Is Gray (or Whitewash) Still a Popular Color for Wood Flooring, Carpet or Tile?
If you’re looking for a brief answer to whether gray is still popular for flooring, it’s a resounding NO. But let’s be honest; you don’t read my blog because you’re a fan of brevity.
When choosing the best color or finish for the hard surfaces in your home, you’d be smart to consider what’s TRENDY vs what’s TIMELESS. And while both can live in harmony, not ALL trends can withstand the test of time. Such is the case with gray flooring.
Which types of flooring am I referring to?
- gray-wash wood floor
- gray-wash LVT or laminate flooring
- gray carpet
- gray tile or vinyl
Of course, there are always exceptions, but assuming your home isn’t one of them, let’s take a closer look at what does/doesn’t work and why.
Notice how the subtle green undertone in the paint color sits a bit off with the violet hue in the flooring (LVT)
Let’s start with a little chat to ease any immediate concerns…
1. If you already have gray floors – it’s okay! This blog post isn’t about gray flooring being BAD (in fact, it can be quite pretty)! This post is about not choosing it NOW if you’re updating your home or building a new one (and you’ll find out why shortly).
2. Gray was trendy; it isn’t anymore. HOWEVER, trends only matter if a) you’re concerned about resale or b) you care about trends and like a home that looks updated. If you don’t care about these things, you can fill yer lil gray boots (but seeing as you’re reading this blog post, I’ll assume you DO care or are just here for my wit and charm – let’s assume the latter).
ARE GRAY-WASH WOOD OR WOOD-LOOK FLOORS STILL TRENDY?
Heck no. The gray trend started about eight-ten years ago, and while it’s had a GREAT run, its time is up. These days, instead of gray-wash floors, my clients are leaning into more natural woods in light to medium depths. And while I still see the odd whitewash come up (also a hard no from this Ginger), the more moderate woods are making a comeback.
These next photos are great examples of the type of flooring many of my clients choose (give or take a bit of depth/warmth/knots)…
Sherwin Williams Aloof Gray walls
BTW, notice the wood ceiling and its white-wash – PINK UNDERTONES!
Personally, I’m inclined to the medium depths when it comes to a good ‘happy medium’ between trends…
Why are so many people choosing wood floors like the above examples?
Because they’re more FLEXIBLE and suit a wide variety of styles, tastes and trends. While few things are TIMELESS, these stains will have more longevity than a gray or whitewash.
WHY I NEVER LOVED GRAY-WASH WOOD FLOORS IN THE FIRST PLACE
While you might LOOK at a gray-wash floor and see ‘gray’, every gray has an undertone – even your floor. And while it would be GREAT if there were a ton of exceptions, almost ALL gray-wash floors have a violet (or violet-pink) undertone.
While you might see a ‘gray floor’, I see a wood floor with VIOLET-PINK UNDERTONES.
That’s right, with VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS; if you choose a wood floor with a gray wash, it will have a violet-pink undertone.
And don’t get me wrong, as I MADLY love this next little bathroom. HOWEVER, the gray LVT flooring will be tricky to update once trends change.
Those DARN violet undertones…
As shown in the above photo, I often have clients hire me because:
a) their NEWLY CHOSEN gray-wash (violet) wood flooring doesn’t work with their old paint color, OR
b) they’ve painted their walls a new color that doesn’t work with their existing gray-wash (violet) flooring, OR
c) they’ve bought a home with grayish floors and aren’t quite sure what to do.
In this next photo, you’ll see gray-wash wood flooring. Remember, this isn’t about it looking BAD; it doesn’t. In fact, it looks great with Benjamin Moore Classic Gray walls.
It’s just not very timeless.
The above combo is great for a homeowner who loves gray…and violet. However, if I PERSONALLY were looking to buy this home…
I wouldn’t buy it BECAUSE of the gray-wash flooring.
Just remember, it’s not that violet isn’t pretty as an undertone; it can be. HOWEVER, it’s LIMITING should you or a new homeowner want to transition to a warmer look or different undertone. And guess where trends are shifting…that’s right, they’re shifting WARMER.
In this next space, Sherwin William’s Mindful Gray isn’t quite jiving with the flooring…
Thank you to my clients for their BEFORE photos, as they’re often great lessons in color!
Mindful Gray has a slight tendency to grab a green undertone. This wink o’ green isn’t super friendly with the violet hues in the wood flooring (and I eagerly await the after photos!).
CAN YOU GRAY WASH WOOD FLOORS?
Oh, you CAN; the question is – SHOULD YOU? Again, the answer is no, unless you’re not worried about trends and keep your paint palette pretty darn simple.
ARE WHITEWASHED WOOD FLOORS TRENDY OR OUT OF STYLE?
While whitewashed wood floors are still being chosen by today’s homeowners, I almost ALWAYS steer my Color Consulting clients away from it.
Whereas gray wash flooring has a violet-pink undertone, whitewash wood floors lean HARDER into the pink. I’m YET to see a whitewashed wood floor that avoids this undertone.
Sherwin Williams High Reflective White
What SEEMS like ‘white and wood’ never is – everything is an undertone, and that undertone is PINK.
This next home is STUNNING. However, the current, slightly cream-inspired walls have a TOUCH too much yellow-orange for the pink-hued flooring…
Again, this isn’t about these homes not being BEAUTIFUL as they are. It’s about the longevity of a floor like this and how it translates into new trends (should one care)…
IS GRAY CARPET TRENDY OR OUT OF STYLE?
You get a bit more flexibility with gray carpet as long as…
- you don’t put it EVERYWHERE – it’s only in a few rooms (meaning it’s more affordable to change in the future IF NEEDED)
- you don’t partner it up with gray wash wood flooring
And this isn’t the ONLY difference when it comes to gray carpets. Whereas you’ll find mostly violet-pink hues in gray wood flooring, you’ll find one of TWO main undertones in gray carpet:
Gray-green carpet is just about as flexible as gray-violet-pink – both have serious limitations. And don’t kill the messenger – I have gray (gray-green) carpet in my own home, and I love it, as does Doug…
The railings are painted Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze to pick up on the green hue in the carpet
HOWEVER, I’ve balanced it with a more moderate medium-toned wood floor and a few other flexible finishes so I’m not so limited in the long-term.
Because I care about resale AND trends and like to have a balance of both.
This next photo is of the staircase in our last home. Want to know one of the reasons we sold this house? Well, other than the fact that my soul slowly died every day I woke up in it, I couldn’t transition this house OUT of the gray-zone it was parked in – and this home (and homeowner) needed more warmth.
But that whole house debacle is a blog post unto itself. Moving along.
The problem with the gray trend is that, like my cooking, it was OVERDONE. Walk into any gray-inspired home built in the last ten years, and all you’ll see are gray floors, cabinets, walls and exteriors. The more gray you have, the harder it will be for you or a new homeowner to transition into the next style. The LESS gray you have…
a) the easier it will be to find a balance between trends
b) the less expensive it will be to change things around should a new trend or new homeowners come around
This next photo is the home of one of my FAVE long-time clients. And BLESS HER FREAKIN’ HEART, look at that balance…
- gray carpet on the stairs (a small area that’s more affordable to change in the future to accommodate a new style/different tastes)
- wood-look flooring in a moderate color/stain (flexible)
- both warm AND cool paint colors, showing the versatility of both flooring finishes
TAUPE OR GREIGE CARPET
While taupe and greige carpet are more flexible than gray (due to their warmth), they’re still pretty limiting based on their undertones.
Let’s look at my sister-in-law’s home, as she has a warm gray/taupe carpet (that I chose for her)…
The carpet we chose has a violet-pink undertone. Had we clad her ENTIRE HOME in this carpet, we’d be in for a world of hate should trends/tastes shift (I say WE like I live there, which I WOULD if I could; she’s a damn good cook).
But again, when it comes to gray (or taupe/greige), it’s all about BALANCE…
As shown in the above photo, the taupe carpet meets up with a natural-looking wood floor, giving WAY more flexibility for my sis-in-law or a future owner.
LONG STORY SHORT (as usual), gray, taupe or greige carpet is good as long as you don’t use it EVERYWHERE. Like Tim says to me regarding my wine consumption – moderation is good, sweetheart.
ARE GRAY TILES TRENDY OR OUT OF STYLE?
This is a tough one. There are so many tiles out there, some more flexible than others, that it’s hard to say definitively that gray is OUT. Here’s what I know is true…
- Ryan Reynolds is a total babe
- a gray tile that has other neutrals in it (i.e. white/beige/greige/taupe) will have a longer lifetime than a SOLID gray tile
- gray in marble can be pretty darn timeless, but that’s more about the product itself
- darker gray tiles can have more longevity than light gray ones (dark gray tiles can act more like an ‘accent’ color to a new palette)
In these next few bathrooms, you’ll see tiles that look like marble or ARE marble. Tile floors like these will be more timeless than tile floors that a light-toned, more solid gray, although even marble will have its limitations…
These next two bathrooms have dark tile floors. On its own, this dark gray can be more flexible than a light one, but in PARTNERSHIP with other gray finishes, the palette will be tougher to accommodate in future years should tastes/styles change…
This next tile floor has gray, white, soft white and even some taupe/beige in it. This floor tile will flex into several styles…
HOWEVER, when combined with the gray vanity, light gray quartz countertop and warm gray subway tile on the walls, it would be pretty hard to get this room OUT of the gray trend and into something different – TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING!
So there you have it. Long story short, gray floors can be GORGEOUS; they’re just limiting if you’re looking for a more timeless approach to your design.
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