Color Guide: How to Work With Charcoal Gray

Charcoal gray may be a neutral, but it is also a statement. It is bolder than its milder brethren; more modern than its impartial cousins, the beiges; and much less dramatic than black. (I guess that could be Dad?))

As Texas designer Bex Hale from this season’s Design Star states, “Charcoal gray is the little black dress of decor. Dress it up, dress it down — it is my go-to colour.”

Authentic gray (or achromatic gray) is a combination of black and white. It’s equal values of red, green and blue (RGB), and so no colour. Off-grays — what we most frequently use in decorating — have quite subtle but important differences in the values of red, green and blue. Cool grays are noticeably blue, green or violet. Warm grays are noticeably pinkish or brown and might have yellow tones.

Charcoal off-grays have quite subtle differences in the RGB values but stay true neutrals, making them the perfect complement for the majority of colors, especially bright whites, hot citrus colors and pinks.

For the reason that it seems so frequently in character — believe stone, storm clouds and the North Atlantic — it works well in with natural materials such as marble, wood and greenery.

Fiorella Design

Cool charcoal pairs well with bright white trim and works with most wood floors. In a house in this way, with period details and nice bones, it highlights both the architecture when modernizing the room.

Avenue B Development

Warm charcoal above the bright white wainscoting adds a lot of drama to this dining area but does not get too flashy about it. “A common mistake people use in choosing gray is using a ‘cold’ gray to get a wall shade. Grays with brown undertones really can warm up a room,” says Hale.


In this diverse living room, warm-tone charcoal provides the background for different colors, lines and patterns. It gives the room a nice weight and feels a bit more formal than white could. “Art jumps off gray walls,” Hale says.

Webber + Studio

Using trendy charcoal as an accent in a lighter gray room is the best method to create a focal point. “Light gray walls feel airy and crisp, while darker tones create a sultry, alluring, cozy mood,” she states.

Mark English Architects, AIA

Charcoal with citrus: The hot gray sets off this bright orange, making it stand out even more.

thirdstone inc. [^]

The high-gloss gray cabinets from Ikea set off the white and give this kitchen a nice visual landing place that white cabinets wouldn’t provide. This gray is about as achromatic as it comes.

Chelsea Atelier Architect, PC

The Lava Teak melamine chipboard from Cleaf from Italy and launched by Poggenpohl is equally modern and earthy (believe Big Sur). Notice the hot yellow tones?

Charcoal grout with white subway tile adds texture to this perfectly neutral bathroom.

Urrutia Design

And the opposite: solid tile with white grout additionally creates pattern from contrast, with a bit more depth.

Cynthia Lynn Photography

“Invest in a charcoal gray sofa and you’re going to have it forever,” Hale says. “I urge one dark enough to hide spills — my sofa cushions are full of merlot-stained goose down feathers.”

A citrus-yellow sofa with charcoal piping from a charcoal accent wall. “Nearly any bright color pops against gray,” Hale says. “I am enjoying the gray-orange-cream combo today — sexy in vogue also — and gray with hits of bright yellow.”

Next, two charcoals which can work with both cool and warm colors.


Day Hush, Behr

Day Hush is quite dark but has nice warm undertones. It almost looks as if sunlight is putting on it. (See those yellows?))

Low-VOC Paint, Steel, Serena & Lily – $45

This steel colour is a beautiful example of a cool gray. Notice the purple tones?

If you’re going to use the cool gray, say, in a nursery, then you might choose to heat it up with a few yellows or pinks. If the area were all violets and blues, it might look too trendy.

More: Get more ideas for using gray

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Pretty Pink Playroom at Hong Kong

Anyone with teen or preteen brothers understands they want their own room. When a dad moved to Hong Kong together with his three girls, ages 9, 14 and 16, he wanted to put aside a place for them which was their own. Designer Alexandra Lauren Wright altered the decrease poolside level of their family’s house to a multipurpose playroom for the girls, creating different zones at the 1,500-square foot area.

Alexandra Lauren Designs

The plan of the room isn’t much like the rest of the house. “We really turned up the volume on the brights in the playroom, as the colours appeared to exude the same energy as the lively girls [who] would live and play in this area,” Wright says. There are far more formal living spaces upstairs.

Alexandra Lauren Designs

A gray couch was the one existing piece the client wanted to maintain. However, he also wanted to create the area bright and cheerful for his girls, so he told Wright in the beginning he wasn’t fearful of employing a lot of pink. Wright chose out a couple of straightforward palettes and consulted the girls — the vote for both pink and citron was unanimous.

Striped rug: Designer’s Guild; coffee table, armchairs and cushions: custom

Alexandra Lauren Designs

Wright made the custom coffee table white lacquer for simple cleaning. The table can be outfitted with a removable tray (only visible in the right-hand corner), making after-school snacking fast, simple and mess free.

Because numerous homes in Hong Kong are small, Wright is used to designing custom pieces to match virtually every sort of space. While space limitations were not really a problem in this room, Wright’s custom pieces add a special style and flair.

Alexandra Lauren Designs

A round couch was designed to make the most from the raised floor area in the corner of the play area. Wright envisioned it as a homework and arts and crafts corner, and wanted to make it an enjoyable place that would encourage the girls to get creative.

Alexandra Lauren Designs

A ping-pong table for those girls and their dad is just visible past these vibrant chairs. Wright found bright pink and citron paddles and custom-made a table skirt for cohesiveness. The skirt also hides toys and other objects.

Fabric on seats and curtains: Designer’s Guild; Lucite side table: Aluminum

Alexandra Lauren Designs

A cheerful, reupholstered piano bench, which matches the custom armchairs perfectly, is a playful way to create practicing the piano only somewhat more enjoyable. One of the girls loved it so much, she insisted that Wright sit with her to play a duet.

Once the space was complete, one of the girls had a giant slumber party in the area for a housewarming. “My biggest reward was searching at 15 little girls snuggling on the couches with a giant bowl of popcorn, giggling and giggling,” Wright says.

14 Picture-Perfect Playhouses

For Your Kids: Crucial Forts Indoors

Fantasy Kids’ Rooms

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Color-Coated Casegoods: Manner to Appeal Up a Room

Few things provide pizzazz to your room rather like colour casegoods that are coated. Vibrant accent, curtain and upholstery materials not amazed us. But casegoods — furniture made from tough stuff — that finished or are painted using a custom colour aren’t common. These surprising pieces not only get to be the focal point in a room however in addition they add plenty of appeal.

Studio Oneoff Architecture & Style

The purple-coloured finish with this cabinet turns it into a thing of beauty. The colour additionally attracts on your eye up to the specific art.

Cynthia Mason Interiors

In this bath, the bluegreen chest organize with all the colors in the window and background therapy, which helps you to strengthen the colour scheme.

LDa Architecture & Insides

Electricity is constantly added by crimson seats, and that I really like the yellow lighting-fixture that has been used here. Both colours put in a spark to the impersonal space and play off one another.

Nicole Lanteri Style

This bright- yellow chest of drawers doubles as a changing station in a nursery.

Hint: Resource thrift shops, flea markets and garage sales for affordable furniture locates that are still in excellent shape. A brand new coat of paint present your piece a custom appearance and will add style.

Mosca Picture

These bright-coloured seats pick up the colors in the carpet.

Amoroso Style

An incredibly cosy eating place is created by a table.

Hint: To keep your painted dining table appearing amazing, make sure you apply a layer or 2 of clear varnish. You can even cover the table using an item of glass.

Cristi Holcombe Interiors, LLC

Here, had the night stand been white, we might have lost it.

Hint: Brilliant colours add visible fat and may help smaller pieces seem bigger and much more noticeable.

Eisner Style LLC

An integrated shelving and desk make a vibrant focus in this play area.
Mo-Re thoughts for brilliant ledges

This chest of drawers that is painted fits the colour of the mirror above. The bureau can also be embellished using a stencil layout that harks back to the routine of the mirror body. Excellent thought

Have you painted a furniture piece in your home?

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