Gray doesn't always have to mean grim. Gray can have the most elegant and subtle effect in a room. Check out the entry hall in designer Ned Marshall's home in New Orleans. The note in Traditional Home says he began with silver radiator paint (love that idea!) and then used a glaze over it to create this amazing effect. You could easily take this in a very traditional direction or a very contemporary direction.
I do think you have to use gray with care and you must have a great sense of color (or hire a professional) to help you use it correctly- especially when using other colors in the mix. I've seen gray used in a light warm tone as the neutral in a nursery- it was amazing. The few selected bright colors popped against the softness of the gray. I wish I had a picture to share with you.... it's in my brain and I'd love to create my own version of this one day.
One of my favorite shades of deep gray is Martha Stewart's "Goose Down". It's very deep and warm- almost a gray-brown. Benjamin Moore's "Iron Mountain" is also great. Which is the right gray? It depends upon the room you're creating and the level of sophistication you're aiming to create. Here are a few more ideas:
I love this masculine bathroom. This photo shows only one portion of the gray built-ins, but they look great against that wool, mens-wear inspired wall. I have to say that I am not a fan of any kind of wall-to-wall in a bathroom though.
Gray walls with white trim always seems to work well. The raised panels and the fireplace mantle in white help to bring some extra life to this deep, almost purple shade of gray.