Translate the showroom lessons from Milan's Salone Del Mobile and EuroCucina to create winning grey-brown combinations for your home
Ever since I have been back from the trade fairs, but I’ve not been able to get the most striking colour combination I saw there out of my head. It was the freshness of our old friend grey, around for a long time now, combined with brown – in leather, timber and even paint – that caught my eye. I wondered why we’d not seen this combination more often. Was combining brown and grey in the same colour scheme a bit like the outdated rule about not combining red and pink, or blue and green? These gorgeous rooms successfully combine grey and brown palettes in a very natural and organic way. Food for thought and very inspiring. Here’s how I plan to use it in upcoming schemes.
Concrete and timber
In this kitchen, concrete and timber combine to create an organic palette in a stunning natural setting. The concrete bench top and column on the island, featured against the sleek timber cabinetry, create a look that is pared back and sophisticated. A gloss finish on the smooth concrete floor is a wonderful contrast to the matt, textured timber.
The grey joinery and soft grey wall colour create a neutral backdrop to really feature the central design element of the kitchen island. I love the two deep grey pendant lights suspended over the island – they provide the perfect finishing touch.
Here, the warmth of the timber contrasts beautifully with the soft colour of concrete, and the textural difference enhances this contrast further. Both surfaces are practical, hardwearing, and easy to live with.
There are so many things to love about this living area. The long lines of the timber ceiling contrast with the vertical lines in the concrete wall. The soft fabrics and rug contrast with the hard surfaces of the timber and concrete, creating a warm, rich environment. The iconic Eames chair, with its combination of timber and leather, complement this scheme well.
Grey with brown leather
In this scheme the almost buttery texture of the leather sofa against the textural, plastered-effect grey wall looks stunning. The tall window shutters in the same grey, although this time in a plain matt paint, contrast with the texture and movement in both the paint-effect wall and the leather.
In this room, a warm floor and grey chairs work so well with the light tan walls and deeper grey surface of the cabinets. It’s the combination of warmth and coolness that strikes a wonderful balance.
Grey tile with timber
Simplicity rules in this gorgeous bathroom, in both colour and material. The mid-grey tiles have movement and texture, and the timber bench top and accents pop off the tiles and create a horizontal feature against the grey walls.This living room features textured, concrete-look tiles on the fireplace wall, with timber flooring and timber accents in the kitchen. The kitchen mosaic tiles continue the combination of warm brown and cooler grey, while the deeper grey sofas add depth and define the room’s sitting area. Overall, the look is relaxed and comfortable, showing that this combination is not just for high-drama formal rooms.
Tip: Clever lighting is essential. Warm, indirect lighting strips keep the scheme cosy and inviting.
Paint and fabrics
But let’s not forget our easiest decorating tools. Here, a soft and gentle palette of deep grey and warm, deep-brown timber flooring act as a backdrop for softer brown/beige and grey accents in furnishings and accessories. Notice the natural elements of wool, linen, animal hide and matt pottery and ceramic pieces – that mix of matt textures was one of the striking trends on show by furniture companies in Milan. This combination creates a soft and natural harmony. The two green pops from the indoor plants finish the look off beautifully.
The restful promise of a good night’s sleep is made by this bedroom scheme. A soothing mix of soft grey and soft brown creates a tranquil retreat at the end of the day – there are no jarring tones here. The touch of timber and mix of textured linen and shiny pleating on the lampshade add texture and warmth.
In this room setting we see a delightful mix of new and old. A battered suitcase, distressed trunk and aged leather sofa combine with a sophisticated mid-grey painted wall, a geometric rug in warm browns, and new, finer timber pieces. Touches of black are important to help to ground this scheme.