Gray, you tempter.
You’ve stirred our passion. You’ve inflamed our desire.
We want you everywhere. In the bedroom. In the bathroom. In — gasp! — the kitchen.
We are held captive by your silken charms, helpless in your grasp.
Oh, wait. You didn’t think we were talking about the protagonist of that steamy novel hidden on countless Kindles, did you?
Heavens, no. This is about gray, small g. The color.
We can’t get enough of it — all 50 shades or so.
Gray has shown a dramatic increase in popularity since 2010 and particularly in the last year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association reports. In fact, the color is used in 55 percent of the kitchens and 56 percent of the bathrooms decorated by the designers who make up the group’s membership.
It’s a grown-up hue that lends a sophistication consumers crave, the association says.
Gray is more than just a mixture of black and white, said Sonu Mathew, an interior designer who works on the color team for paint maker Benjamin Moore & Co. Gray can have undertones of red, blue, green or purple, which she said makes it “very complex,” even mysterious.
That characteristic makes gray work well with many colors, Mathew said. Gray gives the eye a chance to rest, she explained, so we can appreciate the other colors in the room more.
Interior designer Amy Douglass believes gray’s ability to play well with others — even other neutrals such as creams, tans and white — is a large part of its popularity. It’s similar to black in that regard but not as stark, said Douglass, owner and senior designer at the Interior Design Studio in Medina, Ohio.
“It’s just a little softer,” she said. “It’s not as dramatic as black and white.”
Douglass has paired gray with yellow and white in a sunroom, and she’s now using a bluish gray in a kitchen she’s designing. It works well with the slate on the room’s fireplace and the maple of its cabinets, she said, as well as the gold, tan and rust in the adjacent great room.
Robin Brechbuhler, a designer in North Canton, Ohio, incorporated gray liberally in a home she decorated for Elizabeth Hoover, chair of the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation and great-granddaughter of Hoover Co. founder W.H. “Boss” Hoover. Brechbuhler said the color choice was inspired in part by the metal of a couple of vintage Hoover vacuum cleaners displayed in the home.
The neutral palette throughout the house blends grays with beiges and browns, a quiet background for bursts of color.
In a sitting area off the kitchen, for example, pillows in cream, orange and rust brighten a dark gray sectional. Gray grass cloth panels break up the dark taupe wall in the media room, and a wall covering made from chips of gray ceramic and glass makes one of the bathrooms sparkle.
Brechbuhler loves the way gray sets off the colors of the antique Hoover displays around the house.
“It’s a wonderful neutral,” she said. “It’s sort of taken the place of beige.”
Gray used to be considered cold and masculine, Benjamin Moore’s Mathew said, but its use in fashion and other products such as cars has given us a new appreciation for it. When we see gray used beautifully in, say, a silk blouse, we start to break those old associations and see new possibilities for the color.