5 Unexpected (And Modern) Ways an Interior Designer Uses Light Gray Paint

Time Several Hours

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WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on May 23, 2022

We know we said that warm neutrals are the new gray, and we stand by the rise of all things ivory, cream, sandy beige, and neutral linen. But regardless of color trends, light gray paint is and always will be a mainstay in interior design. It’s a timeless, barely-there neutral that pairs with pretty much every style and color palette under the sun. Plus, it’s a tried-and-true, foolproof backdrop hue for minimalist and bold decor alike.

So, we tapped Havenly lead designer Brady Burke for his thoughts on all things light gray paint. From a quick explainer on undertones to color palette ideas, he’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to applying this classic neutral in a modern way. Ahead, find his pro tips on using light gray paint at home:

1. Go All-In

Light gray paint

If you’re a color-averse minimalist that prefers layered neutrals over color pops of any kind, light gray paint is your best friend. Pick two to three of your favorite light gray hues, and wash an entire room in the hue. We love a tone-on-tone look: use a light gray paint on the ceiling to make the room feel larger, a darker gray on the walls to add depth, a medium gray on the trim for contrast, and varying gray textiles and accents ranging from near-white to moody charcoal.

Shop our favorite medium light gray paint colors:

Benjamin Moore Gray Tint

Clare Paint Set in Stone

Farrow & Ball Manor House Gray

2. Use It As a Blank Canvas for Color

Light gray paint

While it can lean cool and moody depending on your chosen shade, light gray paint is generally considered a neutral. In other words, it’s a perfect backdrop for a sunny yellow couch, soft pink accent chair, colorful artwork, or otherwise vibrant furniture and decor. It will ground the look and balance out the bolder hues.

Shop our favorite light gray paint colors:

Clare Paint Penthouse

Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

Clare Paint Seize the Gray

3. Go Bold & Modern

Light gray paint

Bold and contemporary interiors are a perfect pair for light gray paint. Go wild with low-slung yellow accent chairs, poppy red wall art, warm copper ceiling paint, and a dramatic evergreen drape. A hint of brass hardware rounds out the modern-luxe look.

Shop our favorite cool light gray paint colors:

Benjamin Moore Gray Cloud

Clare Paint Wink

Benjamin Moore Silver Half Dollar

4. Pay Attention to Tone

Light gray paint

When it comes to paint selection, undertone is incredibly important. Light gray paint can lean cool or warm. If you’re looking for a more inviting, cozy space, focus on warmer gray or greige tones accented with natural materials. For a more modern look, select cooler, contemporary light gray paint colors to create a sleek, artful environment. 

Shop our favorite moody light gray paint colors:

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray

Clare Paint Irony

Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal

5. Warm It Up

Light gray paint

To keep neutral light gray paint from feeling washed out or flat, add warmth and contrast via natural materials like jute, wood, and cognac leather. In the above space, the brown leather couch, tonal throw pillows, ivory drapes, brass candlesticks, and light oak coffee table give the otherwise gray space an inviting touch.

Shop our favorite warm light gray paint colors:

Clare Paint Windy City

Benjamin Moore Collingwood

Behr Dolphin Fin

From light gray paint ideas to perfecting room flow, our designers are chock-full of expert tips. Start with our style quiz to work with a design pro one-on-one.

Words by Kelsey Clark