Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Pick Gray Paint

Today, I thought it'd be appropriate (as I am currently transforming our house into 50 shades of crazy, or I mean gray) to say that I'm thankful for the color gray.  My friend Flower has always obsessed over it, and I used to laugh at her (just a little).  Until she gave me several of her gray paint colors to test out in my own house, and I haven't had a chance to look back but for my lusting over each and every sample I've put on the walls. Since we moved in, I think I've painted some rooms more than once, and lately a lot of rooms have become gray.

I tend to like grays that are true grays, and don't go blue or purple on you.  Which happens more than you'll like once you start trying this color out.  So long as you pick a gray that has a lot of yellow and brown to it, you'll be just fine.

Trick- look at the whole paint swatch.  If it's a dark color you want, look at the lighter colors on the chip.  If the lighter colors are blue, your dark color on that same swatch is going to read blue.

For example, if you want to use Sled, take a look at  Twilight Gray.
It's probably going to be on the blue side.
If you want to use Porpoise, take a look at Trail Print.
It's got a lot of brown in it, I think you're safe.

I'm often asked by friends for paint advice.  Because I'm some expert?  Um, definitely not.  It's because they know I'm insane and have painted my rooms at the house, at the condo, in college, and back at home with my parents- a bajillion times.  Really.  My dad jokes that my old room at their house has lost square footage due to the thick layers of paint on the walls.  A girl can change her mind, and change it again, and again, right?

Here are my favorite gray paint colors, in no particular order

Sherwin Williams Anew Gray

Sherwin Williams Anew Gray

via Decor Pad

Anew Gray is a taupe gray, and falls into the greige category as a really nice warm  neutral choice.  I painted all of the guest rooms in our house this color.

Behr Elephant Skin

Behr Elephant Skin
When I decided to paint our half bath a deep charcoal color, I wanted to make sure I steered clear of any purple tones.  Charcoals seem to go purple on you real quick like.  Using the method I was telling you about above, I look at the whole paint swatch.  Behr Perfect Taupe is on the other end of the spectrum from Elephant Skin.  I figured with taupe in the name, I was safe enough.

Behr Perfect Taupe
Behr elephant skin in our half bathroom

Behr Classic Silver

Confession here- I didn't use my paint swatch method on this color, and it almost turned out to be a big fat FAIL.

Behr Classic Silver

While by itself, Behr Classic Silver looks like a true silvery gray, maybe if I had looked at the entire paint swatch I would have known that it's darkest shade is deep purpley navy, called Poppy Seed. 

Behr Poppy Seed

I painted my bedroom and bathroom in Classic Silver.  Before I'd gotten all my furniture and accessories back into place, I thought for sure the color was too lavender looking.  NOT the look I was going for.  But, once everything was put back into place, the color now reads more silver.  Thank goodness, because I really didn't want to paint everything again. :)

Benjamin Moore Moonshine

I love Moonshine.  My friend Flower used this throughout her living room and dining room area of her gorgeous Buckhead home. It's a perfect for-real-straight-up-gray.  In looking at the swatch, it looks like the shade actually has a lot of green in it, too.  Moonshine doesn't read green, though, promise.  But because it has green in it, it definitely won't look blue or purple.  Paint is weird.

Moonshine via Young House Love

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray

Chelsea Gray
Chelsea Gray is an awesome dark gray that has a lot of brown undertones.  It will never look purple, at least I don't think so.  Flower did her master bedroom in this shade, which looks cozy and sophisticated.

Cape May Cobblestone- a few shades lighter from Chelsea Gray,
and noticeably taupe, and not blue or purple. 

Chelsea Gray

And those are my personal favorites.  Good luck on your quest for the perfect gray!


Anonymous said...

I just painted my living area Behr's perfect taupe. Elephant skin was my second choice but was a little too dark. Do those colors compliment each other? I thought about doing a very small hallway off the living room in elephant skin. Your thoughts.....?

Ashley @ The Houston House said...

Absolutely! Go for it.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your info. We're thinking of painting our master bedroom and adjoining sitting room in gray. Your info will help us select the right gray. Thanks! Sue

joy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leslie Lim said...

I love this post, and I was absolutely thrilled to see the other links that you published that go along with this topic. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am happy to be a new follower. :)


Becky Newton said...

I have sage green couches and I'm really struggling to find a gray that will work with that color of couch, tips for finding a gray that won't make it all blend together?

Pauline said...

What finish did you use for your grays? Flat, matte, satin, eggshell? Thanks so much for this!

Ashley @ The Houston House said...

I like flat for interior and semigloss for exterior

Ashley @ The Houston House said...

Try Benjamin Moore gray cashmere

Ashley @ The Houston House said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashley @ The Houston House said...


Anonymous said...

You mention that Behr Classic Silver (PPU18-11) to tied to Behr Poppy seed (PPU15-20) ..Curious how you made that connection.. Behr PPU colors don't seem to organized by shade..

Anonymous said...

I have a mix of browns and dark gray granite with a light and dark brown backsplash (which I'm hoping to change) in my kitchen that is attached to my living room. I would love to paint these rooms a light gray and have tried 2 different colors. Sw agreeable gray and twilight gray...but both I haven't loved. Any help?

Ashley @ The Houston House said...

@anonymous, It is hard to say without seeing pictures of your space. Please visit if you are interested in engaging our services. thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am thinking of painting my living room, kitchen, stairway area and upstairs hallway Anew Gray. However I have yellow and white lighting in my house and I am paranoid it will pull out purples. Any thoughts?

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by, let's chat.