gray has been gold. This shade, which was once thought of as a drab hue on the outskirts of desirability, has held on to a longstanding reign as a trendy selection that can grace interior and exterior walls alike. 

"Gray's longevity lies in its ability to work across most interior design styles, adding depth to the space without being too bold," Katie Hodges, principal interior designer of her namesake firm, says. 

Whereas white can appear too stark to some—and any pigment at all can feel like too much personality for others—gray has a goldilocks tendency to fit somewhere in the middle. It brings in color without requesting too much bravery. 

"Many of my clients request 'neutral, yet not boring' foundation pieces, and gray has always provided a range of tones for every space," Hodges continues. "It either contrasts or complements a wide array of colors."

Given that gray color schemes still shine, we asked Hodges to elaborate on which hues work best with this enduring shade. She picked the five hues she'd partner with gray below, and explains why they make such a good team. Read on to see why gray still deserves its reign at the top.

Mossy Teal

Katie Hodges Moss Teal—what colors go with gray
 Amy Bartlam Photography; DESIGN: Katie Hodges Design

"A vintage shade of teal looks sophisticated with light and darker shades of gray," she says. "The color combination creates a mood while still maintaining a softness, and lends itself well to additional elements such as leather, wood, or cane."

Black

Katie Hodges Black—what colors go with gray
  Amy Bartlam Photography; DESIGN: Katie Hodges Design

"When you're trying to achieve a more tonal vibe, black is the perfect color to pair with any shade of gray," Hodges adds. "It provides depth and contrast, and works well as as a bridge between gray and several other colors, like teals and blues."

Mossy Green

Katie Hodges Mossy Green—what colors go with gray
Sarah Sherman Samuel

"When a mossy green color is coupled with a charcoal gray, it works well for spaces with a slightly masculine edge. But it can still welcome more feminine color additions, such as apricot, too," Hodges says. "Choosing the right shade of green is important here, because it'll change significantly with the type of lighting in the room. So be sure to test your colors and textiles during different times of day."

Soft Blue

Katie Hodges Blue—what colors go with gray
 Amy Bartlam Photography; DESIGN: Katie Hodges Design

"Playful and fresh, this color combination is perfect for a room with ample natural light," she continues. "To complement the blue, opt for a gray that skews toward the cooler side but isn't too icy. A subtle contrast drives this look, so I recommend adding blacks, greenery, and wood tones for interest."

Oatmeal

Katie Hodges Oatmeal—what colors go with gray
Haris Kenjar Photography; DESIGN: Katie Hodges Design

"For a more etherial feel, pair a soft, warm gray with an oatmeal color that's a shade or two lighter," Hodges says. "The key to this combination is to select non-competing tones that bring out the best in each another. For example, opt for an oatmeal without too many yellow or brown undertones, so that it's light enough to provide contrast to the gray." 

Related Stories