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Whether you love your grey hardwood floors or you’d rather make them disappear, I’m sharing two of the best ways to decorate around them. The trick is to add some warmth, and I can show you how.

When you inherit your floors and paint colours

My client Deborah and her family moved and happily, all the timeless furniture we had chosen for her great room makeover in her last home, fit perfectly in the new one. 

She loved the layout of their new home. However, what she did not love, were the grey hardwood floors and paint colour she inherited. Deborah decided not to replace the floors because she didn’t think they would be in the house long enough to get their money back.

But, after living with these finishes through the pandemic, she asked me to come over and specify a new paint colour.  We also chose a few other accessories to finish the rooms. After all every new home has custom spaces that need to be considered.

1. Add a complex cream

First things first, a complex cream to warm it ALL up (below). Get the full list of all the complex creams, in all four undertones (which are the palest of the beiges) in my system here.

I always place white boards BEHIND the colour I’m testing, as you’ll see further down when I chose the island colour, however in this case we were not influenced by the grey behind it. Plus, I often like to balance the boards on top of the crown moulding because it gives a good visual as well. 

But in general, you always want to create a clean backdrop behind the paint colours you’re testing so that you don’t start making decisions and comparing to the old paint colour.

Need help with your paint colours? See our eDesign packages here.

After the new paint colour went up, Deborah reported that it felt like the sun was shining every time she walked into the house.

After | Benjamin Moore OC-95 Navajo White 

Notice if the walls were the same white as the trim, it still would have felt cold. Especially because there’s no white in the decorating. 

White walls need white furniture to really work well.

Read more: 4 Reasons Your White Walls Look Bad


2. Introduce natural fiber rugs to warm up the floors:

Natural jute rugs are the easiest way to bring loads of warmth into your room – especially if you are decorating around a lot of grey finishes.

At first, Deborah tried this rug but it wasn’t doing anything for her. The colours were pretty enough, but it ended up looking like an island. It wasn’t connecting the floors to the rest of the space. 

Then she bought this inexpensive jute rug that comes in every size.

And when I arrived to choose a new paint colour, I suggested she order an even larger one to place underneath the dining table. This adds continuity and brings some much needed warmth to the entire area.

Now she doesn’t even notice the grey wood floors.

Here’s another hot decorating tip: How do you decorate when you have six feet of space on each side and no millwork (below)? Find a cabinet that fits in the space, add some mirrors and lamps and some vignettes.

Read more: Need an Extra Window Somewhere? (Do this Instead)

The grey island in the kitchen needed to be navy to bring flow from the great room so I turned one of my large colour samples around to the white side and placed all my navy blues down to choose the right one (below): 

I also suggested that she add some moulding to make it look more like furniture.  It’s a simple detail that has a big impact.

Read more: My Sister Elizabeth’s Fresh but Still Tuscan Kitchen Makeover


Then we found a much nicer piece of furniture for this wall in her dining room:

And the new piece gave us more room for bigger table lamps. 

Geometric Pillow Cover | Table lamp similar | Console table sold out

This house does not have an official living room which leaves room for this layout, perfect for entertaining.  

So if your house is feeling too grey, add some jute area rugs and some cognac pillows to warm it all up. And, dare I say it, welcome back beige! 

If you’d like to learn how to choose the best colours for your home or your clients home, Friday, June 3 is the last day to register into my final Virtual Specify Colour with Confidence event this Spring.

“Thank you so much for all your insights! I have truly learned things that are practical in everyday use when it comes to color. Even as a new interior designer, I already feel more confident in choices I will be making which will translate to professionalism. I feel like what may have taken months to learn in an internship, I just learned in 2 days.” Jacquelyn Boyd

“I signed up for the workshop to learn more about paint and decorating for myself. I read the ebooks twice, once when I first bought them (well before the class), and once in the three days leading up to the class. Reading them in-depth the second time (including following and reading all the links) really helped me to understand the material better. The workshop cemented this knowledge because it allowed me to ask questions and hear questions from others. In addition, I found the exercises Maria led us through to name undertones and come up with solutions were full of so many ah-ha moments that ultimately propelled me to make the biggest leap in my confidence.” Evelyn Chan-Cox

The course is June 9 & 10. Register here. 

I’m the keynote speaker for a real estate zoom conference this week:

I’m with my family in Osoyoos this week, follow along on my stories.

Well be back out this way in Nelson, the middle of August! I hope it’s warmer then.

Related posts:

Ask Maria; What if I Don’t Like the Grey Flooring that’s Everywhere

Interior Colour Flow is Easy; Before & After

Is a Cognac Leather Sofa Timeless or Trendy?

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  • Loribeth says:

    The original gray walls didn’t go with those floors anyway. When you added the Navajo White, it picked up the undertone in the floors and really warmed them up. I’m not a fan of jute rugs… just can’t get past the smell. Reminds me of hay. I’ve bought several because the look is so versatile, but every time they’ve ended up being sent back.

    • Rebecca Burlingham says:

      Carpet companies are doing a great job imitating Jute. Stop in a flooring store. You can buy a piece of carpet and have the edges bound to make any size rug that you might need.

  • JJ says:

    I love it. The wall color perfectly pulls in the lighter, more natural shade in the wood floors and softens them up. The new wall color allows an entirely new range of upholstery and decor than the previous combination. Obviously from the photos, the client enjoys and more relaxed, warmer feeling home and this color worked with most of her existing furniture. That type of consideration, rather than just giving everyone the same (whatever is trending) advice, is what makes a great designer.

  • Rebecca says:

    I’m bookmarking this post. There’s a high chance we’ll be moving soon and since everyone is still loving the grey trend in my country, I suspect I’ll be facing house after house of grey flooring. This post actually gives me a plan to deal with that option.

  • Bette says:

    Super interesting. After the changes, I would not even call the floors gray anymore — I’d call them driftwood or some shade of brown-gray.

    • Lorena says:

      I actually seen driftwood used as the color describer for many of those floors and wooden items as well.

  • Great article! If we introduce complex creams and beiges to a grey floor, is that considered “ignoring an existing fixture”?

  • Crystal says:

    Everything looks lovely, cheery and warm. Was the complex cream (Navajo White), as suggested above, matched with the kitchen cabinets before being painted throughout the house? Excellent Maria, as always.

  • Holly says:

    Maria, I’m going to go ahead and dub you the queen of fresh design (if you haven’t already been given that title). Somehow, you make everything look like freaking sunshine! Who knew Navajo White paint could look that fresh? I didn’t even notice the gray floors with the addition of the new paint and rugs. Beautiful job and it looks gorgeous with the blue sofa and accessories.

    You mentioned in the link of the makeover of Deborah’s previous home that instead of going for the trendy neutral of the moment for a sofa to go with a color, that color is more timeless. What about if you have an open concept space with a black and white kitchen? Wouldn’t a cognac sofa (classic and timeless) be the color of choice as opposed to a color like a blue sofa in that case?

    I’m currently on the market for new furniture and I’m back and forth over choosing a blue or cognac top grain leather sofa and I don’t want to jump the gun this time trying to make a decision and end up with an ugly brown couch again. I also read today that the dye from blue jeans can transfer onto a cognac sofa and dye it permanently so I’m on the fence because I work from home and denim is my work uniform. The only time I wear anything else is for a wedding or a funeral so then there’s that.

    Oh, and if anyone here can suggest a pet friendly, fashionable reclining sofa that doesn’t look like you walked into Regal Cinemas I’m all ears! I’m currently looking for top grain navy or cognac leather sofa because I have 2 dogs and a hubby who just retired. I have to think about his comfort too, hopefully without sacrificing style. 🙂

  • Joanne says:

    Love it! The wall color changes the entire “feel” of the room. It all seems more welcoming and fresh. I am not sold on the jute rugs against the flooring, I would have preferred a more colorful rug in the living room. But I love splashes of color!

    What I absolutely love, however, is the new wall hanging behind the new table. It is exactly what I have been looking for in my dining area!! Is it possible to get a link?

    • Sheree L says:

      I LOVE that painting (or print), too! I remember seeing it in the post about Deborah’s previous home. It’s gorgeous!

  • Kay says:

    The island color change looks so much nicer with the blue chairs.

  • Marilyn says:

    Thank you for this post, Maria! It clarified my question on HOW, to choose a complex cream against gray floors, or any floor color for that matter! 🙂

  • Marie In AZ says:

    Now the house looks lovely and peaceful, unified, and much more inviting. Navajo White is a Superstar!!!!

  • Sheree L says:

    Deborah’s new home looks fabulous! The styling is perfectly on point and all the changes make such a big impact! It’s good to know that if a home has those gray floors, that there is a way to decorate to minimize all the gray. Thank you to Maria and Deborah for sharing this amazing makeover!

  • Alex says:

    This was a tough one and it took me awhile to figure out why it still didn’t “sit” with me. I came to the conclusion that the coffee table/side bench/and DR jute rug are just too “bright” to blend with the rest of the finishes. The rug under the coffee table works better imo and so does the duller end table. Good job trying to do your best with gray floors that have this much pattern and bossiness.

  • Jennifer says:

    As much as I loved aspects of the gray trend, I wish people hadn’t put in these floors. I like this post and the direction they went given these floors, but overall I am still struggling to embrace creams and beiges. Maybe I can start a taupe revolution? not as dreary as gray and not as yellowy blah as beige? ha!


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