Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gray is a powerful neutral color



Q. We have decided to rip up our carpets and put down hardwood floors. It's a big investment, and we want them to last a long time.
There are so many choices of colors, and even the size of the planks.
Have you any suggestions? Thanks. – Dan and Allie

A. Over the last 15 years we have seen a big swing from wall-to-wall carpets to wood flooring. Engineered floors, floors that can be laid down without nails or glue, bamboo, cork, all the hard and soft woods, have all become familiar and accessible, and there are so many options that it is difficult to settle on one. Popular floor colors expanded as well; from basic wood tones to bleached-out shades of white and gray. I suggest you look at photographs of different floor styles on the Internet, in magazines and in books. When you have narrowed down your choices, most retailers are happy to allow you to bring home samples and live with them for a few days. See if the change complements the furniture and decor you already have, or if you want to make a more radical switch in paint colors as well.


You may notice while you are doing your research that one of the most predominant colors showing up in interior products right now is gray.

This shows up in soft furnishings, cabinetry, paint colors and fabrics. Shaw Floor's color of the year for 2015 is Lady in Gray.

This gray theme doesn't just hold for their wood floors, but also their porcelain tiles, their luxury vinyl and, yes, carpets too (www.shawfloors.com). I spoke with Emily Morrow, director of color, style and design at Shaw Floors, to see if she thought the popularity of this neutral shade was going to last. Morrow notes that gray is not a trendy color, rather it has eased its way in beginning in 2007 with high-end fashion and design. Its popularity continued to explode, building every year. This color has longevity, and Morrow predicts that it will last for five more years. Why so popular? It's practical. Grays are forgiving; they don't show every little footprint – perfect when you have kids and pets.

One of the color themes I chose for 2015 I call Industrial Neutrals.

Gray plays a big role in this style, as it complements utilitarian settings. Shaw's gray is a warm gray that co-exists with cool shades of blue, such as teal and aqua, and also hot shades like coral. The tranquil bedroom shown here from Shaw Floors combines medium and pale grays with dreamy blues in a gentle blend of hues that are soothing yet fresh. From their Castlewood Collection, the 7-inch-wide planks of the White Oak veneer floor show lots of graining, with a low sheen finish that provides an attractive, distressed look.

When planning for your new wood floors, take into consideration what other materials they will butt up against. For the kitchen, gray porcelain floor tiles work well. They look good with the popular commercial appliances in stainless steel as well as the more traditional white. Then add color and texture with the backsplash areas and the counters. Wallpaper is back and provides more opportunity to boost your decorating with the gray giving you all the balance you need. Is gray the new black? Gray tells a softer story, and we are all loving it today.