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“Your natural light makes a huge difference when you’re working with gray,” said Kathy Basil, manager/buyer for Hirshfield’s Design Resource.
It also can be tricky to incorporate gray into an existing color scheme, the designers agreed.
“The hardest thing about gray is combining it with things you already have,” Wettleson said. “If you have the ability to start from scratch, gray is easy. It’s hard to transition.”
It’s much easier to bring gray into a room when the woodwork is painted white, Conlin said. “It gives you a bit of contrast. In an older home with a lot of woodwork, it kind of fades away.” If that describes your home, it’s especially important to choose a warm shade of gray. “Go a little bit warmer than you think,” she said.
And don’t be afraid to dry a deep, saturated gray. Wettleson recently worked on a kitchen with dark gray enameled cabinets, set off by lighter gray walls. But the darkest shades are best used sparingly, as an accent rather than a whole room, unless the room has other features that leaven the effect. “Dark grays get heavy if you overdo it,” she said.
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784