Bright accents set off these modern, warm gray chairs.

How to Design a Modern Gray Living Room

by Anya Deason

Though bright, contrasting colors are associated with modernism, a gray palette also corresponds with sleek, modern living room styles. Since a living room is sometimes a quiet sanctuary for you and your family, gray provides a calming backdrop where bright accent items can be filtered in as you gather them over time. Artwork purchased on trips and other special items are often showcased in living rooms where guests are entertained. To select complementary accent colors for a modern gray living room, it's important to discern the gray's undertone, which is its underlying color bias. Carefully chosen grays provide an excellent modern living room ambiance.

1. Warm Gray Living Room

In light shades, warm gray has a creamy feel, while dark warm gray -- also known as charcoal -- makes a softer substitute for black. Green falls opposite to warm gray's red undertone on the color wheel and accents in this color complement warm gray. Position a light, warm gray Danish modern sofa against medium warm gray walls, adding accent pillows in spring or mint green. An espresso-colored, Danish modern coffee table provides tonal contrast, as do asymmetrical clusters of narrow. espresso frames. A delicate, black pendant light and sheer curtains in mint or spring green complement the look.

2. Blue-Gray Living Room

For a subdued modern living room, use cool, analogous tones that are the color wheel neighbors of slate gray. Dark slate gray walls contrast well with a light taupe sofa and accent chair, especially if light, Swedish-style flooring is used. Light hardwoods, such as sapwood, whitewashed or cork floors, have a modern look. Pinkish wood undertones harmonize with taupe upholstery, while slate gray and dark taupe pillows provide tonal contrast. Add a small, round mirror in a plain, wide frame and a painted accent table in bright peacock blue for a spot of intense color.

3. Gray-Green Living Room

Since gray-green's undertone is complementary to red, this color contrasts well with red undertones in modern espresso and mahogany furniture. Gray-green also coordinates with walnut finishes and bronze-tone metals. Light gray-green walls, curtain panels and glass lamp bases relate to green glass undertones on a modern, glass-top coffee table. Hang a modern, bronze-framed mirror to connect with a bronze-tone metal table base, and add bronze-toned vases on a light gray-green shelf to complete the look.

4. Gray-Plum Living Room

Whitewashed floors set off a modern living room in gray-plum, which has a pronounced purple undertone. Light warm gray carpet provides a good substitute. Position an armless, gray-plum sofa against light gray-plum walls. Since yellow is complementary to gray-plum's undertone, add a blond maple, kidney-shaped coffee table and a picture with a wide mat in a narrow, yellow-gold frame. A large, unframed oil with painted wooden strips in yellow on the sides enlivens a white fireplace, and a '50s-style crystal chandelier provides an unexpected spot of vintage modernity.

About the Author

Based in Franklin, Tenn., Anya Deason has more than 15 years of decor-related experience, assisting leading interior designers and owning a custom frame shop. While working at Lyzon Gallery in 1999, she wrote descriptions of artwork for Sotheby's online auctions. Deason holds a Bachelor of Science from Tennessee Technological University.

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