Deciphering Undertones part 3: Warm Gray, Cool Gray

by Quinn Larson

Back by popular demand is another installment in the deciphering undertones series.

This time we will be delving into the mysterious world of gray.

Though in the world of science gray isn’t technically considered a color, in the realms of art and interior design it is. Grays, varying mixtures of black and white, are considered neutrals. A true gray will not posses any discernible color, nor exert any color influence on its surroundings. So why do some grays appear warm and others cool? You guessed it, color undertones! Let’s take a look at what adding a bit of color does to change the appearance of gray.

Warm Grays

Gray and Red

Adding a red to a gray creates a gray with a slight pink cast to it. In cooler lighting these grays can look purplish and in warm lighting they can appear more like a taupe.

Gray and Orange

The red and yellow combination of orange will warm a gray up significantly. The resulting mixtures lean towards the brown family and appear as taupes.

Gray and Yellow

Adding yellow to gray creates what are known as ash tones. They are popular color selections due to their neutrality and warmth.

Cool Grays

Gray and Green

Another popular color choice, these sagey mixtures combine the soothing qualities of green with the gentle influence of gray.

Gray and Blue

Cool steely, or stone grays result from the combination of gray and blue. We find these grays used frequently on exteriors.

Gray and Purple

Gray and purple create cool smoky tones. In the right light sources these grays can appear to emit warmth like a red undertone.

Even with undertones, the neutral nature of grays allow them to be effortlessly paired with other colors. Try using these color enhanced grays as you would a color- pairing them with members from the same undertone family, or with the undertones’ complement.

Colorfully yours,


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