Much to my chagrin, grey wood floors are still very much around. And if you recently found me because of some viral videos about grey flooring, you may be feeling a bit crushed.
Here’s the thing – I want to save you from colour mistakes. BUT if you’ve inherited grey wood floors or you made a decision based on the information you had at the time – it’s ok!
It’s not easy to replace wood flooring and I ALSO want to help you find EASY ways to warm up your grey wood floors (and love your home again).
I receive a lot of distressed messages from followers who either inherited gray wood floors with the home they purchased or installed them without realizing that it created a dated situation.
But I’ve good news (and an easy fix)!
Did you know that nothing warms up gray floors faster than COLOUR?
That’s the reason the gray trend arrived on the scene 15 years ago anyway. Because clean, bright colour was trending and beige kinda died against it.
So if you’re feeling dismayed that your floors are gray, let me talk you off the ledge right now.
How to use area rugs to warm up your grey wood floors
Colour on the walls or a warm and colourful rug on the floor is all you need!
So here are 7 rugs I recommend starting with mine from Ballard Designs.
1. Diamond Sisal Rug
See the transformation of my faux-finished fireplace here
See the rest of my former living room here
2. Natural Jute Rug
Here’s another natural jute rug that my client used to warm up the grey floors she inherited in her new house.
Jute Rug (many sizes)
My client already had this rug in her living room I arrived to help her style it up so I suggested she continue the warm cognac tones in her dining room as well.
I recommended that she buy a second natural fibre rug for the dining area right beside the sectional to continue the warm cognac tones on the gray flooring she inherited.
Above you can see the warm, orange beige complex cream on the walls. And it helps to pick up the warmer tones in my client’s floors nicely. Now it feels like the sun has arrived in this room, doesn’t it?
Get the full curated list of 50 neutrals and whites (in either of my ebooks) by undertone here.
Keep in mind that wood flooring does NOT photograph well. This looked a lot better in person than it does in this overhead photo!
3. Seagrass Rug
This seagrass rug is pretty and warm and naturally has a little gray in it so it will visually relate to gray floors or a gray sofa if you’ve got one of those too.
See the rest of this room makeover here.
4. Indoor Washable Rug in a Neutral Pattern
It’s actually washable! I wouldn’t have believed the quality was any good until I had a client buy one for her dining room and I was super impressed.
It had a nice underlay and I loved the way the carpet hooked onto it from each corner (the underlay is what makes the thin washable rug work).
This rug pattern is a lovely mix of beige and grey neutrals, making it look intentional in your space that already has grey floors (or maybe a sofa). And this rug could be paired with some even warmer cognac hues as well.
5. Blue Pattern Area Rug
Okay, that’s enough NEUTRAL rugs to warm up your gray floors. Adding a colourful rug is such a good idea too. Here’s a good blue one.
These floors aren’t grey but this carpet would look fabulous paired with either grey floors or a gray sofa.
And if you don’t like blue, you should know that truly any colour of the rainbow will bring grey floors to life.
For instance, if you gravitate towards orange or have an orange throw pillow in your living room, look for an orange patterned rug that relates.
Find a few more options in this post where I shared 7 ways to add colour to a neutral room.
6. Pink and Yellow Pattern Area Rug
Here’s another colourful rug with pink and pops of yellow and green blues in it. It even has a little grey in the border to relate to grey wood floors.
And, when you’re shopping online for an area rug, it helps to put a mood board together so you can see how it looks with your decor and furnishings. I show you how to do that here.
I sincerely hope that gives you some colourful inspiration to help you work with your grey wood floors!
If you have grey floors or a grey sofa, what colour is your area rug now?
Ask Maria: What if I Don’t Like the Gray Flooring That’s Everywhere?
Should you Install Gray Wood Flooring?
Interesting! To my eye, warm brown rugs do not complement cool gray floors. Further, the photos with the blue sofas, especially the overhead shot, really illustrate that the floors are busy gray stripes, and the new brown jute rug is also a series of much smaller, busy brown stripes. This stripe-y busy-ness makes me feel anxious, LOL.
I’m glad you asked, in person those warm rugs are perfect and what you should know is that wood flooring photographs very badly in general which is why it appears ‘stripy’ to you in the photos.
The message in this post today is that colour is the perfect antidote to too much gray!
Hope that helps!
I felt the same about the brown rug on gray floor. However, colors on a computer screen may not be true. I think a good discussion would be how to mix gray and brown colors requires identifying warm vs. cool colors. Adding a cool brown rug over a warm gray floor is a miss.
Color (non-neutrals) I get. They distract from the gray. But I honestly don’t understand your first photos (with the blue furniture) using warmer brown rugs; they just look terrible to me on those gray floors. It clashes and draws more attention to the gray. So much of the high end architecture uses gray concrete and then throws in brown wood to “warm it up” and to my eye it just looks horrible as well. In my brain, gray and yellow brown or red brown woods just don’t go together! Clearly a lot of people think it does look good, so do you have a possible explanation for me? Is it really an undertone mis-match problem? Something wrong my my brain? I would embrace the gray before I would go that route.
I’m curious how many of your readers think that looks good.
Warm brown cognac tones create a lovely warm and cool balance paired with grey floors and the great thing about this world and decorating is we don’t all have to like the same thing. I personally am happy that cognac became the trendy ‘neutral’ sofa that everyone started buying because it naturally warms up all the grey and black and white that everyone has been installing in their house in the past 15 years!
Hope that helps!
Ah, interesting. Any other photography trends? Does it tend to make things look warmer or colder, or bring out certain undertones, or does it vary?
I agree maria. Cognac works so well
Hello Maria, I sent a note previously commending you on your information but also saying how very annoying the “Color wheel ad is, the one with the yellow balloons. Although I have read your info for years and our daughter has attended your course in Vancouver, the balloons demanding my attention, while I’m trying to read something is completely frustrating. I’m writing so you’re aware of how this ad affects at least one client. Hoping this can be changed. Thank you for your attention, Ruth Melvin
100 percent agree, Ruth. Me and my eyes hate moving ads!
I think we can all agree that these gray floors are less than ideal and would not be the first choice. You are in essence making lemonade from the lemon (gray) floors. I understand what an expense and undertaking replacing the floors would be and that this just isn’t within many people’s budgets.
I do love the blue sectional and would be curious to know where it was purchased from. In fact, if you would be willing to share resources on places to find sofas and sectionals in color fabrics that are also family friendly (I have a 2 year old, an 8 year old, hubby that loves to eat on the couch and a senior dog) I would so appreciate it. My current sofas are 12 years old and have seen better days but I am hard pressed to find a good loooking couch in a color that wouldn’t be ruined in months by my family without cost $10k+. Perhaps a future post???
I always enjoy the information you provide and love watching how your new home is coming along.
I got a sofa from Ballard last year in one of the Crypton fabrics, and it’s been great. I have a husband, 4 kids, 4 cats and a dog. I keep a blanket over a good part of it to cut down on the cleaning and cat hair, but even when things spill on the sofa itself it’s easily cleaned off with dish soap and water (I’m not sure if that’s what you’re “supposed” to use, but it works for me)
And they have colors! 🙂
Joybird offers multiple sofa options in probably 30 colors and fabrics. My sofa with an ottoman came in under $3000.
I love your ideas and enjoy following your blog and posts. I am building a new home and have chosen a neutral brown LPV thanks to your advice. It is an open floor plan with a large island and white cabinets. I had originally wanted to paint my island a different color (something dark and dramatic) but with the trending colors changing I am wondering what would be best. Do you have a color recommendation that won’t date my kitchen?
I’d like to gently encourage you to reconsider the tone of your writing. This article felt so condescending, it was hard to read. “Hugs” and “kid” etc. Felt like the writer was trying too hard, and it comes off as rather insulting and overly dramatic.
I also agree with the other commenters… the warm rugs look terrible atop the gray floors. You usually have exquisite taste, but this one just doesn’t work.
I also love gray floors- gasp!
I’m afraid I don’t like the rug either. To my eye it doesn’t distract from the grey flooring but clashes. An area rug with some grey and a healthy dose of blue would have been a better choice. Also, in an open concept the wood tones should be mixed. This home has all light wood in the living room and all dark in the nearby dining room.
I totally agree with adding warm tones to grey for balance. But in the first example the particular tones of grey and brown do seem to clash, (which could totally be the fault of the pictures and look great in real life.)
Speaking only from the perspective of how the colors look in the pictures… To me it appears the warm toned wood and jute rug have too much orange to go with that warm grey floor. (I think the orange tones would go with a cooler more blue grey floor.) But with this more taupe color grey floor I think if the warm tones of the rug and wood furniture were more greyed down and had red-ish undertones they might complement it better. However all that said, everyone does has different taste and I hope she loves what she has.
I’ve puzzled over the combination of greys and browns for awhile because in some instances they look fabulous and other times they look horrible. I think paying attention to the undertones and then going for the complementary colors can help, but I’m still figuring out what makes sense to me and why. My favorite part of design is the experimentation and then eventually finding what you love!
To my eye nothing helps those grey floors. If the neutral rugs covered a grey floor to within an inch or two of the walls, I could probably live with it. But the hallway would need to be covered as well.
When we redid our kitchen and expanded the house, we had matching hardwood installed and then everything finished/refinished in the same hard oil finish. As a percentage of the entire cost of remodeling, using hardwood wasn’t what I would call expensive. I spent three times as much on my range as I did on new floors in two rooms.
I wonder how many people just assume that installing hardwood is beyond their reach and buy LVP because it’s easier. Thereby ruining a perfectly nice house. I’d rather have banged up hardwoods than LVP any day.
I would have agreed with you before I lived in homes built on a slab. With a slab, you have to use engineered hardwoods that are glued down. They might be able to be sanded once but maybe not even once. Replacement is extremely expensive because removal alone is $3/sq ft. So while LVP is also glued down on a slab floor, it is easy to remove and replace. Plus there are some really nice LVP that aren’t gray.
In my prior house built over a crawlspace, I had real hardwood flooring.
I think these options are good at compromising. As long as the styling is carried through the space, it’s going to look seamless and intentional. I like that the jute adds some texture/softness to the “hard” looking gray floors.
I don’t like gray floors but I thought these were good options for covering them up, adding some warmth and distracting the eye. It’s a realistic situation that many people are in and it’s an option that doesn’t involve replacing the floors.
I also want to add that I thought the tone of the article was like that of a friend talking you down from freaking out.
Everyone is different though, and can take things differently.
Well, I guess I will put in my two cents. First of all, I would not buy a home with gray floors. Unless every single home has them! In these photos what I think is a solution is to have a sofa that is either white or tan or some creme color instead of the blue. Then I believe the brown rugs would work best. To me the blue is messing it all up. And I really love blue. One of my favorite colors. I know the island is blue and the two chairs are blue but I would paint the island a neutral color sand get different chairs. It is all still cheaper than changing the floors and then the gray floors would not look so annoying. I may be way wrong but that’s what I would do if I had the money.
Hey friends, it is important to remember that my client inherited these grey floors. What’s more, she has already sold that house and moved again. I am just showing her old house to share ideas with about how to warm up your grey floors. Please remember that this is a real person’s home who was generous enough to let me share a situation that is less than ideal. We do not need to dip into negativity. Let’s keep it positive, kids! Maria
I like the traditional-patterned Ruggable rug best. First, b/c of the pattern and the fact that there’s some gray in it. But especially the option of washing it.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has a similar one: does the thin top layer fastened to the underlayer disqualify it for floors swept by Roombas? — just wondering if she’d get caught up on the double layer.
I have wool low pile rugs layered over sisal as well as a wool flatwoven rug on jute and the Roomba navigates over them without a problem.
I always use the thin non slip underlay IKEA sells to keep each layer in place.
I inherited a 1st generation orange laminate floor. It is not my taste, it actually made me wince to look at it. I put down a couple of large jute rugs from IKEA (taping the join on the underside) and what a relief. Even though it was a cover up job I get repeated compliments from visitors as if it was the first choice intended flooring.
Since then I have used jute and sisal in other rooms with good results. In one case I layered a hand crafted wool flat rug in a strong colours (tied to my decor) over jute and I really like it. I was inspired by designers who frequently do this- Mark D. Sikes, Ben Pentreath, etc.
I put a thin non slip liner under each layer to keep things in place.
Perhaps the natural colour and texture are what distracts from the less desirable “inherited elements”?
Hello. I just discovered you yesterday, and am extremely excited to follow you
I’m about to ask about flooring colour, but first… as far as this article, wouldn’t a light blue rug warm up the space better than the light beige rug? Something that warms up the grey, but matches the blue? Would lean a bit coastal… but might not offend so many that are commenting? 😉
Now… you’ve scared me on flooring. I do not like any flooring that shows a red, yellow, or orange undertone.. but you say pale oak and medium brown are timeless. No grey or beige. Pale oak gives me 80s contractor cabinet vibes… and my house is petite. (Meaning 1000 sqft) I’m trying to open it up. Would Easy Stroll by Twelve Oaks Flooring work??? LVP…. I want to lighten and brighten my space. Leaning toward coastal colours, but NO TRENDY!