Why Gray Is the New Neutral for Chic Flooring

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

When homeowners shop for hardwood floors, they focus on two main variables: darkness and redness. How dark or light your floor is affects how you perceive the size of the space, and the amount of red affects the accord with the other colors in the room. Those looking for an easy solution that works with almost everything usually opt for a neutral brown on the lighter side, but what if you want something a little more interesting? That’s where gray floors come in! Whether you want to build an edgy modern design or give a traditional home an update that makes it stand out, here’s what you should keep in mind as you look for gray flooring.

Lumber Liquidators Builder's Pride Pebble Island Birch

This Builder’s Pride Pebble Island Birch flooring from Lumber Liquidators appears faded with age. Underlying tan notes give the floor a gentler appearance while still providing the look and benefits of an unsaturated base.

Understanding Saturation

The saturation of a color describes its intensity. Unsaturated colors are diluted, and when you hit zero saturation, you’re left with gray. While some think it is dull and boring, gray really opens up a world of possibilities. You can’t deny the depth and beauty of black-and-white photography, and when you apply swaths of grayscale to a picture or a space, it makes any colors nearby pop that much more. Why crowd your home with too many colors if you really only want to highlight a few favorite pieces?

When it comes to wood, loss of saturation is often considered a charming and desirable characteristic. Wood loses its color and fades to gray as it weathers, and that look isn’t usually achievable inside because it lacks exposure to the elements. Appreciation for naturally aged wood has been on the upswing for some years, though, so it should come as no surprise that gray floors are gaining traction. If you want the beauty and character of gray flooring for your home, you’ll have to invest in it from the get-go.

Lumber Liquidators Tranquility Stormy Gray Oak LVP

A high-contrast grayscale floor like this Tranquility Stormy Gray Oak LVP creates a dynamic design beneath your feet. Waterproof and durable, this flooring can be installed anywhere in your home!

Building on a Gray Base

Gray flooring matches everything, but you could easily argue that most brown wood tones do as well. The difference is that gray gives you total color freedom for your furniture and textiles. Some of the most popular natural hardwoods have orange and red undertones, and paired with other warm hues around a room, you can suddenly find yourself in a space where everything competes and nothing looks quite right. A well-balanced design is typically based on contrast, and gray will set off any color regardless of temperature.

If you are planning a bright and crisp interior, a gray floor looks great with white walls and minimalistic and/or geometric shapes and patterns. The result is definitely striking, and any colors you choose will look bold without clashing with the base of the room. Perhaps this sort of design is too stark for your tastes and a gentler, more traditional vibe is your goal. In this case, you’ll be glad to see how gray flooring supports a wider color scheme with ease, and especially how good it looks with classic, richly colored wood furniture like mahogany. There is definitely a place for gray in traditional design when you consider that it behaves very much like ebony; while it takes your attention on its own, it doesn’t impose any particular personality on the space because it lacks in saturation.

Don’t forget that you can use rugs to help break up the floor and provide another layer of color and/or pattern to your design. Many think that gray flooring is monotonous—and we’ll disagree with them—but there is always the option to dress it up if you love the idea but are still on the fence!

Lumber Liquidators Wood-Look Tile

Porcelain Wood-Look Tile from Lumber Liquidators was chosen for the floor of the master bathroom in a recent build of House Plan 7044. The gray color looks fantastic with the subway tiles around the bath and helps to create a crisp, clean, and utterly modern ambiance.

Choosing Your Gray Floor

Whether you’re building a new home from house plans or thinking about reflooring your current residence, it’s a good idea to invest in the look of hardwood. Everybody loves grain detail and easy maintenance, and you can get both of these in a beautiful gray floor whether it’s natural wood, bamboo, tile, or laminate. The market has definitely responded to the demand and there are options for every room, application, and budget.

When it comes to choosing the perfect look, consider how dark or light you want your floor to be, taking lighting and the openness of the floor plan into account. In general, modern spaces can go either way, but traditional designs look better with medium to dark gray floors. And there are plenty of low- to high-contrast choices that will really give you an interesting base and banish any thought of monotony. Look into subtle gray/beige flooring that is definitely neutral and unsaturated, but still has a touch of color, if you love the beautiful look of weathered wood but don’t think you’re able to jump completely onto the bandwagon. But if you are, you’ll love discovering the gamut of gray floors that are silvery, smoky, ashy, and so much more!

If you’ve been inspired to explore these possibilities, be sure to check out Lumber Liquidators’ Gray Gallery Collection to get started! This curated selection includes floors of all types and shades of gray, but you’ll find plenty more options when you thumb through all their products. Be sure to find your local store to see some of these floors and get a feel for them in person. No matter what you choose, your home will be set apart, and your interior design will take on a more defined personality!

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