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Best Gray Paint Colors according to Ryan Gosling

Hey, girl.  Wanna sample some low VOC paint swatches with me while we drink crystal light and i play Twinkle Twinkle on my ukelele?

What. He’s from Canada so he really appreciates the sophisticated yet understated power of this multi-toned neutral. It’s nuanced. It’s both masculine and feminine.  It’s thought provoking, intellectual and yet totally simple.

But, paint colors are incredibly tricky, truly, and i’m not an expert on picking the perfect color the first time, AT ALL.  But i have painted around 50 rooms in the last two years so i’ve definitely made some mistakes and learned a few things.

For instance:  what looks good in a picture can look different in a can, different on your walls, different at night and then different when a blue sofa is next to it.   It can be 100% baffling.  I’m sure if i had gone to art school i would be better at it, but I didn’t so it was a lot of trial and error (and instinct) for me. And i’m finally getting the hang of it.

But its a lot like finding the right guy for you:


Some are great to party with, some perfect for your family, some that just feel like ‘home’, some that make you look really good when you are next to them and some that you have a super unhealthy addiction to and you really don’t want to see them anymore but you can’t help the attraction and you try again and again to make it work and then you swear them off forever but end up slipping up and trying them out again only to be disappointed AGAIN…(this is me with ‘teal’….i am always so attracted to it, but i can’t seem to ever actually live with it on my own walls.)

So here are my favorite go-to’s for GRAY paint colors, a la Ryan. Some of these i’ve used only once and LOVE them so much, and some i’ve used 3 – 4 times and can’t get enough of them.

1. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl.


This gray can do no wrong. Ever.  It’s my favorite and best go-to gray of all time.

It’s like this Ryan:


Super classic and sophisticated, but not boring AT ALL.  It’s a very, very warm gray – meaning that its still a cool tone because its gray, but has more yellow in it than blue so it doesn’t feel crazy blue.  Most of you who have experimented with gray’s know that they go blue very, very fast – often you think you are choosing a blue-ish gray and then when its up on your walls it looks like you are welcoming your first son. In 1992. It goes so ‘baby’.

Its totally bazaar and happened to me a few times before i learned my lesson of erring on the side of a warmer gray (or just going darker and steering clear of anything that is even close to a pastel).

I painted Ian’s living room in gray owl:


And then i just painted the bedroom of the lake house that same color:


They are both like warm cozy gray hugs and i couldn’t be happier with them/him.

2. Benjamin Moore Oyster Shell:


This one is blue-r but its not ever ‘baby’.  It is just a happy, light, soothing, calming, and fresh neutral.  Like him:


My office and master bedrooms are both in this color.  And then i also painted a room in the Lake House and room in a client in LA’s house this color as well.  Everybody has loved it.


See? It’s blue without being too blue.  And the light reflects off it perfectly.

3. Farrow and Ball ‘Lamp Room Gray’.  More sophisticated than the first two – and a bit moodier:


I don’t remember when i used this but i remember loving it.


They look different, but they aren’t.


DO NOT look at me like they, R, you scare me. So intense yet elegant.  Sensual yet approachable.  It’s a good color….but its not playful or fun, definitely more dramatic and sophisticated.

Farrow and Ball paints are expensive but they are also very complicated paints – meaning there are a ton of different pigments in each color so they are never ‘flat’ and instead have a lot of ‘movement’.  That sounded crazy ‘decorator-y’ but basically the more colors in a paint the more subtly interesting it is – its like secret texture.  You can’t stare at it and see the different colors, but instead you’ll notice that it looks different in the mornings than it does in the evening, and it changes so much based on what colors you put next to it.

4. Sherwin Williams, Silver Mist


This one is beachier and greener than the other grays.  It has a frenchy-country thing happening with it that i love.  Such a good neutral for a fresh all white kinda house.


There is a good chance Ryan and I will use this in our french cottage. With white shutters…and an art studio for me that he has cut out like 100 paper arrows and put them on the floor to show me where it is. He wakes up at 3am to do it every day.  It’s weird that i can’t just find it, that i hadn’t already stumbled into it, but the house must be just enormous.

5. Benjamin Moore, Gray Timber Wolf:


This one is a darker and definitely ‘cooler.’  It’s a dudes’ ‘gray’, for sure.  Masculine and intense…but still with some youth.


If you put this in your living room make sure to combine it with warm woods or warmer colors because it can feel cold. But, it is also super masculine and modern – very little yellow in it, so when done right it is beautiful. I’ve painted three rooms this color and i’ve loved them all – just add ‘wood’.

6. Serious Gray by Sherwin Williams (for HGTV).

This one has a slight purple tint to it.  I guess if you had gone to design school you might say it has more ‘red’ in it.  It is definitely very cool, but also very interesting and way darker than the others.


This shot is totally awesome.

And so is this one:


That was when we were in Oregon together…..Meeting my parents…oh those rainy nights.  We played a duet on the baby grand, drank some diet coke, and watched some early ‘Waiting for Guffman’ style family dinner theater performances.  He fit right in.

And Yes, The Notebook was on ABC family last night and i might have watched it.  Again. It wasn’t my fault. The TV was on and the remote was 6 feet away.  I couldn’t change it even if i wanted to.  And i didn’t.

So those are my (our) favorite grays.

And if these aren’t enough than the blog ‘A Perfect Gray‘ has a whole list of favorites.  Click HERE.

Now tell me (us) yours….. What grays have you used that you love? Or not?


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