Grey Updates – The New Neutral

Kate Watson Smythe, journalist, blogger from, interior stylist and author, is top of our list when it comes to offering inspirational guidance, advice and tips for the home.  So the launch of her book Shades of Grey: Decorating with the Most Elegant of Neutrals last month really got our pulses racing – but not for the reasons you might think!  Hers is a practical go-to guide for decorators, home DIY enthusiasts and first-timers, offering easy-to-follow advice on all-things grey.  Here are some snippets to get you in the mood…


What’s so great about grey?  It’s the most versatile colour for decorating, says Waston Smythe; not just because there are so many shades, but also because it can change its personality according to what you put with it.  It will happily sit with rustic wood tables or sleek chrome lights, chunky knitted cushions and casual furniture.  Whether you choose a simple monochrome palette or a rainbow of colours, grey will set them all off perfectly.  Grey doesn’t have to be the star of the show; it provides the perfect backdrop for everything else.


How to make it work: You can layer shades of grey, she says, but it’s tricky and you run the risk of a result that looks like you couldn’t make up your mind.  You’d be better off using one strong grey and balancing it with chalky white or black.  It you want to use different shades of grey, then pick one for the walls and another for the textiles – they’re less likely to have an argument that way. Pale silk, soft grey linen, charcoal knit and fake fur all complement grey well.

It’s all about the light:  When choosing which shade of grey to go for, the first question you must ask yourself is how much natural light does your room get?  And the second is where does that light come from – north, south, east or west?  The orientation of your space will affect the way a colour looks on the wall, says Watson Smythe.


The next thing to consider, she says, is when will the room be used.  She asks, do you use your space primarily during daylight hours or artificially illuminated evening hours?  This will apparently have an impact on which shades of grey you plump for.

If you have a room that is mainly used in the evenings, or where you nearly always have the light on, you can afford to go dark.  Meanwhile, rooms that are in use all day long and beyond, for example the kitchen, where you might eat your evening meal – require a grey that works with either natural or electric light.  For daylight hours, dark grey will work particularly well if you have a reasonably light room to start with.

Dark walls in a kitchen work well with a light floor and cabinets while dining rooms are often quite dark rooms anyway, and if you use yours for evening meals, you can afford to go dark and intimate.  Finally, when it comes to the bedroom the choice is yours.  Do you want to cocoon at night in a dark, cosy space, or to wake up bathed in light, refreshed and raring to go?


Futon Company says:  While we’re big fans of grey here at Futon Company, we often read conflicting interior design advice about decorating with grey, especially as to whether it’s an appropriate hue for small space living.  Our view, outlined clearly in Watson Smythe’s book, is that there’s a vast spectrum of shades of grey and when it comes to small space living the key is to be mindful of your space when choosing a hue. Apartment Therapy has written a Small Space Solution Blog on Dark Walls in Small Spaces and says: “if there’s one decorating myth that I’d love to see go the way of the dodo bird, it’s the one that claims dark wall colors are unfit for small rooms.  White walls often expand a space, but dark hues can work their own type of magic in small places, and more often than not the result is dead classy and much harder to get wrong.”  Check out key grey pieces from Futon Company…

Twingle Sofabed










Lili Day Bed










Robot Too Sideboard from Design Masters











Limited Edition Print by Rennie Pilgrem from Design Masters