A smoke gray palette for a retro living room


smoke-grey-living-room-with-chinese-influence.jpgclick to enlarge both images

The smokey gray walls of the living room in a recent post on Chinese Ancestor paintings really struck me as gorgeous — and not something you’d really see a lot of today. The illustration above is from vintage materials – also really beautiful. It would be so easy to put this look together using colors straight from the Sherwin-Williams Suburban Modern palettes (both interior and exterior.)

Colors to experiment with to achieve these looks:

  • Classic French Grey
  • Pink Flamingo (maybe – for the coral)
  • Sunbeam Yellow (I also love New Colonial Yellow)
  • Fairfax Brown

Also note from the illustration:

  • A pair of chairs in your accent color – no matter what their lines — is always great.
  • Nice use of color inside the bookcases, and nice arrangement/variety of collections
  • Dishes on shelves pick up the bright accent color, coral, in a very pleasing and understated way
  • Pinch pleat, traverse rod draperies with upholstered valance in a large floral barkcloth tone down the formality of the room. So does the lamp – both are tailored, like the rest of the room, but with some whimsy
  • Black laquered tables keep your eyes moving, but they are not too big so it’s not overdone

Another timeless room — and a horse of a different color for those of you who don’t want….well, the stereotypically ”exuberant” 50s colors. Hi, Mary-Frances!


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. Sumac Sue says

    When we moved here last July, we picked out pale, cool wall colors for our 50s house. I guess we were trying to fight the sweltering temperatures outside. But, we have found that the house does not seem to like these watery shades. For instance, the living room faces west, so we thought we needed a cool color in there. But, the original light taupe with a greenish cast was too blah, like a hospital. We made the radical switch — for us — to a medium harvest gold, of all things, and the room came alive! We are surprised at how we love it.

    We uncovered a medium teal blue color under the chair rail in the dining room. We thought it was way too much. But, the pale blue we used in the dining room and kitchen just seems anemic. I know that at some point I will repaint those rooms with something warmer and brighter.

    The room in the llustration is a really classy looking room. The touch I like best is, instead of brown wood tables, the tables are black, and brown turns up on the sofa. The tables look so crisp and the sofa looks so warm with the yellow wall and pillows.

  2. says

    Hi Pam, apparently the eBay buyers aren’t as turned on by the pinch pleat curtain thing as you and I are – my curtains went for $66. I was really hoping for at least $100, but I still made a decent profit so I guess I can’t bitch (too much). I just hope they appreciate the awesome deal they got. Thanks again for posting about them!

  3. sharkeysday says

    Hi Pam! Yes, my posted room would be in contrast to this wouldn’t it? Nice to see a little less “enthusiastic” room! 🙂

    Sue – I made similar mistakes with our house and I’m still trying to find the right mix. I do find that furniture arrangement helps too tho…they did furniture arranging VERY different in the 50’s (ooo, I feel another post coming on!)

    And as for the drapes “Vintage” you’ll find (and cover your ears here Pam) that a lot of people buy vintage pinch pleat drapes for the barkcloth fabric and they cut them up and use them for pillows or upholstery. However, that’s another good post….are people using pinch pleat drapes much?

    I used to have a “wall of drapes” in our house and took them down to “update the room” – however I found that they actually kept the cold and heat under control with a really big window. Sigh…I guess you live and learn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *