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When gray paint is good, it's great. When it's wrong, it's glum or oppressive or any number of adjectives that you didn't have in mind when you picked that once-alluring shade of "Sudden Fog."

In the Merchandise Mart?s 2012 DreamHome--a collection of nine rooms each outfitted by a different Chicago designer, opening tomorrow on the first floor of the Mart--we saw a shade of gray that?s worth remembering. (Hint: See the living room by RJA Design.)

We also saw a dining room (SemelSnow Interior Design) bold enough to boast two tables, ethereal, flowered teal wallpaper in a bedroom (Vincere) and a hyper-organized closet (Smartrooms) we?d probably commit a crime to call our own.

This year?s DreamHome is a breed apart from its earlier incarnations; the layout of the project in the Mart?s north lobby has been reconfigured, and the 2012 home includes a new game room (Gray & Walter). Participating designers view the project as a chance to exercise creative carte blanche, so rather than touring the rooms with an eye toward replication, we suggest honing in on an idea here, an idea there--then making it your own.

For instance: We want that teal wallpaper. Wouldn?t it look lovely in a breakfast nook?

Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza; 800-677-6278 or

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