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Gray on Display at DC Design House

Area designers show why gray is the new neutral.

Gray on Display at DC Design House Gray on Display at DC Design House Gray on Display at DC Design House Gray on Display at DC Design House

Never has the color gray shone as bright and bold as in this year’s Washington D.C. Design House.

The annual Design House, open to the public now through May 13, features the work of the area’s top interior designers. This year they transformed a 10,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom estate in Spring Valley into a showcase of ideas. While some designers went with a trendy bright orange or pale blue, gray is by far the hottest hue. 

Perhaps the most stunning use of gray is in the family room, designed by Daniel K. Proctor of Kirk Designs in Baltimore. Proctor created four 8-by-4-foot architectural panels and mounted them on the wall behind a charcoal gray sofa. The panels give the room a sense of depth, while concealing a doorway to the kitchen.

“Gray is the new beige,” said Angel Fischer, a designer at Kirk Designs who worked on the project with Proctor. “We’re hoping it stays for a really long time.”

Proctor chose a pair of large gray upholstered chairs to compliment the dark gray sofa, as well as the panels. Hanging on a wall adjacent to the panels is a large rare Eve Arnold photograph of Marilyn Monroe lounging on the set of "The Misfits," the last film appearance for the actress and co-star Clark Gable. The photo is black and white, and reinforces the gray tones throughout the room. The dominate use of gray allows splashes of citron green — in pillows, a pair of ottomans and two leather desk chairs — to pop.

In the parlor, interior designer Annette Hannon uses a light gray paint from Farrow & Ball on the walls. Hannon also infused blue-gray tones on furniture and accessories.

The kitchen, designed by Nadia Subaran, of Aidan Design, features painted gray cabinets. “I think gray is the new classic,” Subaran said.

In the Lorna Gross-designed study, a smoky gray button-tufted settee looks splendid against cream-colored painted panel walls. Gross, of Savant Interior Design, had painters apply three coats of primer on the walls to cover the dated pine paneling. She used a combination of gray and metallic paints on the ceiling, adding a dazzling touch.

Designer Brian VanFleet combined gray, black and mirrors to create a dazzling guest bath. Black-and-white photographs of ripples in water are suspended from chains in front of the mirrored walls.  

Tricia Huntley selected a funky vintage gray curved sectional as the focal point of the master bedroom’s sitting area. Huntley recognized that the “bones of the space are quite traditional,” but chose to stamp her own swank '70s lounge take on it. The Pavillion Gray walls serve as the perfect canvas to Huntley’s playful approach to mid-century modern, including a photo of two women who look to be straight out of the Mod Squad.

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