4 Ways to Make a Cold Gray Room Feel Warm
Just because gray is THE most popular paint colour doesn’t mean that it’s the BEST colour for every home and room. And while some grays are warmer than others, often I have to look outside of the paint can to come up with ways to warm up a gray – particularly in rooms such as these…
- North facing rooms. A room with northern exposure already has a blue/gray natural light. Painting the walls a gray colour can further enhance the gloomy grays, rather than counteracting and complementing them
- Rooms with very little natural light. In a room with low-light, you will have a lot of shadows. Shadows are gray – ’nuff said
- Rooms with NO natural light. Same problem as the above room
- Rooms with no warm colours or texture. For example, a room with smooth gray tile, white cabinets and gray paint doesn’t have any warmth to balance out the cool colours
And while I try to guide my north facing clients toward softer, warmer options, often they are set on gray – regardless of natural lighting and products. This means that we pick the best gray possible and then start looking elsewhere for our warm fuzzies – elsewhere being a bottle of red wine, warms me up every time! Oh, and these ideas too…
Partner post: The 4 Best Warm Gray Paint Colours – Sherwin Williams
Idea #1 Add Warmth to a Gray Room with Texture
Texture is a fabulous way to add warmth to a gray room. For example…
Wood flooring and furniture. Satin finish, wire brushed and hand-scraped wood flooring are popular these days as the reduced sheen can really show off the texture of the wood – without being overpowered by a lacquered, high-gloss sheen. You’ll also want to consider a wood flooring that is not 100% gray toned. Make sure there is some brown in there, not just to visually warm it up, but also for longevity as the gray wood flooring (or laminate) is a pretty big trend that will eventually disappear.
Fabric. Along with the gray paint trend, there are a lot of muslin and canvas style fabrics that add the perfect texture to a space when used on toss cushions, bedding, furnishings or draperies.
Examples of Texture
- Throw blanket. A well-placed throw can be an invitation on a chair, couch or end of the bed (wait, do we really need to encourage them?)
- Bedding. Rather than choosing a plain cotton, find something with a bit of texture to it, it doesn’t need to be patterned to add some visual warmth and interest!
- Toss cushions. A mild obsession of mine, amongst many other things
- Headboard. An upholstered headboard instantly warms up a bedroom, regardless of the colour/type of fabric
- Drapes. Draperies soften a room and warm up hard edges and are a great way to add texture or pattern (or both)
- Lampshades. Stay away from lampshades that have a bit of sheen to them and find some with a nice slub, linen or lightly textured look
- Area rug. As long as it’s a rug, it will add texture to a room, but don’t be afraid to ‘shag’ a little – particularly in the bedroom (wink wink)
- Branches and floral arrangements. Curly twigs are softer looking than straight branches. Flowers are good as long as they look reasonably real and aren’t reminiscent of the local funeral parlour
- Woven products such as baskets and containers. Great for throws, books, plants and more
Texture can also be in the form of permanent products – not just ‘decor’…
Believe it or not, this countertop is by Formica– it’s not real marble!
The hexagon backsplash and countertop are both completely cool-toned, but the visual texture and variety of gray tones warm the room up considerably – and a little touch of greenery never hurts either!
Idea #2 Add Warmth to a Gray Room With Lighting
Lighting is SOOO underrated when it comes time to decorate/design a room and it is UNDOUBTEDLY one of the most important parts – particularly in a gray or low-light room!
Here are a few things to think about…
Create a triangle of light. A triangle of light means that the majority of your space is well-lit and there is also some relative balance from one side of the room to the other. This can be 2 table lamps and a floor lamp or 3 table lamps. When you draw a line between the 3 (not literally silly), it should create a triangle.
The right amount of light. You need to figure out how much wattage your room needs, especially if it’s a room with reduced natural lighting. A well-lit room can support a variety of colours and depths, regardless of whether the light is natural or artificial.
Learn about How Much Light Your Room Needs
Idea #3 Add Warmth to a Gray Room With Accent Colours
This is undoubtedly one of the BEST ways to add warmth to a cool, gray feeling room. Cool colours are blue, green purple and neutrals with those undertones. Warm colours are yellow, orange, red and neutrals with those undertones. You can actually play around with ALL of these colours (maybe not all at once) when you want to add warmth and interest to a cool gray room.
Warm Accent Colours
Warm accent colours help to offset the chill of gray, adding some balance to the visual temperature of the room.
Shown here, Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray
This room was for a Home Stage, so the decor was kept simple and we stuck to one dominant accent colour.
Shown here, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
While Edgecomb Gray is one of the warmer gray paint colours on the market, it still needs the added touch of texture, pattern and accent colours to jazz things up!
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Cool Accent Colours
Accent colours don’t necessarily need to be WARM to add the feeling of warmth to a room. While cool colours will always be cool, they feel warmer when they are saturated and in the medium to dark range.
Shown here, Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
You can also help gray feel warmer and inviting via a tone-on-tone palette, taking your gray into the medium and dark charcoal end of things. Depth often leads to warmth, so don’t underestimate the value of darker neutrals!
Shown here, Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
While there are indigo and yellow to jazz things up, notice that the drapes, couch, coffee table and most of the toss cushions are versions of gray!
BTW – ALL of the photos on this blog post are from my client’s homes, local and online! (and I snuck my dining room in too…)
Idea #4 Add Warmth to a Gray Room by Expanding Your Palette
Paint an adjoining room in a warm paint colour so that it’s a beautiful and balanced backdrop to your gray room.
- The textured area rug
- The throw blanket in a warm yellow
- Toss cushions in warm colours and fun patterns
- An adjoining room painted a warm colour
- Warm wood toned furniture
- Decorative branches on the accent table (you’ll see them in the background)
Need some personalized colour ideas for YOUR home?
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Kylie M Interiors E-Design, Color Consultant and Online Decorating and E-Design Services Based in Nanaimo BC, Vancouver Island