Wednesday, May 30, 2012

50 Shades of Grey

Ever hear of the book 50 Shades of Grey? Why, of course you have. It's all anyone seems to be talking about. I'm not going to add to the chatter about the book as bondage doesn't seem to be an appropriate topic for a design blog. (And the reason I know what it's about is not because I've read it. I learned about it from the New York Times. Really.)

I will pass along a funny story about the book, though. My good friend recently told me about her co-worker who bought the book for a retiring elementary school teacher because she thought it was a book about decorating! 50 Shades of Grey would be a great title for a book about color, so I don't think the co-worker was completely off her rocker!

The shades of grey in this post? Now these are some that we most definitely should discuss.

A Roman apartment

The home of Ramon Osuna, decorated by Antony Childs.

Tablesetting by Jean-François Daigre.

A room by Joseph D'Urso.

The home of Angelo Donghia.

The San Francisco home of John Dickinson.

Photo #1: Les Reussites De La Decoration Francaise: 1950-1960; #2: House & Garden Guide to Interior Decoration; #3: House and Garden's Best in Decoration; #4: Tiffany Taste; #5: Architectural Digest New York Interiors; #6 and #7: The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration.


  1. Suuuure you read "about" it! ;)

    I'm painting my living/dining room gray right now! "Natural Elements" by Benjamin Moore. You have *no* idea how difficult it is choosing a shade of gray. Some are muddy, a lot of them are very cold and icy...I have at least 7 sample "stripes" on my walls.

    By the way - check out the Google Doodle today for Carl Faberge's birthday!

    1. Grey is the hardest shade to get right. I chose BM's Bunny Gray for my bookshelves, but the color comes across as dull, grayish white rather than true gray. I'm going to have to repaint them, unfortunately.

      Off to check out today's Google Doodle!

  2. PGT, have always been 'grey' over taupe...this is a hilarious take on the book which I have heard of but not read...and dont see the point having read Story of O (the origial guide to bondage no?)many years ago.

  3. Clever! Haven't read the book and not sure if I will - but I will always dive into a post about the different shades of the color gray. I've had good luck with BM Gray Cashmere - it's really a very grayed down turquoise - very dreamy!

  4. I have loved gray for years--such a challenge to get it just right as it seems to escape into different shades according to its surroundings. But when it is perfect, there is nothing like it. Have a super day. Mary

  5. Since you posted the pic of the room by Angelo Donghia, I've often wondered why no definitive biography of him has ever been published. I find this odd, especially since Architectural Digest named him one of the 20 greatest designers of all time. Any ideas? Vince

  6. Donna Cardiff12:18 PM

    Loved this post! I just painted my master bathroom gray with a darker gray trim!! and seeing Ramon Asuna's interior was nice. I've never seen pictures of his home.

  7. I feel like I should read just bc everyone else is, but I haven't pulled the trigger yet. It's off-putting to me. I love farrow and ball's lamp room grey and another...something like charleston grey

  8. Quite sassy of you POC! As for gray in decorating, I say the only gray around my house is my hair! With a world full of gorgeous colors, I don't get gray. I have friends who look smashing in their ghost rooms, but it does not make my heart sing. I fear I simply have not evolved enough.

    ps did the second grade teacher love her 50 Shades?

  9. Anonymous2:43 PM

    The second image, with the standing sculpture, was a 'set' in the House & Garden studio at Vogue House in London, by the late, lamented Olive Sullivan. You will find her brillant work in all the British H&Gs from the 60s onwards.



  10. I love gray. Also The Picture of Dorian. And I have read the book.

  11. We once painted a large room a light gray color, and it was a big success, giving the room architectural presence. The previous color had been a pale green, and perhaps it was my imagination, but the tiniest vestige of that green seemed to infuse that gray and enliven it.
    --Road to Parnassus

  12. Mmmmm, gray...

    I've had two all-gray apartments plus a gray bedroom in a third apartment, and I loved every single one of them. I know gray's all over the place right now, but even so, I'd be ready for another go-round with it except that my current place doesn't have a room suited to it. As far as which particular color gray any of those rooms happened to be, I don't remember. One time I matched the color to the set of gray 1930s enameled-metal Venetian blinds that were already at the windows when I moved in--no money to change to anything else--and once I matched them to the steely gray of Lake Michigan in December, since the view of the lake from my eleventh floor windows stretched clear from the horizon to within a few hundred yards of my building. Did the changing light make my gray walls take on different tints throughout the course of a day? Of course it did. These days, some people get antsy if a color goes all chameleon on them, while other people pay extra money for paint whose color seems to change over the course of a day. Not me. I'm generally happy with whatever my first choice is, which either means that I have a really good eye for exactly the right shade, or, conversely, that my color standards aren't very high at all. Probably the latter. Either way, I bring the paint home from the store, I put it up, and that's that. If the color turns out to be exactly what I envisioned, great. If not, Oh, well, I get used to it. Life's hard enough already without obsessing over the undertones in a can of paint.

    BTW, I've had torn-out pages with three of those rooms in my files for 20 years now: the Dickinson, the Childs & the Donghia. What can I say? Great minds think alike.

    Oh, and that "Gray" book? I have an easy method of predicting whether or not I'll like a book: if I see four women reading it on the bus on a single morning, I know it's not for me.

    1. I love the idea of matching your walls to a set of 1930s Venetian blinds. I bet that room looked smashing! I'm usually pretty adept at choosing paint colors, with the exception of the above mentioned Bunny Grey bookshelves. That was a mistake on my part.

      I know that I wouldn't enjoy reading that book. I'd much rather spend my time reading something else.