Decorating with grey looks modern and fresh, and it goes with every other colour on the wheel. It can be dark and dramatic, or pale and Nordic. But grey is one of the most difficult colours to get right. Get it wrong and a room will be cold and dark, possibly even energy-sapping. Get it right, however, and your home will look chic, sophisticated and modern.

So how do you go about choosing the perfect paint? In Shades of Grey, Kate Watson-Smyth helps you find exactly the right shade for your space.

1. A classic sofa will instantly look more modern when set against a dark grey wall, and a pot of paint is a much more affordable update than new furniture.

2. A grey concrete floor could look stark and cold, but paired with rustic woods and layered textiles, it creates a comfortable and inviting space. Try Benjamin Moore’s Ally’s Earring, inspired  by an antique pearl, for a soft grey shade that won’t be cold and which will soften industrial pieces.

3. Go as dark as you dare for maximum impact. In this room, the pops of teal and turquoise lighten the room and the cowhide chair brings warmth to what might otherwise be an opporessive space. Always include some natural wood in a scheme, whatever shade of grey you’re using.

4. Painting the cupboards and shelves, as well as the wall behind them, in the same uniform shade of grey means the objects on them really stand out, almost like a work of art. Putting everything behind doors would create a sleek, modern kitchen that is entirely different to this one.

5. This room is painted in Manor House Grey by Farrow & Ball and is what the company refers to as a ‘definite’ grey, meaning it always looks grey in all lights. It’s a strong colour that works well in homes with clean lines and strong architectural features.

6. Another example of how grey works really well with one other dominant colour – in this case red. While black and white and red is a classic combination, it’s not one that is particularly relaxing. Swapping the white for a delicate shade of grey is easier to live with and more restful.


This is an edited extract from Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth published by RPS $49.99 and is available in stores nationally.