The exterior of the home I grew up in was always painted grey. Usually a Payne’s grey pigmented with a mixture of ultramarine, black and Sienna. My grandmother insisted on this and I used to think how bleak and unclear that color was, how the house and it various dependencies could have used some color definition.
I have come to realize that there were many personal and socio-emotional reasons for this choice. The color historian Eva Heller states “grey is too weak to be considered masculine, but too menacing to be considered a feminine color. It is neither warm nor cold, neither material or spiritual. With grey, nothing seems to be decided.”
Grey (or gray) is an intermediate color, a neutral or achromatic color (color without color). It is the color of a cloud-covered sky, of ash, of lead, of humility and modesty. It is associated with dusk, with goblins and elves. It is recessive, less visible from a distance and will look either dark or light, depending upon the color next to it. Since it can be made up with an extraordinary complex selection of other colors, it is a good background color for many situations and sits beautifully within a natural setting. People believe it is the color of conformity – has no personality of its own. I have come to appreciate how it adapts to any other color.