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Is it time for the grey shade to go?

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For such a seemingly inoffensive shade, the power that grey has to divide the design community is second to none. Shift your mind back to the mid-twenty-tens and you’ll likely recall that ‘50 shades of grey’ was largely the in-demand look. 


With the influence of Hygge, so too came the addition of highly textured, layered accessories and a focus on a restful palette that favoured a monochromatic approach opposed to complementary contrasts. However, subjectivity aside, the over-application of this style resulted in a hard stop from interior design professionals and enthusiasts alike, with the ‘live, laugh, love’ aesthetic quickly becoming the internet’s most highly criticised style. 


Fast forward, and, in recent years, the cool-toned greys that dominated interiors, fashion and lifestyle have been replaced by beiges with warmer undercurrents. So, has this marked the end of grey?


It would seem not. Whispers of the grey revival first appeared when Pantone named their 2021 colour of the year a combination of Ultimate Grey and Illuminating (a sunny yellow). This, coupled with the fact that Elephant’s Breath was Farrow & Ball’s most Googled shade in 2021 (and expected to be most popular in 2022), would suggest that the path for a grey revival has well and truly been laid. 


More recently, the March 2022 issue of Living Etc.’s featured a trend called ‘Architectural Grey’, where the shade was called cooler than ever before. Plus, just a couple of weeks ago, in an episode of the podcast, The Great Indoors, interiors authority and co-host, Kate Watson Smyth, stated “Grey was never dead. It was just having a lie down”. 


The trick to doing it right this time around is to hero texture; think concrete, granite and render. Secondly, taking a tip from Pantone’s 2021 coupling of colours, it’s important to ensure your greys aren’t layered upon one another but instead paired with complementary tones and grounded by natural woods. 


As grey creeps back into the fold, we don't think this means we'll be saying goodbye to warm whites and beiges either. Instead, it seems that, after an oversaturated start, opinions on grey have simply evened out, resulting in both designers and consumers being ready to style, wear and paint with whichever neutral tone speaks to them the most. 


So tell us, will you be embracing grey within your designs, schemes and reference points this year?

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Written by Jordan Evans
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Written by Jordan Evans