Going Gray

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How can one little color, that’s really not much of a color at all, pack so much punch when it comes to interior spaces? Depending upon which of its 50 shades you love most, gray can be bold and brooding. Soft and Soothing. Glamorous and regal. Relaxed and unassuming. You gotta love a mix of black and white that can do all that.

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Through the past few years, many of us have washed our home’s interiors in gray’s neutral goodness, simplifying our spaces by embracing a pared down, minimalist look. But just as the sun bursts through the clouds on a cold January day, reviving and delighting everyone who sees it, sometimes you need to add a bit of color to give your gray rooms a little more life. If you’re growing a bit weary of your gray space, or just itching for something fresh and new, all you need to do is pop it up with a bit of color and pattern. Here are my favorites:


Colorful and Cool: Gray and Green

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I’m already counting the days until our barren Midwest winter gives way to the greens of spring. That’s why I find every excuse I can to hang out in this life-giving living room at Nell Hill’s, where we’ve mixed together grays, greens and creams to revive the senses and lighten the heart. We started with charcoal gray walls: Abbey Steps from my Mary Carol Artisan Paint line. We popped up the serious gray paint by covering the woodwork in Garrity Cream, another of my gold standard colors in my custom paint line.

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Then, we got to work pattern mixing. We covered one English rolled arm sofa in a green and cream geometric that has a charming vintage feel. A pair of matching square pillows in luxurious velvet and this crazy-cute floral make the look. A 53-inch tufted ottoman in a vibrant green batik is the hub of the space, perfect for putting up your feet while still having plenty of room for a killer display on a tray. It’s all grounded on a gray area rug.

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Two green motion chairs face the hearth, sweet in a green-on-green geometric fabric. Then, we balanced out the group with a classic three-cushion sofa, covered in a creamy fabric that makes it the ideal blank slate for interesting pillows. Our floral pick pulls in the gray, green and cream.

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If you have light gray or cream furnishings, wed them with additional pieces that introduce a new pattern or color. Our go-to oval ottoman in this gray and cream pattern is a perfect way to celebrate gray, but with a bit of panache.

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Floral fabric is back, and how! Today’s florals are bigger, brighter, full of saturated color. If you want to go big, trick up your gray room with a chair or two covered in a floral fabric that pulls in gray tones and accent hues. If you’re a bit more cautious, just add a pillow or two in a kicky floral.


Warm and Wonderful: Gray and Yellow

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Does your heart yearn for hotter colors? Gray is equally as brilliant when paired with yellows. You can go soft and sweet or sunny and sassy, or anything in between. In this welcoming space at Nell Hill’s, gray plays the supporting role, allowing the spotlight to be on a mix of yellowy tones.

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A cream sofa is the easel for a pair of pillows, highlighting each of our accent colors.

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Ottomans are a great place to experiment with fabrics. We covered this one with a simple gray and yellow stripe. Crisp, clean, classic.

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I’m wild about these spool chairs. Like the color gray, they allow themselves to be reinvented time and again as they are paired with different colors and patterns. Love this buttery, Asian influenced fabric.


Playful and Fun: Gray and Orange



Orange came on strong in the design world, and I didn’t think it was going to last. But it is still popular and has won a permanent place in my heart. And, it looks divine with gray. This delightful bed at Nell Hill’s started with a headboard upholstered in a yummy gray fabric. It’s the backdrop for this coral floral, with its splashes of gray, yellow and blue, which we teased out through our accent pillows.

Next week … Come back with me to Innisfree! I can’t wait to share with you my quirky bathroom that suits me to a T.