Colours That Go with Grey: A Short Guide


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At some point, you probably had an art teacher who informed you that grey isn’t a colour at all, just like black and white. It’s partially true – pure grey is an equal mixture of the three primary colours, so there’s no discernible hue to it. But in reality, grey rarely has a perfect balance, because it’s almost always blended to have a slight tint. There are warm greys (those with extra reds or yellows) and cool greys (tinted with blues or greens). There’s also the complete range of density, from almost black to almost white. And finally, there’s the absorption and reflection of light that grey enjoys. A grey room illuminated with warm light will appear warm, whereas the opposite is true for a cool light.

In combination, these three factors can be dialled in and out to create infinite variety, which gives grey rooms more character than people often imagine. But it’s what happens when you combine colours with grey that excites designers. Because of grey’s neutrality, coloured items come to life like they never could in, say, a wood-based room, or one with a unicoloured theme. Let’s go through a few examples.

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What Colour Carpet Goes with a Grey Sofa?

Rooms designed around a dominating piece of furniture can sometimes play down the accompanying parts, but if it’s a large grey sofa in the living room, you’ll find it’s more straightforward. Two good carpet options are light blue to keep the room breezy and make the sofa look warmer, or you can go for a darker, warm carpet (a dark red or purple, for example) to balance the coolness of the sofa.

It’s probably best avoiding a dark grey carpet, as that will probably be overwhelming as an anchor to the sofa. But shades of grey that are lighter than the sofa can work, especially with a bright coffee table as a focal point. Don’t forget, a light grey carpet will reflect the hue of the light that falls on it, so you can influence it with your choice of bulbs and natural light.

Just keep in mind the pop of colour when you’re looking for grey sofa living room ideas. You can keep furniture relatively muted in tone, because ornaments, plants and light features with vivid colouring will bring everything to life through juxtaposition.

Colours that go with a grey sofa include lime green, sky blue, burgundy, bright yellow and pink. But don’t forget about metallics – silver works a treat, and even reddish copper can give a sense of opulence to a dark grey sofa. Modern living room furniture is all about contrast and vivacity, so a grey couch is perfect, as counter-intuitive as that seems.

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What Goes with a Dark Grey Carpet in the Bedroom?

A grey bedroom carpet is the quintessential blank canvas for interior design inspiration. Whatever you augment it with, it will never attempt to divert your attention, thus forming a de-emphasized backdrop, wherever your tastes in bedroom furniture and bedding sit.

If you appreciate simple, single-colour sheets and modern bedroom furniture, your grey carpet will complement any colour, as well as black or white. But envisage your bedding with a vivid pattern – geometric or floral, for example. You can see how well it would stand out in the room with no distracting colour or pattern underneath.

It’s the same with your chairs, bedside tables and dresser. Mid tone restraint works just as well as complexity or vivacity – the carpet will only add depth to whatever you add to it.

So if you’re looking for bedroom carpet ideas, we would say you can’t go wrong with a dark grey – and you won’t have to change your carpet if you rethink the rest of your bedroom’s decor.

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Does Grey Carpet Work with White Walls?

If you’ve got a white living room, you might be concerned that a grey carpet will contrast too little with the walls, creating a dreary, colourless atmosphere. It’s true that white is harder to accentuate with pops of colour, as it’s more likely to simply swallow them up. But that doesn’t mean you should discount the idea of a dark grey carpet.

Firstly, an empty white room is one thing, but once you’ve accumulated furniture, pictures, mirrors and lights and have your TV set up, the whitewash effect is substantially diminished. Light will also be variable all around the room, with natural light from the windows and warm glow from bulbs painting a range of hues across it.

For this reason, it’s usually best to endeavour to maintain a more understated appearance throughout a white-walled room. Dark wooden furniture, a subdued green or blue sofa and gold-framed pictures and mirrors will do the heavy lifting, and it’s the form of the room’s furnishing, rather than any of the individual items, that bring the room to life. Not everyone wants that pop of colour. If you’re of a more conservative mindset, a grey and white living room combination has a reliable ambience that you’ll feel perfectly at home with.

New Africa /

Grey – The Ultimate Blank Slate

We hope we have shown how grey, even in potentially dominating elements such as sofas and carpets, is far from being lifeless. Perhaps it’s best to think of the opposite – overwhelming volumes of colour and pattern – to best illustrate the point. With grey, you’re right in the middle, and you can choose to steer the room whichever direction you want it to go, merely by your choice of furniture and accessories.

Fill the room with unusual curios from your travels, and nobody’s looking at the carpet or the sofa. But keep everything understated and introduce subtle lighting, and you’ve got a tidy, stylish and contemporary space that’s perfectly in balance with itself.

A Touch of Grey