50 SHADES OF GREY: THIS YEAR’S NEUTRAL

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Grey is chic, neutral and adaptable. It’s en-vogue yet timeless. We show you why this understated crowd-pleaser is your new best friend when it comes to your décor.

G1 - AdH Arlequin G1 - Rapee Dreamer Cement G1 - AdH Arlequin Gold
From L to R: Arlequin Hide Cushion, Silver, Dreamer Cement Cushion from Rapee and Arlequin Hide Cushion, Gold from Amigos de Hoy, available online at Zanui.

The people who know things about hues have been hailing grey as the new white for some time now. But this understated, elegant and adaptable colour isn’t one for stealing the limelight. It’s modest, discreet, low-key… It takes the supporting role in your interiors’ palette.

So we’re focusing our follow-spots on this delicious set of hues. Not for your walls so much – that involves a lot of teeny paint pots and palette swatches – but for your décor.

G - AL Snow Showers
Snow Showers Framed Print from Alisa & Lysandra for United Artworks, available online at Zanui.

From your bedroom to your powder + living rooms, this chic + sophisticated colour seamlessly spans traditional and contemporary aesthetics. Turn up the drama or dial it back. Opt for old world mystique, French cottage or coastal charm. Work with earthy neutrals for a Hamptons’ look or opt for classic elegance in monochrome + metallics.

Grey is at home amidst the gilt + marbled opulence of an Art Deco powder room. Or a sensual bohemian boudoir decked out in charcoal and blood-red. Or a minimalist modern executive pad.

G - MC Harrietta cushion
Harrietta Quilt Cover and Harrietta Cushion Cover from Marie Claire, available online at Zanui.

Grey is infinitely adaptable. And it’s set to endure. Timeless and flexible, this trusty décor sidekick is destined to outlive the likes of chartreuse, burnt orange and marsala. (What? See the world has forgotten marsala already!)

G - Z Larsen Anthracite G - Z Lydon Steel
From L to R: Zanui Larsen Anthracite Sofa, coffee + side tables, and Peaches and Cream Canvas Print from Shaynna Blaze for Urban Road and Zanui Lydon Steel Sofa and Bally Blond Framed Print from Home and Abode, available online at Zanui.

A WORLD WITHOUT COLOUR

Let’s have a super-quick recap of the colour wheel. The primary colours – red, yellow and blue – combine to make the secondary colours – violet, green, orange – which, in turn, combine to make the tertiary colours. So where does grey fit in?

White, black, beige, ivory and grey are the neutral colours – they appear to be “without” colour. In actuality, all the neutrals except white and grey come from the colour wheel. White and grey are without colour.

G - LH Tanner
Tanner Quilt Cover Set with Tanner European Pillow Case from Linen House, available online at Zanui.

OUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH GREY

Grey goes with everything, from cobalt blue to teal, oatmeal to taupe, lemon to chartreuse… It’s like white before it. Only it’s more interesting. It collaborates with both silver and brassy metallics for a light-luxe look. And it has a tendency to mask flaws and marks, making it a family-friendly option.

Shaynna Blaze has professed her love of greys paired with tinted citruses, or combined with en-vogue pastels for a touch of solemnity in this gelato-sweet style. We love a mosaic of greys and whites…. So crisp!

G - RR Char Modern
Char Modern Rug from Rug Republic, available online at Zanui.

LET GREY DOMINATE

Grey is not a colour that springs to mind when folks are dealing out their favourite colours. In fact, it tends to slip under the radar. For this reason, it makes the perfect dominant colour! In your 60% (dominant colour), 30% (secondary colour) and 10% (accents) ratio – it’s making a bid for the big 6-0.

Although it’s a neutral, grey does not equate to bland or austere. Or gloomy. (Winter is on the horizon – heaven forbid! – and there will be time enough for melancholic thoughts.) By contrast, each different shade of grey delivers intrinsic personality to your interiors.

So what shade of grey is right for you?

G - Rapee Matilda G - ATE Lattice
From L to R: Rapee collection of cushions and throws, and Lattice Cushion from Aura by Tracie Ellis, available online at Zanui.

BLOWING HOT + COLD

Dove. Charcoal. Slate. Silk. Steel. Concrete. Crystal. Ash. Stone. Silvered grey. Brown-tinted or tinged with yellow? Luminous or matte? There are so many greys to choose from.

So what tone will work best in your home? Roxette would say, “Listen to your heart”. But looking at your room might be more helpful.

G - UA Cerrato
Cerrato Painted Wall Canvas from United Artworks, available online at Zanui.

Like all colours, grey varies in temperature. Cooler greys appear to recede whilst warmer greys tend to advance towards you. If your space is small, crowding it with warmer hues can make it feel claustrophobic. If it’s large, cool hues can make if feel too austere.

The trick? Opt for the colour temperature that will maximise your overall ambience. Then effect a balance with your accent colours. E.g. Cool greys for a small room made cosy with warm accent colours!

G - AL Mercury CanvasG - Rapee Budoni
From L to R: Mercury Canvas Print from Alisa & Lysandra for United Artworks, and Budoni Cushion from Rapee available online at Zanui.

A QUESTION OF COMMITMENT

Whilst generally, it is argued that combining cool and warm tones of one particular hue can create conflict within your décor, with the grey series this is less of a consideration.

However, it is worth considering whether the undertones of your grey are warm (gold/yellow tints will introduce an earthy cosiness) or cool (greenish/blue for a more resolute tone).

G - Z Otto
Zanui Otto 2 Seater Sofa in black, available online at Zanui.

Similarly switching out dark (for drama) and light (for lifting) greys will change up your aesthetic. Dark greys have gravitas and work in well against high voltage hues and patterns.

G - LH Willow
Willow Quilt Cover Set in Magnet from Linen House, available online at Zanui.

EBONY + IVORY

Soften the striking contrast of this iconic colour combo by introducing shades of grey in your décor accents. Loads of white looks crisp and clean and fresh. Black introduces a refinement and a sense of definition, preventing the room from looking too washed out.

Adding in graduated greys gives your room depth. They are serene and soothing and lend your interiors a sense of luxury.

G - RC Silk Glow G - RC Antheri Silk G - Empera Wrinkle Modern
From L to R: Silk Glow Modern Rug and Antheri Silk Rug from Rug Culture, and Wrinkle Modern Rug from Empera, available online at Zanui.

This colour palette lends itself well to moody and masculine as well as classic Art Deco ornamentation. Introduce mirrored furnishings for a more opulent style.

G - ATE Ethan
Ethan Quilt Cover Set from Linen House, available online at Zanui.

GREYS WITH BLUE UNDERTONES

These cool tones are favourites of ours… Borrowing their beauty from the firmament, these breezy greys move from brooding storm to crisp autumn skies. The close relationship between blue and grey is easy on the eye and effects a casual sophistication.

Savour this Zen-like calm or spice up this look with metallic accents, a pop of citrus or intricate Moroccan and Mediterranean patterns in your décor accents.

G - Z Lydon
Zanui Lydon 3 Seater Sofa in Blue Grey, available online at Zanui.

WANT MORE DRAMA?

Interject strong elements and chromas to up the personality in your interiors. Opposing colours on the colour wheel create a visually striking room.

Crimson has a classic yet sensual elegance. Pair with it green, its complementary colour, and dark grey creates a brazen aesthetic.

G - Rapee Electric G - Rapee Riviera
From L to R: Rapee cushion and throw collection featuring Electric Cushion and Riviera Outdoor Cushion collection, available online at Zanui.

MOD vs RETRO VOGUE w/ MUSTARD + CHARTREUSE

Saturated yellows paired with grey introduce a modern refinement. Opt for bold chevron and geometric prints. Harlequin and houndstooth designs also work well in opposition to yellow block colours.

Traditional stripes create a contemporary graphic look. Or go all out with quirky upbeat boho patterns for punchy eclectic style.

G - UA Grigio Azzuro
Grigio Azzuro Painted Canvas Print from United Artworks, available online at Zanui.

GO AU NATUREL

Play with décor pieces realised in jute, wicker, timber, and the like for rustic charm. Animal hide rugs in graduated greys with white are another great choice for changing up your look.

G - Z Larsen LG G - Z Clifton
From L to R: Zanui Larsen 2 Seater Sofa in Light Grey, and Zanui Clifton 3 Seater Sofa, available online at Zanui.

Tease in the texture to prevent a surfeit of subtle. Break up the vista by working in different patinas from distressed, upcycled woods to burnished metals and rubbed down paintwork…

All the greys. We hope you love them as much as we do! 😀

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.