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Painting with grey


At the beginning of the year I moved into a new home that could only be described as a granny flat. It’s previous occupant was a seventy-something with a fondness for pond green swags, beige everything and rhubarb pink. It’s new occupant however is a twenty-something with a love for interior decoration and modern, if slightly quirky, design. So, as you can imagine I’ve been very busy with various DIY projects as I re-vamp my flat, room by room. The first room I decided to decorate was the living room and I wanted to do so with grey paint.

I decided that I would go with just the one feature wall (pictured below) as not to drown the room – even though it is a very light room thanks to the large bay window and high ceilings. The shade of grey I chose to go with was Bowler Hat Grey from the Dulux Classic’s range, painting the rest of the walls/features in a simple Brilliant White, also by Dulux. Dulux Classic’s are lovely shades and pretty much – in my eyes – on par with Farrow & Ball’s chalky soft paints. When I started painting I was unsure of how I was going to tackle the shelves and the surrounds so I thought I’d take it step by step. I have to admit, I am not a fan of built in shelves and cupboards; I don’t like their shape or their lack of flexibility. The obvious answer was to rip them out but that currently is not an option, so I have to live with them and hopefully try make them disappear.


When I arrived at the above stage I did not feel comfortable with the outcome, it did not look right. The white frame around the shelves looked prominent and fussy, which definitely was not my plan! When using dark or strong colours it can be a bit daunting making bold decisions, so it’s always helpful to get the opinion of another. Obviously my first point of call was to Pippa! I emailed her a few pictures and asked her opinion on what I should do… paint everything grey, paint just the surround, paint the shelves, paint everything including the cupboards??? Pippa confirmed my feelings and suggested I paint the surround and shelves grey, but paint the cupboard white. And thats exactly what I did (see below) and I think it looks great. The fireplace pops out, the fresh white paint looks sophisticated and most importantly, the shelves appear merged and subtle!! I also think my collection of accessories look great against the grey – especially the coloured items… well I think they do anyway.


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  • Louisa Blackmore

    This post is so interesting because usually when you see a before & after they don’t mention where the first stage didn’t work out. But to see why it didn’t work and what Pippa & Carrie did to fix it, that is actually really helpful and interesting. The end result is lovely! 

  •  Thanks Louisa! I agree, it’s so important to see the ‘work in progress’.  I think Carrie has done a great job and we’re glad you like the end result! x

  • This is a great look Carrie!  I’m seeing grey cropping up a lot lately in interior design and used in so many lovely ways and with various other colours.  I’m starting to wonder if grey is becoming the new black in home decor this year?! Grey and Cream certainly gives a warmer alterntaive to the monochrome palette of black and white.  Great job!

  • Pippa Jameson

    Carries done a great job hasn’t she! x

  • Ben

    Yes, very interesting to see a semi-failure, and how that was recovered! I really like the big and bold ‘Don’t Say Nothing’ against the grey wall. And it’s a very strong grey as well, which I think helps, just a couple of shades away from black (which would be way too overpowering!), but strong enough for a statement wall. 

  •  It’s a great shade isn’t it.  I think it’s Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball (is that right Carrie?).  I am big fan and have just painted our office with it.  Thanks for your comment Ben.

  •  It’s lovely isn’t it Hannah.  Grey is most definately the new Black.  We have been using it for lots of shoots lately.  Thanks for your comments, it’s great to have the feedback.

  • WSJ Travel

    I’ve been searching for a dark grey for a living room with lots white trim and came across Bowler Hat. I don’t want the color to look blue, green or taupe….. just grey. Do you think Bowler Hat would be a good choice? I’m planning on wide striping the fireplace wall w/ an eggshell and a semi-gloss or gloss.


Pippa Jameson is an experienced Interior Stylist, Art Director, Consultant and TV Designer who has worked in London and abroad for the past 20 years. This site was started as a way for Pippa to share her industry knowledge of current interiors news and trends, whilst having a behind the scenes glimpse of a life in the day of a Stylist.


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