While vibrant fuchsia and fiery red are certainly eye-catching color ideas, there's something to be said for a more subdued shade, like gray. Once associated with dreariness and boredom, this versatile neutral has seen a massive spike in popularity among homeowners and renters over the past few years and is now enjoying a well-earned place in the proverbial sun.
While shades of gray will look stunning in any room of the house, we are particularly partial to seeing it in the living room. Since it's a tried-and-true neutral, it'll act as the ideal backdrop amid many different decor styles, accent colors, and patterns. Intrinsically, it's a calming hue, something that can help you wind down at the end of a long day. And even though you can certainly use it top-to-bottom, on every wall in your living room, there are other ways to weave the color gray into your space — including on the ceiling, trim, built-ins, or even the fireplace.
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When designing a gray living room, you'll want to avoid using overly vibrant shades. Primary colors are just fine, but when they wander into near-fluorescent territory, it's not an eye-pleasing look — the contrasting hues compete with one another. Also, be sure to let in plenty of natural light to keep your space feeling bright and airy, especially if you're going with a dark charcoal gray.
Ready to incorporate this haute hue into your own home? These 20 stylish decorating ideas are all the inspo you need.
20 Clever Gray Living Room Ideas
1. Punctuate gray walls with bright artwork.
A gray living room doesn't automatically mean you should also use equally neutral wall decor. In fact, for some bonus visual interest, it can help to hang vibrant, head-turning artwork that's sure to pop right off of gray walls.
2. Make it monochromatic.
Pale gray living room walls exude enduring allure, while a crystal chandelier infuses old-school glamour in this luxurious design by Cherie Lee Interiors. Modern elements — like black and white artwork, a low-profile coffee table, and nesting side tables — keep the vibe au courant. Furniture upholstery showcasing varying shades of gray completes the monochromatic look.
3. Pair with an unexpected hue.
When working with a gray living room, an easy way to add a bit of visual interest is with a colorful conversation starter. This can be accomplished by painting one accent wall in a bold color or by highlighting the niche above the fireplace. Not in the mood to paint? Achieve the look with decor instead, like a piece of bright turquoise wall art.
4. Incorporate black accents.
There's nothing quite as gorgeous as midcentury flair partnered with luxurious pieces of black living room decor. For example, in this setup by Heather Garrett Design, plush sofas and a Warren Platner coffee table stand out against the saturated gray walls, while a Serge Mouille floor lamp and a sputnik-style chandelier illuminate the cozy space.
5. Go almost blue with your walls.
Looking for a paint color that will work in a more casual space? Perhaps a retro pad? A shade of dark gray with blue undertones can stand up to the more saturated palettes made popular in the past. We love the hue spotted in this eclectic living room — it acts as the perfect backdrop for an assortment of accent pieces flaunting warmer colors.
6. Aim for a tranquil color scheme.
Craving a streamlined effect? Take a cue from this lofty Brooklyn abode by design firm Falken Reynolds Interiors and paint the walls in a muted blueish-gray hue. Complete the look by swapping out an overstuffed sofa for a sleek, low-profile piece and floor-to-ceiling drapery.
7. Set a traditional tone.
Kim Scodro Interiors relied on a monochromatic color palette, gray tones, and a refined off-white sofa to create this sophisticated sitting area. The design team went with horizontal striped curtains that certainly add to the "wow" factor.
8. Opt for a more contemporary vibe.
Muted gray walls set the stage for this contemporary cool gray living room that marries formality with comfort. Standout features include graphic abstract wall art and throw pillows with unexpected bright orange hues.
9. Don’t get too tied to one decor style.
This Spanish-style living room designed by Brady Tolbert is an artful study in layering textures and various decorative styles — something that gray walls will easily allow for. The light paint color, comfy velvet sofa, worn leather club chairs, and geometric flokati area rug all work together to create a cozy and inviting respite perfect for kicking up your feet at the end of a long day.
10. Take some artistic risks.
Here's proof that the color gray has the ability to be anything but boring, especially when the shade looks almost mint green. In this light-filled design, pastel color blocking paired with geometric shapes and graphic artwork all beget fun and creativity.
11. Design an accent wall.
Short on square footage? Sleek furnishings, lots of natural light, and a gray plaster finish accent wall make this living space feel much larger. Not to mention, the bold floor-to-ceiling feature adds a welcome dose of industrial flair.
12. Embrace charcoal gray.
Ready to rev up the drama? Give your walls a wash of dark gray à la Lisa from It's Pretty Nice — she went with Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball. Pro tip: Unless your space is drenched in sunlight, like this one, consider a lighter color for your upholstery fabric.
13. Reinforce gray walls with black and white artwork.
Art is always a must in any living room, and you can make the overall visuals look even more soothing when you dress up a gray wall with black and white artwork. This framed photograph in Sarah from Room for Tuesday's living space looks just right.
14. Focus on the built-ins.
Remember that gray paint isn't limited to just the walls. Instead, focus your attention on your living room built-ins, drawing the eyes to a functional part of your space in a stylish way. The cool undertones of the shade that House of Jade Interiors chose to go with are simply flawless.
15. Don’t forget the fireplace.
So we've covered the walls and the built-ins, but what about the fireplace? We're all for brick or tile to beautify a hearth, but there's something about the moodiness of this firebox by Clark + Aldine. The rich shade of gray dials up the drama.
16. Consider greige.
Yes, greige is a trend that's going strong and has been for a few years now. It's a warm neutral that's not quite beige and not quite gray — basically, this shade is a no-brainer in any living space.
17. Play with patterns.
One of the many wonderful things about gray walls, especially in a living room, is that you can go to town with patterned throw pillows and prints throughout. A leopard print pillow? And a leopard print box? You can do it all in a gray living room, using this space by A Glass of Bovino as inspiration.
18. Go with a gray family room.
Although soft neutral colors and traditional hues tend to find their place in formal settings, don't shy away from using them in casual family rooms, too. Sunny Circle Studio has the right idea, pairing a light gray wall color and sectional with an area rug boasting fun stripes and a bold shade of blue to match the kitchen island.
19. Top off with some crown molding.
To bring some additional visual interest to your gray living room walls, consider topping them off with some old-school crown molding. Swathed in white like the ceiling, the decorative detail brings a regal feeling to this design by Thou Swell.
20. Welcome gray wainscoting.
If you don't want to go full-on gray from floor-to-ceiling in the living room, you can always start small with board and batten wall paneling instead. It's a chic and sophisticated look in this traditional makeover by Deeply Southern Home.