Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Choose Gray Paint Colors


 We have five different gray colors in our home...
Silver Fox
Coventry Gray
Boothbay Gray
Stonington Gray
Duxbury Gray

Needless to say...I love gray walls! I pretty much always gravitate toward interiors with gray walls, white trim and light furnishings. But with about a million different shades of gray out there, how do you decide which is best in your home? Here are the tricks I used when I was picking colors for our house.

1. Consider the Undertones
If you've worked with grays at all, you know they can really quickly turn blue, green, purple, brown, etc. This is because most grays have an undertone of some sort. When you're choosing a gray, think about the undertone you'd like to have. In our living room, I knew I wanted a "griege" or French gray - so I intentionally chose a gray with a strong taupe undertone (Silver Fox by Benjamin Moore).

{Here you can see how Silver Fox reads gray in the foreground, but more taupe in other parts of the room}

But in our hearth room and kitchen, I wanted a "clean gray" with little to no undertone. So I chose Coventry Gray, which does have just the slightest - slightest - bit of blue in just the right light, but mostly is a very true, simple gray.

{Coventry Gray in our kitchen.  It's also used in our hearth room.}

2. Look at Its Neighbors
The paint's neighbors, I mean, not yours : ) When considering a color, I look at the darkest color on the strip from the paint store. That probably means those are the undertones that will be found in the lighter shade on the strip. If the bottom color is a rich blue-gray, the middle and lighter tones are most likely going to carry that same blue. 

{Boothbay Gray - a blue-gray - in our master}

3. Look Up Colors Online
If I found a color I thought I liked, I would search the color on Google Images and Pinterest. This just helps me see how the color looks in real life and in different homes/lights. This isn't absolutely fail-proof, but I decided against several colors I was strongly considering from the swatch alone once I saw variations in photos. I found it very helpful!

{I fell in love with Coventry Gray after seeing photos of it in other beautiful rooms.}

4. Use Swatches, Not Samples
When we were buying our paint, the man at Benjamin Moore told us not to bother with those little sample pots. The reason is, to get an exact tone may take only a few drops of a color per gallon of paint (two drops of black or navy or something), but you can't replicate that in a tiny container (there's no way to get an eighth of a drop of color, if that makes sense). Some people swear by sample colors and trying them out, and there is certainly nothing wrong with it. But we ultimately did not sample any colors because of this advice, and I thought it was good to know! We did use large sample swatches (bigger than the little strips) Benjamin Moore let us borrow and held them up in the light of day in the space. This really helped. 

 {Stonington Gray in our hallway. I LOVE this color, but used it in our two bathrooms, office and hall, none of which are camera ready right now. Sorry I don't have a better photo! Beautiful painting by my talented grandfather Ed Pointer, who is a faithful reader of my blog. Hi Papa!}

5. Ask Your Friends!
I recently asked for favorite shades of gray over on Instagram and got so much great feedback! Top picks were Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore (number one by far - and probably an always-safe choice no matter your room), Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore, Mindful Gray by Sherwin Williams and Stonington Gray. Ask around and see what your friends have picked...it's always great to get a second opinion!

{Last but not least, we used Duxbury Gray in our TV room...which is not a room I show on the blog as it's the man cave, but here you can at least what a dark, rich, slate-colored gray it is.}

 What are your best tips for choosing paint colors? And what are your favorite grays? Please share!
Courtney

45 comments:

  1. Is the dining room Silver Fox? You've done such a great job choosing beautiful grays for your home! I bought so many gray samples and finally found a gray I love. However, much to my disappointment when I take photos of the room the walls still look white! Its a lovely gray in person, but that's not so helpful for a blogger! :)

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    1. Hey Lisa, yes the dining room is also Silver Fox! It's hard to tell, but our living and dining room are all one space. What a bummer on how your new gray photographs! That's something I never even considered, but is sort of a big deal when you're a blogger! Rats!

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  2. Wonderful post and perfect timing for me. I am in the process of picking out paint colors right now and I know I want to go with a pale gray color. Thanks for all the great tips.

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    1. Thanks Robin! Hope you find just the right shade!!

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  3. Great post! My favorite color is gray, which my home is made up mostly using gray and white. My walls are painted pure white and my ceiling painted in Cement (a gray from the Martha Stewart line). I love the color so much and it is a perfect pairing with my white walls, no matter what light they are projected in. I will definitely be checking out these colors you have mentioned because I have 2 bedrooms that need to be painted, like yesterday haha! May I ask what finish you used? Thank you!! xx Ashley

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    1. Ooooh a gray ceiling with white walls sounds beautiful! The finish I used is eggshell. Happy painting! : )

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  4. Great inspiration photos! I switched from tan to grey this year and the ones I have used so far are Revere Pewter on our main floor with Simply White, and Gray Owl in our half bath on the main floor. Our main bath upstairs (the guy's bathroom) is a work in progress but it is freshly painted a dark grey (the name escapes me.)

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    1. Oh, and your papa's painting is lovely. How lucky you are to have a piece to cherish like that.

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    2. Oh, and your papa's painting is lovely. How lucky you are to have a piece to cherish like that.

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  5. Thank you for this. I have always been a taupe girl but I am currently reconsidering.

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  6. Hi courtney! Just wondering what your thoughts are on Sherwin williams perfect greige? My name is Janel, but my comments come up under my husband's email john :)

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  7. I love every shade you've chosen! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  8. Great tips, Court!! Ps - I love that pic of Matt in the background, full Chiefs gear, glued to the TV ;)

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  9. That painting is absolutely gorgeous, as is the wall color behind it. I painted our bathroom revere pewter because of the popularity and HATED it. It read as lavender, which I thought was bizarre for a space with a ton of natural light. I immediately painted over it with another greige. My sister put it in a guest room and it's gorgeous. Go figure.

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    1. I hated the revere pewter as well. painted my bathroom with it and it had a strong green undertone.

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    2. I hated the revere pewter as well. painted my bathroom with it and it had a strong green undertone.

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  10. My house, at least the main living area are all varying shades of gray. The color is so fresh to me. I adore it, I tried to do different colors and kept going back to gray. These are great options for that color.

    Emily- Our house now a home

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  12. Hi there! Just want to make sure my comment went through - I am painting my entire condo gray, but I'm struggling to find a gray without any blue, purple, green or brown undertones. Which of the grays that you've used is closest to a TRUE gray? I love the Stonington gray, but I can't tell how it reads in person. Thanks for your help! Your home is lovely :)

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    1. The Stonington Gray in my very light bathroom looks blue.

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    2. The Stonington Gray in my very light bathroom looks blue.

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    3. Hi there, I would say the truest gray in our house is the Stonington Gray. Keep in mind, though, that each paint reads differently in different light and settings, so I'd try a swatch out first if you can! Hope that helps!

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  13. Love your grey's, everyone of your rooms are amazing.... What about painting the block fireplace white with a cement floor stucco paint ....? I did mine in my last home and everyone who entered then went home and made that there next quick project. I think the wall grey and the white trim with the white book cases will elongate that wall making the fireplace disappear yet with perfect balance to that focal wall.

    See you soon and the beauty you inspire.

    Xx
    Dore

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  14. I'd love to know where you got your two botanical prints on either side of the arched mirror. I've been looking for the perfect pair and those are perfect! I also love the frames. Any details??

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    1. Hi there, sorry to say they are antiques! Purchased in Savannah, GA. But my favorite trick for great botanicals is printing them from antique prints (vintageprintable.com is a great resources, there's also tons of links on Pinterest). Hope that helps!

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  15. Could you please tell me where you got your wooden and metal coffee table? I cannot find one as nice as yours, and I love it!! I would greatly appreciate it!! Love your home! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks! It's from Home Decorators! Check out the Paint Colors & Resources tab for all the details on our home!

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  16. Hi - We have Boothbay Gray in our master bedroom as well. Trying to find a nice gray for our master bath (it is currently linen white like the majority of our house). Do you like Stonington with it?

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    1. Yep I love it!! You pretty much can't go wrong with Stonington, though : )

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  17. I had Silver Fox put in my foyer and it has blue or green undertones. I was hoping for the taupe-like that you mentioned. Do you think there is a problem with the paint?

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    1. Yes that's possible, especially if you had it color-matched elsewhere. Mine is actual Benjamin Moore paint. But, all paints do have different undertones in different light, so it could just be your particular space. Hard to know! Sorry it didn't turn out like you were thinking : (

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  18. Id love to get your opinion...
    I am having to repaint my living/family room because the "grey" color I choose...
    Unfortunately, ended up coming/looking far too blue then grey. So, I really like/love the "Coventrey Gray" color you went with in your hearth room especially after reading what you had to say about the color. My ? &/or what Id like to get your option about or on is...
    I'd like to do a an accent wall=A shade or two darker of then this color. Which color would you suggest?
    Plus, for my dining room I think Ive narrowed it down to; "Boothbay Gray." However, we had a Gambrel ceiling put in/added which means, I have NO IDEA what or which color or shade to go with for those 45* angles which go up to the ceiling. Last but not least, the the ceiling...
    FYI; I am NOT AT ALL opposed to painting the ceiling a different/ lighter shade of that Boothbay gray color. Again, I just don't know which shade or color to go with.
    Pretty pretty please...
    I not only welcome but I REALLY REALLY REALLY need some help, assistance, guidance, ideas &/or suggestions.
    Thank you VERY much,
    Natalie

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    1. its my username +23 @yahoo.com

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    2. brooksee23@yahoo.com

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    3. Hey Natalie, thanks for reaching out! Sounds like you've got some big choices to make. Right now I'm not able to offer specific decorating advice, but there are quite a few other bloggers who offer this service. Rooms for Rent, House Seven blog, My Sweet Savannah are a few who come to mind. I bet they could help you pick the perfect shade if you sent them some photos and discussed the look you were going for. Hope that helps!

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  19. Getting ready to paint a Master bedroom with dark furniture. What would be a great color of Gray to use? also Master bathroom? Not wanting blue tones.
    Thanks, Shari

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    1. Hi Shari, the colors in our home without blue in them (at least in our specific light) are Stonington and Silver Fox. Hope that helps!

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  20. Hi! Where did you get your Bible verse wall decor from?

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    1. Hi! It's from House of Belonging! You can find all the sources from our house here (or click the Paint Colors and Resources tab at the top of the page): http://www.12thandwhite.com/p/paint-colors-resources.html

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  21. Hi Courtney, Thanks so much for your article and great recommendations. What is the best Gray to match up against Honey Oak Wood molding, Bead Board and Barn Doors of the same color? I just picked up samples of Gray Owl and Silver Gray (BM) today, and then read your advice on the samples :-) Thanks in advance!

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  22. Hi Courtney!
    I've been *trying* to paint my living room and kitchen for over a year but have had bad luck finding THE perfect gray! Just the other day I realized I may have found it: Silver Fox! My living room faces north and a tiny bit of eastern exposure, so it's low light (not much natural light). I want to counter-balance the cool/blue light with a warmer gray, but NOT taupe! Would Silver Fox do the trick, without it making my already low-light room much darker? It's currently a sage green, a mid-tone green with a definite gray base. If I go too light it just looks drab and dirty, too dark and... well, you know!
    Also, I can't find the LRV of Silver Fox! Do you know what it is, Courtney?

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  23. Hi, Thanks to this blog I have found the perfect colour for my kitchen/dining room (silver fox) could you please tell me what finish you chose for that paint? Matte, Flat, Eggshell, Satin/pearl, gloss/semi gloss or special? Many thanks :)

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  25. We just painted our newly opened up kitchen/family room Coventry gray. In the family room it often looks almost a baby blue....not our intende look at all. Do you have any suggestions for down playing the blue undertones and bringing out more of neutral gray for which we had hoped? Thanjs

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