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​Working with colour: Grey living room ideas

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Living Room by Pixers Скандинавський
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Magnolia may have been a hit in the 1980s, but grey is undoubtedly the colour of choice for this millennium (so far, at least). And it’s not that difficult to see why!

Even though grey is primarily known as a ‘cool’ colour (technically it falls within the spectrum of ‘neutral’ tones, but whatever), it can be warmed up quite easily. Just blend it with hot tones in the form of furniture and/or décor, and there you go! 

On the other hand, a lot of people quite like that cool look that grey and its multitude of hues offer, using it to great effect for an elegant interior space, including modern living rooms, contemporary dining rooms, rustic bedrooms, etc. 

And speaking of the various grey hues, think about how each shade is capable of creating a different look, feel and style. And how that manages to filter into the entire living room and change its ambience. Modern schemes tend to call for cooler, darker, dramatic charcoals or near-blacks, while vintage and classic-inspired styles have a natural affinity with warmer blue and green-toned greys.

So, if you’re one of those people who deem a grey living room as a headache, have no fear. Just scroll ahead for our fabulous grey living room ideas…

1. Grey living room ideas: Choose your grey paint wisely

​Sitting room Bedford Gardens house. by Nash Baker Architects Ltd Сучасний
Nash Baker Architects Ltd

​Sitting room Bedford Gardens house.

Nash Baker Architects Ltd

No two greys are the same! So, before you grab that first can of paint at the hardware/paint store, as a professional to assist you.

1. Ask for a flat paint: Not semi-gloss, not high-gloss – you want a flat grey paint for your walls. Otherwise, any beautiful grey hue you splash onto the wall will look like industrial metal. Although flat white wall paint is usually avoided (it shows off smudges and fingerprints much too easily), a flat grey actually helps to hide such flaws. 

2. Opt for a creamy trim for your walls: Stark white will look much too jarring. And Pebble Grey way too dark. So, pick a hue like White Dove for that perfect in-between hue that will work with both light and dark-grey walls. 

3. Include lots of light sources: Both artificial- and natural light is required to make a grey room look and feel less cold. So, even if your grey living room has a marvellous window to brag about, still bring in table lamps, wall sconces, floor lamps, etc. 

Remember: grey is the colour of shadow. And putting in just an overhead fixture will cast only more shadows. Layered lighting keeps your grey living room light and flattering.

2. Grey living room ideas: Introduce a friendly tone

Full House Renovation with Crittall Extension, London by HollandGreen Еклектичний

Full House Renovation with Crittall Extension, London


By “friendly” tones, we mean hues like sunshine yellow, chartreuse green, candy red, etc. This is a sophisticated way to contrast those cool hues with a lighter tone and will instantly make a room feel cosier. 

Remember that lighter accessories will also brighten things up, provided you choose a strong and “friendly” enough shade.

3. Grey living room ideas: Do a feature wall

Mysterious Woods by Pixers Скандинавський

Mysterious Woods


Scared to splash that grey across all the living room’s walls? Then opt for the safer alternative: a feature wall. 

You can also paint the chimney breast or take it to the next level: commission built furniture for grey walls from a local carpenter, then finish it in a deep grey.

Just remember to coordinate that grey with carpets and upholstery in a paler shade.

4. Grey living room ideas: Use grey furniture

Eaton Mews North - Living Room by Roselind Wilson Design Сучасний
Roselind Wilson Design

Eaton Mews North – Living Room

Roselind Wilson Design

How would a grey sofa, ottoman, or other furniture piece look in your grey living room? Quite nice, actually! 

We especially love the idea of using floor-to-ceiling, built-in bookcases in the same soft shade of grey as the walls, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the rest of the room. 

Feel free to introduce splashes of other hues (i.e. reds, blues, yellows) in the form of books and other décor pieces such as scatter cushions.

5. Grey living room ideas: Mix grey with warmer neutrals

House in Tomsk by EVGENY BELYAEV DESIGN Сучасний

Speaking of introducing other tones, why not opt for a relaxing living room with a tightly controlled palette of toning greys and neutrals? 

Imagine how elegant and subtly stylish your grey living room would look with a neutral sofa and rug, plus delicately patterned cushions. 

To balance the grey with those striking pops of colour, add a few whites or off-whites, such as lamp shades or a side table.

6. Grey living room ideas: Remember lots of pattern and texture

Winter will come back again, and for those chilly days you’re going to want to hunker down in your grey living room. And for that, texture is key! 

Furry cushions and super-soft blankets will make your living room the perfect spot to curl up in, regardless of its grey walls/furnishings. 

Further break up those shades of grey with some well-chosen patterns for your curtains, scatter cushions, rugs, blankets, etc.  

7. Grey living room ideas: Play with trends

Who says you need to stick with one single style in your grey living room? By all means, introduce some charm and character with metal lamp fixtures (industrial), some stainless steel table/chair pieces (contemporary), a mix of geometric print fabrics in soft cool and warm tones (Scandinavian), etc. 

Follow this experimenting-with-styles idea by including a grand Chesterfield sofa and retro leather armchair.

8. Grey living room ideas: Create a grey coastal scheme

Porthleven by LEIVARS Еклектичний



If you thought that blues were your only colours options for a nautical theme, think again. The modern take on a traditional coastal scheme can replace those ocean blues with cool wintry greys (just about everyone in the UK is familiar with overcast beach days where a variety of greys rule the colour palette). 

Start with a pale wash of grey over the walls, then bring in pieces of weathered-wood furniture and faded linen upholstery to give the room a lived-in look. Complete this coastal project with whitewashed basketware, driftwood, smooth ceramics and opaque glassware.

9. Grey living room ideas: Pretty it up with pink

Schholmasters by build different Сучасний
build different


build different

How about a touch of femininity in your grey living room? That grey of the walls can be the perfect backdrop for blush pink, plum and buff tones. Just keep the word “contrasting” in mind: pair up light greys with bolder pinks (i.e. rosewood, magenta) and darker greys with softer pinks (flamingo, blush, etc.). 

Grey and pink is a winning colour combination, particularly suited to contemporary styles. 

Of course there are also lots of other tones to consider; see these 10 great colours to paint your small living room walls

by Casas inHAUS Сучасний

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