What Decorating Colors Go Well With Gray Walls in a Living Room?

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Gray is a chameleon color; it adapts itself to almost anything you mix with it. But achieving a sophisticated gray living room -- even when your style is rustic -- requires more restraint than risk-taking. It's easy to create an elegant, relaxing space when you stick to neutrals as accents or dominant focal points in a gray room. And it's essential to match warm tones with warm grays and cool colors with cool grays to avoid visual dissonance.

Gray on Gray

  • Gray goes really well with gray -- and the combination is so low-key that you can mix a number of tints and shades. Pale gray walls with even lighter gray baseboards and trim look richer with a charcoal carpet and gunmetal gray velvet sofa.

    Upholster a couple of antique fauteuils in a discreet gray-and-white striped linen and hang lead-gray taffeta curtains from the ceiling to pool on the floor.

    Dark gray stucco, the color of old, worn stone, showcases a mix of gray patterned fabrics on daybeds and chairs. Gray-on-gray or gray-and-white pillow ticking on pillows and flat cushions; tattersall on sofa, chair and table skirts; wide gray stripes on more throw pillows and curtains; and a gray-and-smudged-white harlequin-painted floor lend a touch of theater to an ordinary living room.

White, Cream, Taupe, Tobacco

  • Smoky or ash gray walls with snowy trim are sharp, if a bit predictable. Try warm cream or antique white trim with a warm-spectrum gray to keep things harmonious. Taupe, greige and other toasty shades -- like unbleached linen -- give off a Zen vibe in the living room and mix well with glass and chrome pieces.

    Tobacco and other woody shades are a match for gray's intensity and create balance in a minimalist or contemporary room. Try a light-to-medium gray on the walls with natural wood trim, a faded Persian carpet patterned in dark and light grays, creams, linens, chestnut browns and burnt umber, and a couple of unpainted bentwood chairs and a tobacco leather chaise for a room that's so tasteful it's practically edible.

Nifty Tints of Gray

  • Tinted gray paint opens the door to new color combinations that play off the undertones in the wall color. *Gray with a touch of green -- like the color of Spanish moss -- invites accents that underscore the gray's slight green cast. A teal enameled chandelier with gilded detailing leads to a couple of tarnished gold toss pillows on the platinum gray suede couch.

    A hint of mint might be just the thing with greenish-gray paint -- light gray and mint wide-striped brocade upholstery on side chairs is subtle and suitable in the room. Or go dark with olive velvet drapes, a charcoal leather sofa, and moss, cloud and gunmetal gray abstract area rug.

Jelly and Gem Tones

  • Splashes and dashes of bright color take advantage of gray's inherent harmony. Cover the room in various shades of gray to feature the star of the show: a garnet-red Victorian sofa in the middle of the room.

    Paint a citron and lemon chevron around the walls at chair rail height and cover two contemporary side chairs in yellow leather.

    Mix gray linen, wood and brown furniture in a medium-gray room but enliven the environment with tangerine throw pillows, blood-orange Murano vases on the slate mantel and a large abstract painting with splotches of crimson in a field of white, charcoal and smoke.

    Gray and violet or amethyst coordinate smoothly. Reserve touches of violet, with its blue cast, for a cool gray room; add amethyst silk curtains, pillows or lampshades in a warm gray room.

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