How To Choose The Perfect Gray Paint Color

Everyone loves gray.  It's become the go-to paint color.  

   Choosing the right shade can be tricky.  I think it catches people off guard.  If you have never worked with gray paint there's something you need to know, it's a "paint color chameleon".   Here's a common unassumingly walk into a paint store, pick a gorgeous color, bring it home, put it on the wall and...
 the color changes completely. 

It can suddenly become blue, green, tan or lavender (light purple).  Gray has many different undertones which appear much stronger once the color is on the wall.
Unlike many other colors, 
gray is highly sensitive to it's surroundings.  
 I came up with this list of tips to help my on-line design clients choose the perfect gray...

If you find yourself purchasing more than 4 or 5 samples, my advice is to cut your losses and call a local designer/decorator for an in-home color consultation.  It will cost less than a million paint samples and your sanity. 

I started a Pin Board with some of my favorite gray spaces, click here to follow along.
{Feel free to pin my tips while your there}

What gray paint colors have you used?  Any favorites or suggestions for others looking for the perfect gray?

For information on my affordable design services, please click here. 


  1. Fantastic post, Sarah! Thanks for sharing all the great tips! I love taking something away from here everyday! Have a terrific Tuesday!

  2. Perfect timing, thank you! I purchased 4 samples yesterday and I have a pretty good idea which one I want to use but this was very helpful! Going to stalk your pinboard now. Have a beautiful day!

  3. Gray is a tricky one, for sure! It's undertones can include blue, green, brown, purple, pink, or a combination of these. The real trick is deciding which undertone you can live with, because it WILL emerge. The most on-trend grays today (my the way, I am a Color Consultant)lean towards a brown and/or green undertone. Believe it or not, those with a slightly pink or purple undertone can also be lovely (like Ben Moore's Revere Pewter or Edgecomb Gray).

  4. Love that pinboard with the grey rooms, I love your dining room color, such a rich grey! I've been contemplating painting my bedroom a grey, not sure yet, but this helps tremendously!! Thanks!!

  5. Love this post! When we began picking gray paint colors, I searched blog land high and low for advise!
    Gray is tough! I have at least 2 dozen sample cans of gray from selecting our interior and exterior colors for our new house! I think the neighbors and our builders thought I was a crazy woman with all of those samples! I am so happy with our results though! We chose Revere Pewter for our main level, Repose Gray for our basement, Behr Ashes for our master, Chelsey Gray for our exterior, and Urban Bronze for our front door.
    Here is the finished product:

    And here are the links to our embarrassing selection process!

  6. My favorite gray is Woodlawn Colonial by Valspar. It looks amazing in my living room:


  7. This post is the perfect timing for me! I am in the process of picking a gray for my son's room and our first pick looked too lavender. He "did not want a purple room!". Great advice!

  8. This definitely came at the right time. I've been trying to decide on the perfect gray for months now, and wrote a post about it myself:

    Thanks for the tips. I think maybe it's time to bite the bullet and call in a pro!

  9. Heather, aka PrettyNeatoFebruary 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Thanks for sharing - I am currently sampling grays for my living area, too!

  10. Anne-Marie at 10 Rooms has some wonderful advice on using gray (or any other color). She is a color consultant and makes understanding color theory simple. Wish she had been my instructor in college.

  11. I am so glad you posted this! I actually just posted on Twitter the other day that I needed suggestions for the perfect gray paint color for my dining room. This helps a lot! Thank you.

    -Erin Spain

  12. I had a difficult time choosing a gray for our Master Bedroom. After about 4 or 5 samples we choose Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore. And we LOVE it!!

    Here is a link to my post about our room

  13. I went with Nimbus Gray (Ben Moore) but matched in Valspar at Lowe's. It is a pale though slightly warm-ish silvery-gray. This was after investing a small fortune in 17 test colors. Luckily, all my friends now to get to borrow and test! LOL! My master and dining room is darker almost charcoal Amhurst Gray from BM matched in Valspar.

    We have a new construction home and our windows, Low E, are slightly tinted. It made one of my fav colors lean toward lavender. And honestly, the slight green undertone going into my master because of the tint on the windows. The dining room, next door, same color, has no green tinge though it gets the same light. The french doors don't have the same tint on the windows.

    Lighting makes such a difference. I live outside of phoenix where it is sunny 500 days a year. However, we had to choose our paint colors the first part of december where we had 3 cloudy days in a row. Oh so maddening. I love Nimbus as my color throughout most of my new home but I could have gone darker.

  14. My husband just painted his office using Behr Paint called Dolphin Fin. It's awesome.

  15. Pavestone by Sherwin Williams is the perfect gray!

  16. My bedroom is painted Grayish by Sherwin Williams. It has lavender undertones but is a lovely gray! I'm still decorating but we are doing rustic orange accents. I love gray walls!

  17. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what the best light gray color would be with a warm wood kitchen? My kitchen cabinets are birch and are stained with a slight honey color, shaker style, my granite is black on the island and light gray on the counter. Our trim is all linen white with wainscoting on 3/4 of the wall as linen white also! Any suggestions would be so helpful! Thanks

  18. Just painted my dining room two shades of grey (over and under chair rail) and they both look blue. slightly disappointing. I will use your advice on my next try... thank you!

  19. I am a new follower who enjoys reading your blog because you provide a wide array of information. In particular, this post will save my future sanity when I begin shopping for the perfect gray Paint for my library and main bathroom.

  20. We just went through this ordeal of choosing the perfect grey and you are so is TRICKY! After about 6 different paint samples, I finally am very happy with what we chose. "Praise Giving" by Miller Paint for our living room, and "Silver Sateen" for our hallway and laundry room. I highly recommend your first suggestion to paint the wall you are applying your samples with white paint. Well worth the time and effort to ensure you have the right grey for your house. The favorite colors you find on Pinterest will not necessarily look the same, or even close in your own house!


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