I would love to get a new couch this year. Would LOVE. LOVE to. However, it is looking more and more like some other things are going to be priorities in my modest apartment-sized budget before a couch can happen (namely, the eradication of all remaining debt… FOR GOOD… and a new computer. Ever since I started catching mysterious casing screws from my purchased-in-2007 laptop in my hands like loose teeth and the “s” key popped off the keyboard one night while I was angrytyping, I’ve been preparing for the inevitable.)

apartment gray futon

Futon of Poor Decisions +1, which I would like to replace before it turns my spine to dust.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had my eye on new couches. I mean, look at what I’m working with here. This sagging sadsofa has reached the end of its useful life. To slightly paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara, with God as my witness, I will never buy a futon again!

One thing I HAVE been happy about, however, is the color. Gray is an ideal choice for apartment sofas for three reasons:

a) It’s a flexible neutral: if you keep it a long time, you can completely change the look of the room simply by changing the accent colors you use around it.

b) If your lease dictates that your walls must remain white, a gray couch adds a bit of contrast– without being too stark of a contrast (like navy blue, black, or dark green might be).

Kalamari Desert Mario Kart 64

Pictured above: my office (artist’s interpretation)

c) You are at the mercy of the existing flooring in your apartment, and gray is a safe bet against most common floor choices. For example: every apartment I have ever lived in has featured SOME quantity/shade of brown carpeting. I once had a sandy-brown loveseat that I kept in the office. All that brown together looked like the Kalamari Desert track in Mario Kart 64.

So, we know that gray couches are perfect pieces for apartments. But what do you do with them? Let’s take a look at some examples of ways that one might style a gray sofa.

Gray Couches parallel elegant

1. Gray doesn’t have to read as a cool color– even when paired with blue. The brown-gray sofas in this spread from Lonny are warmed up by deep pink and gold accents. Very sophisticated.


Patrick Baglino living room gray couch sophisticated

2. Another sophisticated use of a gray velvet couch– this one in a design by Patrick Baglino. This one is tufted, unlike the previous one, which amps up the glamour quite a bit (as do the white sheers). My other favorite thing about this room? The little spider sculpture beside the blue-and-white glass lamps. (Via.)


Gray Couch

3. I love the orange and pink that I’m seeing paired with the modern gray sofa in this room by Kishani Perera. This design also adds elegance with an ornate golden ram’s horn table.

The takeaway so far? Gray can be warm and sophisticated when paired with rich colors and gold accents. Add sheers or flowing drapes for more rich goodness (Mmm, rich goodness. Somebody bring me a Caramello!)


Bright colors with gray sofa

4. The next theme, which seems more do-able for apartment dwellers, is to keep walls white, let the gray couch function as a neutral piece, then add color like crazy via your accent pieces. In this design, Emily Henderson advises: “Layer on your accent colors, but evenly disperse them and make sure you have at least two pops of the same color.” She also recommends buying inexpensive accessories so that they can be replaced easily when you want to change up your color palette.


Gray sofa by katie lydon pop art living room

5. Another word of advice for renters who are short on space: make eclectic style work for you. Use your unique belongings to your design advantage. In this room from Katie Lydon Interiors, there are some fantastic pop art elements that look right at home with clear acrylic tables and a Rococo-style mirror. You can let your gray couch work as a neutral backdrop for your one-of-a-kind art and accessories.


Kirra Jamison living room

6. Wheeeeee, more COLORS! This room belongs to artist Kirra Jamison and was featured in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Inside Out magazine. Exhibit C shows that a sleek gray sofa (this one in a nice soft linen) is a stalwart companion for all your bright artwork and furnishings.


comfy gray sectional bright colors

7. Lots of happy color around a very comfortable-looking gray sectional in this blogger’s personal room redo. I also like that the zebra rug is a playful, artsy one (rather than a realistic-looking or real cowskin rug. I don’t love that cowskin rugs seem to be one of those go-to pieces that people like to put with gray couches.) And I like her lacquered coffee table, too, even though she writes in the post that the wound up replacing it with a Chinoiserie-style driftwood table. Either would be pretty! (Via.)

Summary? White walls + gray couch = anything goes accents!


Gray couches with cowskin rug

8. The final theme is pairing a gray sofa with natural textures in order to create a restful modern look. Though the design of this Paris apartment pairs orange and pink accents with a gray sofa, it also adds branches, faux antlers, and a faux skin rug to tone down the palette. (Via.)


Gray sofa white walls paris

9. Perhaps the most sparse articulation of the natural-texture theme that I encountered was this French home. The cuckoo clock adds a bit of playfulness to a serious room. (Via.)


mid century organic style gray couch

10. Finally, a happy partnering of modern elements with a gray couch and natural-looking accents. The owners of this space call their style “mid-century organic.” Instead of an animal skin rug, they have layers of jute and other neutrals, along with branch-shaped accents and a capiz-shell chandelier. Me likey! (Via.)

To summarize this style, I would say that you should use natural accents with your gray sofa and add interest with texture, not color. Jute, seagrass, branches, pinecones, shells– anything from nature goes.

And that’s it for now! I am slightly bummed that the day when I buy new seating is sofaaaa away, but as long as I can couch my desires in blog content, I will be able to chaise the blues away. (Jeez, everybody. I’m sorry.) Have a great weekend!


Stuck with some furniture but want to change your look? Take a look at 3 Pieces, 3 Ways. To learn how to furnish a studio apartment, click here!