Grey colour: calm sophistication

Read the interview with Michelle Ogundehin, internationally renowned as thought-leader on interiors, trends and style, to get inspiration to create a successful interior in your home.

Rarely bland, never dull, always surprising: grey is a thoroughly contemporary neutral. True, it's had a bad rap in the past, but it's coming in from the cold, again!

You see grey first came to the forefront for sophistication in the home around 2005 with the launch of Farrow & Ball’s Elephants Breath. Here was a colour which instantly captured the popular imagination. It was a game-changing trophy paint that seemed to confer instant luxe. Even the Sunday Times called it “code for classy interiors”.

Why? Because think neutral, and you generally imagine tones of beige or taupe. And not so terribly long ago, neutral also connoted those awful “white-with-a-hint-of-bleurgh” shades too. Neutral was seen as a halfway house to a home with character for those who knew they wanted more than white but lacked the confidence to graduate to full colour. But this kind of neutral was rarely cool.Then along came a cool grey. By which I actually mean a grey that’s been tickled with the merest hint of blue, like Neptune Grey, the new smart finish from SMEG for its built-in kitchen appliances (ovens to coffee machines and more).

Then along came a cool grey. By which I actually mean a grey that’s been tickled with the merest hint of blue, like Neptune Grey, the new smart finish from SMEG.

You see the trick to choose a tone that has a degree of warmth in it. Then you'll have a grey that can lighten up any room, imbuing it with a sense of calm sophistication, however you choose to use it. It has also graduated to being utterly timeless, a colour that has transcended trends, which is a very lofty place to be.

When it comes to the home, this makes it something of an interior work horse. It really is the colour that can go anywhere and be used for anything.

Why grey is the best choice for your kitchen?

Grey is the perfect choice for a modern kitchen - dramatic yet discreet, sophisticated but also serene, different but never shouty. Specifically, the idea of appliances in grey is super luxe. After all, these usually come in black. Or stainless steel. Both of which can look stunning, but appliances in grey are another level. They speak of deliberate choice rather than a default to a standard option.

In the world of kitchen design, not everything has to be gray. I love the combination of warm gray with raw, rugged wood textures; they complement each other beautifully. Gray works best when it contrasts with other elements in the space.

Gray pairs wonderfully with a wide range of colors, especially soft tones like powder pinks, lavenders, and biscuity beiges, as well as bolder shades like mustard. It's making a comeback as the color of choice in 2023, offering a contemporary edge and a sense of calm.

Gray represents a subtle revolution, a departure from the brighter fashion trends of the past. It allows us to embrace change without going overboard.

How to use grey well in the kitchen?

  1. For hard surfaces: go matt wherever possible. I love the tone of the Neptune grey SMEG appliances; it is the perfect shade of warm grey. Greys with a lot of blue in them can feel cold, especially if your room is north-facing.
  2. For floors: If you introduce grey as poured concrete floors, definitely finish them to a high shine, and install underfloor heating, otherwise it could look, and feel, like a carpark. But polished and heated, it will be ultra luxurious and elegant.
  3. For paints: think dove grey ie greys with tones of pink in them rather than blue (Little Owl by Fired Earth is a good example, or Farrow & Ball’s Cornforth White). For walls, I will concede to a satin finish, while for cupboard doors, it must be matt all the way!
  4. For textiles: All velvets are sublime in grey for upholstery or curtaining as the pile adds richness and depth. With other fabrics, it’s essential to layer contrasting finishes and weights to get that up-market feel, think linen mixed with oversize knits or smooth silks. Just remember, it’s laid-back cool you’re going for, not cold, and all will be well.
Read more about Michelle Ogundehin on Instagram and website for more insights.