Colors That Go with Gray: A Short Guide

Jun 29, 2021

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

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

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What Color Carpet Goes with a Gray Sofa?

Rooms designed around a dominating piece of furniture can sometimes play down the accompanying parts, but if it’s a large gray 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 gray carpet, as that will probably be overwhelming as an anchor to the sofa. But shades of gray that are lighter than the sofa can work, especially with a bright coffee table as a focal point. Don’t forget, a light gray 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 color when you’re looking for gray sofa living room ideas. You can keep furniture relatively muted in tone, because ornaments, plants and light features with vivid coloring will bring everything to life through juxtaposition.

Colors that go with a gray 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 gray sofa. Modern living room furniture is all about contrast and vivacity, so a gray couch is perfect, as counter-intuitive as that seems.

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What Goes with a Dark Gray Carpet in the Bedroom?

A gray 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-color sheets and modern bedroom furniture, your gray carpet will complement any color, 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 color 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 gray – and you won’t have to change your carpet if you rethink the rest of your bedroom’s decor.

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Does Gray Carpet Work with White Walls?

If you’ve got a white living room, you might be concerned that a gray carpet will contrast too little with the walls, creating a dreary, colorless atmosphere. It’s true that white is harder to accentuate with pops of color, as it’s more likely to simply swallow them up. But that doesn’t mean you should discount the idea of a dark gray 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 endeavor 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 color. If you’re of a more conservative mindset, a gray and white living room combination has a reliable ambiance that you’ll feel perfectly at home with.

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Gray – The Ultimate Blank Slate

We hope we have shown how gray, 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 color and pattern – to best illustrate the point. With gray, 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.