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50 Shades of Grey: Why grey is fashion’s new black and DIY’s new magnolia

Posted by on October 2, 2013

I admit it, I am lip bitingly obsessed with grey. And it’s not Christian Grey.

Grey roomSat here poised over my paint colour charts I am entranced by the array of greys available to me to paint my walls with. From stone greys to green greys to whites that are actually grey, it’s clear from the home mags that grey is just so ‘in’ right now. When my work colleague told me she was painting her living room French Grey, I (wanting to show off my extensive paint knowledge) responded “Oh Farrow & Ball paint is so lovely, I have friends who have used that…” But oh no, it’s not F&B’s French Grey (a dark toned green tinged grey) that she had in mind, it’s Little Greene’s French Grey. An altogether lighter more ‘light grey’ grey. I’ve now been introduced to another elite range of classy colours to befuddle my mind further.  The choice is endless.

Quite simply, what’s not to like about a shade of grey on your walls?

  •  It contrasts fabulously with white woodwork, and looks particularly cool the inverted way round too (grey woodwork and lighter emulsion on the walls). There are also at least 50 shades of white so placing greys and whites together to find a perfect match is another time wasting must when in the throes of decorating decadence.
  • I can’t think of any colours that DON’T go with it. A flash of bright colour looks great (such as my bright orange satchel next to my grey wall – even if I never actually use it because of those blasted little buckles I can rest easy knowing it looks great languishing in my grey home office and doesn’t need an outing to prove it’s worth), pastel colours look soft with it, autumnal colours look cosy with it… the list goes on.
  • It lends itself to different looks. Whether you want to go for Charles Darwin’s Study with botanical prints, antlers and moose heads with a touch of steam punk or Modern Industrial with metal cabinets, theatre spotlights, exposed brickwork and wooden floorboards to Glamorous Boudoir with a velvet chaise, gilt mirrors and lots of plumped up luxury – it just seems to work every time.
  • The fact that there are so many shades of grey means there is the right tone for every shape and size of room to fit in with what natural light it gets.

The elephant in the roomVery soon the tongue and groove panelling in my bathroom will be covered in Elephant’s Breath. And this is not from the massive elephant in the room (that we’ve replaced a simple inexpensive trip to the local DIY store for overpriced paints bought from snooty suited “design consultants” in fancy showrooms that attempt to fool us into believing our homes are in the same league as the English Heritage estates)…

Fashion-wise grey is a no-brainer. I have grey knee high boots for Autumn/ Winter and they literally go with everything I have and make a welcome change to black or brown. I have a grey blazer that is similarly versatile. A grey jumper is a total must I think, teamed with jeans or with a colourful shirt collar it never fails to look effortlessly stylish. I also think grey makes everyone’s skin look good. No one’s skin tone is grey (even if you think yours is after a night of too much wine) and with the right shade (darker grey for fair skin or lighter grey for dark skins) it tends to bring out colour or a tan, or brighten lighter skin.

Grey fashion from Bellabox

I also use a couple of shades of grey on my eyes – Bobbi Brown’s Sand Dollar and Slate cream shadows – both of which I adore. I have blue/grey eyes which these compliments well, but I find it hard to imagine a skin tone and eye colour combination that they wouldn’t suit, after all who doesn’t covet the smokey eye? (There’s another grey shadow called Cement that actually looks really nice too.). What next? Matte grey nail varnish…. Hmmm I’d give it a go!

Perhaps the only grey no-no I can think of is when your comfy old white knickers have turned a shade of Motheaten Grey that no self-respecting Farrow & Ball chart will ever offer. Just please someone come find me, when I disappear against my Manor House Grey wall closing my eyes and biting my lip totally camouflaged in my grey get-up. Or better still, throw me that orange lifesaver of a satchel. I knew it would come in handy eventually.

I’ve never been an absolutist. Life is not black and white, it’s full of the many shades of grey.