16 grey living room ideas that will inspire you to decorate with this timeless hue

From gossamer grey to the moodiest granite, there’s a grey living room idea for everyone.

Grey is subtle and grey is steadfast. These admirable qualities you’d wish for in a confidante are well translated into living rooms that adopt this hue.   

That isn’t to say that landing on the best grey living room ideas is necessarily easy.   

In fact, grey’s challenge is that there are so many shades, and some greys in the wrong place can be accused of feeling a bit cold.  

Grey Tollgard sitting roomCredit: Tollgard

Edward Bulmer, of Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, says: “Greys rely on black and white, but to avoid being cold they require a little yellow or red ochre. Once warmed up in this way they make incredibly useful background tones and can be used in any room of the house.


Tips for choosing the right shade of grey

Lena Dahnsjo, colour consultant at Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, advises that choosing the right grey hue for a living room depends on the natural and artificial light in the room, but also on the furniture, soft furnishings, and art.  

“For strong colours, choose a darker, bluer grey such as Inferior Greyor Slate. For neutrals and pastels go for the softer lighter greys that veer toward pale greens, blues and yellows  try a colour like Clay or Pale Smoke Grey.” 

Claire Powell, also a colour consultant at Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, agrees that with grey, understanding the interplay with light is crucial. Powell advises: “Understanding the undertone of your grey and the light levels of your room is key to getting the colour right. This underlying pigment is easier to spot when comparing greys in groups rather than in isolation, so try a handful of tones rather than one or two.  

“For a room that needs warming up, look for underlying red, yellow or orange tones, try Flaxen Grey, Mouse Grey or again Ash Grey. For a cooler grey, look for undertones like blue, green or purple, for example in colours like Wash Stop, Pale Smoke Grey or Fine Grey.” 

1. Be smart with gunmetal grey

Create a sober and sophisticated backdrop for contemplation

Hux London dark grey sitting roomCredit: Hux London

Gunmetal grey is unapologetically confident. This hue won’t ever be mistaken for being cold. In fact, its dark depth hints at certain rock star proclivities. It’s a devil may care kind of laid-back hue that’s all about being too cool for school. 

You’ll want to use it in a wide open and airy room, though – preferably with a good source of natural light. The walls will quickly close in if you lavish this particular shade of grey on all four walls and your living room does not offer the scale it demands. 

Of course, you can also opt to use this dark grey as an accent on a focal wall and that would look polished even in a smaller living room.  

We like how Hux London has ramped up this gunmetal grey sitting room’s cool edge with a sharply tailored ceiling height back lit bookcase. There are extra marks for featuring a monochrome book spine palette – an idea that would be perfectly at home in our guide to the [internal] best book storage ideas. 

This grey living room is intriguing and inviting; cerebral and cool all at once. 

2. Add glazing and pale timbers to brighten dark grey

Back lighting adds extra modernity

Library Ladder Company grey bookcaseCredit: Library Ladder Company

Do you wholeheartedly approve of a dark grey living room but are stumped for how you can enjoy the hue, especially if natural light is an issue? 

Then, this grey living room idea styled by The Library Ladder Company, will certainly get the decor cogs turning. 

Laura Gould, sales manager at The Library Ladder Company, says: “If using with glazed cabinetry, shades of grey, especially those with blue or green undertones, can add to a feeling of calm, as well as adding a perfect backdrop or contrast to your prized possessions housed in your cabinets.   

Using a dark grey paint shade can be highly practical as well, as shown being used on a timber ladder and cabinets, in walkways or other high traffic areas such as family rooms.  Dark grey will show less wear and tear, scuffs and scrapes than lighter shades, whilst also adding drama and impact to highlight your cabinets.  

Grey is a classic choice, working as a neutral, perhaps contrasting with a bright highlight tone such as pink, green or light blue, or adding definition when set alongside natural materials such as wood or stone.” 

Glazing is all about light refraction. Just like in this project, throw in abundant backlighting against moody grey joinery paint and you’ve got a winning formula. Even in a dark room, this storage, with its light wood grain shelving, would feel light and airy. 

Extra decor points if you also add gold hardware that stands out beautifully against the dark grey paint, for that luxe look. 

Fascinated by how curated these shelves look? Take inspiration from this guide to styling shelves like an expert. 

3. Pile your grey sofa high with jewel-coloured cushions

Add a touch of whimsy to your sensible sofa

Hux London grey sitting roomCredit: Hux London

One of the best cosy grey living room ideas around is to invest in fun and fabulous colour saturated cushions. With every brand from Minotti to M&S having a grey living room sofa, cushions are a great opportunity to add your own stamp on this furniture staple. 

Take the lead from Hux London and decide on a theme. Here, the earthy energy of Africa is brought together on this grey sofa with a collection of cheerful cushions from Ghanian textile designer Chrissa Amuah of Amwa Designs. 

Yellow, orange and blue are particularly good colour choices for accent cushions to throw on a grey sofa, as these colours are often found together in nature. 

This cushion colour palette is referenced in the rug, albeit in less saturated colours, so the cushions remain the star of the show. 

4. Lean into a familiar British backdrop

Grey has a natural link to autumn skies

Grey Tollgard sitting roomCredit: Tollgard

“Maybe it’s because of my Swedish background, or perhaps because of the amount of time I’ve spent in the UK, but grey to me seems to provide the right kind of visual comfort as a setting,, says interior designer Staffan Tollgard.  

“We do sometimes decorate with a white backdrop, but these are generally gallery spaces where we want pieces to be read on their own. Grey has a binding quality that we find very helpful in creating comforting and restorative spaces.” 

In a climate that is often grey and rainy, it makes sense to lean into the prevailing weather of the country you are in to seek authentic colour inspiration for your living room. 

Tollgard agrees:Nature is the ultimate teacher. A grey season is so often followed by bursts of colour and the invigorating zing of new life. We mimic this with accent colours, with flowers, vases and plants in our schemes, in order to bring some vibrance and energy to the subtle richness that grey can bring. Because we can’t live without grey. But we’re pretty sure we couldn’t live with just grey, either.” 


5. Get comfy playful with your grey living room sofa

Upright and a bit uptight isn’t your only grey seating option

Rose and Grey casual Penny Corner SofaCredit: Rose and Grey

Ever noticed how nearly every furniture brand has a grey living room sofa spin that feels suspiciously sensible? There’s something about grey upholstery that seems to bring out the buttoned-up aesthetic in furniture designers. 

But you can have other ideas for your grey living room. You can go for a grey sofa that’s casual, slouchy and downright inviting. 

Retail options for this do exist but are a little harder to find. For that cosy grey living room look we like the welcoming appeal of the Penny Corner Sofa by Rose and Grey. 

In a smaller living room, a slouchy grey sofa all but embraces the sitter and invites them to kick off their shoes and get comfy. 

Featured product

Penny Corner Sofa, Rose and Grey

RRP: £5,060

Penny Corner Sofa, Rose and Grey
Homary grey Corner SofaCredit: Homary

Want a grey living room sofa that has quirky appeal but still looks edgy enough for a glamorous contemporary space? We’re wild for the fun, curvy angles of the L-Shaped Sectional Corner Modern Modular Sofa with Pillows in Grey by Homary. 

Featured product

L-Shaped Sectional Corner Modern Modular Sofa, Homary

RRP: £2,969.99

L-Shaped Sectional Corner Modern Modular Sofa, Homary

6. Combine grey and green

Take a colour lesson from nature

Etsy / Minimalistpainting Grey rooms canvasesCredit: Etsy / Minimalistpainting

There are many colours that are a natural complement to grey – brown, orange, blue and yellow spring to mind. But one colour in particular is an especially pleasing counterpart to grey’s sometimes aloof energy, and that’s green. 

A grey and green living room evokes moss on a stone and speaks of relaxing verdant spaces, especially when the look is achieved through a velvety green sofa and grey painted walls. 

For a modern take on the look, add a grey rug with a sandy quality that hints at movement, and some directional art posters in a natural colour palette.  

We like the Olive Green and Light Brown Geometric Art Set available on Etsy shop MinimalistPainting. 

Featured product

Set of 2 Minimalist Plaster Art, Etsy / MinamalistPaintings

RRP: £155.13

Set of 2 Minimalist Plaster Art, Etsy / MinamalistPaintings

7. Ramp up the texture story with tobacco hues

Leather and timber give grey an exotic appeal

Farrow and Ball grey living roomCredit: Farrow and Ball

Considering the light-to-mid-tone-grey-paint-on-a-flat-wall look? It helps to think about how you’ll add some much-needed texture to your living room. 

Rich brown woods, leathers and even sheepskins will always be hearty materials for adding lively touches to your grey painted living room.  

When choosing the grey to go with your brown furniture, pay attention to the fact that greys have many different undertone colours. You might find that greys with a brown undertone are easier to match up with the browns materials you want to add into the room. 

Lighter greys with brown furniture may also be a bit easier to coordinate, since the brown warmth balances the coolness of lighter greys. 

Farrow and Ball grey living roomCredit: Farrow and Ball

Curious about what paint was used in these sitting rooms to work so brilliantly with brown accents? They’re Lamp Room Gray No.88 Estate Emulsion and Manor House Gray No.265 Estate Emulsion both by Farrow and Ball.

8. Paint your walls and ceilings in contrasting shades of grey

Take inspiration from Swedish grey paint mastery

Grey living room in StockholmCredit: svenskfast

Granted, not every living room is blessed with soaring ceilings and an extra-large window like this period apartment in Stockholm. But there are grey paint lessons here worth learning, whatever size your living room. 

Three shades of grey are used for maximum impact – a light shade on the walls, a mid-shade on the doors, architrave and skirting, and a blue grey on the ceiling.  

This winning combo makes the room feel coordinated and adds to the large scale and airy atmosphere of the space. 

The room would have been a different proposition completely if the ceiling or “fifth wall” had been painted white. The blue grey ceiling is the icing on the (admittedly orderly) cake that adds a touch of drama without overwhelming the balance of the living room.  

Despite the large proportions of the space, the greys give the room a snug effect that makes this a top notch cosy grey living room idea for you to try. 

Tempted to pick up your paint roller to add a lick of grey paint to your ceiling? Start by finding out how to paint your ceiling like a professional. 

9. Or… keep your walls grey and paper the ceiling

This is a funky option to jazz up any grey living room

Rebel Walls ceiling paperCredit: Rebel Walls

Grey living rooms can be quirky. Yes, we said it. It’s easy when sifting through hyper sensible ideas for grey living rooms to forget that even grey might like a giggle now and then. 

And nothing raises a smile quite like a ceiling wallpaper in your living room. We certainly are tickled by this Atlas of Astronomy motif by Rebel Walls on the oft neglected living room fifth wall. 

Once you’ve got a shortlist of grey wall paint colours, why not sift through some of the stonking variety of wallpaper motifs available through stores such as Rebel Walls, Graham and Brown, and Spoonflower? 

Order some samples and try them out next to the samples of grey paints you’ve put up on your wall. 

Putting up wallpaper on your ceiling is far easier than it may appear at first glance and, in fact, you can get some handy tips for how to transform your living room ceiling in an afternoon from our handy DIY guide. 

Featured product

Atlas of Astronomy, Rebel Walls

RRP: £33.66 per metre

Atlas of Astronomy, Rebel Walls

10. Create an exquisite grey focal wall with a bucolic mural

Greyscale foliage is artistic and calming

Bobbi Beck Elowen muralCredit: Bobbi Beck

A soothing large scale greyscale mural in your living room will cause your guests to swoon. Of all the lovely grey living room ideas we’ve shared, this is certainly amongst the prettiest. 

There is something endearing about grey showing its softer side. In this room, decorated with the Elowen Etched Tree Mural by Bobbi Beck, all that’s missing is a light drizzle and a favourite book. 

As always, if you are complementing your mural with grey paint, be sure to order a sample to match up with the paints you feel may work.  

Featured product

Elowen Etched Tree Wallpaper Mural, Bobbi Beck

RRP: £32 per metre

Elowen Etched Tree Wallpaper Mural, Bobbi Beck
Bobbi Beck Jungle muralCredit: Bobbi Beck

Love the idea of a greyscale living room wallpaper but don’t have a perfectly rectangular wall that you can make the focal point of your living room? Fear not. Even awkward walls can benefit from a calming grey mural if you consider how the motif will be laid ahead of time.  

Speak to your wallpaper specialist if in doubt that your motif will work. 

11. Layer a grey carpet and a grey rug

Add maximum underfoot comfort with this versatile flooring hue

Carpetright grey rugCredit: Carpetright

Sometimes when you put a grey carpet down you might feel that, underfoot comfort aside, your living room can do with a bit more pizazz.  

A good grey living room idea to consider is layering your grey carpet with a grey rug. Without losing your overall grey appeal, you can ramp up on texture and bring a more polished and cosier feel to your grey living room. 

It isn’t necessarily all about aesthetics, though. If you’ve had a spill in your grey carpet, you may find that a rug is a more cost-effective way to hide the staining than ripping up your entire carpet. 

The key to getting this look right is to choose the right size rug that works in harmony with your furniture. 

That, of course, leads to the question: What’s the best rug for my living room?’ Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. 

Featured product

Finer Carpet Tiles in Silver Grey, Carpetright

RRP: from £7.49 per tile

Finer Carpet Tiles in Silver Grey, Carpetright

Remember, if you are going to layer your rug on your carpet, that would represent a trip hazard. Invest in good carpet-to-carpet pads that will stop your area rug from shifting and bunching. 

12. Add a grey 3D effect with panelling

This simple architectural detail makes a world of difference

Rose and Grey Dulwich Corner SofaCredit: Rose and Grey

Shaker panelling is a firm favourite when it comes to living rooms and this certainly holds true when weighing up grey living room ideas. 

Besides looking dandy, panelling is surprisingly simple to install. In fact, you can easily transform your sitting room in an afternoon with panelling if you’re a dab hand with DIY.  

Some good news is that grey is such a popular Shaker panel choice that some suppliers offer the fixtures for your living room already primed grey. A retail option for this is DIY Wall Panelling. 

If you really want to make a big impact, go for floor-to-ceiling grey Shaker panelling. With its vertical lines, you can make your living room ceiling appear taller. 

We like how the stylists at Rose and Grey have created a dramatic, yet cosy space by making the soaring ceiling the perfect backdrop in this living room for a mid-century inspired grey sofa. 

13. Add a touch of grey to walls

A little bit of a grey smoke goes a long way in a living room

Edward Bulmer Smoke Grey paintCredit: Edward Bulmer Natural Paint

If you are stumped for where to start with your grey living room ideas, why not consider adding just a touch of pale grey to your smooth walls from floor to ceiling? 

As seen in this room styled by Edward Bulmer Natural Paint using the company’s Pale Smoke Grey, a light grey can be just the tonic for a simply decorated grey living room that will feature more robust accent colours.  

A gossamer grey is that light-as-a-feather neutral backdrop that offers off-white appeal while still embracing all of the charm that grounding grey has to offer. 

We like how the stylists decided to be a bit cleverer with the photo frames than reaching for default (and often too harsh) black and instead played up on grey’s gentler appeal, with dark grey painted wooden picture frames. 

Featured product

Pale Smoke Grey, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint

RRP: £44 per litre

Pale Smoke Grey, Edward Bulmer Natural Paint

14. Choose a lighter grey for above and a darker grey for below

Add visual interest by creating a bold grey dado

Benjamin Moore grey living roomCredit: Benjamin Moore

Grey on grey on grey has the potential to be an elegant look, as proved by this room styled by Benjamin Moore. Not only are the walls two contrasting shades of grey but a pair of grey leather sofas and a grey rug have been used to pull this stately living room together. 

But the standout accent is the dark grey dado area. The dark grey with light grey above underlines the sophistication of the living room – not least because in the room beyond, the colour order is flipped to dramatic effect. 

Dark grey dado paint isn’t just a sound aesthetic choice. Dark paints will be more forgiving to the inevitable scuffs and signs of living that are more evident in the lower part of your sitting room. 

Interested to know what paint colours were used to create this refined grey living room? Benjamin Moore Stone White was used for the upper wall and the lower wall is painted in Dior Gray. 

15. Add grey paper to moulding panels

Try this whimsical grey decor idea for an artistic touch

Little Green Gustav wallpaperCredit: Little Greene

Try this creative living room wallpaper idea and transform your grey living room in a leisurely afternoon. 

Choose a lively grey wallpaper – we like this not-too-dainty floral called ‘Gustav Trophy by Little Greene. 

Install some simple moulding on your walls. A rectangular design will be easier, but you can also try moulding with curved corners. 

Paint the moulding a dark shade of grey that goes with your wallpaper – in this case the moulding trim is painted in Grey Moss by Little Greene. And simply paste your paper in the moulding. 

The result? A refreshingly simple yet dramatic take on the grey living room idea.  

Hungry for more creative ways to work a wallpaper motif in your living room? Check out our fun round-up of living room wallpaper ideas.  

Featured product

Gustav Trophy, Little Greene

RRP: £102 per roll

Gustav Trophy, Little Greene

16. Choose freestanding furniture pieces coated in grey paint

Options range from tastefully traditional to cute contemporary

Wayfair grey cabinetCredit: Wayfair

Maybe you’re in the market for grey living room toy storage ideas that won’t cramp your style. Or you just need a nice grey piece in your living room for storing more bits and pieces. Either way, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to freestanding grey furniture pieces to seamlessly fit into your living room. 

With grey being a popular hue that never goes out of fashion, it’s possible to purchase well designed pieces at both ends of the budget spectrum, depending on your needs. 

If you need something small and compact that will appeal to youngsters and those young at heart, the Isabelline Herrington Sideboard from Wayfair (shown above) might do the trick. 

After a small bookcase that can blend in with your grey painted walls or wallpaper? Try the Laura Ashley Pale Charcoal Henshaw Low Bookcase 

And, if only a large and impressive grey piece will do, take a look at the Chawton Moss Tall Triple Dresser with Ladder available through Richard F Mackay. 

Can’t get enough grey inspiration? Check out our guide to the most inspirational grey bedroom ideas.

For the true grey aficionado, a browse through Kate Watson-Smyth’s book Shades of Grey: Decorating with the Most Elegant of Neutrals is a great way to feast your eyes on a range of projects sporting the hue. 


Written by Joy Archer she/her