Color Trends 2012 – Shades of Gray That "Wow!"

Benjamin Moore's Shades of Gray Color Palette - image from Benjamin Moore's website

Everyone encounters the jagged edge of some stereotype in the course of living. Color stereotypes, while not as harmful as some of their fellows are conveyers of misinformation that place unnecessary limits on potential and results. Like Pavlov’s Cocker Spaniels, people tend to imprint a negative impression or single experience subconsciously – like gray is dull, or bleak.

BM Shades of Gray press image - copyright Benjamin Moore Paints

Gray is actually your best ally in your tool box of neutral tones. I far prefer it to beige or khaki neutrals because like tofu or onions in cooking its chameleon-like properties allow it to both flatter and become whatever it is placed beside. This is no accident – it’s because gray is not simply a combo of black and white. Gray in thousands of variations is rendered by mixing two complimentary colors (those at opposite positions on the color wheel) of identical hue (intensity, or brightness) together in equal proportion. Yes, opposites attract! Greys from this Benjamin Moore pallet can be used in quiet and calming combination with one another, as shown above or below…

A charcoal velvet Chesterfield sofa shimmers dramatically yet regally against patina and wall color very much like BM CSP- 9

Click on either image for Pillow inspiration! Hit back to return.




…and the simple addition of pillows or lighting take a gray room from striking to something personal, defining the finished style of an already great space as playful, formal, eclectic, architectural – or any style that puts the YOU in your home.

For the reasons described, gray plays well in the sandbox with ANY other color, and supports absolutely any genre of style. The only other color that I can think of that crosses all boundaries of style is white – but grays do the job with almost infinite dimension and versatility:

warm gray modern living room Ell Decor

Gray blue, mixing sonorously with a blue parent color and the addition of a red accent in a moody traditional space with a French Country feel.

A neutral modern traditional living room - Elle Decor (?)

A modern living room in shades of gray - image from Apartment Therapy

There are a few time-tested tricks of the trade that designers use consistently achieve sonorous design results using grays, or neutrals in general:

neutral selections from

Throw Pillows –  change a neutral space completely. You can inject flow with material types, fun with pattern, energy with bold pops of color, formality and chic using metallics and reinforcing a monochromatic pallet….and this is another whole article! Find the ones that suit your style at:

Lighting with texture from

Lighting – Lighting adds dimension, visibility, texture, and reinforces a themed or specific style of decor. Stop by for some ideas!

An Amy Butler Rug and Merben Throw from

Throws and Area Rugs are textile accents that soften and create color opportunity, no matter how bright or subtle your design goals may be.

Don’t forget about art and photography. Photos made into wall murals or framed in an art wall in black and white or sepia reinforce a neutral theme, and honor the people who enjoy the space you live in. Try a gray room!