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Advice for HomeownersColour TrendsGray

Vancouver Interior Designer: How to Marry Classic Wood with the Gray Trend

By 02/03/2012January 28th, 201712 Comments

Reader Question: “One thing that is not clear to me… with the colors trending from brown, beige, cream to grey, black, white, how do you incorporate grey, black and white when the furniture is wood (cherry, mahogany, whatever)?  Do you just ignore the wood color?  I’m guessing you’ll say no.  Do you paint the wood (my husband is frightened by this thought – yes I read your post about that)?  There must be some way to keep the classic wood and marry in the grey, black and white.  A blog post about this dilemma would be helpful.’


This is such a great question and here are the guidelines I would use when deciding which furniture to keep, paint or give away.

First, the answer is yes, you can absolutely keep the wood stained furniture you currently own. In fact, unless you can afford to completely redecorate every 10 years when the next trend hits, I would probably buy only one or two pieces (depending on how big or elaborate your house is of course), repeat the colour on the walls (below) which is easy to change, and you’ll be right on trend.

House Beautiful

If your furniture pieces do not have classic lines, for example a 70s dresser that is not doing anything for your space – gray trend or brown trend, it doesn’t matter. If you walk into a room like this and all you see is an old piece of furniture that doesn’t coordinate well with the newer pieces you have, painting it will give it a whole new life.


Even two unrelated and totally clashing pieces can be unified if you paint them both the same colour.

Have a great weekend my lovelies! xo Maria

Related posts:

The Problem with an All Gray Room

The Gray, Black and White Trend is Here to Stay

Gray Kitchen Cabinets: 4 Ways to know if You should Follow the Trend

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.



  • Avatar Donna says:

    Hi Maria, Interesting post..and just what I needed to read. I’m thinking we need to paint some of our stuff one of these days. Thanks so much for so many kind notes while I’ve been unable to write.

    Seattle…sigh..just missed you! xoxo

  • This is a great post – there must be so much confusion about the warm tones of wood and the coolness of grey. I’m not jumping on the grey bandwagon, loving my warmer tones. But this is good information to store in the files.

  • Great post!! I have been wanting to incorporate a more contemporary vibe with my existing traditional furniture. The pieces I bought all have clean lines but the pieces we’ve had passed down are a bit eclectic. This was a very enlightening post. I’ve gone from wanting to stain everything the same to now open to embracing some of the warmer wood tones. Why do husbands have to come with furniture and their own ideas?:)))

  • Avatar Momlady says:

    Good post.
    I’ve always thought that grey (obviously the right shade) was the perfect partner to a warm rich wood. The two can bring each other to life!

  • Avatar Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Maria, I have just sent you some photos of a gray/white kitchen my husband & I designed in 1996!
    It was so beautiful & different & refreshing then & still
    looks fresh today. Wood tones on bar stools looked rich & fabulous with it.
    Love the painted wood walls on your first photo!
    Very Ralph Loren-y. Great classic look.
    The mid-century “wing” chairs in 2nd photo are wonderful too! Feminine/masculine treatment of that space is masterful.
    Hope you got the photos ok.

  • Avatar Amanda says:

    Your timing is, as always, impeccable! I was just contemplating this exact idea for our new house. Some great information here, especially the suggestion to unify mismatching pieces with paint. Paint truly is an interior decorating miracle!!!

  • My house is all wood. I am getting ready to re sand my front porch floor for the third time and am thinking of painting the floor instead of varnishing. I keep thinking of the color gray, and now i see that it could go quite well. Can I send you a photo and ask what you think? the wood is very orangy from years of staining it with a wood protection.

  • Avatar Maria Killam says:

    Hi Laurel,
    My mom had a painted kitchen floor for years (just because what was underneath was so bad) and every 2 years she had to give it a fresh coat. Take everything out, it was a big production. It’s a lot of work to maintain!

  • Avatar julie spear says:

    This is a good post and very helpful, however, what if the wood tones you have are NOT furniture, but stained wood trim? My house was built in 1953 and has stained wood trim. it is IMPOSSIBLE to find inspiration photos showing stained wood trim, they do not exist anymore…. I just cant paint that wood, it is too beautiful. But, it makes it very difficult to choose paint colors, etc… also – most of the wood in your photos above is of the more neutral ‘weathered’ variety, which is not typically the color of stained wood. HELP??? I want a ‘greige’ wall color that won’t clash with my wood trim (medium brown w/ a slight orange tint) accent colors are aqua, apple green, and dark gray green.

  • Avatar Leesey says:

    Hi i found this post interesting because i was just contemplating this question. What color paint would go well with a shaker style cherry furniture that we had custom made. I have cherry armoir, cherry table and chairs. I still like the furniture but always had trouble with the paint color. Right now we have an adobe that I never really cared for.

  • Avatar Sylvia says:

    I know you’ve said that wood is similar to blue jeans in that it’s neutral and goes with almost everything, but why is it that the undertone of wood can essentially be ignored when the undertone of everything else is so important? Are there some colors you would never use with certain woods?

  • Avatar Sylvia says:

    I know you’ve said that wood is similar to blue jeans in that it’s neutral and goes with almost everything, but why is it that the undertone of wood can essentially be ignored when the undertone of everything else is so important? Are there some colors you would never use with certain woods? Or certain woods with each other?

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