Gray Matters: Cool Colors for Tiny Spaces

Petite GrayPainted Living Room

Go Gray in a Tiny Living Room

If you live in a nutshell, color is your best friend and secret weapon. In every home I have ever nested in, I am amazed how color can create instant warmth and disguise square-foot-challenged spaces.  For my new place I decided on dark gray slate walls for the small living room. I have a large painting by Emily Redd that I adore, and the gray in that painting was the inspiration for the new living room.

Gray Picture Frames and Wall

Finding the Perfect Cool Shade

I clipped and saved an article from House Beautiful that explained how a dark color on the wall, “disintegrates the edges of a small room.” They were right. The cool colors make the walls recede, adding to the illusion that a space is grander than it really is.

But I quickly learned that there indeed is a gray area when it comes to finding the perfect gray paint shade that wouldn’t change tones in natural or artifcial light.  After examining many, many paint chips and sample boards in the apartment, I decided to go with Benjamin Moore in Wrought Iron .

Newly-Painted Gray Living Room

Newly-Painted Gray Living Room

Before Living Room

Living Room Before

Buffering the Gray

As I started to paint, I got a little panicked that it might be too dark. To balance the saturated color, I decided on a gray and white stripe companion wall. I also taped off a large white border around the bedroom door to “fool the eye” into thinking there was white molding around the door. The other challenge was that I did all the painting myself.  The walls are 14- feet high in some places. I am only 5’2” and the ladder was 8-feet tall.  I  barely reached the far corners!


I am so happy with the results, and I am amazed how the gray doesn’t turn in tone when the light changes. Gray is the new brown in interior decorating…or at least that’s what I’m telling friends. Pass it on.