A reader writes:
“Recently we painted our fireplace wall gray; we love it! The other walls are a light beige cream color. We were thinking of changing that color but aren’t sure what will go with gray?? Also, when you’re looking at the fireplace, the kitchen is right next to it (with a divider). We’re thinking of painting the kitchen red but not sure if it will flow nicely; our cabinets are dark. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Jessica”
Here are the photos Jessica sent of her room.
Jessica – great job on the accent wall color! The gray really helps define that focal wall and the fireplace contrasts with it nicely. Gray is a neutral color and just about every color will work with it – if you want a cooler palette, blues & greens are beautiful. To warm up the cooler gray, red or orange or rich golds will work well. When blending cool and warm colors (gray and red), try to keep the 2 tones fairly evenly balanced throughout the room.
Since you can see the kitchen from the family room, whatever color you choose there will influence the direction in the family room; you’re essentially treating it as one big room. If you like red, it will work beautifully with the gray (sharp and dramatic) and it looks like your kitchen countertops and flooring are neutral enough to handle the red. I don’t think your cabinets are too dark for a red – choose a nice deep, rich red that’s dark enough to contrast with the cabinets but doesn’t compete with the wood color (watch the undertones on the wood).
The key to making the colors work for you will be in your furnishings. Choose a window treatment fabric (to soften those very white windows) that has both colors in it. Or, find a lighter shade of the wall color and add a red band at the bottom for accent. Add a touch of red on the mantel (it doesn’t have to be all red, just a touch); red in pillow fabrics; maybe red in the artwork opposite the sofa or in an area rug. (Remember the reds in the 2 rooms don’t have to be an exact match, just in the same family of reds…either with a blue undertone or an orange one.) I’d suggest silver tones as your metal – it will reinforce the gray tones, but lightly -it would add a touch of bling to the room and a little sparkle always helps add another dimension of interest to a room.
In the kitchen, reverse the plan and find accessories that are silver/platinum/pewter to bring the gray tones. Maybe a silver clock on the red wall; pewter soap dispenser, etc.
A color palette that I find very striking and might work for you is red / gray / khaki. If you want to paint the other walls in the family room, I suggest you stay in the beige family, just a touch darker but not as dark as your gray. For example, if your gray is the 4th color on a 5 color paint strip and your current light beige walls are equivalent to a 1st or 2nd color, choose a 2nd or 3rd tier color of khaki. You want to maintain the contrast, just warm up the room a little bit.
Every room benefits from a touch of black here and there and that would be especially true for this combo – you’ve already got a good start with the mirror frame, just add a couple more things for that spark of contrast.
I did a couple of “quick and dirty” visuals for you to help decide if red is the way you want to go.
Jessica, thanks for sharing your dilemma and I hope this gives you a few ideas and some confidence to embrace your new color scheme. If you have more questions, get in touch. If anyone else out there has ideas for Jessica, feel free to share them – we all learn from each other and every room has many possible solutions. What’s your suggestion for Jessica?