BY JENNIFER ADAMS
IT’S EASY to think that all
grays are cool, since they’re
so popular right now. But the
most beautiful grays are very
complex, and not just any
gray will work. A gray shade
might look great on a paint
chip or fabric swatch in the
store, but once you get the paint on the wall or
take the big new sectional home, it might not
look right at all.
Learning about color undertones will help
you choose your favorite gray.
True neutral grays are a mix of just black
and white. Adding even the tiniest bit of color
creates depth and dimension, and provides a
strong foundation for accent colors. Adding a
little red, orange or yellow makes a warm gray.
Adding blue or green makes a cool gray.
In general, some people prefer cool tones
while others like warm colors. Which do you
prefer? Look carefully for those undertones in
the gray. If it’s at all possible, bring the samples
home with you and live with them for a few days.
Notice what happens to the color in the light at
your house, throughout the day and during a
sunny day and a cloudy one.
When you are looking for accessories to go
with your gray, think about the colors that would
go with the undertone. You can either stay close
to that undertone for a calming effect or use
contrast for a little more energy or drama.
Blues, especially dark navy and indigo tones,
are also popular right now, and would look beautiful with a lighter neutral gray, a cool gray with
blue undertones or a slightly warm gray with
For some excitement, go with a darker charcoal gray and use lighter accent colors like bright
citron yellow-green or turquoise. For a sophisticated and dramatic look, choose a medium cool
gray and pair it with rich, deep colors such as
spicy orange, purple, burgundy or teal.
Think of the rich tones of linen-like woven
fabrics mixed with beautiful stone tile, hammered metal finishes and embellished decorations on throw pillows, ceramic pots and vases,
and other accessories.
Metallics also go great with gray. Burnished
copper, rose gold and brass have warm tones that
set off cool and neutral grays in particular. Sparkly
silvers and stainless steel go with every gray.
Here is a fun experiment: Raid your kids’
craft supplies or buy a basic acrylic paint kit and
some thick white paper. Make sure the kit
includes black, white and at least blue, red and
yellow. Other colors are fine, too.
And just start mixing paint. Make four pure
grays from light to dark, and paint a swatch of
each on a card. Add a tiny bit of another color to
each, and see what happens. How much color do
you need to add before noticing the difference? C
Jennifer Adams (askjennifer@jenniferadams.
com) is a nationally syndicated interior design
expert. A variety of Jennifer Adams Home
products are available on Costco.com and rotate
in Costco warehouses.
Understanding how gray works in the home
Costco carries an expanded selection of furniture
seasonally in the warehouses (January and July)
and year-round on Costco.com.
EVEN THOUGH indigo blue
has been around for centuries, these days it’s showing
up everywhere as accents
and as the main event in
every room in the house.
There’s a reason blue is the
favorite color of so many:
It’s calm, peaceful and comfortable. Think of how much
blue is in your closet.
Indigo is complex, quiet,
familiar and dramatic. It
looks good with all the basic
neutrals: beachy whites,
creamy off-whites, every
wood tone you can think of,
leather, brown, black and
the trendiest grays.
If there is one color that
could be considered neutral, indigo is certainly it.
Whether used as a solid or
patterned with white—
especially in fabrics, tabletop accents or accessories
in any room—indigo is as
classic as black and adds a
little bit of comfortable
color to an otherwise neutral palette.—JA