How to Combine Blue and Gray in Your Living Room
Let these 10 versions of the versatile color combination inspire you
Your living room is the place in the house where you want to feel calm — but not catatonic. To that end, the elegant color combination of gray and blue couldn’t be more perfect. Whether you go for indigo and charcoal or mix in bare wood or glossy white, there are ways to present this palette so it works for every style and state of mind.
In this kitchen-living area, the soft gray of the sofa and gentle blues in the rug and pillows help take the edge off the shiny white cabinetry. They also provide a layered backdrop for the brighter blue accents, which, on their own with the white, could create a rather cold effect, as could using one of the other primary colors or adding more hard, glossy surfaces.
If you don’t have kitchen cabinets like this, consider a few living room storage units or a TV console in glossy white; if a less contemporary look is your thing, try painting some vintage wood furniture white. A glass-front cabinet would be ideal, as it provides reflection without the need for a glossy paint. Add an antique mirror or two to boost the effect.
One of the many rules about pairing color is that if you pick two hues of a comparable depth of tone, you’ll be on the right track. Here, however, a super dark sofa would get lost. To connect the two tones, the designer has chosen a sofa fabric with streaks of very dark gray on a mid-grey background. Smart move.
For a cozy effect, think lots of different textures. This streaky sofa adds to the feeling by not being a completely flat color.
When sofa shopping, take paint swatches with you to hold up next to potential purchases. Better yet, paint larger sheets of paper using sample pots so you can stand back and get a good look.
Designer Rebecca Leivars wanted to give a subtle nod to the cottage’s location, focusing on stormy grays and blues. “I wanted an emphasis on lazy, rainy days — sitting there with a hot chocolate or a nice glass of wine in hand while the wind’s howling outside,” she says.
The palette builds out from the painting, but not too literally: Blue is central to the artwork, but it’s picked up in only one pillow. Instead, what dominates are the neutrals — a soothing wash of pale biscuity walls and several shades of gray. The spikes of golden yellows add warmth, but so, perhaps surprisingly, does the blue. Certain blues’ warming powers are one of the reasons they can be such a good partner for cool grays.
Speaking of which, part of the reason the navy walls and gray sofa don’t visually cancel each other out is that each has a distinct texture. Try this yourself if you’re pairing colors that risk running into each other. Here it’s wood paneling and a flecked fabric, but you could pair wool with stone or a matte, one-color patterned wallpaper with glossy, foil-wrapped furniture.
The gray curtains here are particularly effective. Note how they’re hung. If you’re tempted to go for a modern grommet style instead, bear in mind that this would introduce a potentially chilly, solitary chrome feature and a drape that isn’t as soft.
Certain grays (those with more blue in them) can be on the cool side. (The more yellow in the mix, the warmer a gray will be.) So a rug like this one, featuring stripes of blue, pink and red, adds a large-scale shot of heat. Now it’s just about lighting that fire.
Here, two highly patterned and vibrantly colored chairs in shades of teal and turquoise look classy. To see how much this has to do with those walls, try picturing the chairs against a bright white background or a yellow one — they’d be much more in your face.
The balance between opulent and elegant in this room is delicate and just right. There’s also something lovely about how the velvet emphasizes the matte paintwork and footstool and vice versa, with those details boosting the glow and glamour of the sofas. So if you’re drawn toward a sparkly wallpaper or glimmering silk curtains, a competing velvet sofa may not be for you unless you’re a confident maximalist.
The pairing does conjure up a bit of a seaside feel, but to keep that subtle, these homeowners have steered the design away from the informality of coastal style and gone for woods with a polished rather than a sun-bleached look. Symmetry can also be a shortcut to a more formal style — note here the lamps, pillow arrangements and matching armchairs.
Your turn: Do blue and gray feature in your living room decor?Post your photos in the Comments.