Belfast Telegraph

Fifty shades of grey for your home

Inspired by that book, Gabrielle Fagan on the power of the once staid shade.

Grey's so sexy and sophisticated — no, calm down, dear, not the masterful hero of best-selling novel, 50 Shades Of Grey — but the decor colour. Millions of women may be swooning over Christian Grey and his wooing of Anastasia Steele, but designers have taken all shades of grey to heart.

Once an overlooked ‘wallflower' section on the colour chart, grey's shed its cold, boring, institutional image. Flirting with its subtle, versatile tones, from crisp charcoal and French grey to shimmering silver and mysterious smoke-grey, could be just the way to turn up the heat at home.

“Grey is a surprisingly calming and harmonious colour to live with, but you must choose the right tone,” advises Mark Upstone, head of global visual display at The Conran Shop. “Greys with more brown in the mix will feel warm — white-based greys will feel colder. Be bold. Don't restrict yourself to a feature wall, grey looks better en masse, and use different finishes of the same tone to create intriguing interest and depth.”

Give grey a starring role by using it on walls and paintwork, he suggests, with a paint such as Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe matt emulsion, and a matching gloss paint finish for woodwork. If that feels too overpowering, tone it down with pastels, white or a zingy kick of sharp citrus, which will ensure it has less of a masculine edge.


If you're committing to a new relationship with this colour, the best place to start is with the walls. “Grey is a wonderful colour with so many nuances, from soft, pinky ‘dove greys' to deep charcoal tones,” says Edward Bulmer, director of specialist paint company, Pots of Paint.

“Try colours in different tones by using sample pots, but ensure you see how they change with the light in your home throughout the day. It also works well to simply paint one wall in your chosen grey and use it as a backdrop to a focus piece of furniture, such as a striking sofa..”

TURN ON TO GREY B&Q's grey paint range, features one particular star, Colours matt emulsion in grey slate, £13.98 for 2.5 litres, perfect with a grey wallpaper scattered with yellow canaries, Colours Opera Aviary wallpaper, £8.98 a roll, available from October.

Conjure a forest with Mirage wallpaper, £27 a roll by Graham & Brown, from Littlewoods, or flirt with florals — ‘Crush' wallpaper, with its elegant design of silvery roses on a grey background, costs from £66 per roll. It's in the Carlucci di Chivasso Curious Wallpaper collection at JAB Anstoetz.

Grey's a perfect partner for practical areas. Artisan tiles, in five soft, organic-wash shades including French Grey, from £83 a square metre, Laura Ashley.


Texture, shape and symmetry are vital ingredients for successful grey sanctuaries, says Jane Cowdry, founder of soft furnishings online boutique, Lily Matthews: “The key to using grey is layering and texture. Using one tone throughout will look flat and dull, but mix in wool, silk, linen, and velvet and you have a sophisticated uplifting room.”

TURN ON TO GREY Lounge on a fab Osbourne sofa, upholstered in a silver velvet, £1,900, Sofa Design, sit demurely on a chic Dali chair, £399, from or make a quirky statement with a small Tissington chair, in a grey animal-patterned fabric, £675, Pets Pyjamas.

Clutter needn't spoil the serenity of this look if it's tucked away in a set of Mono Drawers, finished in macho dark grey and tweed, £60, Matalan (available end of September).


Transform a boring bedroom palette with greys in decor or silky fabrics to bring an air of relaxation. Hang drapery panels which puddle on the floor with a layer of textured sheers behind for the ultimate in privacy.

“We've seen a fast-growing trend for using grey in bedroom interiors over the past year,” says Jeremy Borlant, designer and partner at Seymours of Darlington. Grey tones in fabrics and wallpapers create a glamorous and striking effect, especially paired with pattern and texture.”

TURN ON TO GREY If passion for the look is running high, you'll want a dream bed such as a Nautilus period period-style sleigh bed, from £5,990, from And So To Bed, which can be painted in any shade from the Farrow & Ball range — including grey, of course.

Buy grey Astoria bedlinen from the Kylie Minogue at Home range, including a double duvet cover, £75, from Seymours of Darlington or Matalan's Grey Polka Dot duvet bedlinen collection, from £20. Simple luxury touches are essential.

Try Laura Ashley's velvet Louise runner, £40 or a floral Chrysanthemum rug, from £140,


Subtle hints of grey add intriguing interest to rooms and snazzy grey seating is sure to be useful. A Scilla Knitted floor cushion, £39.98, B&Q (available October), is a winner on style and price.

Embrace the surreal with an Ottoman pouffe decorated in a Fornasetti fabric featuring ghostly pale grey faces, £764.80, available to order from Muralto.

Lighting's also key — a zinc wall light, £59, Idyll Home has a chic industrial look. Dim the lights with a Tamsin tripod table lamp, in warm grey, £39 from

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