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Monday, October 7, 2013

Shades of Gray Paint


Gray paint is all the rage so of course I wanted it to be the neutral in our new home. Plus we did beige in our last home so it was time for something different even though this new house was builder beige everywhere. I like to go with a neutral in big open areas like family room/kitchen so I can do bold pops of color for accents but then later I can always change up the accent colors.

We had 3 days to decide the paint color we were going to use since we hired someone to paint the entryway, family room, kitchen and stairwell. Why didn't we DIY it like we usually do? Well we wanted to get it done before the movers moved our stuff in (we just didn't have that kind of time) since these were going to be the most lived in areas and it would be a pain to move furniture later AND we would have had to hire someone to do the stairwell anyway since it was too tall to adequately reach on a ladder (sounds like an accident waiting to happen). So hence the 3 days...

We started off with 41 shades of gray on paint chips. YES 41 shades. That probably sounds like overkill but there are a ton of gray paint shades out there... and we were just using mainly Sherwin Williams and also some Benjamin Moore. And these were just the light gray shades. I had already weeded through the paint chips and didn't even number anything on the too white side or the too dark side to bring us to a big whopping 41.


We taped them all up on a main wall in our family room on a Friday afternoon. Ones that we didn't like came down and the rest were then taped up on a wall in the stairwell to repeat the process looking at them on a different wall.

See gray is a hard color. Much harder than beige in my opinion. It can have undertones of blue, purple, green, or beige. I really wanted a true light gray so no undertones. And Eric wanted whatever I wanted :)  Of course paint will also look completely different under different light or during different times of day.

So we left and came back that night because you want to like your wall color at night too when there is no natural light right? Again we looked at colors on different wall and narrowed it down some more. 

We did the same thing the next morning and had it narrowed down to about 10 shades. Then we picked our favorite 5 and bought the samples. I really loved two of the shades, SW Passive and SW Gray Screen and I was sure one of those was going to be the winner. All 5 were Sherwin Williams colors. We mostly had SW since our painter said that is the brand he highly recommended and they can do it in the No VOC option. We had used SW paint in our first house for a few things and really liked it.


At the house we painted the 5 samples on 3 different walls - family room, stairwell and kitchen and let it fully dry before judging. Of course paint on the walls will look different than paint on the paint chips but gray proved to be even trickier than colors we worked with before. The two colors I was so sure of I didn't really love. Passive had a greenish bluish undertone and Gray Screen definitely had a blue undertone. Knitting Needles and Light French Gray were too dark for what I was hoping for. On The Rocks seemed to be the best of the 5 choices.



But I wasn't loving the way On The Rocks looked on the kitchen wall. It seemed too white there and I didn't want it to just blend in with the cabinets. We came back different time of day that Saturday to look at them too.


I told Eric I really wanted a gray that I just loved and that I saw on the wall and I knew that it was it and I just wasn't feeling that. He thought I was a little nuts for needing to fall in love with a shade of gray. So Sunday morning after more staring and discussing, I convinced begged Eric to allow us to pick two more samples. We chose Tinsmith and Front Porch, both SW.



And low and behold I loved Front Porch! It was the one! On all the walls and during different times of day. Super glad went for two more and didn't just settle. Eric was super glad he wasn't going to have to put up any more samples.


The painters came a couple days later and did in a few hours what would have taken us an entire weekend plus extra time for hiring someone for the stairwell. Well worth it in our situation, although not to worry I'm sure we will be DIY painting most of the rest of the house.





These gray paint shades could look completely different in your home but we were really happy with Sherwin Williams Front Porch and highly recommend it for a great light gray shade with no undertones. They recommended a flat sheen as it is the least glossy and hides wall imperfections the best and cleanable (for dirt marks or fingerprints, just not scrubbable for bigger messes) contrary to what I thought. With flat paint most of the time you only need one good coat instead of two with other sheens. The painters also said it is what they use in over 75% of houses they paint, which I found surprising.I think in our first house we used eggshell or satin because we didn't know any better. Now we will continue using flat paint in almost all our rooms.

Good luck in picking out your perfect shade of gray, I'm glad I found mine!

Would love for you to follow along!

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27 comments :

  1. That looks awesome! Perfect shade! And I love what you said about the flat sheen - my husband used to paint high-end homes before he graduated college, and they ALWAYS used flat. Yet if you ask anyone what sheen to use, they'll say eggshell 99% of the time. I always thought that was so crazy. Glad I finally found some validation. :)

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  2. I'm in the middle of choosing a gray paint . . . Front porch is on my list. It looks great in your home. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I just wanted to comment quickly and tell you thank you for this post! We moved into our house almost a year ago and we needed a color picked out before moving in and all of your colors side by side in different lighting helped me decide on Gray Screen. We love it...thank you!

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  4. Thank you for the post; I've narrowed my choices down because of it.

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  5. Thanks for your response on the robin's nest, and now I'm on to selecting a gray for an office. I thought I grabbed all of the SW gray paint chips but I don't have a single one of these in my pile.. worried that I may have to go back to the store! Was there anything special about them?

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    1. We ended up liking some of the SW grays. Sometimes they are hidden in paint chips that are white because a white color will be at one end of the spectrum but if you already have grays you like go with what you like. Grays really are the hardest to select in my opinion because they have so many different undertones.

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  6. great post! did you have to prime the walls?

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    1. no we did not because they were a builder beige and the gray went over them just fine. no need to prime

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  7. May I ask what your white trim color is?

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    1. I believe it is bright white by Duron (which is the same family as Sherwin Williams I think but just for contractors). They can mix it for your at SW though, just like they can mix any color even from another line like Benjamin Moore, Valspar, etc.

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  8. What didn't you like about Light French Gray?

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    1. Hi - it was a little darker than what I was going for but did seem to be a fairly true gray if that is what you are looking for then it might work out.

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  9. I'm going through the exact same thing you went through. I thought for sure SW Passive would have been the winner, but it came out to be light blue. I stared at it forever trying to convince myself that my eyes were deceiving me because the paint chip was the perfect gray with no undertones (or so I thought)! After 4 other SW Grays - Repose Gray (too brown), Big Chill (almost white), Zircon (too purple), and Front Porch (too green), I'm still stuck. I'm at a point where I might just pick Front Porch because it's the one I could live with if I had to. I think my husband is getting sick of buying samples too. I'm supposed to have colors picked for our painter today, but I'm going for one last shot and try On The Rocks. Wish me luck!

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    1. Just wanted to update that I tried Knitting Needles and On The Rocks. Both seemed to be the most "non-undertoned" gray out of the ones I tried, but On The Rocks was just slightly too white. Knitting Needles was the winner!

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  10. So we just bought our house and needed to paint all of it. I've been pinning grey colors forever waiting for this moment. After putting four colors on my wall and hating all of them, I started freaking out that I wouldn't find the right colors.
    After doing more research, I think we saw Front Porch in a pamphlet, so I googled it and your blog popped up. I loved how it looked in your house but I was aware that it can look different on a computer. Then I saw Gray Matters in your dining room and loved the contrast. I was running out of time with the painters, so I had a moment of insanity and gave those colors to the painters without ever trying them on the walls! I was going in blindly and prayed that I would at least tolerate it.

    OMG!!! I LOVED both colors. They complement each other beautifully. I look at my walls everyday and think how crazy I was to trust a stranger and colors on a computer. Thank you so much for all your work to find these two amazing colors! My husband who is a contractor is going to start using it in his flips...he loves it that much too!

    Now if only you had done your bathroom too...We didn't do as well in there. Haha! Thanks again!

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    1. So glad you ended up liking them! I'm getting around to the bathroom... eventually!

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  11. Thank you so much for your post. I have spent hours comparing grays. I was leaning towards Gray Screen and now I know that is what I want thanks to your post. What paint type would you recommend for cabinets?

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    1. For cabinets I would think you might want something a little glossier than flat paint (like for kitchen cabinets) depending on the look you are going for and where the cabinets are. I usually ask the employees in Sherwin Williams for advice on that sort of thing.

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  12. The paint color is beautiful. I also didn't realize that flat paint was the type to use. I have always used eggshell or satin. I love the kitchen countertops too...what color are they and where did you get them? Thanks!

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    1. Thanks! The granite is called Kashmir White. It was selected with our builder from some choices available when we built the home.

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  13. I have been debating back and forth between grays for weeks now! I heard the Light French Gray has a purple undertone so I have been worried but seeing it on your walls it looks gorgeous. And knowing you didnt prime the walls since my walls are about the same beige. Did you notice any pruple? Thank you for all your hard work! With the bright white for the trim did you also use flat sheen or would you use satin or eggshell?

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    1. Thank you! I didn't notice a purple undertone on light French gray. The trim has a little shine to it so it must be eggshell or satin instead of flat. That was done by the builder so I can't be sure.

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  14. What color is on your ceilings?

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    1. It's sort of hard to tell from the pictures but it is duron white in flat. A very basic builder white.

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  15. We are in the process of building and need to choose paint colors. Totally overwhelmed! I like the Light French gray but really don't want any undertones as I just want a neutral light gray. My husband is not really sold on the gray since we are building in Seattle and he is afraid that in the winter months it will be dreary. I am designing and decorating our house with a beach theme so gray is essential and desired. Any suggestions for a true light SW light gray that is not too white that has that gray appeal but no color undertone so that if you accent with teals, orange, yellows etc it's ok. Please help janesexton08@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Jane! It definitely would depend on your lighting as to if the grays may have undertones. I would suggest picking up a sample of Light French Gray and a couple of others (Front Porch worked well for us) and either paint swatches or paint cardstock or something and hang them around on different walls and look at them different times of day. I think that even in seattle a light gray could be nice if you are planning to accent with bright colors. A painted furniture piece like a coffee table or buffet type piece under your tv or even kitchen chairs/barstools is a great way to add a significant pop of color with the gray. Hope this helps!

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