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Design 101

Are We Done With Gray? We Explore + A “How Do You Pick The ‘Right’ Gray Paint” Tutorial

photo by bethany nauert | from: fdr chic – a dude’s mix of antique, mid-century and bohemian style

Here’s what happened. The ’90s were a blur of beige. That particular “beige” had a yellow undertone and when mixed with the other ’90s elements of shabby chic and faux finishes it was bad. After that we as a people were ready for a big shift, a rejection really of that warm and dated tone. So 2000 rolled around and we celebrated a new millennium by ushering in a decade (if not more) of “gray”. For whatever reason, we considered this neutral more “modern,” “fresh,” and “masculine” (this was also a decade that valued “masculine” and “feminine” differently – bu-bye).

In an attempt to be more sophisticated I started painting everything gray. I even wrote a whole post about it, with an oddly entertaining reference to Ryan Gosling. I didn’t take a ton of great photos back then but I found a few.

For the pilot episode of Secrets From A Stylist, I chose this gray grasscloth for Ian’s house (and the cheapest gray wall to wall carpet ever) and it was cold in every way.

Emily Henderson Gray Paint 7
from: before & after of glee creator’s ian brennan’s comfy tv room

After the show, we switched out to this warm camel color which we still love 10 years later.

Emily Henderson Gray Paint 4
photo by bethany nauert | from: before & after of glee creator’s ian brennan’s comfy tv room
Emily Henderson Gray Paint 3
photo by bethany nauert | from: before & after of glee creator’s ian brennan’s comfy tv room

Again on Secrets, I painted this dark room gray…

Emily Henderson Gray Paint 5
from: ’70s funky elegance
Emily Henderson Gray Paint 6
from: ’70s funky elegance

By mixing it with hot pink (Woah, those roses – can you say ROMANCE?) and brass it was actually kinda great and trust me if it had been white it would have been so flat – that room had very very little natural light (read about how to avoid that big mistake here). If I could go back in time I probably would select a powdery blue paint for that plaster or just a warmer, lighter gray.

But I wasn’t all wrong. Ten years ago I painted Gray Owl in Ian’s living room and still love it.

Emily Henderson Gray Paint 2
photo by bethany nauert | from: fdr chic – a dude’s mix of antique, mid-century and bohemian style

We painted my friend Scott’s bedroom Pavilion Gray and we still love it.

Emily Henderson Go To Paint Colors Neutrals 2017 10
photo by tessa neustadt | from: master bedroom refresh with parachute home

Again, with Gray Owl in the Lake House bedroom, and again I still love it.

Emily Henderson Go To Paint Colors Neutrals 2017 9
photo by bjorn wallander | from: happy casual lake house

Our bedroom in LA is painted Ammonite (a warm gray) and I LOVE it.

photo by bethany nauert | from: fdr chic – a dude’s mix of antique, mid-century and bohemian style

So what makes one gray depressing and another gray like a big hug?? How do you choose the right gray paint?

We aren’t done exploring…

A few years ago, Brady wrote a whole post about his “Choosing the Perfect Gray’ journey and he tried out 12 different paint colors on swatches before painting his living room.

Emily Henderson Gray Paint 8
from: brady picks a gray paint

He selected Pavilion Gray (same as Scott’s bedroom) with the help of our audience and in photos, it looked beautiful.

Emily Henderson Gray Paint 1
photo by zeke ruelas | from: brady’s living room reveal

He thought he chose the right one… but after he lived with it he realized it was actually dark and depressing in his space – although it looked so pretty in photos. He painted it to Super White (and also switched out the sofa and his “garbage” chairs – his words – that were literally falling apart).

Brady Tolbert Citizenry Emily Henderson Living Room Refresh 2
photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: brady’s living room refresh with the citizenry

Now a good gray, like a good ANYTHING will always be in style. This isn’t a declaration, we aren’t announcing the demise of one of our only true neutrals. So what’s my problem?

It’s so easy to go too “cold” and a cool gray can indeed feel depressing. When I was designing the Portland house one of my best pieces of advice from locals is don’t paint anything gray. There is already enough up there. The same goes for the English who want happier colors that can also be moody, but not gray (or grey in the UK). 

Here’s how to choose a good gray paint color:

  • Look at the overall color tone of the whole paint strip to help determine what the undertone of the color is. Then make sure you like that undertone color. It might be blue, gray, purple, brown – this will indicate more of what it will feel like.

Emily Henderson Are We Done With Gray Paint Strip 2

  • Go for a warmer undertone if you want it to feel like a hug. It’s easy to go too beige and thus create taupe or what some might call “greige,” so we’ve rounded up our favorites below:

Emily Henderson Are We Done With Gray Roundup 1

  1. Modern Gray | 2. Ammonite | 3. Gray Owl | 4. Pale Oak | 5. Pediment  | 6. Soapstone | 7. Skyline | 8. Heron Plume | 9. Pavillion Gray
  • Please paint a piece of paper and live with it on multiple walls throughout the day (like Brady did). Every paint color reacts differently based on your natural light (or lack thereof).
  • Know that even if you go slightly blue, it will look blue. The amount of times I’ve tried to choose the perfect “blueish gray” is embarrassing, only to end up with baby – mother-effing – blue. We are on the hunt for the perfect blue/gray right now so stay tuned for that when we find it.
  • The other colors in the room can shift your gray. It can either pull out more warm or cool tones OR it can contrast it and push it in another direction. I wish I went to design school and had more of a solid color theory scientific answer for you, but sometimes something will reflect on the walls and shift it entirely which is frustrating.
Emily Henderson Gray Paint 9
photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the new (luxury) bed in a bag with brooklinen

So, in conclusion, are we done with gray???? NO, but we are certainly only using it where it’s actually appropriate and recognizing that it’s not for every room or every location. It became a go-to that we went to too often. The ’00s ushered in a decade of white walls and we are similarily questioning that popularity. Both can be great neutrals and great backgrounds for any style, and we will always use and highlight our favorites. But like anything, we are being more purposeful and asking ourselves “WHY?” before selecting any color.

So those are my current thoughts and feelings about gray. I would love to know yours (and please recommend other grays in the comments – I’ve only used what I’ve used and we too need more recommendations).


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102 thoughts on “Are We Done With Gray? We Explore + A “How Do You Pick The ‘Right’ Gray Paint” Tutorial

  1. We re-painted our house last year using Sherwin Williams Silverpointe with alabaster trim color in main living areas and master bedroom. I mostly love it. Sometimes it looks a little more blue than I wanted depending on the lighting in our home. We tried Sherwin Williams agreeable gray, but it just didn’t work for us.

  2. In our Seattle house (plenty of dreary gray/grey weather and light there) we painted our open living and dining room Lamp Room Gray by Farrow & Ball and absolutely loved it. I don’t find grey tones too cool or depressing, personally, but I get why other PNW/UK inhabitants might not be a fan. It was light enough that it still felt airy and bright when the light was strong, and when it wasn’t it still looked nice—more sophisticated and moody than plain white or off-white, and a better backdrop for the colour palette I wanted to feature in those spaces.

    I live in London now in a brightly white painted rental which I can’t paint; I like it, but I’d like that soft Lamp Room Gray even better. If we buy something here I may hold off on grey because I do think we’re culturally graduating out of the Great Grey Trend (Maria Killam’s blog is great at discussing trends in neutrals) so I wouldn’t want to commit to a grey shade again and then be annoyed about it in a couple years, but I might just repeat that exact one since it was such a lovely comforting hue to me in our old house. (Can’t show pics since it’s rented out now.)

  3. We used Sherwin Williams Alpaca in our daughter’s room and absolutely love it. It has a slight purple undertone. I personally wouldn’t use it in a main living area or even the master because I prefer something more neutral, but it was a great compromise for our purple-loving 5-year-old. It’s a color that will really grow with her.

    In our main living areas and master, we used Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige. We get plenty of natural light and it looks nice. It’s not a showstopper — it’s a true neutral, which is what we wanted. It gives us freedom to choose colorful art and decor.

  4. For a darker blue/green/gray check out Sherwin Williams mineral deposit. I just did my bedroom this color and I love it. It’s way less gray than I thought it would be, but it’s lovely and calming and definitely warm.

    1. Yes yes yes to Nimbus! When we moved into our house I tried about 16 different grays on swatches and ended up going with Nimbus throughout along with BM Simply White on the trim. It’s got a beige undertone, so it looks a little more greige in south facing rooms, then a little cooler and more “cement” toned in north facing rooms, but doesn’t feel cold at all even with dark wooden floors. Looks amazing with green, black and gold accents and makes a gorgeous backdrop for all my houseplants! I love it!

  5. Funny that this was today’s post because I was just wondering yesterday if gray was going out of style when I looked at my sister’s freshly painted gray bedroom. I’m happy you concluded that it is not because my ENTIRE house is painted with Behr’s Silver Drop and I really love it 3.5 years later. It’s a light grey with green undertones and it feels like the perfect neutral to me.

    1. My house is Behr Silver Drip too, and I love it as well! I feel like it is a faded enough gray that it just gives the right amount of substance.

    2. Me too (Behr silver drop)! I chose it for the main spaces 9 years ago and still love it so much I keep painting more spaces in it. Subtle and warm but still grey and not beige.

    3. Most of our house is in Silver Drop, too and I LOVE it! I agree – it really is the perfect neutral!

  6. I have used two greys in my home, both Benjamin Moore, Cement gray in my kitchen which I adore! It has a slight lilac undertone which works beautifully with my nickel hardware. The living room, master bedroom and halllways are all Abalone, which is, in my opinion, the perfect greige, a lovely warm grey ?

  7. We painted the interior of our house Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. Our house is a little dark, and this one works well because it’s a really warm gray. I also love this paint because it looks different in every room, depending on the room’s lighting and even the colors you are using in the room.

    1. We also have agreeable grey on our entire first floor and I love it! Very warm and sophisticated looking. Then we tried to paint an upstairs hallway in the same color…. DISASTER. I think it truly is a chameleon color that can be amazing or horrible, depending on the space!

      1. We have BM Agreeable Gray on all the walls in our mountain home. It gets tons on natural southern exposure light. On bright days, it looks completely white. On over cast days a tinge of gray. It was a great decision. Love the color so much, I tried it in my city home—a south facing craftsman with lots of oak trim and green leafy trees outside. It did not work at all. Truly does come down to the room, the lighting and the environment in which it sits.

  8. We used SW Nebulous White in our living area, but yeah, it’s blue. Verrrry light blue, but not at all what we were intending. It turns out that with our hardwood floors, wood table, wood piano, leather chair, and olive green couch, it’s just cool-toned enough to balance everything out. A happy accident, I guess!

  9. We painted a bunch of our sunny SoCal house Sherwin Williams Modern Gray. It is a chameleon of a color. It works the pervious owners travertine floors relatively well, especially in the south facing rooms. But in the north facing rooms it leans less warm and more purple somehow. I wish I would have painted the north facing rooms something even warmer, although for a gray Modern Gray is quite warm! FYI in person it looks nothing like that tiny swatch. Way way less saturated somehow.

  10. Our current home had a multitude of painting sins we purchased it, including a dark tan as the main wall color (but don’t get me started on the striped accent walls in every bedroom). In southern Arizona, dark tan just feels oppressive.

    My patient husband suffered through many paint samples, including a fruitless search for one or two of the Farrow and Ball colors you’ve recommended in the past. I thought I wanted a light, warm gray because we have oak cabinets and an oak staircase. Since oak is a warm wood, I thought I *had* to use a warm neutral.

    Long story short, warm gray is pretty close to light tan, and I was over that. We switched gears to a light, cool gray, then painted our powder room three times before settling on the correct one. The first two looked blue or purple in the shade!

    The final choice: Stone White by Glidden. In full sun, it looks white, but has beautiful, icy tones of gray in the shadows. Our great room gets tons of natural light, and we catch ourselves studying the shadows on the wall. For us, it was the perfect calm, cool and modern neutral.

  11. Our entire main floor has been Gray Owl for years, and I love it. However, I’ve been wondering if I want to go a touch lighter. We painted the guest room Intense White, which is the lighter color right next to Gray Owl on the paint strip. I love it so much. It only adds a touch of color to the walls, but it’s much more interesting than white. Would recommend 10/10.

    1. Omg I have one bedroom in Gray Owl and LOVE it – when I’m in there, I truly often think “this is THE best gray paint color and I’m so happy we did this”. Then in our small kitchen, I wanted the same vibe but was afraid it would read too dark. I did Intense White in there instead, and it’s just so pretty. Sometimes I wonder if I’m boring as shit loving a color called “intense white” so much, but it’s just the lightest gray ever that is baaaaarely darker than white but so much lovelier and more interesting than white. It looks so pretty against my white trim and doors and I would also totally recommend it!!

  12. We painted our family room & sunroom with Benjamin Moore Pelican Gray, which has beautiful blue & faint purple undertones.

    It looks cool/cold in internet photos, but in-person, there’s lots of depth and movement in the color. I love it!

  13. I love love love Felicity (I think it’s a valspar color?). It’s the perfect barely there grey, so you have contrast with your white mouldings, but it still feels super light and bright. I’ve used it all throughout my house after trying dozens of greys

  14. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of grey walls. I like grey in fashion and decor, but it can get depressing really fast. I noticed that I liked all the examples you showed here of grey that works, and I realized that all the rooms had warm wood floors. I know undertones and where on the color wheel you choose your grey (or any color) from can make a big difference, but it seems like the sum total of the design makes a difference. A monochromatic grey design can feel too cool, too depressing, but grey with other elements to balance it can work so much better.

    1. I completely agree. I painted my room gray when I was in high school and SERIOUSLY regretted it. Now I’m scarred haha

  15. Just this weekend I painted my hallways Light Pewter from Benjamin Moore and I love it! They were an ugly, yellowy off-white and I wanted to brighten it up. Classic gray was too bright for my taste, and light pewter is perfect. These hallways and stairwell do not get a lot of natural light, some are very shadowed, some get a bit of sunlight, some only over head lighting. And this color works everywhere! It really is like a stone color, some places more gray, some places more neutral. But it totally works and I highly recommend it! We also have it in our bathroom with deep blue tile on the wall, and gray wood tile on the floor, and it stays neutral.

  16. Ben Moore Silver Fox is a warm medium tone that I’ve used in several projects with success. It’s cozy for sure.

    1. My mother chose silver fox for her new home in 1986 when I was a teenager and I LOVED it. In Michigan winters are grey but with white trim and a light carpeting with warm undertones, it was spectacular. I love grey. And always choose cool tones. But I moved into a house that had already deeply committed to a warm palette so rather than start over I’ve leaned into creamy beige. BMs Navajo White is surprisingly lovely and covers our main loving room walls and trim. We have BM Wheeling Neutral in a hallway and tv room. I just introduced an accent wall in grey: BM Graphite and it feels “masculine”. Finally, I painted a walk-in closet in BM Revere Pewter after learning it’s an exact match for Farrow and Balls Elephants Breath. Ultimately colors are the most subject to fashion so choose what you like. But my color journey taught me not to get in a rut.

  17. Love this discussion. Yes grey is in for a long time. But the best part about that color is there’s so many variations. My favorite go-to greys are… Dolfin Fin, Irish Mist and Silver Drop by Behr.

  18. My living, dining, kitchen, and 3/4’s of my master bedroom are painted gray owl – but I had it mixed 50% lighter so it was more of a touch of gray, rather than GRAY gray. I absolutely agonized over what color to paint when we moved in (it was originally dark brown – barf), and even after I painted, I wasn’t entirely convinced because it looked way different in person. Honestly I have my days where I wish I’d done white – especially when the lighting makes it look baby blue, which is often…so often that my husband was confused one time when I mentioned the “gray” walls – he thought they were blue!!! Overall though, I don’t actually think white would be good in my house because it’s so small with minimal natural lighting, so I’m happy enough.

  19. Painted the inside of all of the public rooms in my home Antique Paper by Dunn Edwards. It has the slightest tint of grey with a bit of warm white. Elevated, elegant and chic with artwork. The trim is White Picket Fence by DE which is a clean white (but not too bright) with the AP.

    We are so happy with the choice! It replaced a yellow/gold white which was very Tuscan and warm. We also changed out all the light fixtures which were bronze and Tuscan style. I feel like I live in a model home!

  20. We used SW Faded Gray everywhere in our house. We love it and it really made our house look bigger. We went from Swiss Coffee to the Faded Gray and it’s a completely different house.

  21. Our walls are Sherwin Williams Nebulous White, which is a verrrryy light cool-ish gray and I still love it, a few years later. I warm it up with a lot of walnut and cognac colored leather.

  22. I love BM Gray Owl but when I tried it on my walls it looked too bluish/steel. I ended up with BM Edgecomb Gray. Soft and creamy.

    1. We have Edgecomb in our living room and dining room, but for our north-facing family room, I wanted something a little lighter, and BM Gray Mist is perfection. I call these my not-gray grays because they are not cold at all, but also not pink or yellow. Just a cozy neutral.

    2. My kitchen is Edgecomb grey and I love it. It is a true grey. I tested Grey Owl and it looked baby blue., at least it did in my space.

  23. 98% of gray’s for me are Ok ……up to 20 min in the space tops.

    Yes at first glance they can look great, hence a pantry, hallway fine.
    However I haven’t found the feel good grey that after 20min in a room keeps feeling good and continues to lift/have a good energy like other colors.

  24. My main room, with a northeast exposure and fairly small windows, is painted BM’s Edgecomb Gray (more of a greige). with BM’s Decorator White trim. I really like it. I was afraid a cooler-toned gray would make the room look too cold since it has such poor natural light–it fails the ” paint it white” test, since I have to turn on a light to read unless there’s morning sun. I live east of Lake Michigan, and the weather is often cloudy for weeks on end.
    My bedroom Is BM Deep Space, a very dark gray, since I work nights and wanted a cave-like feel to help me sleep. Very happy with that choice also.

  25. I used Gray Owl in a north-facing kitchen and it looked like dirty dishwater. Yuck. But Pale Oak was beautiful in a north-facing bathroom.

  26. For a blue/grey, we used Seattle Grey from Benjamin Moore (; we live in Seattle but swear it was just a coincidence) and have really liked it. It really doesn’t come off as all the blue until you pay close attention to it.

    As opposed to Beacon Grey from Benjamin Moore (, which we used in our living room that gets a lot of light.
    The blue definitely comes out (as baby blue no less) especially when it is up against white trim.

  27. Apparition by Benjamin Moore in my upstairs is lovely. We have Bennington Gray in our downstairs and stairwell it is decidedly the color of coffee with cream but both are a goes with everything pallete

    1. I’m looking for a good neutral paint color. I know that beige is dated, but I‘m thinking that gray is not right for me since my decor usually includes warmer neutrals. White is popular and looks great in photos but I’m afraid would look unfinished in person. Off-white scares me since it can go a little yellow and look mismatched with pure white trim. Is there such a thing as a beige paint that looks modern and fresh? Do you have other suggestions?

  28. I decided my walls could go another year with whatever-the-hell-that-color-is after trying no less than SiX samples (on white cards) in my living room. They turned out to be named improperly so I renamed them: Dead Elk, Dead Shark, Dead Squid, Dead Elephant, Dead OLD Elephant and Unnamed Dead Thing.

    Wake me when hot pink becomes the go-to color for walls.

    1. Priscilla, you are funny! Just a while back, EH was talking about muted dark green colors(love them) and now its back to gray, which some look light blue to me.
      I’m with you– wake me up when hot pink or dark navy or green become the go-to color for walls.

    2. Yup agree. 80 comments of readers’ favorite just-barely-not-white greys is just, yawn. Ready for color again!

  29. I have my son’s NW facing room in Gray Owl and it’s my favorite room in the house. I found that it was too gray for the NE facing room next door and used Ballet instead, and that had just enough warmth to work. It’s also all about the light!

  30. Farrow and Ball’s “Cornforth White” Is actually the most beautiful pale grey that gives the wall a gorgeous, cool-toned depth and color. Highly recommend it!

  31. I *just* painted my living room woodwork & bookshelves, as well as my kitchen cabinets Farrow & Ball’s Purbeck Stone (color-matched to Ben Moore paints) so I sure hope it isn’t going out of style! The walls are white (but a warm, not pure white) and the furnishings are blue and white, and I love it. I get a lot of compliments, so I hope to love it for a lot longer!

  32. I’m surprised to see no one has yet mentioned SW Repose Grey. We wanted the feel of white walls, but with anywhere from 8-11 dogs and a cat in our house, white walls just won’t work. Repose Grey is fabulous because it feels white and bright, yet doesn’t show ALL the dog slobber and dirt like white would. Our trim is Eider White. I LOVE it.

    1. came here to say the same. repose is amazing. it’s NOT blue. it’s NOT green. it’s NOT dark. it’s NOT purple. It’s warm and light and classy and grey and looks pretty with cream, with white, with wood, with WHATEVER! <3

    2. After much agonizing over greys, I painted most rooms 75% SW Repose Gray. Best decision ever.
      I did choose SW Drift of Mist for a couple of the windowless rooms. The neutral background makes everything pop.

  33. I do think gray is over in design because there isn’t much new to say with it. People will always use neutrals but the straight gray tones wood floors and gray with white trim for every house on the market is definitely dunzo, at least in LA. That said, I just spec’d a couple warm grays for trim on a house with natural wood facade. I am getting into more green grays and Taupes.

    Adaptable gray, cumulous, Felted Wool.

  34. Two blue-grays I love:

    Krypton by Sherwin Williams – a medium gray with periwinkle blue undertones. Used this in my daughter’s nursery/bedroom in two different houses. Very pretty and soothing.

    Misty by Sherwin Williams – a light silvery-blue gray. I’ve used this color in four different apartments/condos/houses, and I’ve loved it every time! It’s perhaps worth noting that I’ve only used it in smaller bathrooms (and a laundry room), all of which had little to no natural light and were dominated by cabinetry, stone, and tile. Not sure how it would translate in a living space with more furnishings and decor (like a bedroom or living room) but it does nicely complement a range of wood and stone finishes in both warm and cool tones.

  35. Most of the rooms in our house are painted shades of gray but our bedroom is north facing and doesn’t get alot of light. I’ve tried several shades of gray and every one of them looks depressing. Any suggestions for a complimentary color that goes with the rest of the house but doesn’t look sad and depressing?

  36. I am happy with the blue-grey in my dining room and mud room: SW North Star. It is paired with SW Pure White trim and not feeling a bit baby blue.

  37. Love this post! I painted my cabinets in Deep Rock from Magnolia Home (mixed by Benjamin Moore). It’s listed as a grey, but has a lot of blue in it – almost like a cloudy pale navy. Definitely appears more grey or blue depending on the light, but it’s been really pretty. Through the house though I’m all about warming up all of these super cool tones!

  38. Such a great post! We have oak cabinets/trim in our 90s house and have painted over all the beige with either Valspar’s Cream Delight (a soft creamy white) and PPG’s Fog, a pale grey that is a little lighter and cooler (less green) than Gray Owl. It looks SO GOOD with oak—really tones down the orange in the wood and makes it looks softer. Thanks for continuing to write these helpful posts.

  39. Cement Gray – Benjamin Moore. Terrible name. Wonderful color reflecting light gray with a whisper of periwinkle lavender. Used it on walls and ceiling — love it. Recommended it to a friend and a cousin. Both used it. Both LOVE it.

  40. Fun fact: Taupe and greige are not the same thing. The term “greige” was coined because it’s a combo of gray and beige. Both Taupe and greige can be either warm or cool. Warm greige has a yellow undertone (from the beige). Warm taupe gets its warmth from the red undertones. Similarly, cool greige has blue undertones (from the gray) and a cool taupe comes from their green undertones. In conclusion, taupe and greige are not the same thing but greige and warm gray can be.

  41. We have Pediment on our kitchen walls and cabinets and I would say it’s more of a super light taupe. But I live in Oregon where it’s dark! Ugh.

  42. I love Pale Oak – my entire first floor and the hallways upstairs are all Pale Oak, and the color shifts all day. It goes with everything and I still love it after 5 years. I even used it in on the walls in a huge museum installation and the artwork looked great against it.

    Also – perfect blue gray is Austere Gray by P&L. LOVE.

  43. This is the second house I’ve painted in Benjamin Moore Half Silver Dollar. I had a mid-century modern house and now I’m in a Cape Cod house. It looks great in both. Not beige and not blue. I’m in SoCal.

  44. We painted our bedroom SW Uncertain Gray. It has a lot of natural light and has a slight steel blue tinge during the day but is cozy at night. We went 2 shades down for SW Salmovar Silver, in a North facing bathroom. Both have poly’d warm brown to orange pine floors so the coolness takes in down a notch. We painted over a warm taupe color.

  45. Current favourite is Benjamin Moore’s Gray Mist: it’s soft, not too white, not too cool, just warm enough and find it goes with everything. I also like an old Pratt and Lambert colour called Classic Gray…It’s a great neutral!

  46. Had to smile when I saw your top picks. In 2000 I wanted nothing to do with beige and chose what to most people (including our builder) was a really weird color – Sherwin Williams Modern Gray. Still love it!

  47. The after photo of Brady’s place is just stunning. (And lol to the “garbage” chairs, had forgotten about those.)

  48. We painted our living room “Lattice” by Sherwin William’s. It’s a very light gray with warm, neutral undertones (not leaning too blue, purple, etc). I love it!

  49. I know baby blue is not desired in this scenario but just painted my nursery BM Gray Sky and it is definitely baby blue, but it’s the perfect baby blue imo. It’s like sitting on a cloud.

  50. My bedroom is Benjamin Moore’s Ice Fog (from the Aura line). I had the hardest time finding a color that didn’t look pink or green or just flat in this south-facing room, but I’m still happy with this color three years later.

    I also used the color on the ceiling of an adjacent room that is Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue. In the bedroom the color definitely looks grey – not too warm or too cold – but on the ceiling it reads as barely not white.

  51. Thank you for this post. My house was painted On the Rocks, a SW grey when I moved in and I’ve always hated it. It’s always felt cold. While I don’t think grey is out of style, I see the color as warming up a bit. The whites brightened rooms up and warmed them a bit, but not everyone loves white. I see the new color trend moving from cool to something warmer. Restoration Hardware’s Slate collection is a good example. Ash is a light warm neutral that deserves more attention. As for darker, it’s often that someone paints a wall and it mimics a garage floor. The slate color is much more appropriate for today.

  52. Horizon by Benjamin Moore is a beautiful, light blue-toned grey. Also I believe Orlando’s apartment is Horizon?

  53. I used Valspar Bay Waves in my living room with one wall of Valspar Polished Silver (one shade darker). I was hoping for more of a contrast but in my living room light they look basically identical. Other than that, though, I love them.

    When I moved in I couldn’t find a flooring I liked for the kitchen so we laid down new subfloor which I painted in a rectangular checkerboard in grey & cream (Behr Lunar Surface and Behr Weathered White) and then sprinkled with the paint flakes they make for garage floors (in black, white, silver sparkles, and blues) in several layers of varnish. I think it looks awesome (although it’s almost impossible to find anything if you drop something!)

  54. I’m a big fan of yours. Really enjoyed this post! I was a hold out on gray. Refused to give up my warm tans, but something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it except to say it didn’t play nice with my woods. I considered gray, went so far as to paint those nice peel and stick thingies for sampling paint colors and lived with them on every. freaking. wall for a week. So went white and LOVE it, all of a sudden everything looks great with everything else and not every inch of my walls is covered in stuff. .. Art galleries are almost always white, come to think of it, I’ve never been in a gallery with tan, beige, gray, or god forbid, griege walls. That said, the photos of your preferred grays are really lovely. Surprisingly so for this gray hater. And I didn’t sample any of your favorite grays because I can’t find the Ben Moore store and SW is a pain in the buttocks to get to…. Lowes and Home Depot are around the corner. With my love of monochromatic rooms, and all the gray accessories available now, I probably could have pulled off a room I didn’t hate. BUT, loving my white walls and I sure as hell hope white doesn’t suddenly become dated. Because I don’t want to paint again for a few years. But I do have a secret desire to paint a friend’s bedroom a dark charcoal and I’m really fond of menswear fabrics…. Go figure.

  55. Several years ago in our previous apartment’s small, not very bright, living room we painted it Planetary Silver by Behr. It was a perfect neutral grey, neither pale nor dark, nor cold/blue. It made the art work pop and was quite cheery, even in snowy winter. I find all neutral paint colors the trickiest to choose because the direction and amount of light and the colors in the floors and rugs affect how they appear so dramatically. Grey is sometimes a good unifying option but I don’t think it would be my go-to when considering wall colors now.

  56. It’s all so specific to EACH space. Such a challenge. Four years ago we chose Behr dolphin fin at 75% for the main/open area of our home – it’s light and looks cooler or warmer in north/south exposure, but never blue or brown. We used Behr silver drop for everywhere else (guest rooms, nursery, bathrooms, laundry, etc). Our master is BM Chelsea gray at 75%. We probably tested 15 “favorites” that looked too blue or green or purple in our house. Not sure how I got it right but I still love our choices in their respective spaces. Now we’re finishing the basement and chose Repose Gray by Sherwin-Williams from the deck (risky!) but it’s so good! For the windowless toy room we went with SW Tinsmith and so far I think it’s a good barely blue-Gray (not baby blue) for the space. The lights aren’t all installed yet, so time will tell!

  57. I may have to borrow the big swatches idea and looking at the undertones. Our living room came to us in a mid gray (dark in the shadows) and at first sight it was high in my list to paint. (it badly needs patching)
    Then I had to toss up an impromptu gallery wall of my watercolors to show some out of town buyers- and my art looked amazing! Flash forward a few years and I’m still oddly happy with the color though the gallery wall is strategically covering holes. It’s one of the last rooms to paint!
    I’d like to repaint a similar tone gray, but my one big concern is the relationship to the old local granite fireplace. I think this grey makes the stone look more yellow/dirty.

  58. Two words: color harmonies. These are what will shift your perception of the grays. For example, having orange-colored objects/flooring/fixtures in a room will enhance the blueness of a gray if there are indeed blue undertones. Gray with yellow undertones will appear more yellow if there is purple. Same with green and red. Also, grays are considered to be neutrals in that they are two complementary colors mixed together. With tints, they become lighter. These are the most beautiful grays! (P.S. taking color theory at design school right now and we were just talking about this.)

  59. Grays and whites are hard! And I love them so much! My sister painted her house (tons of natural light, light wood floors) in Reserved White by SW and it is gorgeous. I tried it in my house (less natural light, tan tile – yuck) and it is BLUE!
    I have landed on Shoji White by SW for my house. I know it will look so good – its warmer, very light, and just-off-white. It will be that warm hug Emily mentioned. I am pinning this post to my bookmarks, I know I will be referring to it often. Great post!

  60. I painted the living space in F&B elephants breath and love it. Sometimes gray sometimes undertone of pinks/purples but pretty light

  61. I just repainted an entire condo with abundant N light in Benjamin Moore OC-26 Silver Satin. The room had been pinkish pale yellow with dark floors w red undertone. We were bringing in beautiful antique pine furniture and the space was going to look too yellow, in spite of the cool natural light.

    Silver satin is perfect. It’s a warm gray without going to green or beige.

    Now I’m looking for a gray accent wall for a open-space condo with abundant west light (very warm/gold). It is currently Pale Oak which looks too warm for the contemporary finishes we are installing in the kitchen (concrete and anthracite).

    We’ve chosen BM OC-62 Baby’s Breathe as the main colour. This accent wall in the LR/DR has to anchor a large black media unit with shelving going 3/4 up the wall.

    I’m looking at mid-grays with just a hint of blue and am going to sample New Hope, Iced Slate, Metallic silver.

    Anyone else have experience with this kind of light and furniture situation?

  62. I just painted my living room BM American White by Benjamin Moore and it is the PERFECT GREY! It’s so relaxing and inviting, the perfect barely there grey for when you don’t want white walls. I used BM White Diamond in the Kitchen and hallways of the house and I wanted something just a touch warmer for the living room. I love the tiny amount of contrast you get as you walk into the room, too!

  63. I painted my Portland OR open kitchen/dining room Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere several years ago and still love it. I was looking for a pale slightly greenish-slightly bluish-but warm-gray. I was inspired by the shell of the prettiest farmers market chicken egg. In a very flat finish with oak floors, black counters and BM Simply White trim it’s beautiful and moody, but not at all dark or depressing in the PNW winter gloom. I would go as far as to say it’s even cozy and reads a bit Scandinavian on a gray day. It looks just as good on a sunny day when it transforms into something airy and light. It’s subtle and complex and I love how it’s always shifting depending on the angle or light.

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