The grays have it!

Côté Sud Dec 07-Jan08, magnificent chandelier, edited by lb for (l&l)
I’ve been visiting my parents for a few days. My mom is re-doing her guest bedroom and discussions of paint color have been on-going since I arrived.

Baroque Headboard via Campagne edited by lb for (l&l)

Of course color is relative and never the same from one location to the next. So, although we began with some of the exact tones of a blue gray I’ve used in California, we are working to hone in on just the right values here in the Idaho light and in relationship to everything else going on in the room.

I’ve found that just the word “gray” can put some people off from using it in their decor. This may be because the word gray (grey) has long been associated with looking sick, tired or just plain old. It is also an adjective we use to describe a dismal day or something that is faded, dull and worn. Even a gloomy mood is characterized as “gray.”

So it’s understandable, then, that some may be put off by the very mention of the word as part of their decorating scheme.  However, I’ve found that -as with most everything in life- it comes down to balance and perspective.  Upon closer inspection (a new perspective) one sees that gray is actually prevalent throughout nature.

Jardins du Botrain via Jardins Maisons, edited by lb for (l&l)

He is the workhorse, the behind-the-scenes element quietly pulling everything together. If you are skeptical, I challenge you to take a closer look. Notice the gray in nature and see what it does to balance and bring out the beautiful qualities of all the hues. If blended into the hue, it gives a richness and depth that the hue alone wouldn’t have. And juxtaposing it with other colors offers balance, respite for the eye and structure to the whole scheme.

Olive tree via Jardins-Maisons, edited by lb for (l&l)

Take the olive tree outside my studio here. Its colors mesh well with the gray browns and dusty slate of the stone walls. This tree, with its silver-gray leaves and mushroom-y gray bark is a feature in my garden and beautiful all on its own, however, it also plays an important “supporting role” if you will.  Its gray, muted tones offer contrast and highlight the bright greens of the foxtail and the maiden hair ferns and other plants nearby.  It’s the balancing act I spoke of…and one aspect would not be nearly as beautiful -or as interesting- without the other.

l&l at home:  Australian Fern by lb for (l&l)

Pierre du XVIII Jardins-Maisons edited by lb for (l&l)

I’ve long embraced grays because they are so prevalent in the ancient stone villas and other elements found in the countrysides of Europe that I love so much; not to mention the pewter and zinc metals that I adore. To me, grays are anything but dull and ordinary. Rather, they are distinguished and classic, imparting an elegant, timeless appeal to any design scheme. —Now, these rogue grays in my hair. . . well, that’s another story. (Sigh.)



Amazing hand-crafted floors made by artisans in Italy.  Browse their website for other inspiring works…
(click to learn about linen and lavender’s latest give-away)
Photo credits in order of appearance:  
1-Cote Sud Dec07-Jan08; 2-Campagne Magazine; 3-Jardins du Botrain, JM; 4-Jardin Maison; 5-Australian fern, my garden; 6-Pierre Du XVIII, JM;  7-Maisons Cote Ouest; 8-Cote Est Juin-Aout 2001; 9-Cote Sud Aout-Sept 03; 19-Cote Maison; 11-Cote Sud Dec03-Jan04; 12-Cote Sud Fev-Mar05; 13-Cote Sud Dec02-Jan03; 14-Cote Est June-Aout03; 15-Cote Sud Fev-Mar06; 16-Cote Sud Fev-Mar 2006; 17-iceberg roses and lavender, my garden; 18-Cote Sud, Dec02-Jan03; 19-Cote Sud; 20-Cote Ouest, Fev-Mar 05; 21-Ville Giardini Sept 2009; 22-Cote Sud, Avril-Mai 2005; 23&24-Vassalletti Maestri

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Posted in 02Inspiration File, aged paint finish, ancient stone, bedroom, color scheme, elements, gray, gray cabinets, gray door, gray finish, grays, grey, I vassalletti, maiden hair fern, nature, olive tree, paint, pewter, zinc.


  1. Happy New Year, LeAnn! With the new year I am trying to bring in new energy into my home…I am wanting to paint my interior gray (it's been the same French White for 8 years!). I painted my dining room "Ashes" from Berh and it's all wrong! For my eyes it's too pastel and I am seeing too much blue come through! I was hoping for a chalky, moody, muted gray. Do you have any suggestions? I have major anxiety about this and am about 2 seconds away from painting over it with the French White!

    xoxo, Tiffany

  2. Hi, Tiffany! Happy New Year to you! I will send you some suggestions via email, but I will say here that sometimes the biggest issue can be the paint quality. The formulation that the higher end paint companies use can be quite different than other brands and can be the reason you aren't getting the chalky look you want to see.
    I'll send some suggestions to your email soon.
    Good to hear from you!
    xo ~LeAnn

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