PAINTING WITH GRAY: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAINT COLOR

If you’re like most people these days you may find yourself wanting to repaint a room or rooms in your current home or maybe your brand new home a “gray-ish” color.  Just about all tones of gray have become uber popular these days.  From taupe-y grays to bluish grays you name it they are a current fave.

Problem is…..there are so many to choose from.  Like most colors you just have no idea how many variations there are until you decide its the color way you want to go with.  Then suddenly there seems to be twenty different shades or nuances of that color and you find it impossible to decide which one to use.

Today I want to concentrate strictly on wall color although many of these would work well for trim, cabinets and doors as well.

And, while there are numerous paint companies to choose from today I’m going to focus on Sherwin Williams.  The following paint colors are some tried and true colors that I’ve used and love.

The first thing you need to decide is what sort of direction you prefer to go regarding the undertones.  Do you think a more neutral gray leaning towards a warm, taupey gray is more your style?  Do you prefer a straight middle of the road gray, a bluish gray or maybe a steely gray.  As I said before all are pretty and all are very popular to use right now.

You’ll need to get a fan deck or some of the paint cards from the store and take them home to be sure the undertones jive well with the other factors in the room such as the flooring, the upholstery, the cabinets (if you’re not repainting them).  Obviously you’ll lean your wall color in the direction of those factors.

I’ve found that the softer, more neutral (less steely) gray tones seem to work well for me for a lot of projects.

Below are some that I’ve used that I think you’ll find might very well work for you.  They are gray, but not cold.  They each have a warmth about them so as not to feel too “industrial”.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS AGREEABLE GRAY
SHERWIN WILLIAMS AGREEABLE GRAY

Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray is a wonderful overall basic color for almost any space.  It’s a warmer gray and very subtle so it could go in a hallway or any living area.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS AGREEABLE GRAY
SHERWIN WILLIAMS AGREEABLE GRAY

Here I used it in a master bedroom where the color palette is all neutrals:  White, beige, gray, cream.  Notice how this color easily compliments all the colors in this room?  It’s a nice, soft back drop for the dark gray chaise, for the dark wood furniture and for the white and beige bed.  Subtle, easy on the eyes, but brings substance and personality to the space as well.  I blogged about this home I did for a wounded warrior about a year ago.  If you’d like to check it out click here.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS MEGA GREIGE
SHERWIN WILLIAMS MEGA GREIGE

Another great color choice is Sherwin Williams Mega Greige.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS MEGA GREIGE
SHERWIN WILLIAMS MEGA GREIGE

This is a couple shades darker than the Agreeable Gray so it really warms up a space.  See how pretty this contrast is with this trim?

SHERWIN WILLIAMS DORIAN GRAY
SHERWIN WILLIAMS DORIAN GRAY

One of my favorite colors is Dorian Gray.  It’s the same hue as the Mega Greige so when you look at it on the fan deck or paint card you’ll see that it’s four colors down from the top.  While the Mega Greige tends to lean a bit towards the “beige-gray”, the Dorian Gray leans a bit more gray.  But, its still a very neutral, subtle gray.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS DORIAN GRAY
SHERWIN WILLIAMS DORIAN GRAY

Here I used it in the breakfast nook.  You can see that it’s very neutral, very soft and warms the space beautifully.

SHERWIN WILLIAM DOVETAIL
SHERWIN WILLIAMS DOVETAIL

This is an even darker gray color that I love.  It’s called Dovetail and its one notch down from Dorian Gray on the paint card. If you’re inclined to go a little dark this color really brings some serious character to a space – big or small.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS DOVETAIL

In this case I used it for the master bath which is something that most people would flinch at.  Their first response is to assume “it’s way too dark” for such a small space.  But, in actuality – it’s absolutely not.  I love the darker color here with these light gray cabinets.  So please don’t be afraid to go dark in a small room or bathroom.  To me it just gives the space a rich, warm look.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS PURE WHITE TRIM
SHERWIN WILLIAMS PURE WHITE TRIM

And while I’m not focusing on trim color this week I will tell you that this Pure White by Sherwin Williams is an excellent choice to go with any of the paint colors I just shared.  It provides a very clean, crisp contrast with the gray tones for a sharp, rather pristine look.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS PORPOISE
SHERWIN WILLIAMS PORPOISE

And lastly….if you’re willing to go even darker you may consider this color called Porpoise.  Dark, rich and very elegant looking.  Talk about personality.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS PORPOSE
SHERWIN WILLIAMS PORPOISE

If you follow my blog regularly you may remember this picture from last week’s post on my office digs.  If you’re not quite up for the entire space to be dark walls you may consider going with an accent wall or two like you see here. It makes a huge contribution to the space even if it’s just one wall.  This reception area would look completely different if the accent wall were not there.

SHERWIN WILLIAMS PUSSY WILLOW
SHERWIN WILLIAMS PUSSY WILLOW

The contrast wall you see in the picture above with the Porpoise is called Pussy Willow.  As I said on my previous blog – these two paints work beautifully together.

When you do get ready to paint BE SURE you sample the colors out!  Don’t just let the painter slap it up on the wall based on that tiny little patch of color on the fan deck.  It’s impossible to tell how the lighting and other factors in the room will affect it.  Paint is a strange beast with a mind of its own and can lean toward pink, green, brown, blue…..you name it.

You’re much better off taking the time to sample it out.

If you’re going to sample directly on the walls and they’re already painted in a color other than a white or off-white then you’ll need to put a patch of white primer behind the sample color so the background color doesn’t distort the new color.  Because it will trick your eye into seeing something it’s not.  That happened to me when I was trying to choose a minty green paint color to go over my daughter’s purple walls.  Everything I put on the wall looked like baby puke.  Seriously!  After trying about four or five colors which I knew I loved – and thought that it just didn’t make any sense for them to look so awful – I decide to paint a large patch of white primer on the wall first.  Then I put the same colors on the wall that I had tried previously and they looked completely different.  I could see the true color instead of the altered color.  So remember – don’t paint a new color directly over another color and expect to get true results.

Another thing you can do if you don’t want to mess up your walls is buy the sample boards they sell at any paint store.  They come replete with a sticky strip on back so you can stick them directly to the wall.  This way you can move them all around the room at different times of day to see how the lighting affects the color.  And that’s another important tip – place the samples at various points in the room so you can see it from all angles at different times of day.

Take your time making your decision so there are no regrets.  I’ve sampled out as many as half a dozen different paint colors for a single space to be sure I’m getting the end result I want.  It’s extra work and extra money for the smaller paint sample cans, but it is well worth it.  I promise!

Happy Decorating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.