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Is Heather a shade of GREY?

Grey is a neutral color, sitting between black and white on the color spectrum. It comes in different shades, tints, and tones. Heather is a pale, subdued shade of grey with hints of purple or pink. So is heather technically a shade of grey? Let’s break it down.

What is the color grey?

Grey is made when black and white are mixed together. By adjusting the amounts of each, different shades of grey can be created.

Pure grey contains equal parts black and white. It is right in the middle of the greyscale. Light greys have more white added. Dark greys blend in more black.

The word “grey” can refer to any neutral shade ranging from white to black. Grey comes in cool or warm varieties depending on whether blue or red/yellow undertones are present.

Cool greys take on a blueish cast. Warm greys pick up tan, beige, or brown tones. Pure grey without any undertones is neutral.

Grey is a muted, calming color associated with modesty and refinement. It works beautifully as a background color and goes with any palette.

What color is heather?

Heather is a soft, dusty shade of greyish purple or pinkish grey. It gets its name from the common flowering heather plant which blooms in similar hues.

The heather plant has flowers ranging from lilac to lavender to bluish purple. Its foliage changes throughout the seasons, showing greyish green, sea green, and grey-blue colors.

Heather in reference to color borrows from the heather plant’s beautiful range. It is a pale, desaturated shade of grey with subtle hints of violet or rose.

Heather is considered a variation of lavender. It sits between grey, pink, purple, and blue on the color wheel. The undertones present can shift between greyish purple, purplish grey, pinkish grey, or greyish pink.

Is heather a type of grey?

While heather contains grey, it is not considered a pure grey shade. Rather, it is a tint of grey – grey with white added to lighten it. Heather also veers away from a true grey with its faint purple or pinkish tones coming through.

However, heather exists in a gray area between multiple color families. Its subtle and soft nature makes it difficult to pin down. Many design and paint brands market heather as a shade of grey, expanding the definition of grey to include its subtler variations.

In color theory, tints like heather may be classified under the parent color. So heather can be described as a pale tint of lavender grey even though it deviates slightly from true grey.

Heather’s relationship to grey

Heather’s connection to grey comes from its base of desaturated medium grey. Before other pigments are added, heather starts as a neutral grey foundation.

Medium grey provides the muted, dusty look that makes heather appear almost weathered or sun-faded. Then a touch of purple-grey or pink-grey pigment is blended in.

Heather gets its soft, hazy appearance from a substantial amount of white mixed into the base grey. A lot of white dilutes the grayness and gives heather its gently weathered, vintage look.

So while not a pure grey, heather is very closely related. It starts with grey undertones that then take on subtle hints of purple or pink when extra pigments are incorporated. The heather plant’s colors provide the inspiration for this tranquil, faded shade.

Variations of heather

Heather exists on a spectrum from grey to purple to pink. Specific variations include:

  • Heather grey – more grey undertones
  • Plum heather – hints of purple and plum
  • Rose heather – subtle pink and rose tones
  • Heather lavender – fusion of heather and lavender
  • Heathered – containing colored fibres blended into grey for a mottled effect

The amount of grey vs. purple vs. pink can shift, creating numerous heather combinations. Heather grey contains more prominent grey tones. Rose heather leans pink. Heather lavender emphasizes the lavender.

Any heather with a fused color name like plum, rose, lavender, or blue will display more of that color than neutral heather grey.

How dark is heather?

Heather is a pale, light-medium shade. It falls in the tint range rather than containing pure grey pigment. Tint refers to a color with white added to lighten it.

On a greyscale, heather generally sits around 20-50% of the way between white and solid black. It is lighter than mid-range greys. Heather contains enough white to remain soft, gentle, and subdued.

Its lightness comes across in paint names like:

  • Heathered Grey by Behr – RGB value (167, 162, 157)
  • Quiet Heather by Sherwin-Williams – RGB (176, 178, 175)
  • Worldly Gray by Benjamin Moore – RGB (168, 164, 150)

Heather’s muted, faded quality comes from desaturation rather than darker grey pigments. With its lower chroma and whitewash of grey, it lands on the lighter end of the greys color family.

How does heather look different than grey?

Heather diverges from true grey through its:

Added white pigment – More white means heather appears lighter, softer, and more faded than solid greys.

Purple or pink undertones – Hints of color provide subtle warmth missing from cooler greys.

Lower chroma – Desaturation and less pure grey pigment leads to a more muted, dusty look.

Vintage vibe – With its weathered, sun-washed appearance, heather feels nostalgic compared to grey.

Romantic edge – Gentle purple and pink undertones give heather a dreamier, more emotional feel than grey.

Where grey is practical, neutral and balanced, heather introduces a touch of romance. Its poignant character comes through whether applied to a pastel floral dress, cozy knit blanket, or aged farmhouse wall.

Heather breathes melancholy and tenderness into traditional grey. This sets it apart while still embracing its essential grey origins.

How does heather coordinate with grey?

Despite their differences, heather combines seamlessly with grey shades. It provides the perfect bridge into grey palettes thanks to its adapted base of desaturated grey.

Some gorgeous ways to coordinate heather with grey include:

  • Light heathered grey with dark charcoal grey
  • Pale pink heather paired with blue-grey
  • Lavender heather on walls inside a grey and white room
  • Heather grey linen added to living room with grey sofa
  • Violet heather throw blanket on taupe grey bed

Heather’s muted tone allows it to work as an accent that meshes with bold or neutral greys. It brings in a pop of delicate color and texture without clashing.

Whether you prefer cozy heathered greys or a heather pop of purple, pink or blue, this adaptable shade combines seamlessly with all tones of grey.

Is heather considered purple or pink?

Heather sits right between purple and pink, making it difficult to classify as strictly one or the other. Its chameleon-like ability to shift between undertones gives it a foot in both color families.

More purple-leaning heathers may relate more closely to lavender and lilac. Pink-toned heathers will coordinate well with blush, mauve, and nude shades. Neutral heather greys lean grey with only a hint of purple or pink.

Just like the diverse heather plant blooms ranging from lilac to lavender to pinkish purple, heather color reflects those fluid undertones.

Heather’s beauty comes from straddling both the purple and pink color families. It incorporates elements of each, making it a blend of the two.

How to use heather in design

In both fashion and interior design, heather creates soothing, romantic ambiance. Here are some key ways to incorporate this multi-dimensional color:

Soft home decor – Heather is perfect for bedroom decor like linens, pillows, rugs, and window treatments. Use it to create a dreamy retreat.

Paint colors – Light heathered greys or lavender heathers work beautifully on walls, cabinetry, doors and built-ins to provide subtle depth.

Textiles – Drapey heather fabrics like linen, cotton, wool and cashmere feel cozy and vintage-inspired.

Clothing – Muted heathered knits and athleisure wear use heathered grey to add depth and texture. Pale heathers also work for dresses, tops and sweaters.

Accessories – From shoes to purses to scarves, heathered and ombre heather tones create dimension.

Combining colors – Layer shades like heather grey, pale pink heather, and lilac heather together for a dreamy tonal look.

With its delicate beauty, heather works wonderfully as a color accent. Use it with restraint to create peaceful, welcoming spaces.

Heather color combinations

Some elegant color palettes with heather include:

Heather and grey – Heathered greys combined with charcoal or taupe.

Heather and blue – Light heather lavender with navy or steel blue.

Heather and green – Heathered sage green and olive green.

Heather and white – Soft heather tones against clean white backgrounds.

Heather and wood tones – Heathered linen with oak or walnut wood finishes.

Heather and black – Deep heather greys contrasting with black accents.

Heather and pastels – Lavender heather with baby pink and mint green.

Heather and earth tones – Heathered mocha and clay colors with terracotta.


While not a pure grey, heather lives in the grey family while bringing its own unique character. Its weathered vintage softness comes from diluting grey with white and adding a kiss of purple or pink.

Heather ranges from neutral grey tones to variations with stronger hints of purple or pink. This adaptability allows it to coordinate with a wide range of palettes.

Its beautifully blurred color boundaries give heather a delicate, romantic personality that shapes spaces with a dreamy, nostalgic air. Heather truly creates mood and emotion beyond a simple grey.