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10 essential tips for painting with grey

10 essential tips for painting with grey

Dark, silvery, warm, charcoal, there are plenty of ways to work with the colour grey. We chat to the experts at Resene to find out how to make the most of this stunning shade.

10 essential tips for painting with grey

Synonymous with sophistication, calm energy and wonderfully versatile, grey is the new go-to for home decorating.

Just like white, not every shade of grey is the same. Resene offers a broad collection of grey colours, from soft dove, French elegance, to rich, smoky charcoal.

1. Think about lighting

Pay attention to natural and artificial lighting when choosing the right shade of grey. In dark rooms, grey can take on a warm tone, whereas rooms with lots of artificial lighting can bring out green tones in the grey.

2. Create a calming space

Grey hues can have a beautiful, calming effect. While true grey may be too much for some, a touch of warmth like Resene Half Friar Grey can create an effortlessly soothing space.

Tongue-and-groove wall in Resene Armadillo, Floor in Resene Colorwood Natural, Bedside table in Resene Triple Tapa, Chair in Resene Zeus, Tall vase in Resene Karaka, Short cylindrical vase in Resene Go Ben with design in Resene Cargo and Resene Beachcomber, Dresser in Resene Lichen, Jug vase in Resene Raptor, Small round vase in Resene Cobblestone, Tea light holder in Resene Half Nomad, Round woven plate wall hangings in Resene Quarter Gravel.

3. Brighten and lighten

Seriously versatile, grey can also be used to brighten and add a whimsical feel to a space. Tones like Resene Half Surrender will appear luminous in a space that is well-lit, pairing perfectly with greyed-off pastel colours.

4. Blue or green undertones

A big trend in home decor is the move to greys with touches of blue or green undertones. Resene Bounty or Resene Emerge offer slatey tones that are smoky and moody.

5. A touch of elegance

Grey is also a colour synonymous with elegance. Charcoals like Resene Mine Shaft look wonderful with creamy whites and a shot of bold colour.

6. Pair with brown

Timber or hemp-toned furniture match superbly with grey. Make sure to keep it textural when decorating your space.

Wall in Resene Duck Egg Blue with Resene Paint Effects tinted in Resene Rolling Stone, Grooved floor in Resene Half Villa White, Pendant lamp in Resene Half Orchid White, Sideboard in Resene Inside Back, Pottery-style bowl (with lemons) in Resene Kalgoorie Sands, Coat rack in Resene Dark Slate.

7. Take it tonal

Layer up your greys from darkest to light to add interest and depth to your room. Start with the darkest hue, such as Resene Foundry, then work in lighter variations in furniture, curtains and linen.

If you have favourite objects that don’t fit your palette, paint them with Resene testpots to help them co-ordinate with the rest of your space.

8. Spice it up

Pure grey can be a little on the bland side, so don’t be afraid to spice it up with warm terracotta and spicy turmeric hues, such as Resene Sunbaked or Resene Desperado.

Remember the rule of three – when adding a feature colour use it in three places to help connect it into the space.

9. Accent the season

If you like to update and rotate your accessories to suit the seasons, grey is a very versatile base colour to work with.

Start with a hue like Resene Concrete, then add terracotta or deep green cushions for autumn, ring in winter with deep red accessories and brighten up with yellow accessories for spring and summer time.

10. The right finish

Dark greys call for matte finishes, such as Resene SpaceCote Flat, to create a velvety and luscious look.

Go for the higher gloss finish, such as Resene Enamacryl, if you want to create a feeling of glamour and brightness that helps reflect light.


Visit for a collection of decorating projects by kiwi homeowners and use these grey hued projects to inspire your own space.

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