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Gray is a surprisingly tricky color. The modern decorating tone of greige, a combination of gray and beige, actually makes decorating harder. This article will compare slate gray, dark gray, and charcoal colors.

slate gray vs dark gray vs charcoal paint colors infographic

Unless your gray tones are extremely well-balanced, such as equal parts red, green, and blue, your gray carpet can look dirty next to a blue-gray wall.

If the wall color is balanced by the carpet having a higher concentration of blue, it will appear blue.

Gray colors compared: Slate vs Dark vs Charcoal

slate gray, dark gray, charcoal gray wall art under lights

Slate Gray

By the numbers, slate gray is actually a deep shade of cyan blue, which is close to aquamarine. The dominant pigment is blue, while the next dominant shade is green in the blend.

Finally, red is added to deepen the color and mute the combination of blue and green.

slate gray wall art above a desk

There is just a bit of yellow in slate gray, but not enough to appear anywhere close to greige. If you are decorating with slate gray, incorporate colors from the orange wedge of the color wheel.

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Tones from peach to rust will hold their own. For a bit of contrast, use rich green houseplants to challenge the slate gray in your home.

Deep evergreen leaves on a shiny succulent will look terrific against a slate gray wall or against slate gray drapes.

Slate gray is not far from cadet blue. As such, this is a crisp and clean color.

Be bold in your trim choices; for example, a crisp, bright white will appear almost militaristically clean while a cream will show up as a faded yellow.

slate gray wall art under lights

If you want to use this color with wood tones, line it up against cherry instead of oak.

A pale, silvered maple would also look wonderful against this shade of gray.

RGB: 112, 118, 144
Hex: #708090

Dark Gray

Dark gray is a beautifully balanced color, containing equal parts of red, green, and blue. Remember that it’s blue and yellow that make green, so the yellow content of this shade is still fairly low.

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You can pair this gray with nearly any color and it will serve as an excellent foil.

dark gray wall art above a desk

For those who are decorating their first home and aren’t quite sure what shades to use, a light shade of this gray is a terrific option.

This gray is formulated to be a background. Avoid using too deep a color unless you are painting a den or a bedroom; this color can get rather dowdy unless the lighting is good.

Because this color is so malleable and flexible, go ahead and spice things up with an accent wall.

Many new homes are painted all in one shade, so select a lighter version of this color for the majority of your space, then boost the space with accent walls of

  • violet for a child’s bedroom
  • teal green in your family room
  • peach in your kitchen
  • navy in the master bedroom

This tone is inherently monochromatic, even if you use a darker or lighter version. Unless you love a minimalist look and don’t want to vary, avoid pairing this with black or a deeper gray.

While this makes for a nice industrialist look, it can become a bit tedious in a home. For trim, lean on blue and red tones.

dark gray wall art under lights

Cherry cabinets against a gray wall will be eye-catching, but a yellow oak stain will look tired.

If you’re going with paint, go for a crisp white.

RGB: 169, 169, 1699
Hex: #A9A9A9


If you love slate gray but want something darker for a particular space, charcoal is a terrific choice.

This is another gray that is blue-based, though the blue percentage is higher in slate gray. As previously noted, the addition of green to gray does bump up the percentage of yellow, but not to an extreme.

charcoal gray wall art over a desk

Should you choose to pair this with a strong yellow, your charcoal gray sofa may well appear in contrast.

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When decorating with any gray colors, it’s critical that you study the room in sunlight. Depending on any tinting or heat protection on your windows, the sunlight that enters your home may be slightly yellow.

If you love your home in the evening but feel it looks blue at noon, the yellow in the sunlight is getting in the way of enjoying the color you chose.

Depending on your schedule, this may not matter a great deal, but you may save frustration by using daylight bulbs in your home and choosing your ideal gray from a sample shown in full sunlight.

For those who love to decorate with bold colors, a charcoal gray or dark gray carpet can be an excellent choice.

Orange, rust, and peach will stand against it in a dining room or child’s room, as will green in an office or playroom.

charcoal gray wall art under lights

Pink is a terrific contrasting color for this shade of charcoal in the nursery, and moss green will work wonderfully in a study or a den.

RGB: 54, 69, 79
Hex: #36454F

Pairing Gray with Greige

If you already have greige in your home and want to incorporate gray, you will need to remove contrasts that draw out the yellow.

Because greige can be very close to orange, which contrasts beautifully with blue, you may need to use a lighter shade of the balanced dark gray, listed above.

For example, if your walls are greige and you want gray carpet, avoid charcoal and slate unless you are prepared for your carpet to look dark blue in daylight.

Greige contrasts sharply with plum or mauve and will hold its own against green.

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