Ways with grey
No longer considered bland and conservative, this versatile colour is still bang on trend! But getting it just right requires a few savvy décor tricks…
1 Check your temperature
The reason why grey sometimes doesn’t look quite right in a space is often due to the underlying tones of the paint being incompatible – this happens when the undertone of a cool or warm grey and the colours of the surrounding elements in the room don’t work together. For a harmonious look, match furniture and accessories with the undertone of the grey on the walls. Peet and Elria Steinberg used Dulux Dusted Moss 1 and 2 in the living area of their farmhouse in Mpumalanga and the warm undertones are perfectly matched with their existing natural wood and stone elements.
2 Opposites attract
The opposite advice to #1 applies if you want to use grey as a focal wall: to make the wall really stand out, choose a grey with an undertone opposite to your accent colours. In this charming dining area, a wall has been painted in warm Dulux Night Jewels 4 and is combined with white, mauve and a soft blue – these shades usually work best with a cool grey. But it’s the underlying contrast that makes the focal wall really pop! >>
3 Settle on a shade
Typically, darker greys are reserved for contemporary spaces, while warmer lighter shades work well in more classic spaces. But as grey is becoming increasingly popular, the rules are starting to bend – with the best results!
DARK AND DRAMATIC
Adding bright accessories is part of the fun when working with dark grey. Take a look at this focal wall in Deon and Debbie de Goede’s Brackenfell home. It’s eye-catching and despite the pesky theory that dark colours make a space appear smaller, dark grey can have the opposite effect as it allows the corners to ‘disappear’ in a small room. Also, because grey doesn’t draw the eye, it’s the perfect backdrop for accessories you want to showcase.
LIGHT AND LUMINOUS
When Brad and Cat van der Vyver gave the study in their home in Ballito, KZN a makeover, they wanted to repaint the drab dark beige walls in a colour that would inject new energy into the room.
“We knew that grey would be the right colour to do just that – there’s something inherently fresh, youthful and contemporary about it,” Cat says. They opted for a cool silver-grey, Dulux Silver Trophy; paired with white and lush greens, it creates a luminous and serene look in this small, contemporary and well-lit space.
ALL IN A DAY
The ‘perfect’ grey is different for everyone; it all depends on the features in your unique space. Neighbouring wall colours, the floor colour, furniture and other accent shades all contribute. However, it mostly comes down to the lighting in that particular area.
When Doreen and Meyer de Waal moved into their original Sir Herbert Baker home in Cape Town, the walls were all white and they soon decided to introduce their own style, which includes many different shades of grey, into their spacious new home. In the main bedroom, a tall sash window lets in plenty of light and Doreen says she enjoys the various shades of grey that emerge throughout the day, according to the position of the sun.
As each room in your home receives different light throughout the day, it’s vital to check samples at sunrise, in the morning, at midday, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night with artificial light to ensure that you’re happy with all its varying shades. For example, at sunrise and sunset a warm grey may appear more brown than grey.
If your space gets plenty of light during the day, create a cosy atmosphere with a warmer shade of grey; to neutralise a space that receives lots of warm light, opt for a cool grey. To avoid grey shadows at night, opt for layered lighting in addition to any overhead fixtures.
4 Rough it up
If you find that a plain grey on your walls is too boring, use a textured paint such as Earthcote or Fired Earth and experiment with a paint technique or limewash tinted with grey to add an interesting look and feel.
Add depth and texture to grey walls to prevent them from appearing monotone. We love this two-tone wall in German de la Melena’s Green Point apartment; it adds height, interest and depth. A mirror reflecting the opposite stone wall and art adds further texture. >>
Its ability to adapt to almost any other colour introduced into its environment makes grey the perfect canvas that won’t easily become outdated. It seems grey is here to stay. – Dulux colour expert Sonica Bucksteg
If you’re not keen on painting an entire room but want to experiment with grey, consider a focal wall. Stylist and photographer Margaux Tait of mylifestyled.co.za used Hermanus Mist from Evolve (available at Builders) to create a backdrop for this elegant gallery wall. The black, white and wood work well together to form a stylish, layered space. >>
6 Face forward
When choosing grey, ensure that your colour remains classic by opting for a shade with an undertone that complements your home’s natural landscape, including greens or browns.
In the case of Peta and Ian Levin’s Greyton cottage, the walls have been painted in Midas Lattice Grey and the shutters in Midas Keystone Grey which both perfectly complement the lush greenery. The checkerboard stoep creates an unexpected and interesting contrast.
If you prefer a darker grey for the outside of your home, break it up with a lighter grey or white so that it doesn’t appear monotone or overwhelming when your home is viewed in its entirety.
Use bold colours for details you want to highlight, such as your front door, and the same grey for details you want to conceal.
Colour connections • If your space feels uninviting in a cool grey, add black, creamy white or a camel colour to give it warmth.
Bright yellows are often paired with dark grey but other vivid options to try are bright pink, lime-green, cranberry-red and burnt-orange.
Deeper than white, I like to think of grey as white with socks on. – Margaux Tait