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

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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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