An art student once expressed his frustration to me. He has been assigned to mix pigments to create 60 plus shades of gray. The teacher was challenging the students to see things differently as well as mix the paints.
The instructor was telling the student that there was much more to “gray” than he thought. Now, gray has become the new neutral replacing whites and beiges in all their variety.
A versatile neutral
You might expect a neutral to sit there and do little. But, gray can be active and dynamic. The same shade appears to change as light hits it and as the incoming natural light changes. The same place that seems cool will appear warms at another time.
Your choice of gray might be lightly pale or richly deep. Walls can be different shades, and a gray environment might welcome complementary grays or boldly contrasting bright colors. And, that flexibility makes it attractive to homeowners and designers.
Gray can be a counterbalance that makes other things work. Where white or beige mean only to disappear in the background, gray is a proactive selection. You may notice that art museums go out of their way to find wall colors that create an environment for the artworks they hold. And, gray offers the same opportunity—a neutral that’s not quite a neutral!
Two takes on lighting the gray
The only gray in the Astoria chandelier its circular polished nickel base. Strung from that base, crystals reflect and refract the light of hidden bulbs. These glass pieces fall for 40-inches and 30-inches across.
In any setting, the glass beads move with passing breezes and rising heat. And, this dynamic works nicely with gray backgrounds. Moreover, the glass pieces are selected for their various shapes and arranged artfully to avoid repetition and create interest.
The archly geometric Upton light fixture differs radically from the Astoria in its straight lines and striking angles. Its polished nickel has the appearance and quality of stainless steel. Nothing dangles here. There’s no motion, no bangles or beads here.
A glass-paneled silvery rectangle nestles inside its host rectangle with the angles and the frames echoing each other. The larger frame hangs to 40-inches with the metal reflecting and extending the light.
The Upton presents a much different dynamic than the Astoria, but they can co-exist in the same interior design. If gray is the theme, they do nothing to violate the color’s subtleties. In fact, they brighten the environment with the almost natural elements in glass and gray metals.

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