4 min read

Colour schemes are the building blocks of interior design – a simple lick of paint can overhaul the entire atmosphere of your home. Magnolia once set the tone for living rooms and kitchens across the nation, but grey has entered with stealth and continues to reign.

Magnolia’s legacy is easy to trace with a quick glance into Britain’s windows. The familiar neutral glow was once a DIY staple – many of our homes still bear signs of the craze that stretched from the 1950s until the early 2000s. Serving as a sturdy companion through the 1970s and ‘80s, magnolia became the colour of choice for value-conscious homeowners. 

As with all great trends, the end had to come. The 2010s have been defined by a search for cool and collected colour schemes, moving away from the yellowish tints of yesteryear. Grey has stepped up to fill that space – across the Atlantic, one study by Zillow revealed that grey tones in the kitchen can increase a home’s value by $1,800 – about £1,375 – while yellow tones are associated with an $820 decrease, around £620. The new go-to hue is surprisingly versatile – here’s how to use grey in every type of living space.

How to decorate with grey

Keep it simple and you can’t go wrong, says Shelby Pearson-Hendry, Sofology’s Visual Merchandise and Photography Manager. ‘If you’re using grey as the primary colour in your room, it’s best to keep it as a plain block of colour or opt for a really simple pattern,’ she says.

Introducing grey into your home may feel daunting at first, but it’s actually one of the most diverse paint shades, coming in nuanced tones ranging from near-black slate to cloudy off-white, classic cool greys and warmer hues. Lilac Grey is set to be a chic 2019 trend and Farrow & Ball has named blueish grey De Numes as one of its two must-have colours of 2019.

‘Bold pops of colour throughout the room set off the shade far better than any pattern can,’ says Shelby. ‘If you love patterns, choose something with a metallic thread running through it. It’ll add depth, interest and a hint of luxury.’

Which colours pair well with grey?

The key to grey’s success has been down to one simple fact, says Shelby: ‘Everything goes with grey. This year we’re seeing much warmer tones of grey, transitioning from cooler shades that could look almost stark, into mushroom and taupe with a richer edge.’

She recommends pairing these tones with a pop of colour – like vibrant coral, Pantone’s colour of the year 2019.

Simple dove grey is still a popular choice, but more and more interior designers are experimenting with the balancing effects of warmth and colour.

Remember, grey walls or a grey sofa are just the beginning – your curtains, cushions and throws can really bring the scheme to life. White is a classic choice, as are blush pinks, warm woody hues and homely creams. Layering with other neutral tones creates a chic look that’s still easy on the eye.

Can all four walls be painted grey?

Though feature walls and multiple shades make popular choices, many grey tones are suited to spritzing throughout your home. Warm, pale greys are great alternatives to magnolia paint – they look great on all walls, especially when framed by brilliant white skirting. This is the safest type of grey to select for your hallway, landing and in other neutral spaces.

Can you have too much grey? ‘Not if you layer it right,’ says Shelby. ‘Take a multi-tonal approach and play with a few different shades of grey. Mix together elements with different undertones – pale greys, dark charcoals, and bluish hues work well to keep the look layered and avoid it becoming one-dimensional. To finish the look, throw in an accent shade for richness.’

How to choose furniture for grey rooms

A grey sofa – like the Chiltern or Collins – is a classic choice for bright and breezy living spaces, but there are other options to consider. Bold sofas in fuschia, dark blue or yellow – such as the Victoria – can make for more luxurious layering.

Let your imagination wander beyond furniture to the items they’ll carry. A cool grey bookcase filled with a rainbow of books and houseplants is a balanced accessory for an open-plan living space. Think about textures and how you want the eye to travel, and welcome grey to your home. How have you used grey in your latest home design? Let us know how it went via Instagram and Pinterest.

About Sofology

Helping everybody feel happier and more comfortable at home - that's what we’re all about. Originally founded in the North West of England in 1974, Sofology now has stores all across the UK. Providing specialist sofa advice and interiors inspiration for your home, our stores are designed to be a haven from the chaos of traditional sofa shopping.