How to make grey work in your living room

Grey Fabric Sofa

How to make grey work in your living room

17th April 2016

When it comes to home decorating, grey is anything but dull… say hello to the cool shade that’s hot right now!

It used to be that grey was thought of as a depressing colour, conjuring up images of boring offices and utilitarian, industrial environments – back in 2011, The Guardian even referred to the shade as the ‘drabbest colour on the planet’! But ask any interior designer today for their favourite decorating shade, and grey (in any one of its 50 incarnations!) figures highly on their lust lists. Here’s how to get your stylish heart racing without having to buy the latest EL James book!

Grey matters

Grey is definitely hot in the décor stakes right now. But before you rush in and paint your whole room in Farrow & Ball’s Mole’s Breath (or any of the other myriad shades of grey out there), it’s worth understanding how this new neutral will work in your home.

What natural light does your room get?

North-facing rooms get cool northern light, which is blue in hue, while south-facing spaces benefit from the warmer, golden tones of southern light. And as you might expect, west-facing rooms get warmer light as the sun starts to drop, while those pointing east get their maximum warm light at sunrise.

So which grey is great for your room?

  • North The cooler, bluer light hitting these rooms can flatten some shades of grey, making them look cold and unwelcoming. To counter this, choose a strong, dark shade with yellow or beige undertones (often known as greige) and use it sparingly, perhaps as an accent wall. Or you could go for striking dark furniture, natural woods and warm metals, offset with paler walls that reflect the available light.
  • East Because they get their best light in the morning, these rooms can be a little on the blue side later in the day, so pick a grey with undertones of green or blue to emphasise this (in a ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ sort of thing!). East-looking rooms benefit from layers of colour, so bring in a few complementary grey tones with your furniture and accessories to add depth and interest to all areas.
  • West Make the most of the warmer light in these spaces by choosing greys that are made up from tones of beige or yellow – these look fab during the day but really come into their own at night under soft interior lighting. Play up the warmth with a rich, dark sofa in a tactile, plush fabric, and accent this with cushions and throws in golds and warm yellows.
  • South If you’re lucky enough to face south, you’re laughing as you have your pick of the spectrum. Cooler, pale tones with blue undertones will reflect and maximise all that lovely light, while darker greys work wonderfully too, giving the impression of warmth and cosiness.

A grey area

Afraid of the dark? Don’t be! It’s a myth that dark shades make rooms seem smaller. According to the experts at Houzz, rich colours on your walls add a touch of glamour and sophistication to any size space and, far from making the room seem claustrophobic, create a cosy, intimate feeling.

There are two ways to style a room with dark grey walls, both equally impactful. You can either choose to offset the dark with light, adding pale grey or white furniture and accessories, as in this gorgeous room we found on Dutch style blog

Light Fabric Sofa With Dark Walls, Image credit from

Contrast dark walls with pale furniture

Or you can embrace your dark side completely, and layer on the luxe with grey on grey sofas, rugs and cushions nestling against a rich, deep background, perfected in this stylish look found on

Dark fabric sofa with dark painted walls, Image credit from

Layer dark on dark for max impact

Hurray for grey

Whatever shade you go for, there is a huge range of great grey sofas and chairs at DFS. Here are just a few of our favourites for 2016, and for more inspiration, check out our new Style Sourcebook, online now, designed to help you create a space you’ll love to live in.

Sharp as…

In darkest Charcoal with crisp, clean lines, Flint is the perfect sofa for modern living.

French Connection Flint four seater fabric sofa in charcoal

Pale perfection

Comfort and style meet beautifully in Merit – and its pale Silver shade will work with both light and dark grey schemes.

Merit 3 seater fabric sofa in silver

Snuggle in

With its deep seats and room to stretch out and relax, Eleanor in Graphite turns any corner in to your very own cosy space.

Eleanor Left Arm Facing Open End Corner Fabric Sofa in CharcoalFor more shades of may find our latest board rather 'Pinteresting'...


Back to homepage