I’ve been asked a few times to recommend a “perfect gray paint” to readers and I have difficulty doing so only because there are so so many of them, and it in truth it really comes down to the style of your home, your taste, which direction your room faces in your home, its amount natural light, how paint samples look on your wall, and undertones, always undertones!
I’m contemplating repainting the small studio above our garage so I am also in search of the “perfect gray” for that space. Gray is the de rigueur neutral right now but rightfully so because it’s a perfect backdrop for the multiple palettes you can assemble with your layers of furniture, fabrics, and accessories. Today, I rounded up my favorites (both swatches and real paint samples) to share with you.
In my eye, gray paints fall into three different families: 1) ‘Cement Grays’ which to me are the truest gray with little to no undertones – I can think of no other analogy than the sidewalk! Then there are 2) ‘Warmer Grays’ which lean a little closer to taupe and can have subtle red or brown undertones, and then there are 3) Blue/Green Grays, with blue and green undertones which I’ve used time and again in my living room, master bedroom, master bathroom, etc.
Here’s a peek at eight favorite “Cement Grays” – ones where I see little to no color in the undertones in the swatches and samples.
1. ‘Nimbus Cloud’ by Martha Stewart; 2. ‘Dolphin Fin’ by Behr; 3. ‘Stonington Gray’ by Benjamin Moore; 4. ‘Argos’ by Sherwin Williams; 5. ‘Passive’ by Sherwin Williams; ‘Silverplate’ by Sherwin Williams; 6. ‘Notre Dame’ by Valspar; 7. ‘Granite Dust’ by Valspar.
And then there are the Warmer Grays – getting a little closer to taupe, with brown or yellow even subtle red undertones, so they’re a bit warmer then the cement hues.
1. ‘Granite Boulder’ by Behr; 2. ‘Mindful Gray’ by Sherwin Williams; 3. ‘Bedford Gray’ by Martha Stewart; 4. ‘Horizon Gray’ by Benjamin Moore; 5. ‘Woodlawn Colonial Gray’ by Valspar; 6. ‘Rope’ by Eddie Bauer for Valspar
Personally, I’m drawn to a gray with a blue or green undertone, they work with my “casual with hints of coastal plus modern meets traditional and really i just love gray blues” style. Here are five favorites:
1. ‘Chicken Wire’ by True Value; 2. ‘Jade Frost’ by Glidden; 3. ‘Comfort Gray’ by Sherwin Williams; 4. ‘Silvermist’ by Sherwin Williams; and 5. ‘Tranquility’ by Benjamin Moore Affinity Collection.
I don’t ever recommend grabbing a gallon of paint based on someone else’s recommendation or just a tiny swatch. I cannot stress enough how important it is to grab a few samples of ones you think you’ll like and then test them on your walls (or on a large piece of paper pinned to your walls).
I tested four before settling on ‘Jade Frost’ by Glidden for my daughter’s room. It is far better to spend a few extra dollars on samples and get it right then waste $25+ dollars on a gallon of the wrong gray.
Test the paint swatches on the wall, watch them during the day and into the afternoon and how they change in the light. Depending on where you live, what kind of natural light you get, and which direction your room faces, all grays look different and pair differently with your trim, flooring, and furnishings.
All of the paint colors I’ve used in the past can be seen in the My Spaces gallery or in this older post on the Paint on my Walls. Want to see even more great grays on walls? Visit My Favorite Paint Colors blog for a gallery of fantastic shades used in real homes.
Discovered a great gray paint that you love?
Tell us all about it!