above photo of Allie Grubb by Jane Dagmi
The dog days of summer have me craving cooler temperatures. I’m thinking about the pleasures of slipping on a pair of old sweatpants, drinking a cup of strong English tea with cream and sugar, cuddling under the softest blanket, and decorating with gray.
photo courtesy: http://swedishinteriordesign.blogspot.com/
Gray, just like a giant cloud, brings the indoor temperature down. From its whitest shade to its deepest graphite incarnation and all the hazy hues in between, the vast gray spectrum on walls, ceilings or floors subdues and calms. Gray is a powerful yet stealth toner that works its not-quite-black magic in many ways.
With the versatility of an award-winning actor who can’t be typecast, gray transcends styles, gender and age. It is comforting and dramatic, sleek and old world, metro and retro, ethereal and concrete, elegant and industrial. Warm and cool, pale and deep, it’s flexible personality and modest ego mixes well with other colors.
Donna Peay pays homage to gray in her blog, “A Perfect Gray.” Donna, a “recovering antiques dealer,” mom, and community volunteer, unexpectedly started crushing on gray during a Tour of Homes. She says, “I had never really given much thought to gray as a wall color before, but I immediately knew I had to have that color in my own home. It felt ‘perfect’ for me. But when I tried that same color on my own walls, the color was all wrong, much more blue than gray. Thus, my search for my ‘perfect gray’ began.”
While Donna continues her quest for her favorite grays, I asked three talented tastemakers to show me theirs.
Alexandra Angle: A Simple and Modern Reflection of Nature
All photos courtesy Alexandra Angle Interior Design
Interior designer Alexandra Angle and her husband Eliot’s Shangrila is a Cape Breton Island cottage–a chill zone away from busy city life. The basic concept for the space was to a “create a continuous vista from the outside in while creating a feeling of comfort and shelter on the inside.” Thus, the Angles filled their home with grayed versions of colors that echo the changing weather and lush landscape throughout the day. Brittany Blue interior walls are as misty as the salt air just beyond them. Steely Brittania Blue gives maple beadboard an industrial vibe, and also mimics the waters at dusk. Chartreuse accessories reflect the vivid yellow-green grass in low afternoon light. “I wanted to do the floors in white to lighten the space on overcast days,” Alexandra says, “but on sunny days it can be too bright and the grayed down palate softens the brightness.”
Karina Gentinetta: Unfussy Swedish-Style Swank
Karina Gentinetta, a New Orleans-based antiques dealer and blogger, also sells Belgian and French antiques on 1st Dibs. Both on Magazine Street and the information superhighway, there is constant demand for gray painted furniture. “The minute I paint anything gray, it’s gone!” she says. This peaceful neutral translates perfectly at home too. Here she blankets the walls and floor with Soft Chamois, but differentiates the finishes from eggshell on walls to semi-gloss on trim. Within this gray architectural frame, she blends new with old and worn with crisp. An old painting that she now loves but once hated inspires accents of burnt orange, soft coral, and turquoise. She does not turn her nose up at tarnish or rust or homemade art such as the drop-cloth scribble which adds a modern flourish to a home filled with19th century pieces. About her not-overly-serious stylish family home she says, “It just works!”
all photos except chair detail: Sara Essex Bradley for the New York Times
(chair photo by Karina Gentinetta): http://karinagentinetta.blogspot.com/2011/05/summer-is-here-and-it-is-all-about.html
Debbie Dusenberry: Rural and Urban Shades of Pale
Photos from Curious Sofa
First of all, Debbie Dusenberry, retailer, blogger, and stylist, spells it “grey.” She layers creamy, washed out, greyed-down neutrals like it’s nobody’s business but her own . . . which fortunately it is! As owner of Curious Sofa, once a must-visit Kansas City shop and now an on-line hotspot for all things seductively shabby, romantic, and whitish, Debbie falls for weathered, well-loved, and utilitarian goods that have a rural or industrial heritage and a worn-in easy-to-love patina. She says, “For me, grey is the newest and freshest color to keep your home current with any decorating trend. I can easily add a modern accessory or white painted table and everything seems to blend perfectly.” Debbie absolutely loves the dreamy effect Englewood Cliffs has in the spare bedroom. Grey, she’s found, makes an ideal backdrop for her collections of linens, ironstone, and prints, and perhaps the Moroccan tile she’s been contemplating lately.
I hope this has inspired you to get your gray on. What’s your favorite? Bet you can’t pick just one.