Q: I moved last fall into a brand-new apartment (a rental) and it’s all gray inside — everything, including the floor, cabinets, counter, and walls. My furniture is mostly gray, too. Because there aren’t a lot of windows, during the winter, the gray makes my place feel dark and cold. How can I warm things up without painting?
A: Grays and whites are extremely popular right now. And I have to be honest; I do love this trend. However, my house is mostly white, not gray, and the furnishings are where I brought in both light and dark grays, with iron and wood tones. Too bad the builders of your apartment didn’t contrast something — the floor, the cabinets, or the ceiling — with different shades of gray or white to add interest and an airy feeling, especially because you don’t have a lot of natural light.
Fortunately, gray is neutral and goes with a lot of colors. For instant warmth, bring in wood tones. If you’re buying new furniture, consider a light natural finish or unstained wood for your shelves, tables, dining chairs, and furniture legs. White fabrics will do a lot to brighten up the space, so you could do full-height drapes to lighten your walls and make it seem like your windows are bigger and that you have more of them. Hanging large mirrors opposite the windows will increase the natural light, and you could even hang drapes next to the mirrors as though they were windows. If you want white for sofas and chairs and are concerned about stains or dirt showing, choose a very textural fabric, or accent a darker fabric with lots of highly textured white pillows and throws. Lightweight blankets with tassels or fringe are also popular now and look great over gray fabrics.
Large jute or other natural-fiber area rugs will add warmth and a pale color tone to your floors. The texture will add interest, too. And, greenery in large, leafy plants adds a lot of color with little effort. For a wider variety in colors and a quiet, cohesive look, find fabrics, throws, and pillows in mostly white or gray, but with stripes in indigo, pale turquoise, cognac, burgundy, or earthy tones. Or choose an area rug with a lot of colors you like, and use those colors for inspiration for your accents.
Just remember, when accenting or adding color, use it in at least three places in each room. For example, if you introduce a rug with several shades of turquoise, tie in turquoise accessories on your coffee table, pillows or throws, and wall art. Hope this helps you.
Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, author of the upcoming book “Love Coming Home” and TV personality. Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or for more design ideas, visit Jennifer’s blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.