Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Nifty Shades of Grey

by Sam Wylie-Harris

Grey may be raising temperatures in the bedroom right now, but this versatile shade can seduce any part of the home, reveals Sam Wylie-Harris

First came the book, and now cinemas across the land are bracing themselves for Mr Grey's big entrance. But, I bet you any money, the appeal of the colour grey can go on for much, much longer than the man himself ...

Indeed, this is a shade that can be dressed up or pared down, and a moody grey palette can reinvent your favourite room and cast simple, contemporary pieces in a different light, or showcase more traditional furnishings to dramatic effect, with flourishes of velvet or a decorative piece that's wildly beautiful.

Sophisticated and timeless, this versatile shade can veer from feminine and delicate to dark and handsome.

Easy on the eye, grey sits beautifully against other accent colours and can speak the language of love when it's dressed in silk and satin; or be a tough talker when positioned against steel accessories and industrial living schemes.

"There are indeed 50 shades of grey, ranging from those with a warm undertone of pink, to the pure cold greys that look so wonderful with silver," says Alison Cork, founder of Alison at Home.

"Understand the undertone and you can pick exactly the right colour to accompany your grey base, and bring the room to life."

From taffeta grey to platinum, and slate to battleship, the spectrum is an open invitation to enjoy a dalliance with some colour charts and accessorize those grey areas.

"Far from being bland, grey is stylish, versatile and appeals to lots of different tastes, depending on how you style it," says Kate Hassard, marketing manager at "Use bright accessories in bold colours for a playful, contemporary look; layer textured neutrals and other shades of grey for Scandinavian-inspired sophistication; or give it a masculine edge with dark accents and monochrome."

Set the Stage

For the ultimate backdrop, a textured wallpaper can add real drama and set the scene for your furniture and accessories to really shine. A trompe-l'oeil effect, such as Marcel Wanders' in Heart and Tulip, has been used on furniture in some of the world's top hotels and is available for the first time as a wallpaper. Although flat, it looks tactile and makes you want to reach out and touch it.

  • Heart and Tulip Mahogany by Marcel Wanders wallpaper, £20 per roll (
  • The Abigail 3 Seat Sofa in Baltic Roosevelt Velvet, £1,910 (
  • Owl Candle Holder, £59.50 (
  • Burton Cushion Fretwork, £125 (


Meanwhile, if you're passionate about paint, edgy dark walls can be seriously seductive and create the perfect ambience for a romantic corner. Furnished with a vintage black leather chaise longue for instance, retro accessories will imbibe a masculine vibe, or to soften the look, a plush velvet cushion, sensual swathe of fabric and an exotic orchid will add some feminine detail.

As Judy Smith, Crown colour consultant points out: "Darker tones of charcoal can be used to add drama anywhere in the home, from a living room to a bedroom, or even a small hallway - with clever lighting and mirrors, you can create a look that is both strong and atmospheric. These dark greys are also a perfect strong background for small amounts of brighter colour, like chartreuse or mint."

  • Whether you're painting walls, wood or metal, lashings of grey can be edgy and seductive. Walls in Night Fever, clock in matt City Break, both from £19.49 for 2.5L (
  • A comfy chair and footstool that doubles up as a coffee table can be accessorized with something sumptuous in red, for a subtle, sexy note. Alderney Armchair in Ash, £630, Club Footstool in Granite, £265 (
  • Concrete Grey Series 746 Telephone, £50 (

Light Show

If you've tired of curtain calls, shutters can make a bedroom feel warm and inviting and offer the best of both worlds. Unlike curtains, which are an open or closed book, cafe-style shutters cover just the lower half of your windows, for light and privacy, while tier on tier (double hung) shutters can be opened independently and adjusted to let light filter in, for a flattering effect.

n Using shutters to trickle light in the bedroom sets the tone for an atmospheric scheme, especially when pared with an antique French bed, to achieve a boudoir feel. Classic Poplar Wood Shutters in Little Greene Dark Led custom colour paint, from £167 per square metre (

  • Cape Cod Lamp Base, £95 (
  • Kelly Hoppen Chinese Lattice Embroidered Reversible Throw, Silver Grey, £30 (


Bare Essentials

A brilliant way to update the bathroom, glass mosaic tiles add glamour, and if you love to indulge yourself with bath oils and scented candles, they can be used to great effect.

"When choosing wall and floor tiles, grey is an obvious enduring colour choice that will continue to work well no matter how often you wish to change your interior style," advises Jeremy Harris, managing director at Tile Mountain. "While lighter shades offer a more feminine delicate feel, the darker tones are perfect for creating a more masculine, dramatic look."

  • Georgia Glass Mosaic (15 x 98), £8.99 per tile (
  • Alessi Joy Round Decorative Bowl, £69 (
  • Filou French Footstool in Dove Grey, £195 (
  • Purity Soft Throw, £14.99 (


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