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Is the Gray Trend Dead?

Updated: Feb 11

(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)


I don’t remember where I read it or who said it but the words made me laugh out loud. They went something like this: “When oh when will this horrid gray trend ever end?” It was the word “horrid” and this person’s utter exhaustion with gray that made me react as I did.


According to design industry gurus, the gray trend is dead and the brown trend is returning. However, they’ve been predicting such changes for the past three years. If you look in magazines, on Houzz and Pinterest, and watch HGTV shows, you’ll notice that gray is still going strong.

I’m not a guru but here are my two cents. Gray is not, and will not ever be, dead because gray is not a trend. It’s a basic, neutral color. People who prefer warm tones will veer towards taupe-gray and those you prefer cool tones will veer towards silver-gray. Then there are people who don’t like gray at all but they don’t count in this scenario because they never would choose gray no matter how strong the “trend”.

I didn’t laugh at the question because the premise was wrong but because of the person’s clear exasperation. I understand. I, too, am fairly tired of the gray theme. I’m tired of gray kitchens, gray bathrooms, gray walls, gray upholstery, gray draperies, gray bedding, and gray rugs. But I’m tired of gray because it is always, as in always, paired with white and that’s it. Of course, this is pretty but think of all the other options. How about gray and gold, gray and navy blue, gray and lavender, gray and green? One of my favorite combinations is gray and red.

Do you know what else I see over and over – and especially used with gray? Carrara and Calacatta marble and quartz. It’s easy to use because it’s mostly white. Carrara has a gray and blurry white background. Calacatta has a gold vein and a crispy white background. Calacatta does not come from Calcutta, India but from a quarry in Carrara, Italy. I was surprised to hear a well-known designer as well as host and judge on a Bravo design show say “Calcutta”. So surprised that I rewound my DVR to make sure I had heard correctly. She might also be one of the gurus that say gray is dead.

I do see the appeal of Carrara and Calacatta slabs as well as all of their similar siblings. But, again, I’m personally tired of them. There are, indeed, other options. Have you ever seen Sapphire Blue or Costa Esmeralda granite or Verde Mediterraneo marble? They are luscious.

I understand the comfort and reassurance in choosing materials and colors palettes that you’ve seen repeatedly. If everyone else is choosing it, then it must be good. Right? Not always. But if you do go down this road, think of twists and turns along the way. Add big patterned tile or metallic wallcovering or bold paint colors. Think about putting embossed tin tiles on your ceiling or adding a statement-making light fixtures or oversized abstract art.

If someone were to read a quote said by me, it would be, “Make your home comfortable. Make it a reflection of you, your interests, your history, and your treasures. Make it well-designed so that it’s interesting and never goes out of style. Make it functional to improve your daily routine. And most of all, make it unique – even if it’s done in gray.”

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