Choosing The Right Shade Of Grey Paint

It is the most fashionable paint colour of the moment and, if my blog analysis is to be believed, the most commonly researched shade on the colour wheel. But grey can be hard to get right and does need a bit of careful planning as our cool Northern light can make some grey tones too icy and flat.

This house in Cornwall owned by the photographer Paul Massey is painted in Cornforth White by Farrow and Ball
Hope House in Cornwall owned by the photographer Paul Massey is painted in Cornforth White

If the comments and questions on previous posts are anything to go by, many of you are struggling with choosing the right shade of grey paint for your north, or east, or south-facing rooms. So Mad About The House is here to help. And by that I mean, I have asked some experts for their opinion.

The Melbourne home of Fiona Richardson and family has dark grey walls and vintage chair
The Melbourne home of Fiona Richardson and family

A spokeswoman for Fired Earth says: “Grey is one of the most on trend and flattering colours for the home. It provides a neutral backdrop whilst injecting character into a room. “The spectrum of greys on the market is now vast with most of the Posh paint brands offering many tones of grey – from dark battleship greys to the merest whisper.”

Pier Point from Fired Earth is a mid-grey colour that works brilliant with antique furniture
Pier Point from Fired Earth is a mid-grey colour that works brilliant with antique furniture

For those of you who have been wrestling with the various shades of Farrow & Ball, here’s what they have to say on the subject.


Rooms that face north are the most difficult to decorate – especially if you are trying to create light and space.  Sometimes it is better not to fight nature in a dark room – instead work with it, and use strong dark colours. However if you want to use lighter tones avoid anything with a green or grey base in a north facing room.

Dark grey walls will make for a dramatic and cosy space, add reclaimed floorboards for maximum impact.
Dark grey walls will make for a dramatic and cosy space, add reclaimed floorboards for maximum impact.

Rosie Stirret, of Farrow & Ball, says:”Opt for yellow based colours and creamy neutrals to bounce as much light around as possible. Strong grey Down Pipe is also popular, much used as an accent colour we’re seeing a growing trend for this rich shade to be used as the ‘new neutral’ on walls in a space, the perfect backdrop for flashes of pinks, yellow and oranges.

Dark grey walls make for a dramatic and cosy space and will make the artwork pop. image by Graham Atkins Hughes
Dark grey walls make for a dramatic and cosy space and will make the artwork pop. image by Graham Atkins Hughes

If you don’t want to go that dark then, Farrow & Ball suggest using colours with a yellow base which will make for a warmer grey. “Off-White No.3 is a versatile grey which takes on the properties of the colours around it. Shaded White No.201 is a more true grey and Elephant’s Breath No.229 has the most contemporary feel, with a purple undertone.”

farrow and ball elephants breath can be slightly beige in a south-facing room and more grey in the blue light of a north-facing room
farrow and ball elephants breath can be slightly beige in a south-facing room and more grey in the blue light of a north-facing room

“Try Pavilion Gray No.242 and Lamp Room Gray No.88 for a Swedish, Gustavian look. Cool greys such as Cornforth White No.228 and Blackened No.2011 are particularly good with stainless steel and can be used to great effect in kitchens.” But are best in a south-facing kitchen. I have stainless steel worktops in a north-facing kitchen and Cornforth White was a little chilly in there. Having said that if I had wooden worktops and softer lighting that would have warmed it up a lot; grey is very easily influenced. I also had Pavilion Grey in a south-facing bedroom for a while and it was delicious – but give it lots of warm natural wood to sit with. My default white is Wimborne White which I have all over my house in north and south-facing rooms and which I first used when we moved in in 2010 and is still there in 2021 with no plans to change it.

little greene grey teal is the perfect modern grey for a contemporary bathroom
little greene grey teal is the perfect modern grey for a contemporary bathroom

A spokeswoman for Zoffany said: “For North facing rooms, you should choose a warmer grey – less blue based such as Zoffany Smoke or Harbour grey. Our Paris grey is also one that we use over and over again as it is very versatile and seems to adapt to the light in the room. The darker greys like Storm tend to feel warmer as they reflect the light less.” But, she added, for a more contemporary look try the cooler greys such as Glacier and Silver.


South facing rooms are a joy to decorate because the quality of light allows one to use both warm and cool colours. All colours will look good. In order to maximise the feeling of light it is best to use a less coloured palette – pale tones for a light and airy space. Warm greys like Elephant’s Breath and Skimming Stones are very popular as they are easier to live with than the more definite greys. But dark greys will work really well too as they are great under electric light and, because the light will be streaming in, the room won’t be too dark.

moles breath by farrow and ballis really dramatic when you paint the picture rail and skirting boards to match
moles breath by farrow and ball is really dramatic when you paint the picture rail and skirting boards to match


The light in east facing rooms can appear to be a little blue so it is best to work with this and choose greens or blues. Blue-green greys are also growing in popularity; French Gray is one of our key colours.  It’s underlying organic tone makes it perfect for both interior and exterior decorating.

french grey by farrow and ball can be beige in some lights but works well in a traditional setting
french grey by farrow and ball can be beige in some lights but works well in a traditional setting


Obviously white walls are natural light reflectors and will flatter any colour of furnishing – this is particularly true in west facing rooms where white will enhance both natural and artificial light and give you a wonderful airy feeling. Wimborne White and even the greyer neutrals like Slipper Satin should retain a feeling of light – although the colour will change from morning to night – cooler earlier and warmer later.

antimony by fired earth is a perfect mid-grey
antimony by fired earth is a perfect mid-grey

Back to Fired Earth who offer the following advice: “For North and West-facing rooms we would advise choosing a grey with just the slightest hint of beige such as Pier Point or Keychain, both of which are made up of pigments which draw in the light and warm up as the evening draws in, with the introduction of artificial lighting turning the grey tones from cold to cosy.

modernist white from fired earth looks great when contrasted with a dark skirting board instead of the more traditional white
modernist white from fired earth

“East and South facing rooms can get away with slightly more blue toned grey paints. However it is important to bear in mind that the UK tends to have cooler light so layering up tonal greys is another useful way of making a room not look too cool and clinical. By laying up tones such as Fired Earth’s Peace and Quiet and Modernist White you can use the lighter paint to bounce some light around the room. We would suggest keeping your wood work just off white by using a Eggshell such as Fired Earth’s Silica or Aunty Maud to highlight.”

dusted moss by dulux at is the perfect pale grey that won't look cold
dusted moss by dulux at

Finally I asked Dulux for their advice and this is what Marianne Shillingford, the Creative Director, had to say:  “A higher saturation of grey in colours gives them a mellow appearance. Have a look at Polished Pebble, Chic Shadow, Misty Mountain and Urban Obsession as well as the wide selection in the ‘Calm Neutrals’ section of the Dulux colour unit at your local DIY superstore.”

I hope this has helped a little. Remember everyone’s computer will show colours differently so you will still have to use sample pots but perhaps this will narrow down the choices a little. And finally, grey is so on trend that we have had to acquire a grey kitten. This is Enid.

Enid at eight weeks old
Enid at eight weeks old

And if you want to know more you can pre-order my book Shades of Grey which is due out on 11 February 2016. Lots more information, lots more experts, lots more advice and help


Tags : choosing paintFarrow & Ballgrey paintgrey walls
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi Kate, what a fabulous website and great article! I am redecorating our north facing kitchen, stairway and landing in our cottage built in 1669. The kitchen is country style with oak work tops, a central island, a cream rage style cooker, stone floor with brown/grey tones and dark wooden ceiling beams. The kitchen is rather dark and the ceiling is also quite low, but the stairs and landing are very light. I want to brighten the room up but I love grey. I’m looking for something fresh and warm but not beige! I have been advised to paint the cabinets and walls the same colour to make the room look bigger, would you agree? Or would 2 shades work better? I have tested F&B cornforth white which I think was maybe too cold, but I liked the darker shade of purbeck stone. Do you think skimming stone would be too beige? I thought about using F&B strong white for the wall colour but am really struggling to find the right grey. I’d be so greatful for any advice.

  2. Hi Kate. This is so helpful thanks. I have recently moved into a Victorian Terraced house and looking for a grey that will run all the way from the hall up the stairs and onto the corridor but also run to the back of the house downstairs which is where our kitchen is. The hall is narrow but south facing and the kitchen is North facing with cream units. I could go for something a little different in there potentially but it is open from the hall (just an open archway separating them). Would really appreciate your advice. I’ve been thinking of Dulux Chic Shadow or F&B Cornforth White but am a little confused given the multiple orientations and spaces.

    1. I would try a tester of both really. I think it’s the only way to tell. And make sure you paint the tester round the corners so you can see what it does at different angles. Cornforth white is paler but will reflect in the corners to be darker and might be slightly safer. Cornforth didn’t work in my north=facing kitchen but I had stainless steel worktops and it bounced off that and was cold whereas it might prefer the cream to play with. Sadly there is no substitute for a tester pot when it comes to grey.

    2. Sandie – what have you decided to do? We have the same dilemma – Victorian terrace, south facing hall/stairs, would like to carry the same grey up the stairs and also through the north facing back of the house to the kitchen which has white units, wooden bench tops and a grey floor (concrete) and also sits open from the hall and the back entrance to the house.
      I tried a Chic Shadow sample pot today but not convinced and don’t know whether to go for a warmer grey with browner tones (they don’t immediately appeal) or a cooler grey which will feel cold in the north facing kitchen.

  3. Hi Kate, I’m repainting my kitchen cupboards (faces south-west) and I’ve done the wall mounted cabinets and shelves Pale Mortlake Cream (Craig & Rose) with the below-the counter- cupboards Farrow & Ball French Grey. I do like the grey but wondered if you knew of a grey shade slightly darker which might suit? I think the French Grey shade looks good with the cream as it has a greeniness about it in both the natural light and with the lighting at night. I don’t want anything cold and I tend to avoid blue undertones with colours as a rule. The worktop is quite a pale mottled neutral colour and the tiles are white so its very bright and light in the kitchen apart from the terracotta floor and I’ve just bought a new orange kettle! Your thoughts would be appreciated. Many thanks Barbara

    1. Hi Barbara, you could try the new F&B Worsted – it’s a lovely colour – darker than French Grey and paler than Downpipe. See what you think. Otherwise Lamp Room Grey might work but of course they will both react differently with the existing cream and light in the room. Good luck XK

  4. Hi Kate!
    Great article, I have a question. We want to paint my whole flat pale grey. Every room with the same paint. Do you think it would be okay? Or should I paint the room with less natural lights with darker grey? Or do you think it is a good idea for example for plaint the living room pale grey but one of the walls with darker grey?
    Thank you for your answer!
    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Balage, I think it will look great if you do everything – skirting boards, ceilings and doors because while it will give a unified look it will also look different in every room. If you have a dark room and want to go darker then you should go dark on all four walls rather than just one. The other point about using the same shade throughout is that you will be tonally on point so there’s no risk of the shades of grey clashing which can happen if you have one that is blue-based and one that is yellow-based. It will look great. XK

    1. Hi Kate,
      We are currently working through our house redecorating in ‘Shades of Grey’. We have come to the living room (SW facing) and have decided on Little Greene French Grey for the walls with the fire surround in F&B Railings. This is worrying me in itself as I am scared that it is all going to look too dark!! However my dilemma is to do with the skirting, architrave around the door, coving and picture rail – should I paint them all straight up in French Grey or in a complementary ‘white’?? We have gone for this look in the hallway in Pavilion Grey and I think it is successful but I am worried that it will all look too dark using this technique in the living room. Thanks in advance for any advice!!

      1. Hi Charlie, I don’t think French grey will be too dark in a room facing SW. I have to say I would be tempted to do the woodwork also in French Grey as this blurs the edges. If you do it in white you will draw attention to the edges and different angles and risk dividing the room up so it will look smaller. You could stop at the picture rail and go white from there up and over the ceiling – that will blur the boundary between the ceiling at the wall and help it recede a little and will also bring in some white for the French Grey to bounce off. Does that make sense? In short; French Grey skirtings, wall, picture rail and stop. White: over the picture rail and the ceiling. Oh and the back of the door so that it will disappear when the door is close. Come back to me if that doesn’t make sense.

  5. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for the great article and website! I’m really struggling to find the right grey for our hallway. I think I’m on my 12th color sample already! Our hall is very long and has a real mix of light – natural light near the front door, bright yellowish artificial light at the other end, and some very dark corners. Quite a challenge!

    All the greys I’ve tried look OK in one or two areas of the hall but none work in all the varied light conditions. In my minds eye I want a very very pale, cool grey (I don’t worry that it might look too icy or too cold), but haven’t been able to crack it.

    Any suggestions?!


    1. You could try Gauze by Little Greene, which is the only pure grey in their palette, by which I mean made only from black and white with no red or blue added to warm it up. It is pale and cool and might work. The grey card from Little Greene works from left to right starting with cool colours and working towards warm so you should probably look at that. Otherwise consider the Dulux card (available from Wickes) which has colours such as Polished Pebble, Frosted Steel and Chic Shadow, which may work for you. As ever, it is hard to advise without seeing the space but I hope these suggestions might help.

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I appreciate it’s difficult to advise without seeing the space, so I’m grateful for the suggestions. Many thanks!

  6. Hi Kate…. Great site. I was wondering if you could offer some advice. I have a very very low ceiling(6 foot 3) basement(house is on a hill) that has a window out onto a south facing garden. I’m looking for a bit of a man cave/home office and love greys but am concerned it could look a bit claustrophobic. My wife would like it all white but I’d like at the very least a slight grey shade….any suggestions?

    1. HI Darren, so first things first – Step away from the white paint. It is very tempting to paint a small dark room white but I’m afraid you will end up with exactly that – a small dark room painted white. Basically white needs natural light to bounce off to create a lightening effect, without that it will just create a rather drab effect. You are much better with a shade of grey. Now, given that it is a man cave, that it is a low ceilinged basement why not embrace a wonderful dark grey? Dark grey looks great in electric light – which I’m assuming this room needs most, if not all, of the time. It will make any pictures you hang on the wall look amazing and it will be cosy and dramatic. sometimes you have to just embrace what the builder (and the mortgage broker) gave you and that is a small dark room that you are going to make small, dark and dramatic. Try Farrow & Ball Down Pipe, Dulux Night Jewels 2 or Little Greene Lead. Or, I have just discovered Wickes Paint look at Urban Obsession. Let me know how you get on.

  7. I have just discovered your site and its great. Your house is beautiful. I am currently renovating my entire house and I am really struggling with a colour scheme for the rooms and hallway. It is 2 up 2 down terrace with high ceilings the rooms at the back are north facing and do not get a lot of natural light in the autumn winter months I live in England. Please can you offer any advice and help as I am getting very anxious with the delay and the lack of progress. I would like a simple contemporary elegant look . I love grey neutrals blue and green. I have a complete blank canvas as all the carpets and furniture in the house will be replaced .

    1. If you are worried about the lack of natural light then don’t paint it white as white needs natural light to bounce off and in a space without it, white will just appear drab. You should consider a pale grey – try dusted moss by Dulux or French Grey by Little Greene. If you want more detailed advice then I do run a consultancy service

  8. Hi Kate
    I love your website and enjoyed reading through your ideas. I am in a bit of a pickle. I am currently redecorating my living room. I cannot decide whether to chose shaded white or skimming stone for my walls. I am going to use white on ceiling and skirting boards. My fireplace is cream, my large mirror is gold. I like grey colours but of course I need a scheme that will flow with the room. My living room is a small to medium size and I have a modest amount of light during the day. (I live in Ireland) I was hoping that you could steer me in the right direction. Shaded white looks almost green to me and I feel that skimming stone might be too cold alongside my fireplace. My new sofa is grey but it’s warm. I like contemporary style. Please help!!

    1. Hi Paula

      I’m so sorry it took so long to reply, things have been hectic. It’s so hard with these Farrow and Ball colours – I have just spent an hour in a friend’s kitchen because she wanted Dimpse but in her room it was really blue and we ended up with Shaded White as the best grey white option. But it may well look green in your house and if it does then it’s probably not right. Blackened is a good one but may be cold – you would have to try it. Another option is slipper satin which is warm. Otherwise look at Little Greene – ceviche might be a good option. The alternative is to go dark which is always much easier. You could try Pavilion grey which is a lovely warm mid grey – check with your sofa of course. It’s very difficult without seeing the room. The one thing about grey is that if it looks cold you can warm it up with the cream and gold elsewhere in the room. Also you should consider Dusted Moss by Dulux – that is a lovely warm pale grey – no 2 if memory serves me right. You can always use Shaded White on the woodwork which will be a little less stark than white. Hope that helps, Kate

      1. Thank you Kate. Unfortunately I went along with shaded white before Christmas and it is too green in my living room by day. I quite like it at night but I feel I need to change it. I will look at the colours you recommended and hopefully I will get it right the second time
        Thanks again!

        1. Oh I’m so sorry I didn’t reply sooner. Is the room fully furnished? You can counteract paint colours – particularly the pale grey and whites – by changing the colours around them. New cushion covers or a different lampshade. Make sure your lightbulbs are warm (yellow) white and perhaps bring in a rug from another room. All those things can make a difference – you can experiment with pieces from elsewhere in the house until you find the right one. That might be easier than repainting? It is a greeny-grey colour – perhaps, if you like green, you can embrace it and bring in some soft green accessories which should work well with your grey sofa and the gold mirror? I have no idea what your room is like so am completely shooting in the dark here! I hope you can sort it out though. XK

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  10. Hi Kate, I have painted Chic Shadow in my living room, dining and hallway 4 years ago. Quite a number of people have said it is cold. We live in a country side not facing any neighbours. I do like it. I have black leather L-shaped sofa in the living room, painted ebony black on fire wall, i want to make it look dramantic, could you give me some ideas. my home looks more monochrome theme. I do have black & white paintings in the living room. One above the fireplace.

    1. Hi, I have to say it sounds pretty dramatic already. Black and white is always strong. You could warm it up a little with some wood- a vintage wooden coffee table, or some shelves which won’t take away from the drama but will take away the cold feeling. You could also consider a tan leather chair perhaps. If you wanted to add more drama think of adding neon orange cushions, or just burnt orange. That will create a strong look. Finally you should always have something metallic to bounce the light around – consider a large gold framed mirror over the fireplace or on the wall opposite. Make sure you have lots of layered lighting. Wall lights to highlight a favourite item – or piece of furniture, floor and table lamps for atmosphere and get a really showstopping pendant light that looks good on as well as off.

  11. Have read and re-read this fabulous post – but still struggling to decide on which grey for my East facing lounge room. I have a caramel coloured velvet sofa (very similar to the colour of leather seating on your latest pin) which is opposite the lounge window. Adjacent to this and facing you as you walk in the room is the wall with a fireplace on which I have a sample of elephant breath,which I do like but worried it may look dark when covering the entire wall. I also need a wallpaper on the sofa wall to complement the paint. (Has to be wall paper as huge crack which won’t go away!) Although the room gets morning light, we don’t normally get to use it until the evening and I want a warm, cosy but contemporary feel. What do you think?

    1. Hi Mel, you don’t say where you are so it’s hard to know about the light. Elephant’s breath can be good in an east-facing room as it will warm up the blue light and won’t look cold. It’s not that dark but I see what you mean. In this case I think you either have to go boldly and deliberately dark or stick with a pale shade if you want the room to stay light. A mid colour – such as EB may be too dark to keep the room light and too pale to be dramatically dark, if you see what I mean. Why don’t you go with pale walls and then find a dramatic wallpaper – perhaps a textured one that looks like tweed or a trompe l’oeil that looks like velvet. French Grey by Little Greene is a warm yet pale grey that might work for you or Dulux polished pebble. See what you think of those, Kate

  12. Hi Kate! Love your article and all the great grey paint examples! I’m sure it’s difficult for you to answer this when you can’t see a picture of the room; but what do you suggest for a living room in the corner of a home that has walls of windows facing north and east?

    1. Well it depends if you want to go dark or light. If you prefer a light grey then make sure it is a warm shade with some beige in it and not too blue or that will be cold. If you get the Little Greene grey chart it goes from cold to warm across the page so you can easily tell what you are looking for. You can them compare with other makes when you have found one you like. I’m afraid with the paler shades of grey you have to use tester pots as it will depend on what else is in the room. For example, a red sofa will warm up a cold grey – might give it a lilac tinge, as will a yellow one. But a grey sofa and pale floor might bring out the cooler elements of the colour you choose. Having said that if you fall in love with a cool grey, you can warm it up with soft furnishings, rugs and wood to give it something to bounce off.

  13. Please can you help me with a windowless bathroom, it has taupe tiles on one and a half walls, with a grey vein. I thought I would match the grey ! All of the col,ours I have tried have been too dark, or too blue. I would like a pale grey grey to keep the room light but which one ? Can you help ?

    1. I can’t really match a grey for you without seeing it as, of all the colours, grey is the one that changes so much depending on what you put next to it. Have you tried Elephant’s Breath by Farrow and Ball – it has yellowy undertones and might work well next to the taupe tiles. When it comes to matching it’s probably a question of trial and error. Otherwise, go for a different colour altogether – a soft chalky white for example.

    2. Jean, I would go to b and q and ask for a valsper paint who will colour match for you, they should be able to get a pale grey, if you have a spare tile that would be easy to do

  14. Hi, Can you help me find the grey to match a John Lewis wallpaper Damask colour Smoke? I am struggling to find anything!!!! i am papering one wall of my lounge and need the other walls painting. It is a south east room with a very large window but is shady from large hedge next to window.

    thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Danielle, I’m afraid that without seeing how the light falls in your room and changes during the day it will be impossible for me to give you a good match. Even how it looks on my computer might be very different to how it looks in real life. Try Dulux Dusted Moss or perhaps Farrow and Ball Elephant’s Breath. They may be way off but that looks like a good starting point from my computer. Sorry I can’t be of more help but to match paints you really need to be there! Good luck, Kate

  15. Can you help me find a nice silvery grey for my windowless bathroom? The bottom four feet of all walls is benj. Moore cloud white plus all fixtures are white too. Taps, mirror and door handles are silver. Thank.

    1. I’m sorry for not replying sooner but I think you are in the US and I wasn’t sure what paint you could get over there so I thought I would stick with Benjamin Moore which would make it easier for you. What about Gray Owl? It’s a gorgeous colour but perhaps not enough of a contrast with the bottom of the walls – I might do the whole room in this. Or try Silver Mist which will be more of a contrast – it’s a little greenier gray. I hope one of these will work.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions from this Canadian gal. I will look for those paint chips. GT

      2. Hi Kate, I could do with some advice please, our kitchen is handmade solid wood (pine) freestanding units, about two years ago I painted them in annie sloan chalk paint (old ochre) I waxed them as the final result, they were fine but it may be that we have a very untidy house with two dogs and a cat called Jellybean (although I love Enid), jellybean in particular loves to rub up against the sides of units and so they are a lovely dirty shade now! so I want to remove the chalk paint, im not sure how because I have so many allergies I cannot use a chemical stripper so I was hoping that I would use turps to remove the wax first. I have selected two different eggshell paints, one is ‘scree’ intelligent eggshell (little greene) and the other is the colour ‘smoke’ by Neptune. im not sure which brand to go with or what to do to get off the wax. any advice much appreciated.

        1. hi kate, thanks for the reply above, in the end have had to go the chemical route to get the wax and paint off, now the decision between colours, I want to use a grey that has a warmth to it but not too dark as this is an old cottage and although extended the old part of the cottage is quite dark. the worktops in the kitchen are teak and the tiles on the floor are a teratine (creamish with tiny veins of taupe/grey, but overall creamish colour). anyway we are between two paint manufacturers colortrend a really good irish paint manufacturer and their colour jet grey (satinwood because their eggshell only comes in historic colours) and a similar colour from little greene in their intelligent eggshell. so here is my question I have been looking at little greene paint card but I cant really find what im looking for, any advice for a grey that goes with teak, and which would you advise for wear and tear (house with two dogs, cat and two gardening mad humans!) satinwood or eggshell (I also like the eco and the fact that little greene eggshell uses vegetable oil). thanks as always for help, your blog is my go to for all things home 🙂

  16. I will be painting my west facing living room soon and am in love with wimborne white. The only problem is that it’s not sold anywhere near me and is a bit pricey. Are there any close alternatives to this paint colour that you know of? (Behr or Benjamin Moore, etc?) Thank you in advance! 🙂

    1. Hi Tasha, I’m afraid I don’t have a Benjamin Moore chat as it’s not sold in the UK. I can only go by the paint charts online which may not be accurate on my computer. However, I would suggest either China White, Seashell or White Dove. Do let us know how you get on as I imagine many other people are looking for a soft chalky white too.

      1. Hi Kate,

        Thank you so much for the suggestions. I will definitely check them out and let you know how I go 🙂

  17. Any recommendations for a silvery grey bedroom paint.

    We have tried Cornflower white ( Dulux) – a little too blue and several Homebase shades. None look silvery in tone, just heavy and dead looking.

    I have had a beautiful silvery grey fabrc headboard made with matching curtains, a window seat cushion made in Voyage Maison Glendale Birch ( grey and white), furniture is white and I am thinking about pale primrose yellow accents, though can’t source any cushions etc in this combination. I am getting desperate about not being able to find the right grey paint. Feeling like Goldilocks- one too dark, one too blue, one too dull etc. Thank you in anticipation.

    1. Hi Liz, you don’t say which direction your room faces and that is key when choosing grey paint, particularly a pale shade. Dark grey will work in any direction but the paler shades can look cold if they have a blue base when in a north-facing room. If you go to the Zoffany home page you will see a grey room with yellow accents as the slide show goes past (the first image). Zoffany is great paint – have a look at Flint or Storm. If you want very pale then Polar bear might work. As for cushions I was in Westelm the other day and there were lots of yellow and grey cushions. Here is one and there is another and there are lots more you could look at depending on the colour of paint you decide to go with. Or course you could always take a sample of the headboard to Dulux and get them to match it for you. A final word on cushions – if the paint is pale then you could go dark with the accessories. This cushion might look amazing depending on the other colours. I hope this helps. Do let us know which paint you end up choosing – it’s always good to know. Regards Kate

  18. Great article. Any tips on choosing curtains to fit in with a grey scheme? You mention that you are not a fan, and I agree, I like simple white blinds. However, living in a draughty Scottish house (on a busy road), curtains are a must. Hard to get them to look right though and not too hotel-style, or too fussy.

    Thanks, Lottie

    1. Hi Lottie, I agree that curtains are good for warmth. Keep them as simple as possible and don’t have any of those swags, pelmets or tie backs. The joy of a grey scheme is that you can have pretty much any colour as it’s such a great neutral – old gold, burnt orange, blush pink or neon pink, shades of green can be great with grey as can some blues although beware a cold look. What colour is your sofa? Or your favourite picture? Perhaps your favourite top? You could try a shade of Scottish heather – after all it goes with the grey sky when you look out of the window …. Come back if you want any more advice, Kate x

  19. Hi, I have painted all of the downstairs in farrow and ball’s slipper satin and I’m thrilled with the outcome. Unfortunately, the paint has not survived my utility room and the tumble dryer. It has left condensation streaks in the paint, despite me selecting the harder wearing F&B finish.
    Could you tell me if there are any other brands that provide a colour as similar to Slipper Satin as possible, but with a more robust finish to moist rooms?
    Thanks so much

  20. Hello,

    I was hoping you might be able to advise me.

    I’m a painter, and am in the process of extending my studio. The floorboards in the existing space are painted with a mid/darkish grey made by International (which I think is polyurethane), and the additional space just has undercoated boards. I want to paint the whole floorspace in a lighter grey – and quick-drying – but am struggling to find a suitable paint.

    Polyurethane paints I’ve found all seem to come in very limited colours (and often only viewable online, so tricky to be sure about), and I’m not sure whether an acrylic-based one would be sensible to use? I’m trying to avoid oil-based because of the drying times involved.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks a lot,


    1. Painting floors is such a business isn’t it! The problem is that the oil-based ones are very hard wearing so if you can possibly cope with the drying times they may be better for a working environment. On the other hand, companies like Dulux claim their floor paint dries in three hours although they advise 48 hours before putting the furniture back. Their Goose Down is a lovely paler grey. I have used Farrow & Ball floorpaint in my own home and it dries quickly and has no oil but it does need several coats to build up a good solid layer. I hope this helps, Kate

  21. Hi there,

    My partner and I moved into our flat a year ago. The flat was in desperate need of some TLC but we have been working on it from day one, and it is slowly turning into a home 🙂 We have just had the 30 year old wallpaper removed in our lounge, and have had to have it plastered. We are going for a grey scheme and at the moment we have a dark grey weaved carpet and will be adding a wood feature wall very soon. We want to paint the rest of the walls in a very pale grey, so pale that you can only tell it is grey by comparing it to the white skirting board. So far we have used 12 samples all from different companies, including Farrow and Ball, Dulux, Laura Ashley and Crown, but unfortunately we have not yet found the right colour. All of them seem to be too blue, too dark, or look too ‘pastel girly’, as I want quite an industrial feel, the only thing is we are running out of time to pick a paint as we need to decide before November 10th. I quite like the look of the Cornforth White shown in one of your images above, as well as the paint used in the 2nd image you have used ‘grey living room by Paul Massey’ and the paint used in the decor image. I was just wondering if you could give me some ideas on what we could use or what particular tone we need to look out for?

    I hope that you can help,

    Kind regards

    1. I’m so sorry I missed this deadline Ashleigh as I was away. I can only apologise and I hope you found a good colour. Cornforth is nice and was the Paul Massey colour but if you have already tried the Farrow and Ball it probably wasn’t for you. If you still haven’t made a decision then do come back to me. Kate

      1. Hi Kate,

        That is not a problem at all! 🙂 we ended up falling in love with a colour called Ammonite from farrow and ball. It looks great in our lounge and has made the room look bigger. Your blog definitely helped. Thank you!!

        Kind regards

        1. Hi Ashleigh and Kate! I’ve just read all these great posts. I’ve just chosen Ammonite for my son’s room. We’ve only done one wall but it looks subtle – a pale warm grey. Does it look remotely grey on your walls?! Only amongst all the grey colours we’ve also looked at, by contrast it looks more dirty white. I’m thinking of painting our hallway landing and stairs the same colour but husband thinks it’s not dark enough! I also love Purbeck Stone but that feels v. dark. Our home is wonderfully bright everywhere with large windows in each room but the hallway, landing and stairs is dark by comparison. We’ve got a lot of old wood (pine) in the house – almost chalet’esque so would LOVE your advice of a warm grey tone to go with dark wooden floorboards and white ceilings. A friend has said French Grey by The Little Greene Co. is a perfect all rounder but it looks fairly dark on a meter sq! Thank you thank you. Sarah

          1. Hi Sarah

            French Grey is a good all rounder that’s true. The thing about halls and stairs is that 1) colours will come up darker because there are lots of angles and corners for it to reflect off and onto itself so you might find that Ammonite does work well there as it will get darker. It seems like you are a bit torn between wanting it to be light – or not make the space dark – and wanting a darker colour, that’s not too dark. Which, let’s be honest, makes it hard for me to guide you! The one other thing I will say that is you can afford to go dark on halls and stairs because a) you don’t linger there, you just pass through so you can afford to be dramatic and daring and go a little bit darker than you might in a room where you stay for hours at a time, b) if you have a dark hall and stairs and the doors are open to the other room then their light spills out of their doors and creates more light and also by contrast those rooms appear lighter when you go into the them from the darker space outside. Having said all that ammonite is quite subtle and can look yellower in some lights, if you’re not sure about Purbeck Stone then try Cornforth White or perhaps Little Greene Inox. It’s hard to tell without seeing them on the wall or the space but hopefully this has given you a few guidelines. The other thing is that the wood, which is a warm tone will reflect of the grey and make it more yellow/beige so a bluer grey will work to counteract this. Hence the last two I have suggested.

  22. Hello, I too have been having the grey problem. All the carpets in my house are different shades of grey which, I think blend well each other. We are now attempting to decorate our living room which is large with an extended area which has a large window and two smaller ones. There are also two smaller ones in the main part. My suite is a fairly light mink/taupe colour and I have orangey yew wood furniture. Accessories are white with apricot and green. I have practically settled on F & B’s Skimming Stone which looks very pale/neutral on the samples in some lights but has a definite greener tinge in others, although the description on the back says ‘without the usual yellow or green tones’. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been staring at colours for too long. I have chosen a medium grey carpet, which doesn’t appear to have any tinge of blue or green, to go with the suite and would like a VERY neutral paleish soft, warm grey which would look good with all the above-mentioned shades. I don’t want a pinky grey like the suite because I may have that colour curtains. It has to be quite light because my husband insists on a colour which is a ‘darkish white!’ I have tried Cornish White which looks too blue and really would like to use F & B, which I love. The room faces the back of the house which is facing southeast (I think!) I would be extremely grateful for some ideas. Many thanks, Marlene.

    1. Gosh, so much detail. It’s so tricky to advise when I can’t see but I feel that given the different shades of grey and the fact that the paints will look different depending on the light in each room, as well as the different colour carpets which will reflect on the walls as well. I think, and this may be a dull answer, that you would be better off picking a really chalky warm white which will help all the carpets to stand out in their own right and that way you can be sure that there won’t be any yellow/pink or blue tinges in any of them, which I worry at the moment you might get. If you use Skimming Stone throughout you may find that it’s very yellow in some rooms and blue in others and just fights with a carpet in another. Try Wimborne White which I have used extensively with grey and it works really well with all shades and really brings them out in all their glory.

  23. Amazing blog! struggling with picking a grey for my south facing bedroom and was looking for some inspiration, I wanted to team it with a wallpapered feature wall in maybe the Orla Kiely Linear Stem in Mimosa or something with yellow in it, or the Mr Fox in Silver, what grey do you think would team well with a yellow toned feature wall? Im finding some of the greys too dark but wondered if Elephants Breath would work? or can you suggest something from Dulux? also thought about doing the wookwork in a darker shade of grey but after reading the post I might now leave it white and wait and see!

    1. Hi Kimberley, I’m so sorry for the delay in replying, I have been away. I love the combination of grey and yellow. I think Elephant’s breath might be too yellow next to a yellow if that makes sense – it will lose its greyness next to a yellow. So how about Dulux engraved locket? There are lots of toning greys on the site that would work with it – I think the skirting boards would look great in a dark grey – what about night jewels 1? Of course white always works well but sometimes painting something unexpected is great – look at the eighth picture down on this post with yellow, dark and pale grey. Good luck, Kate

  24. I definitely agree with you. I think, gray is one of the most fashionable and stylish color for a house. It really gives your room a very dramatic look. It just doesn’t get old. You can always add vibrant colors to your room if you wake up one morning and realize that you don’t like the room’s theme anymore. Thanks for sharing those tips.

  25. Thank you for this very useful article!

    We live in a 200 year old farmhouse. In The Netherlands we have the same colder light. I’m in the process of giving our living room and kitchen a warmer and more ‘English’ feeling. The living room has windows on the south, the kitchen on the west. The ceiling is from wood.

    I think about choosing these colours of Farrow & Ball:
    – wall colours: stony ground matte estate emulsion.
    – the long wall opposite of the windows: dauphin matte estate emulsion.
    – woodwork (ceiling, windows, doors): slipper satin, full gloss.

    I’m a little concerned that dauphin might be too dark on a long wall that is already dark. Mouse’s back becomes too grey at night. May be I should lighten the wall with halogen lamps in the ceiling?

    Best regards from The Netherlands,

    1. Hello Cynthia, I’m so sorry for not replying sooner but I have been away. Your paint scheme sounds fabulous. Dauphin might be dark but I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that! I’ve slightly gone off halogen lights at the moment – I think the light is harsh and you run the risk that it will look like you panicked that it was too dark and tried to lighten it up again. Why not use wall lights which will wash a gentle light over the wall and create atmosphere and lighten in a more subtle way at the same time? I hope that helps, regards, Kate

  26. Hi! Great to have stumbled on your sight!

    After living in rented properties for years we finally moved into our lovely family home 2 months ago, and hence we have zero decorating experience because we have never had the chance living in rented houses. And we have a whole house to decorate!

    One thing I do know is I love the colour grey but in the past few weeks have realised the minefield of choosing a suitable grey! We would like to paint the hallway first but feel very bogged down with whether to go strong or pale for the size and aspect of the room, and would really appreciate your advice. Initially we were thinking a soft grey but after reading some of the posts on here some have suggested a bold and dramatic colour for a hallway. It is west facing and has a lot of white cornicing so could probably take a bold grey?

    I have included a picture of our triple aspect living room as this is a room off the hallway and an idea was if we did go for a bold colour in the hallway we could bring it into the living room (on the wall surrounding the fireplace). Do you think that is something that could work?

    Any advice would be really appreciated as we are complete decorative novices!!

    1. Hi Carrie, I’m sorry not to have replied sooner but I have been away. Grey is indeed a difficult colour to get right and, in addition to the suggestions made here, I can only suggest buying a lot of tester pots! I would definitely go bold in the hall – it’s a small space that you don’t linger in so you can afford to be dramatic. I can’t load your image so I’m afraid I can’t advise on that. Good greys are mentioned in all these answers on this post. If you would like a more detailed or personal consultation then I do run an advisory service at

      1. Thanks for replying. After reading lots of your articles we decided to go very bold in the hallway with downpipe, but certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to go with that if I hadn’t come across your website. We’re thrilled with it, thanks so much. Your website is fab!

        1. Oh Downpipe is just the best isn’t it! My whole sitting room is painted in it as well as the shelves in the library behind and also the open shelves in the kitchen. I’m so glad the blog helped and I hope your heart sings every time you open your front door.

  27. Hi,
    I only just come across this Blog, I’ve purchased a cafe which is at pres ant green wood and cream walls. I would like to make it more industrial and would like to use grey will this be a good choice.

    1. Hi Amanda, Grey is the perfect choice for the industrial look. Dark grey walls and if there is any brickwork you could paint it white. Throw in some mismatched tables and chairs – metal legs are good, a giant old clock and you’re set.

  28. Dear Kate, Pleasure to stumble upon this blog and read your insightful posts!

    I would really appreciate some of your advice on a shade of grey to complement a modern kitchen with red and white cabinets, flashes of stainless steel and grey worktops – see flickr pictures here…

    Despite being north facing, there’s plenty of light from two large velux ceiling windows which are south facing. Having tried out quite a few grey testers, I’m getting bogged down with whether to go strong or pale for the size and aspect of the room.
    Have tried Farrow & Ball Cornforth White but was scared it may too dusky/dark…Blackened which comes up very blue…..Strong White which seems to be the wimpy option! Along with a number of others that are too solid/one dimensional/concretey if that makes sense. The window frames are also a strong blue colour so trying to complement that as well.
    I’m intending to paint the skirtings/ceiling in an off white colour to complement the grey that is (finally!) chosen, and eventually replace the horrid laminate flooring with some darker wood or possibly a poured resin floor.

    Any advice would be very much appreciated!


    1. Dear Natalie, I’m so glad you like the blog. Your kitchen looks amazing and I think finding the right shade of grey would really set off the red and stainless steel. My experience of using a pale grey in a north-facing room is that it can make it cold and suck out the light so I have to say I would be tempted to go dark and dramatic. You have a lot of white ceiling there so it won’t make it too dark but I would propose painting the wall the ladder shelves and the red bin are on in a really dark colour – I’m going to suggest the usual Farrow & Ball Downpipe, Sanderson Bastille, Dulux Urban or Little Greene lead or scree. Then I would paint the rest of the walls and ceiling in a pale chalky white that’s not too stark. Try F&B wimbourne white. You’ve already got dark window frames and the dark wall will echo this and the ladder shelves will look stunning against the dark wall. Having just noticed that the window is blue – you could go with a dark navy which is about the be the colour of the moment – hague blue is gorgeous. I agree with you about Cornforth white – I did my north facing kitchen in it and it didn’t work at all – it was very draining. I now have my open shelves in downpipe – under a skylight – and it’s not too dark at all. The problem with the concrete colours is that they too can be cold and that’s not what you want in that room. Of course if you’re going to have a white resin floor (amazing) you could do all the walls dark – the rest are only half walls because of the units and doors anyway – which would look fantastic between the pale walls and ceilings… Let me know what you decide. Kate

      1. Thank you, Kate for the suggestions. It really is very kind of you to take the time and I’m rather excited at what you’ve proposed. Like the idea of going for a dark accent wall and agree it would make the shelving pop out as they look a little stranded at the moment! Down Pipe looks great – I just saw it on the pics of your kitchen and it all fits really well, especially with the stainless steel work tops (I may steel that idea too!). Also love the idea of hague blue so will give that a try out as well.

        One question on the skirting colour – would you recommend matching it with the colour on the wall it’s on, or use either the dark or pale throughout to link it up? (or perhaps a shade in between?)

        Thanks again for your advice, it has pulled me out of a grey hole that I couldn’t see beyond! I will keep you posted and let you know how the end result looks.

        Ps. Enid looks adorable, hope she is enjoying the camouflage of your kitchen shelves!

        1. I’m so glad you like the suggestions. I have painted the skirtings, ceilings and windows all in the same colour as the walls but in eggshell. I think they call it the gallery look and it does make spaces look bigger so yes I would recommend that as a rule. However, on the grey wall I would keep it white to match the rest of the walls and ceiling – we have done this in the sitting room which you can see on my consultancy site Mad About Your House and I think that will unify the space with the other walls. The thing is, if you leave the skirting white to match the room and decide afterwards it doesn’t work it’s easy enough to paint it grey. The other way round is obviously trickier. I hope that makes sense. Good luck and keep in touch.

  29. Hi Kate
    I love your post on the use of grey and the images are stunning. I recently revamped my sitting room and painted the walls Cornforth White. It is a south facing room so the colour doesn’t make the room too cold. The photos of the room completed are on my blog (link below):

  30. Hi Kate,

    Your sight is amazing, I would love some advice. I realize you do interiors but I thought you may have an opinion for an exterior pallet. I’m building a home in a beachfront street of a new suburb. I’m getting a modern beach cottage designed. I would love a grey home with white trim and a white colour-bond roof. I’m just having difficulty selecting a grey as there are so many modern white homes in the suburb, I’m just not sure which shade to go with. My husband likes lighter sades. Have you any suggestions?

    Thanks Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah, it’s really tricky just to pick a shade of grey for a building without knowing anything else about your house or your taste. Have you tried Dulux or Farrow & Ball who have lots of great shades in exterior paints. Here is a post on exterior shades of grey that might help.

  31. Hi Kate,
    I’d love your help with my dining room. Currently I have one wall papered with a greeny/yellow & natural Damask pattern & all other walls are cream. I like the paper but the walls are very drab. The flooring is dark wood and I have a large dark wood dining table & large dark wood mirror. I would love to introduce grey, could you recommend a type/shade of grey that would suit the colours already in the room. Many thanks, Kate 🙂

    1. Hi Kate, without seeing the shade of grey in the wallpaper it’s very hard to suggest. I would advise that you don’t go too dark – find a mid grey – Lamp Room by Farrow and Ball or Dulux polished pebble for example. I think you will have to try a few testers to find the right one. Try painting them on large pieces of paper and sticking to the wall with masking tape and move them around as the day/light changes. Let us know what you choose. Kate

  32. Hi Kate
    I have just found your site and love it . I wondered if you could advise me as I am getting so confused with so many greys and have the painter coming in a fortnight to paint my kitchen .
    I have a north west facing kitchen which has original large dark slate floor, the island has a beech work top and the other work surfaces are silestone lagoon. I would like to paint the units dark grey thought about F&B Manor House Gray or Little Greene Paint French Grey but not sure about walls need a light colour, I have lots of samples but nothing looks quite right . Can you suggest colours for cupboards and walls.
    Thanks Elizabeth

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I feel I should always say that without seeing the room and the size of the windows etc, it can be very hard to advise on the correct colours. However, with a dark floor and cupboards, I would suggest pale walls to really make the dark colours and the natural wood pop out. My favourite colour for this is Farrow & Ball wimbourne white which is a lovely chalky white – a bit softer than bright white but without being cream. If you paint the both walls and the cupboards grey, the overall effect will be dark and sombre and the greys won’t really stand out as they will sort of leach into each other. I have a client from my business ( who is doing her kitchen in shades of black, chalky white and natural wood (with brass accents) and it is going to look fantastic. I would suggest that if you have a black floor and white walls, you could go a shade darker on the cupboards – try Dulux Urban or the old Downpipe favourite from F&B and they will really stand out. I hope this helps. Let me know how you get on, Kate

    2. Of course the final choice of any colour is down to personal taste in the end but sometimes exploring other’s choices is a great way to go too. We have just launched a new paint range from the Royal Academy of Arts, all of the colours are selected by RA artists (academicians) and curators. May I suggest that you have a look at the overall collection as we lots of lovely greys and blue/greys chosen by artists:

  33. Hi there – I’ve been hunting for the right grey and I really like the one used in this photo: Do you happen to know the exact color and brand? I searched the colors listen in the blurb but none seem to match.

    If not, do you have a recommendation for a similar color? I need a warm color for my bedroom because it receives little natural light. The colors I’ve tested seem to be just too dark.

    1. Hi, I’m afraid I don’t know the exact colour and the problem is that everyone’s computers are calibrated differently so we don’t all see the same thing. You could have a look at fig by Zoffany which is a warm grey that’s not too dark. Sometimes in a dark room you just have to embrace the dark rather than trying to make it lighter with paint as it may always look like a dark room that you have tried to lighten, if you see what I mean. If Fig is no good then Elephant Grey might work as a paler grey but it’s much lighter than that image. Let me know how you get on. Answering these questions helps everyone who comes by.

      1. Thanks so much! Totally get what you’re saying on the monitor issue. I actually also checked out the color on my work computer and still loved it.

        Fig does seem to be the one for me!

  34. So having had a lovely time reading through all these posts, trying to find pointers for my soon-to-be-grey spare bedroom, I have suddenly registered the actual name on your replies, peered a bit more closely at the photo at the top of the page, and come to the conclusion that you MUST be the very same Kate W-S I knew nigh on 30 years ago in 5’s in Hertford…??? Am I right? (I was a Yeats back then!) – in which case, hello after a very long time…..!!

  35. Hi Kate,

    Great info. I want to paint one wall (the wall behind the sofa, all walls are currently white) of my living room and am trying to find a grey that works. The room is north facing, but has a lot of large windows. I’m thinking of a dark grey or a mid tone grey but am not sure. I think a dark grey would make the artwork on the wall “pop” and would add a feeling of warmth to the room. The decor is mainly midcentury modern with some vintage and industrial elements. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Hi Amy, sounds great. Sounds like my sitting room! Except I started with one grey and kept on going. I tend to feel that if you’re going to go for it you should really go for it. I love dark grey and you’re right about it making the artworks pop. It’s also great for hiding the telly as it blends in against the wall and makes it a bit cinema! Here’s the link to my house (scroll down for the sitting room). I also think dark grey – mine is downpipe by Farrow & Ball works beautifully with the wood of mid-century furniture. If you’re not sure, Sanderson has a slightly paler version called Bastille which is not as charcoal. Or you can go Dulux and look at either Warm Pewter or Urban Obsession, both of which are lovely greys. Let me know how you get on.

      1. Thank you so much for your response. I’ve decided I’d like to go with the downpipe but have always used no VOC Benjamin Moore paint in the past (I have small kids, don’t want them breathing in harsh compounds if avoidable), and am wondering if Farrow and Ball paints are low VOC, or if they offer a no VOC option (I don’t think they do). What do you think about showing the downpipe to a Benjamin Moore retailer and having them prepare the closest match? I really appreciate your help!

        1. Just saw your comment and it’s a week old now so you’ve probably bought your paint but have you heard of ECOS paints? They are no VOC and I’ve used their gloss paint to do all my stairs and banisters + skirting. The best bit is, as it is water based, the bright white doesn’t go yellow. I did all this 2 years ago and it’s all still bright white and pops really well against my new grey walls in my living room. I chose Dulux Urban Obsession for my Chimney Breast and China Clay for the other 3 walls by Johnstons. The Dulux went on like a dream and I only used half a 1.25l can to do two coats on the chimney breast (prev painted duck egg blue). The Johnstons, while I love the subtley lilacy grey that changes depending on the time of day, I used a 5litre can just for 3 walls in a 10″ x 11″ small room!!!! Took 3 coats and had no covering power. It was £23 for that 5li can but it is better to get at least Dulux for the better pigment. I’m just deciding how to handle lighting in the alcoves now before I wall paper with this cool grey brick wallpaper I found. I think I’m leaning towards fairy lights rather than messing installing wall scones embedded in the plaster. Too much mess, too late in the day for that! I put some pic’s of the stairs I did in the Ecos on my website blog btw. Good luck!

  36. Hi Kate….i came across your blog through the Decor Cafe ….my company ArtHouseOriginals is taking part in their first design fair on March 23rd. I’ve just spent the last 3hrs (!) having a jolly thorough look through your site and must say i’m feeling a mixture of inspired and envy at not having created some of the fabulous designs myself . You have sourced and put together some truly gorgeous products and imagery…an art in itself…. so inspired that i’m dashing out tomorrow to purchase the ‘ right’ shade of grey paint for my sitting room and some vintage bookshelves wallpaper.
    When you have a mo visit my site …would value your expert eye on the new collections of luxury silk and velvet accessories. If you are at the Decor Festival in Wimbledon come and say hello . Many thanks for a very interesting afternoon browsing. Louise

  37. I am currently deciding on a shade of grey to paint the large upstairs living space of my new houseboat. It has large South-facing French doors and windows all around so is full of light, with pale pine floors and not much else as yet! Trying to find grey that will make colours pop and be more interesting than an off-white,, without ruining all the lovely light the room has. Currently scanning the Dulux website…

    Any advise would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance.


    1. A houseboat how wonderful. Go dramatic! My sitting room is south-facing and I have painted it all in Farrow and Ball Downpipe and it isn’t dark at all because the room is so light. The floorboards, skirting and ceiling are all white. It does make the pictures on the wall pop beautifully and it’s lovely in the evening electric light. Another version, slightly paler is Sanderson’s Bastille which is another dark, but soft grey. For Dulux try Bowler Hat or Urban Obsession. Let me know what you decide, Kate

  38. Fabulous blog. Absolutely the best coverage of using grays and the comments from your fans are so thoughtful. I have painted the main living areas of my home with Elephant’s breath and could not be happier with the results. I am remodeling a guest bathroom that has no natural light and am wondering what suggestions you might have. I am not afraid of dark grays or greiges, but am concerned about how undertones in grays play out with no natural light. It is a small bath, about 80 square feet. I want it to be elegant and make my guests look fabulous. I am gutting the room, so any recommendations for a look on addition to paint colors is welcome.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Susan, thank you so much for your kind comments. I must start by saying that having not seen the room, I can’t be entirely sure. However, what is true is that a small room is always small no matter what colour you paint it. Sometimes using a pale colour just emphasises that. I think you’re completely right to play up the luxury element instead. How about a dark charcoal grey with stone/limestone tiles on the floor as as a splashback and then, if you can, brass taps and fittings and a huge gold/brass mirror to bounce what light there is around? It’s quite masculine and luxurious but you could add deep pink towels to soften it. This would also work well with a soft navy blue (try Farrow and Ball Hague Blue for example) if you want to move away from grey. Let me know what you decide to do. I have covered brass taps here Do let everyone know what you decide to do.

      1. Thank you for your quick response. Love your color advice and will order my F&B sample pots this afternoon. I loved grey before it was fashionable, so i never get tired of it. That said, the blue sounds handsome, so i will try it.
        The brass taps are fabulous. Now that stainless steel/nickel are everywhere, the brass in a totally contemporary fixture is so smart. And I have been trying to find a place for the Alfred chair in your Objects of Design. That tiny footprint and high silhouette is perfect for a small guest bathroom – a functional piece to set personal items that has the attitude of a sculpture.

        I will keep you posted on my developments. I am very excited about this renovation and discovering your blog has me raising the style bar. Many thanks.

  39. Great article

    Greys are still performing best off our site across all brands – blue greys in particular

    Our new brand The Nantucket Trading Company – adds more of these New England Colours

    1. Have been reading these and hope someone out there can help me. You all sound so confident with colours. I am so overwhelmed. My entire house has been refurbished externally and internally. External is a contemporary New England look with light grey and dark grey cladding. Internally there are oak floors and doors throughout with exception of kitchen floor (don’t know what to do). Kitchen/diner is white high gloss with bifold doors to the garden. I am looking for a scheme that can be carried throughout the house but with each room carrying its own personality (colour/style). I have decided on shutters for the windows (white plantation style everywhere with full length ones for the all the French doors). I would love a warm, luxurious feel especially for the living room and hallway. I have started so many times but always get lost. I am now being pressured to give colours this week but feel paralysed by it all. I lean towards contemporary rather than traditional, I don’t mind neutrals with great pops of colour and most of my paintings are impressionist style. Childishly, I just want to be told what colour to put where, what goes with what, where to put what and bring warmth and light to my home. The house faces east. I know need an interior designer but do not have the resources for that.

      1. Oh dear, it’s awful to be under such pressure of time. So, where to start? Firstly you don’t give any hint of colours you like. It seems to me like there’s quite a difference between pops of colour in a contemporary scheme and the muted pastels of the impressionists. Here’s one suggestion – look to your wardrobe, there you will find the colours that you like and that you feel comfortable with. They will probably be from the same palette or tones so will give you something to work with. It is possible to carry a scheme throughout. I have a dark grey sitting room, with dark grey shelves in the kitchen and a dark grey chimney breast upstairs. You can find a base colour that you like and go from there. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by what you want and like then have you tried Pinterest? If you sign up to that and start pinning pictures you will find that a theme emerges. I might as well announce here that I am about to launch a new business based around personal shopping for interiors. The website isn’t ready yet but I am already working with some clients. The idea is that you send me your pinterest board and I will help you source the products on there or pick out the colours you like. One client approached me saying she didn’t want blue anywhere. When I looked at her Pinterest board there were hints of blue everywhere! It turns out she loves blue but only for accessories not for walls. If you want to know a little more then email me at [email protected] and we can talk further.

  40. Hi I need your help.
    I have been through so many sample pots these last couple of weeks trying to find the right grey and I’m losing hope.
    I just want a flat grey with with almost no undertones that is really really pale. We want to paint our entire interior in it with white ceilings cornices and skirting boards.
    The colour we have on our wall now is an off white with yellow undertones and it makes the greys we have chosen look so dark and blue-ish when put on the walls which we don’t like.
    Because of where we live (the tropics of Australia) we need a cool soft pale grey.
    Can you be our saviour?

    1. Hello Dale,
      I’m sorry for not replying sooner but was partly not sure of any Australian paint companies so I wasn’t sure if you would be able to buy the same ones we have in the UK. If you can get US Benjamin Moore paint you can try the Graytint which is a soft pearly shade or Stone Harbour. I have used Farrow & Ball Cornforth white which can have a slightly pink/dove like undertone depending on the direction of the room but is pale and soft. Alternatively Sherwin Williams magnetic grey has been recommended as good for sunny places. Instead of painting the walls, you can try painting boards or even large pieces of paper – and then sticking them to boards, or to the wall with washi tape so that you can move them around the room without damaging the existing paint. Remember to do at least two so that you can put them next to each other in the corners and as large as you can manage. Do let us know what you choose in the end. Regards, Kate

  41. Hi Kate,
    First thank you for sharing your tips. Best article on greys ever – I posted it on my blog (first time- usually do not reblog). I hope you do not mind?
    I love greys – my sitting room (north facing) is painted in a very dark grey – I find it both warm and soothing.
    Have a lovely day

  42. Hello Kate, your comments have been really useful to us. We are planning to paint our lounge it grey. It is 22ft by 14ft with windows at either end, one facing south and the other north. We also have black vertical radiators in two of the corners diagonally opposite each other. Which grey would you recommend as the north end of the room is quite dark? Many thanks.

    1. Hi Marilyn, it’s hard without seeing the space, however, I would be tempted to suggest that you don’t do the whole room in a pale grey as that might make the whole thing a bit flat and will perhaps only emphasise that one end of the room is darker than the other. In my long sitting room (a classic knock through) I have painted the south-facing end in dark grey (downpipe) and then at the other end, which is full of books, we have painted the shelves in downpipe but left the walls white. This unifies the space, allows it to behave as one room but stops it becoming too dark. You could perhaps try a similar trick in yours. If you don’t have shelves then perhaps one wall could be dark at the far north end – hang pictures on it to give a gallery feel. Also, painting the narrow walls at either end may serve to shorten the room and make it appear squarer. Or you could paint one long wall all the way along in a dark grey and keep the facing one white or in a much paler shade of grey. I hope that gives you something to think about, let me know what you decide to do. Kate

  43. Wonderful blog. I am painting my hall / landing in Cornforth White do you have any idea what white has been used on the woodwork / ceiling / floor in Paul Massey’s pale grey living room (painted in Cornforth White) it’s a lovely contrast. Alternatively do you think painting wooden floor, walls and ceiling in Cornforth would be too much?

    1. Hi Jenny, thank you! I knew the walls were Cornforth White I’m afraid I don’t know the colour of the woodwork. Having said that my kitchen walls are also Cornforth White with Wimborne White woodwork, which provides a contrast. It’s a great chalky white and not too bright. In the other rooms we have done the walls, floors, skirtings and ceilings in wimborne white for the so-called gallery look, but I think it may be too much to do the same thing with Cornforth. It would be quite darkening whereas a splash of white will lift it and look really fresh and modern while showing off the choice of grey at the same time.

    2. Hi Kate and help!! I want to paint my very narrow victorian hallway pale grey. I thought I’d cracked it when I decided on Cornforth White, but am now worried it will look lilac (and on reading certain google searches), so hard to gauge from a tester pot. Any advice gratefully received!

      1. Hi Nicky, I have to start by saying that without seeing it, it is very hard to judge. Having said that, yes, it can have a slightly lilac tinge but it’s very slight and almost acts to warm up the grey tones so that may not be a disaster. I have cornforth white in my north-facing kitchen and it can be quite stark. But, as it’s a kitchen, there’s plenty of other stuff to take the eye. There is a new collection of Greys by Little Green which has 28 shades that you might like – including one that they have used on a narrow hallway, although that is quite dark. If you have a light floor I think you can afford to go dark in a hall. It’s dramatic, you’re passing through and if the doors are open to the rooms leading off it, they will seem like beacons drawing you in. See this post on hallways for inspiration. Also, have you considered painting the walls pale and the skirting boards in dark grey? Or perhaps you have a dado rail and can go above and below? Think about adding a large mirror to bounce the light around.
        When it comes to tester pots, rather than painting the wall, think about painting large pieces of paper that you can stick up in different places at different times of day to get a better idea of the effect. Good luck and let me know what you decide to do.

  44. I want to paint my living room grey but I have dark brown,mink and black sofa, what shade of grey?

    1. Very hard to say without a picture. You could go downpipe from farrow and ball – very dark. Or you might want to keep it lighter in which case try and find a shade with a warm/pinkish tinge. Not a yellow base at any rate. I think you will need to invest in a few tester pots- paint large pieces of paper or board and move them around the room at different times of day to see how the natural light plays on them.

  45. Great Blog – so useful with our plans to change our living room to a grey theme. I am desperately seeking dining chairs to complement it though – do you have any idea where to source the grey/wooden chairs in the eighth picture (photograph by David Britten. Paint from The Little Greene Paint Company try Gauze or Mid Lead)?

    1. Hi Victoria, those are Eames DSW chairs, designed by Charles and Ray Eames and a design classic. I have written about it here. You can buy them in John Lewis but they cost around £300 a chair. There are an awful lot of copies around though, which sell for £50. It’s up to you if you want a copy or the real thing, which will hold its value by the way. If you decide not to have a copy, but that these are too expensive, then let me know your budget and we can hunt for something you like at a better price point. Kate

  46. Been searching for hours about grey paint. Your post is the best. Thank you, head continues to spin! I have a cool grey (Ben Moore Iced cube Silver) in large open living room that continues down a hall with a half-wall on the other side of which is my north facing library that I was about to paint a darker cool grey…until your post. Can I successfully paint a north facing room a warm dark grey while across a half-wall is a large area of a cool light blue?
    Appreciate any input! Thanks, Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa, it’s very difficult to judge without actually seeing, or knowing what your furniture is and the best thing is probably to get busy with the tester pots. You can trying painting two large pieces of board that you can then move around the room to see how they look. I think you can absolutely use a dark cool grey in a library as, and I’m guessing as I haven’t seen it, the shelves of books will warm up the space with all the colours of the spines. The bigger question is whether the grey and the cool blue will go together and only you can know that. I would guess that if both the grey and the blue are cool shades then they will, whereas if one if warm, ie with a yellower base, that might not work. I should add that I love dark grey and my sitting room (admittedly south-facing) is painted in Farrow & Ball Downpipe as are the shelves in my library and my (north-facing) kitchen. I don’t know if that has helped at all. Do come back again if you have any more questions, Kate

  47. Love this post! Deciding what colours to paint the north-facing rooms of our new house is doing my head in. Wasn’t sure whether Elephant’s Breath for the north-facing living room would work; now I’m wondering whether I should leave that for the south-facing bedroom and keep the living room in a warmer, lighter colour like Skimming Stone.

    The worst room is the hallway: narrow and north-facing, with the only source of light being the door. Still wondering whether to go with a warm cream or embrace the northern light and go with a cheery aqua?

    1. HI Li San, I often think that if the space is dark then you shouldn’t fight it. If you paint it cream, it may always look like a dark space that you tried to lighten. Aqua is lovely – be careful not to choose one that’s too “bathroomy” – or you can embrace it and go dark grey and hang pictures or black and white family photos on the walls or even a group of mirrors to reflect any light from the door.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. Will definitely use mirrors and photos. Besides grey, what colours would you recommend for my hallway? And what kind of aqua isn’t too “bathroomy”? Appreciate the help.

        1. I think if it’s too fresh and green it can look a bit bathroom – but that is only my opinion. I posted this a few weeks ago Singing the Ocean Blues and love all of these shades which are a little softer. I think it’s a fabulous colour for a hall. Deep reds are also great but perhaps a little cliche? How do you feel about burnt orange teamed with grey?

  48. I used F&B Downpipe (v.dark grey) for my home office which is a large room with very high ceilings and North facing, used it for a feature wall and it makes the room look warmer and stays sharp with matt white on the 3 other walls. It looks so good in fact that I have used it the same way in a family bathroom and a guest room. Many friends said it would darken the rooms further but as your blog mentions, don’t fight against nature in a darker room and do go with it instead…if you choose the right dark shade it will actually warm the room. My friend has painted the entire 3 storey hallway and wooden staircase with it, with only a low light source coming from the front door and a roof skywell. It looks dramatic, expensive but more than that – it looks really warm and can fit easily in to contemporary room schemes as well as more traditional and Victorian. It also looks amazing with wood like oak, teak and ash.

  49. I’ve struggled with this too but found Eico have a lovely range of greys…particularly liked London Sky….planned for our office….

  50. Hi Kate
    …great website and beautiful kitten! Do you have any links or ideas for capturing that Gustavian grey look that is on the 3-panel door in the picture with decordots source? (Picture of bedroom with basket)
    Many thanks, Pat Sheehan NY, USA

    1. Hi Pat, My friend Louisa of West Egg is an expert on painting furniture and she told me this: “Use an Autentico chalk grey. The look is a matt effect you want to replicate which Autentico do very well. You don’t want it shiny or with a sheen as that is very French / German not Gustavian. They used some kind of iron oxide pigment to get the that look originally and lots of greys and a particular blue – zinc look and Scandinavian blue by Autentico are the best matches.”
      I hope that helps. Kate

  51. So true – surprisingly, grey walls can be so hard to get right… while grey can be flattering, it has to be well-thought-through. Thanks for the great tips and ideas!

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