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Colour Trends – Shades of Grey Review

Posted on Mar 9, 2016 by

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey, the human eye can actually detect more than 500. And while designers everywhere are fervently embracing every one of them in interior decor, this trend for grey is clearly leaving many homeowners baffled. Two years ago, interiors journalist Kate Watson-Smyth posted a feature on her blog with tips on choosing the right grey paint. That post has since received half a million hits. It was time for a book…!

Kate Watson-Smyth’s new book, Shades of Grey, lifts the (paint) lid on every subtle shade of grey and reveals how to incorporate this most complex and compelling of colours in your home. It’s a comprehensive guide to ‘Decorating with the most elegant of neutrals.’ In fact, grey is the perfect neutral says Kate. ” It goes with every other colour on the wheel. It look fresh and modern. It can be dark and dramatic, or pale and Nordic… There’s no doubt about it, grey is the shade of the moment.”

Shades of Grey, by Kate Watson-Smyth, published by Ryland Peters & Small, £13.59, Amazon

Shades of Grey book cover.

Shades of Grey book cover.
Images courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small

The Psychology of Grey

Shades Of Grey opens with a detailed evaluation of the psychology of grey. Colour expertKaren Haller explains why she feels it is such a popular choice for interiors, “I feel it has something to do with shutting out modern-day life and our need to hide away.” However, Karen is also careful to caution against certain uses for grey. She advises, for example, against using grey in bedrooms and spaces dedicated to creativity – while grey can have a calming effect, used in the wrong spaces it can also be a passion killer. The author agrees: her own newly grey-painted kitchen was affecting her productivity until it was updated with chalky white paint. With the colour updated, Shades of Grey was written there.

Various shades of grey work well when layered alongside each other.

Different shades of grey work well when layered alongside each other.
Images courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small
Photography by Catherine Gratwicke

Choosing the Right Shade

“Everyone wants to paint their houses grey at the moment,” notes Karen, “but it’s actually one of the most difficult colours to get right.” Shades of Grey very helpfully advises how to choose the best hue:

  • To make a statement, go “as dark as you dare” for maximum impact. But always incorporate wood into the scheme to soften the aesthetic with a warmer tone.
  • Use a variety of dark and lighter shades to create a more natural, less dramatic and stark effect. This approach “tends to work in both day and electric light.”
  • If you’re completely opposed to dark hues and pushed for space, a light grey can complement a room by giving the impression of more expansive walls and a higher ceiling.
Put lighter shades alongside a dark grey to create a subtler tone.

Combine lighter and darker shades of grey and add wood to soften the overall effect.
Images courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small
Photography by Debi Treloar

Taking the Plunge

The main take away from Shades of Grey? If you’re contemplating incorporating grey into your interiors scheme, ‘don’t make it mission impossible’. You might find grey intimidating, but it’s time to revise your preconceptions. This is a much more versatile colour than you might previously have thought. And it can completely transform interiors.

Once you’ve decided to embrace grey (the beautiful imagery throughout Shades of Grey will almost certainly persuade you), there are plenty of ways to ensure your scheme is successful. As mentioned, wood adds both texture and warmth. Textiles such as a soft sheepskin rug or heavy knitted throw also contrast nicely.

You can incorporate grey into your home by accessorising as well.

You can incorporate grey into your home by accessorising as well.
Images courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small
Photography by Lisa Cohen

This is the first book from Kate Watson-Smyth. We poured through every page and we’re already looking forward to the sequel! We urge you to add it to your bookshelves.

Shades of Grey, by Kate Watson-Smyth, published by Ryland Peters & Small, £13.59, Amazon

NB. Since this post went live we’re thrilled to announce the first Warehouse Home book will be published Thames & Hudson in Spring 2017. Join us as we travel from New York to Melbourne, London to Hong Kong, visiting some of the world’s most inspirational industrial conversions in this, the debut Warehouse Home coffee table book

For more grey interiors inspiration, take a look at our dedicated Pinterest board.


You might also be interested in our recent colour trend post on teal green.

Remember to take a look at Warehouse Home Issue Three. You can read the issue in full here or in the reader below:

Finally, keep up to date with our latest blog posts by following MWH with Bloglovin

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