My Daughter Wants Her Room Painted Grey

Emma contacted MadAboutTheHouse to ask about paint colours for her teenage daughter’s bedroom.Q: My daughter would like her bedroom  painted grey and white. It’s a bright, south-facing room with a black cast iron fireplace, with alcoves either side, and oak floors. One of the alcoves will have a white wardrobe in it. I think we will probably do one grey wall but I can’t decide which one, or how dark the grey should be.

The bedroom as it is now
The bedroom as it is now


View from the window
View from the window

A: Grey is massively fashionable in interiors at the moment and isn’t anything like as cold and austere as you might think. It has, in some quarters, been referred to as the new magnolia as it is the perfect neutral colour, goes with everything and looks really modern. But before we start looking specific colours, here are some pictures of rooms done in varying shades of grey to get you in the mood. 

from via Pinterest
from via Pinterest


from via Pinterest
from via Pinterest



It can be very difficult to accurately represent colours on the computer  so the best solution is for me to point you in the direction of some good paint companies and for you to buy some samples. You really can’t skip this step as grey can be either yellow or blue based and you need to find the right one for you. Remember it will be darker in the corners so try and paint a sample of both sides of a corner to see how it will absorb the light. And if you choose Farrow and Ball, many people say the key to choosing the right shade is to find the one you really like and then buy a shade lighter. Here are some examples:

Grey Paints from

First of all, if you aren’t sure which wall to do, there are plenty of combinations that can work. You could paint the back of both alcoves in quite a dark grey, such as Farrow and Ball’s Downpipe, which is a charcoal shade. Alternatively, you could do the chimney breast in the dark colour and the alcoves in a paler shade. There is no reason why you have to stick to one shade of grey and white. You can have two greys and one contrasting colour. Wimborne White is a lovely chalky shade of white that contrasts well with grey. A couple of other lovely greys are Elephant’s Breath and Lamp Room Grey. Cornforth White is also a pale grey, despite its name. Zoffany also make great flat chalky paints. I’m a fan of both Storm and Glacier but there are several shades in between that might appeal. Finally, you will probably need to add some other splashes of colour as finishing touches. Personally I would stick to plain blinds to keep the monochrome look, but think about a contrasting bedspread in shocking pink, lime green, burnt orange or turquoise depending on your daughter’s taste. All those elements are easy to change if she becomes bored with the colour scheme while leaving the main colours in place. Or you could, if you really wanted to go for it, paint the fireplace. I did the chimney breast in our spareroom in Downpipe and the fire surround in shocking pink.

pink fireplace

This is a picture of  The Little Green Company – Ultimate Matt ‘Metal 4′ that Gail has used in her kitchen:

The Little Green Company: Ultimate Matt ‘Metal 4′

For more posts on paint

Mad About 50 Shades of Grey (Paint)

Indigo: Top Trend for 2013

Mad About … Grey Kitchens

A Buyer’s Guide to Paint

Tags : farrow and ballgreygrey bedroompaintzoffany
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 Advice wanted for small cottage. I have a small front porch – (north east facing), takes lots of activity from people and dogs. Would love a nice colour in there. Only light is from the door that is half glass, Love Farrow and Ball paint and try to keep cottage ‘french’ looking. Should I put strong colour in this small space or keep it monochrome? Would like my hall way F&B’s Fawn, but want Porch different. Advice please

    1. Hi Sandra, thanks for your question. I’ll have a think and do a full post on this in the next week or so. Someone else has asked me about halls recently too, so I think it’s time to investigate.

    2. Hi Sandra, what with one thing and another this hall post has taken longer than I planned for which I apologise. It is coming up this week though. In the meantime, if you are going to do the hallway in Fawn then how about doing the porch in the same tone but perhaps a shade darker? That will be practical for muddy boots and so on and will instantly make the hall feel lighter when you come in. I think strong colours in small spaces are a great idea. I’m looking at the chart and wondering about Mouse’s Back? Their Fawn is quite yellowy – you could do the same idea (and be very French-looking) if you went for Plummet and Lamp Room Gray or Castle’s Grey and Teresa’s Green. I hope this helps. Kate

  2. Hello,

    I love the idea of the grey with the black cast iron fireplace. In a recent scheme we used the lovely shade of grey from Farrow & Ball ‘Pavilion gray no.242 in a well lit bedroom. It is a perfect light shade that can therefore be used on all walls instead of having a darker feature wall.

    Lovely post as always,


  3. Hi Kate, So my predicament….we’re in full flow of having a double storey extension built, the lounge will have 5 m of bifold doors with a dark grey aluminium frame leading out to the garden, these are something I’ve lusted after for a long long time and am feeling the pressure in terms of choosing a suitable blind/curtain to do them justice. It would be great to use the large space to unleash some colour and pattern, to give you an idea of taste I have cushions by Anorak, Donna Wilson mixed up with some bits and pieces from john lewis home dept, most of our furniture is coming from ‘an angel at my table’.

    Any help or pointers to some beautiful corners of the interior’s world would be hugely appreciated!

    Thank you


  4. Kate,

    Your advice is fabulous! Please keep going. You make my day with your fun (serious) and very practical advice!!


  5. Hi,

    We’ve used plenty of greys over the years, but my favourite so far is
    The Little Green Company – Ultimate Matt ‘Metal 4’ for the walls and a slighter darker shade for the woodwork, in our kitchen, YUMMY.
    I’ll send over a pic in a separate email.



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