There is no denying that gray is one of the most popular colors to use in the home. From monochromatic schemes to smoky woodwork accents, designers everywhere have embraced this versatile hue — and it won’t go away anytime soon. Finding the right color is a whole different story.
One particularly popular paint color is Peppercorn, a timeless shade from Sherwin-Williams that is often trending online. The rich color is one of the brand’s most beloved colors, and there’s a clear reason for it.
Peppercorn gets its name from the earthy note of dried black peppercorns. This cool, moody neutral is a comforting addition to the home, reminiscent of stormy skies and wintry weather. Used in the design, the paint color idea creates a sense of luxury and sophistication, especially when combined with more warming neutrals like cream and beige. It also works just as well as an accent color within a more playful and bright color palette.
While gray is a versatile shade, perfecting the right shade can be notoriously difficult, and it’s important to consider your room’s natural lighting. When it comes to decorating with peppercorn gray, there are a few common design mistakes to watch out for. From finding the right paint finish to determining the ideal room to introduce this ash hue, we asked the experts for their top tips for using Peppercorn (and similar shades) in the home.
Lilith is an expert in following news and trends in the world of interior design. She regularly shares color stories with readers to help them stay on top of ever-changing trends that promise to add personality to the home. For this piece, she spoke to color experts to learn how to incorporate a smoky peppercorn gray into our homes.
How to Decorate With Peppercorn
1. Start small
“The rich, charcoal hue of Peppercorn is a color that everyone is friends with,” said Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Whether it’s whitewashed brick or wreaths of green, this color gives instant depth thanks to its dark shade.”
While it’s a customizable color, Sue acknowledges that many of us are hesitant to be brave and daring with our use of gray. This is understandable, given the risks associated with saturating a room with such a dark color.
“If you want to bring a bold color to your space but the idea of saturating an entire room is holding you back, just start small,” says Sue. “An accent wall is a great way to introduce dark colors like peppercorn gray into your home’s palette without going all in.”
Use peppercorn gray in a niche to add depth and dimension. Consider painting only the bottom two-thirds of the wall, as shown above in Lick’s design, if you want to play with perspective for increased visual appeal. Sue adds, “You can create a look that’s even more dramatic by contrasting this gray with bright shades of white.”
2. Consider the room and natural lighting
There’s no denying that peppercorn gray is a dark shade that can sometimes be tricky in design. When used incorrectly with the wrong lighting, dark colors can make a room look imposing and oppressive. For this reason, it is important to know how to use dark interior design effectively.
“Peppercorn is a dark, off-black color, like charcoal,” explains Tash Bradley, director of interior design at Lick. (opens in new tab). “It’s such a dark color that you want to avoid anything that is too bright and clinical, so I recommend this color for a formal living room that you want to make very cozy, but also with a bit of drama.”
For a warmer feel, Tash recommends avoiding north-facing rooms, which will make a peppercorn gray feel cooler. “If you want to bring atmosphere and atmosphere to the room, warm, bright lighting works well with this color,” she says. “Imagine a library or reading room with sofas that have a little more color and pattern in a room with lamps.”
Gray can also be an excellent way to experiment with perception. “A dark hallway would also look great in a peppercorn hue,” Tash says. “Keep the woodwork light and do the rest of the hallway in gray, so the rooms leading into the hallway feel much lighter.”
A gray bedroom idea may not be your first choice, but Valspar (opens in new tab)‘s senior product manager, Charlotte Radford, says it can be used to create comfort. “As a versatile neutral, the shade works especially well in bedrooms to create a luxurious retreat,” she says. Try using the color for an accent wall behind your headboard because, as Charlotte adds, “peppercorn gray creates a natural focal point that gives the eye a place to rest.”
3. Combine with neutral colors
While there are many colors that go with gray, you can try pairing a peppercorn hue with neutrals.
“White accents work well to break up the intensity of luxurious deep gray walls,” says Charlotte. White woodwork, stonewashed fabrics and light accessories complement the richness of this intense gray hue. By painting elements such as cornices, radiators and skirting boards in warmer white tones, a balance is created in the space.’
For a more natural effect, use organic furniture and decor to add a softer contrast to the boldness of peppercorn gray. “I think it really comes alive with softer, oatmeal and beige colors for furniture,” adds Tash. ‘Natural forests and stones go very well with the grey.’
4. Don’t forget the finer details
Peppercorn gray doesn’t have to be reserved for your walls. From woodwork to cabinetry, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate this color into your home.
“This color goes really well with paneling,” Tash says. “If you have a room with wall panels or a trunk with tongue and groove details, or a bathroom downstairs, this mood, rich, deep color comes to life in these spaces.”
As such a versatile color, peppercorn gray can also look different depending on what you pair it with. ‘The combination of wooden furniture, natural metals and lush greenery with peppercorns creates a sophisticated feel and natural atmosphere,’ explains Charlotte. “You can also opt for a more industrial look by combining peppercorn walls with exposed brick with gold accents to add depth.”
When it comes to decorating with this color, you should also consider the paint finish. As Tash notes, “This color looks really beautiful in an eggshell because it has more shimmer, which means it helps reflect more natural light.”