Are Gray Wood Floors the WORST Design Crime?

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Are Gray Wood Floors the WORST Design Crime?

Are you looking for the best gray wood floors to install in your remodel?  Keep reading to find out why I dislike gray wood floors and how you can work around them if you’re stuck with this design crime.


I’m starting a new series called “Design Crimes” where we will talk about a new crime each session. I’ll fill you in on what decor decision the crime is, why it’s a poor design choice for your home, & how to correct it, work with it, and great alternatives!

First, I don’t want to offend you if you have one (or more) of these design crimes happening in your home because we all have to start somewhere. But I do want you to consider changing your gray wood flooring if you have it or choose another style when you are ready to renovate your home.

My goal is for you to make a wise financial investment with your hard earned money- because decor and furniture are expensive-  and some of these choices can have a lasting impact on house value.

So let’s make great choices for our homes and get started with the first design crime!


Interior Design Crimes: Why You Should Avoid Gray Wood Floors
In this real estate listing, the gray floors do not coordinate with the walls. The walls have a blue undertone and the floors have a beige pink undertone. There is no way to marry the two except to cover the floors with a natural rug.


Im going to give it to you straight. You don’t live in a barn. Or outside on a deck that needs a good power washing. The weathered gray look isn’t meant for interiors.

It came along somewhere in the DIY farmhouse style crazy and has stayed awhile. It didn’t ever make its way into high end design or professional interior design plans. Because it isn’t a timeless choice. And as designers, we want your money go be put to good use on solid things.


For one, it doesn’t lay a good foundation for the room. All of you furniture and wall color will now be limited to the undertones of the gray flooring, likely green-gray or pink-gray.

That will make having a cohesive look impossible without looking cold and completely gray. Once you go gray with the flooring, you are now committed to gray everything.


Next, it isn’t a good investment. It is expensive to replace flooring in an entire house. And if you are paying to refloor the entire thing, let’s choose a wood tone that will 1) match everything and 2) not be a trend or quickly date the home.


Lastly, the weathered gray oak is a trend. It came quickly and although it hasn’t gone out swiftly, once Pinterest catches wind that it leaves you with a cold room and stuck with a gray scheme forever, it will be out like a trout and you’ll be stuck with the price tag.


To recap, you should avoid installing gray wood flooring in your home because:

  • You don’t live in a barn or outside
  • It makes the room look cold
  • Is very difficult to decorate around and create a cohesive look with gray
  • Won’t hold resale value in the long run (5+ years)
  • Will cost you money to replace when the trend is over
  • It’s a DIY trend
  • Gray wood flooring isn’t timeless or natural (inside at least)
  • Probably is not real wood flooring (because the inside of a tree isn’t gray)

Alas, you may have already made the gray flooring mistake. Or you moved into a home with gray wood flooring because many DIY’ers and builders are using gray everywhere. If you, don’t despair- I will give you a few coping mechanisms to live with gray weathered wood floors.


So you have gray wood flooring (or you were considering it until you ran across this ghastly article). First off, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news or to tell you that the brand new floors you paid to have installed were a bad choice.  Maybe you still love them. Good for you sticking with your style!

But I’m here to educate you and give you interior design guidance. So, we will move forward to cover up those floors as quickly as possible.

Warm Up Gray Wood Flooring with a Natural Woven RugNATURAL RUGS

Step one in dealing with gray wood tone flooring is to cover it up. Like with any saturated wood stain (cherry or orange oak included) the best way to work them into a design plan is to cover them with sisal or jute.

Cover the space with a large natural fiber rug. As large as you can find- ideally 9′ x 12′ or 10′ x 14′. The more flooring you can cover the better. We do this to create a neutral foundation for the room. It will not detract from the other curated elements and furniture selections.




Interior Design Crimes: Why You Should Avoid Gray Wood Floors


Next, to avoid that cold, colorless look you will warm things up with woven pieces (rattan, lighting, wicker, natural pillows, or linen) and a brass fixture or two.

In the two above photos, all of the accents are also gray and black and polished nickel fixtures. This leaves the kitchen and living room feeling very cold. While it may look “clean” and pretty, it doesn’t have any warmth or natural elements to it. It looks like a warehouse, not a home style created over time.

How to Warm up Gray Floors

  • brass fixtures
  • woven or brass lighting
  • wicker or rattan chairs or stools
  • woven side tables
  • warm linens and pillows



Lastly, you can use color in your furniture and decor. Dark to mid range blues typically pair well with cool colored gray flooring.

Avoid all gray paint on the walls as well. This will add to the cold feeling and flat feeling of no dimension. Instead, opt for an every so slight warm white, like Benjamin Moore Simply White or a Sherwin Williams White from this list.

Best Alternatives to Gray Wood FlooringWHAT TO USE INSTEAD OF GRAY FLOORING

Now that we’ve addressed the don’ts, let’s talk about beautiful alternatives to gray weathered planks. The go-to choice for the professionals here is a classic natural finish oak flooring.


You can opt for a light white oak for a newer classic to a mid tone walnut for a more traditional look. These two flooring choices will coordinate with essentially any fixture or furniture you install. As well as with virtually any paint color.

Interior Design Crimes: Why You Should Avoid Gray Wood Floors


Are you still with me? Have I convinced you that gray wood flooring isn’t a wise investment, even if you “love the look” right now. I’ve given you a few reasons to skip the weathered wood tones and opt for a classic real hardwood.

What types of flooring do you have and why do you love them or hate them?

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42 thoughts on “Are Gray Wood Floors the WORST Design Crime?”

  1. I agree that gray floors aren’t the best. I was leaning toward a more neutral brownish tone that has some gray in it (like the example in the top left corner of your gray floor samples) but not a streaky multi-toned color. I don’t like busy floors. I would also avoid solid dark floors at all cost. They highlight every speck of dust and lint. If you have indoor pets, the hair would show , especially if the pet hair was a light color.

    Thank you for your alternative floor suggestions. I like them all except the golden angled one in the top right. Orange is worse than gray, in my opinion. I probably wouldn’t choose the lightest one either. I already knew that I would want a floor that goes well with everything but you’ve helped me to stop and consider whether our flooring should lean gray at all.

    I prefer neutral walls too. After much agony, we painted our main living areas Ballet White by Benjamin Moore. We absolutely love it. It’s an off-white that’s a perfect balance of cream with just a touch of gray. We use only flat paint. So much softer-looking than shiny walls.

  2. Actually I did my living room with muted purple walls with grey vinyl flooring and a really dark grey couch paired with a deep purple couch with a dark grey rug with really light grey and white patterned curtains and then added pink and purple and tan floor length curtains in the archway and covered the walls in multicolored artwork and a floating bookcase stained mahogany and then added a victorian rococo dark mahogany etagere and my living room looks fabulous and is full of color everywhere. Purple in any shade compliments grey floors and darker grey and dark mahogany furniture looks fabulous with grey floors.

    Various shades of teal and turquoise also looks great with grey floors and so does navy blue.

    You’re right though that earth tones soften a room that has grey walls and grey floors.

    But remember a color pallette works best in 3’s. You need three colors to bring a room together. You need a light color for airiness, a dark color for grounding and a pop of bright color to make the room feel welcoming, which adds comfort to an aesthetic. Grey on grey on grey obviously doesn’t achieve that but I understand why it’s trendy since it makes a home look cleaner and bigger and more of an empty pallette where you are able to envision yourself in the room easier, which allows people to mentally design a space easier when it’s all devoid of color – because it’s much harder to put yourself in someone else’s kaleidoscope design – which makes it harder for people to sell homes because they aren’t giving people an empty pallette to imagine themselves living there – so in all honesty the grey trend is really so popular because of real estate agents realizing that homes sell quicker and better when they are devoid of color. Most people just don’t realize that that is the root of it all.

    They also don’t realize how difficult it is to keep a home all white and grey designed because it’s very difficult to keep it looking clean and it’s very easy to make it look cluttered which is why after home purchase a few years down the line people change the color scheme into what they really like.

  3. Glad I’m not the only one that hates the gray wood floor look! I am looking for a home and see all of these beautiful old houses that the flipper has ruined the whole feel and history trying to be trendy. What an expensive trend that already seems dated.

  4. THANK YOU! I hate great LVP floors. I’m debating buying a condo right now, and the seller has “upgraded” to all grey LVP and I hate it. I so wish the seller had just left it alone and let me upgrade the floors myself. Now I’m faced with the incredible wasteful and eco-unfriendly decision to rip up brand new floors. But I can’t stand it. WAY to cold looking. I want warm mid-century mod wood tones. Not this.

  5. What an obnoxiously aggressive article. These are your opinions, why state them as though they are fact when they aren’t? Your passive aggressive quotations don’t make you suddenly correct. I don’t even “disagree”, this is just “poorly” written.

  6. I laughed when I saw this. The samples you have without the gray floors look like the set of a bad 80s or 90s sitcom. If you don’t like gray…fine. At least give some ideas that look better than poop brown. I hit to tell you your style is dated

  7. I knew I wasn’t alone!
    God bless you for writing this.
    I despise this trend. It’s end cant come too soon.
    It’s cold and depressing. Not warm or welcoming at all.
    “But it looks just like those houses in the magazine!”
    Not to mention what someone also wrote in the comments,
    the price to fix and undo the “rehab” that every flipper is doing.

    Amazing how the masses blindly just go along and follow whatever the trend is.
    But after 2 years of watching them do just that in the worst way, are we really surprised?

  8. Can’t wait for gray to go! Nothing says tacky flip like those multi-toned gray floors and/or gray walls and brown floors with completely different undertones. So frustrating to look at a house with great bones that has been completely stripped of its charm via cheap big box finishes and to have to factor the additional cost to get it back to the original after the “flip”.

  9. Help I have cherry kitchen cabinets, cherry bedroom furniture, cherry staircase. All very nice. My problem, I need new floors. We had engineered cherry floors everywhere. They have been nice but 17 years later they have to be replaced. They have gotten wet in the kitchen twice and are warped. Long story short I was going to go with luxury vinyl everywhere and I was going to get a mid-gray. I have already painted the walls gray and some a light blue. I want floors that can get wet and hopefully don’t fade and dent as well. I have a granite backsplash and a granite fireplace both with gray in there and black countertops. What goes with cherry??????

  10. This is exactly why I wouldn’t hire a designer. It’s good for people who don’t have time, or can’t tell just by looking if they like what they are seeing or on other side – ok with almost everything.
    Your eyes & brains are good judge if you could use those. Some designer just prefer calling their own preference and it’s hard for them to go out of their own comfort zone.

  11. I don’t like super gold or honey colored wood though either. I like a nice wood with a slight gray wash (don’t care if it looks “dated” – I like the softness of it). I think I agree most of the gray ones you showed are too cool. I could live with something along the lines of the lower left of the warm ones you showed. I also kind of like the top middle of the cool ones….. I like the softness of it.

  12. So glad to find this article. I bought a little place with gray floors and I really don’t like them. Depressing. Too casual. Boring. I also don’t like open floor plans. I have found a way to use rugs to alleviate the oppressive grayness. But I want the gray floors to go away. Thanks for being so frank.

  13. I love my grey floors in my basement gameroom! I think they are awesome and there will always be a place for grey..

  14. omg I literally googled “I hate gray wood floors” & this came up, lol, I’m just looking for some comraderie honestly in my feelings. We purchased a home here in AZ & the market is so crazy you just have to take what you can get. These dingalings flipped a house & put ALL GRAY everything, my heart just sank because I know I CAN.NOT.DEAL with this for more than a week or 2 unless I want to rip it all out but I’ll have to because…$$$. So yeah, gross shiny gray wood floors (because that’s so natural right?? ugh), grey walls, grey cabinets just so so wrong..sad:(

  15. Oh and should have said this first, but really nice article and some great examples- getting my juices running.

  16. Hi- I am redoing my red oak floors at some point and really thought grey floors were not the way to go initially, but then began considering it. I did see them at someone’s house & although I can see it being limiting, in their particular setting it looked beautiful, a little cool, but the decor matched and it really shined in that situation. Isn’t this the same as having that orange- toned red oak flooring? That is also limiting, but in some instances can look great. Plus after 10 or so years, it can always be stained in a different color. Anyway, I have a question for you. What is the bottom left color in your picture of “alternatives to grey” flooring examples. I’m having a hard time because I have different wall colors in the green and blue family and also Greige colors like sculptors clay etc and a mixture of cool and warm creamy whites, black and silver Hardware etc in different rooms. In some rooms a green undertone brown floor looks great, but in others it looks horrible. I was considering maybe grey would help, but alas it has so many possible undertones as well. Should I just go really dark or something?

    I do want to go for more of a timeless look or at-least something that can look ok between warm and cool paint colors (like FB pavilion blue, pale powder, Stone blue, & SW sea salt/agreeable green and rugs in my house which have warm blue-greens and grey-beiges (like sculptor’s clay) that can lean slightly warm or cool depending on the light. I recently picked up some vinyl samples and each one looks better, or less than better in different rooms.

  17. Totally disagree. It’s total preference and once again, “brown” or tan floors aren’t always the way to go either. I think both gray and brown are neutral and if one person prefers the color undertones of gray versus warmer of a brown, so be it.

  18. Thank you for this. I really don’t like this look. Sadly, I just got a new apartment and the landlord ripped out the floor and put in dark — almost black — engineered wood flooring with gray highlights, I’m so bummed. We watch House Hunters every day and always knock “gray woods” — this feels like a cosmic payback for being mean lol. Truth is, the farmhouse look has way overstayed its welcome. I have a friend with no taste, who just got into it, which means it’s officially the worst. (Sorry, Katie!) To the commenter who said gray is a lovely color, gray is no color. And it’s certainly not the color of wood (unless it’s dead by the ocean)! But mostly, it just doesn’t work with some of my most beautiful furniture, including an ORIGINAL rosewood Eames chair. Sisal rug, here we come. Thank you for the ideas!

  19. I absolutely love grey, on grey on grey. It’s such a beautiful cool, neutral color to build on. I can’t imagine what colors don’t go well with such a neutral palet.
    Yellow or burnt orange with dark grey are both amazing. Light grey with honey and white furniture, superb.
    The photos above that you call bland simply need some texture, colored pillows, and curtains with a nice area rug to blend everything. Beautiful!

  20. Oh I’m so sorry. I know it can be frustrating to try and decorate when you have an undertone throwing it all off. I have orange oak floors from the 1990’s so I can relate in a different undertone problem! For your home, the best thing I can say is to use warm, thick natural woven textures to warm the spaces up, change your lightbulbs to 2700K LED instead of daylight (they will cast blue and make it feel even colder).

  21. I wish I would have came across this 5 yrs ago :(. You are spot on. I’m struggling to design my home since we installed Gray flooring.

  22. I totally agree about the gray. Every time I see a flip with them, I just groan. So cold. I’ve been waiting for them to go out of style along with:

    1. Fabric ottoman as a coffee table

    2. 3-person sofas with 2 cushions where the middle person is sitting on a crack

    3. Totally open floor plans; kitchen in the living room. I don’t like dining rooms and living rooms as one either. I’d rather see the kitchen and dining as one.

  23. I am so happy you found this post and it has been helpful. Feel free to email me a few photos and I will weigh in on the tile. But I agree, replacing the brown tiles here is the best affordable option to update things. My email is on the About page!
    I have a

  24. I found this advice incredibly helpful! Investment property has new dark grey wood laminate and brown tiles in entry way and bathrooms. The kitchen has dark brown wood and beige counters. Will be painting one of your recommended shades of white but need a white ? tile to replace the brown
    Since it’s way less expensive to change out those areas. Or maybe I could do a white pattern or textured tile? Any ideas to compliment a horrible barn busy looking dark grey? Simple is what I’m going for since the dark grey is almost unbearable.
    Thank you for the article and advice. Even my husband found it useful!

  25. thanks for validating my thought pattern! I was just staring at my taupe-colored wood pattern tile sample thinking “is this really timeless? Does this make my house warm and cozy? NO!” Moving on to white oak and walnut samples now!

  26. I love gray floors but the lighter white colour, Reading this I am thinking of either dark walnut or natural floors. I see the point about decorating and neutrality.

  27. I literally don’t get it. The pictures with the gray looked beautiful. Also adding gold and different shades of brown makes the room look amazing with gray flooring. I literally don’t get it lol

  28. I would place a woven/jute colored rug that takes up almost the whole space. Go larger than you typically would, even if it impedes walkways to try and cover as much floor as you can. Go slightly warm on the walls and keep the teak furniture! You’ll need warm brown tones to warm up the space and keep it from feeling sterile. Good luck!

  29. Oh No! I am so sorry you had to deal with these floors. They are the worst. Sometimes, even though it’s “expensive” material, if it doesn’t work I say paint it all. Paint the floors, walls and woodwork! Luckily, Greek Villa is a great white paint to neutralize it all.

  30. YES TO ALL OF THIS!! We bought at house that had- wait for it- gray Italian tile AND natural wood floors next to each other (it’s an open floor layout with vaulted ceilings and an open upstairs). It’s been a design nightmare.
    The office is the worst- there is about a 6”x5” area of dark gray/ almost black tile in the center of the light gray tile. I have painted and repainted my office four times now, covered most of the floor with a giant rug and still hate it. 😭😭😭 whyyy!! This was done by the same guy who painted the kitchen creamsicle orange (with warm wood cabinets and gray tile 🤮🤮🤮). There was also lavender accent wall in the entry way and office. We repainted the entire house Greek Villa before we moved in. We’ve done all we can and it drives me crazy. Thank you for the PSA. Should you save others from our nightmare.

  31. I just bought my house and loved the look of the floors at first. Not that I am adding furniture, I completely agree! I am stuck with a singular cool tone. I would have preferred something neutral. I bought teak furniture and while I love the design, the orange hint does not look good against the Grey hued floors. Any suggestions? Should I just donate the teak piece?

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