A Perfect Balance: Gray and Orange

The saying "opposites attract" goes well beyond human relationships — and the affair between orange and gray mingling to create a stunning balance is a perfect example. Depending on the tones, the duo can be youthful and whimsical, eclectic and bold, moody and sophisticated, or masculine and sleek, and any combo in between!

Orange gets a bad rap with certain generations — think hippie dens or neon scrunchies — but if there is one friendly color to redeem orange's reputation, it's gray. Gray (possibly the unofficial color favorite of Apartment Therapy in the last three years) provides the grounding orange often needs to go mainstream without frying the senses. New examples are always popping up, but these are a few favorites, old and new:

• 1. The talented Cristi Holcombe of Charm Home had one of her recent projects, a model home in Houston, featured on Houzz. Charcoal and pumpkin work together to create a stunning study that's both youthful and grownup.

• 2. The softness of the gray walls and trim give a cozy spin to this modern-leaning bathroom. Picture white walls, and the room would have a much more sterile feel.

• 3. Ron Marvin's masculine bachelor pad living room, featured in Lonny, has received great acclaims over the last year. The orange gives just enough vibrancy to the room to bring in life while still allowing it to feel strong and controlled.

• 4. Peter Frank's eclectic living room, featured in House Beautiful, shows how the duo can work as both lively and soothing at once. He painted the walls of his 30 foot long bedroom Benjamin Moore's Victorian Garden, a deep soothing gray with a good deal of taupe and olive, which warms the entire space. Orange accents in artwork, textiles, and a vintage chesterfield sofa give the room a worldly but whimsical feel.

• 5. Play up the youthfulness of the combination by adding another bright color such as turquoise, yellow, or pink. Gray walls set a sophisticated tone, while colorful accents create the life.

• 6. Stick with white walls, and combine the combo in accents, as in this global leaning eclectic living room featured in Living etc.

• 7, 8. But perhaps my favorite application is on the exterior. I loved the look when I spotted it on Country Living's feature of Rebecca Hozer's home, and Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home totally convinced me of the transformative power of the duo when she applied it to her 70s home's exterior, check out the before and after here (picture 8).

Images: 1, Charm Home via Houzz, 2: Martha Stewart, 3: Patrick Cline for Lonny, 4: William Abranowicz for House Beautiful, 5, 6: Living Etc., 7: Country Living, 8: Pure Style Home