Clean, Cool and Collected, 2 of the Best Gray Paint Colours – Compared!
Are you on a search for the elusive ‘perfect gray’? And what IS the perfect gray? Is it cool, is it warm? Does it have subtle undertones, is it light, is it dark, is it…DRIVING YOU MAD!!!?
Well, if you are on the internet looking for colour ideas, that is likely the case and I’m glad you found me before hysteria set in. Today we’re going to focus on 2 of my favourite coooool gray paint colours, but first, let’s take a deep breath, a
chug graceful sip of wine and talk about gray…
There are 2 types of grays:
Warm grays: Grays that have a bit of brown in them (no, not greiges – just warm grays for now).
Classic Gray is a popular warm gray
Cool grays: Grays that DON’T have brown in them. However, JUST because they don’t have brown in them doesn’t mean that you are left with THE perfect gray. What you are left with is a gray…with undertones – dun dun dun (dramatic sound).
Network Gray – a popular cool gray by Sherwin Williams
Undertones are those sneaky colours that are hiding in your paint. Those colours that don’t jump out when you first look at the colour chip but slap you upside the face once you’ve gone to the effort of painting your entire room, only to realize your walls look blue/pink/green/fugly (insert twitching here).
Okay, maybe undertones aren’t always THAT obvious, but you do need to realize that grays have undertones. That’s just the way it is, so you need to figure out WHICH undertones you can live with.
The Undertones of a Cool Gray
Purple. This is one of the more common undertones in gray, but we also need to keep in mind that there are warm purples (with red in them) and cool purples (with blue in them) – and no, the madness never stops.
Blue. Coming in a hot (or cold) second would be blue. Blue often pops up in gray but it is THEEEE sneakiest and most challenging to peg down. Why? Well, there are warmer looking blues (they have green in them, and yes green is a cool colour, but it’s just the way it works) and there are cool blues (that have purple in them) and blue RARELY likes to keep to itself.
Green. You don’t see this fellow so often. This is because many greens are slightly warm toned and this warm tone starts leading us into the greige end of things, so while there are SOME cool grays with a green undertone, it’s less common.
So, when choosing a gray you aren’t just choosing a gray, you are choosing an ‘undertone’ and hopefully these next paint colours will help you make your final choice!
Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray HC 170
Stonington Gray is a soft, stormy looking gray. Why do I say stormy? Well, some consultants like to focus on the science of colour (which can be mildly mind-boggling – to put it lightly), I like to keep things pretty meat n’ potatoes with how you can expect a colour to look.
Kylie M’s Online Color Consulting
So, a stormy gray is maybe not as fresh and clean looking as a gray with blue or blue/green in it. It has a subtle, low-key look and can be a great backdrop for artwork as shown below. And while Stonington Gray does have a slight blue undertone, it doesn’t show up to the party in any kind of obvious (or even very subtle) way.
Kylie M Interiors E-Design
A bit more about Stonington Gray
- It can pick up a bit of a cool blue undertone (you can see a bit more of it in the bottom photo)
- Stonington Gray has an LRV of 59. Not UBER bright, but definitely an LRV that will reflect some light back into a room.
Read more: Using LRV to Pick the Perfect Paint Colour
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl 2137-60
Gray Owl is definitely one of the most POPULAR gray paint colours, coming in a hot second to Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. Gray Owl is a cool gray with a cool green undertone. Now the tricky thing is, Gray Owl likes to go blue…a lot. And while it’s roots suggest that green would be the dominant, you may find that this colour is a bit of a chameleon as it bounces in between the 2 undertones, all the while maintaining it’s cool gray base.
Seriously, look at the above photo to see how the undertones can shift – compare the 3 wall portions to each other…
- Far left wall: Cool, fresh, almost blue undertone
- Center narrow wall space: Pretty ‘gray’
- Right side gallery wall: Subtle blue/green undertone
A bit more about Gray Owl…
- It has an LRV of 65, so it will reflect more light back into a room, making it appear brighter
Now Gray Owl and Stonington Gray are obviously BOTH cool grays, so what makes them different?
The LRV of Gray Owl vs Stonington Gray
A great place to start when deciding between colours is with LRV. LRV will more or less let you know how light or dark you can expect the colour to look on the wall (read much more about LRV here).
With an LRV of 59, Stonington Gray is a light, but not TERRIBLY light and bright paint colour. I find this adds to the slightly more stormy look of it.
(and yes, that IS the same clock as my entryway!)
At 65, Gray Owl is undoubtedly a lighter colour and will reflect decent light back into the space. LRV isn’t an exact art, but I would say that Gray Owl is about 1 tone lighter than Stonington Gray. If you were to lighten Stonington Gray by approx. 25%, you will get closer to Gray Owl (but would probably need to go to 40% to make it almost the same).
The Undertones of Gray Owl vs Stonington Gray
Gray Owl has a green undertone that CAN (and will) go blueish. In my experience using this colour I would say that 50% of the time it comes across pretty darned gray. The other 50% it wavers in between blue/green (subtle).
Click here or on the above image to see my fun packages!
Stonington Gray has a blueish undertone that is very passive. Your walls won’t be ‘blue’ but they make pick up that undertone. The stormy look really means that this isn’t an icy colour, it’s more earth-toned/soft looking.
The ‘Look’ of Gray Owl vs the ‘Look’ of Stonington Gray
- When my Online Consulting clients are looking for a beachy vibe, I’m more likely to suggest Gray Owl than Stonington Gray.
- While Stonington Gray is soft and subtle, it doesn’t come across quite as beachy fresh as Gray Owl. I also find that my clients often enjoy the chameleon like undertones of Gray Owl as they work well with the ‘beach glass’ look.
- When my clients are preferring an earthy, soft, subtle gray, Stonington Gray is always a top contender.
- Stonington Gray is a nice choice for more modern, contemporary interiors
- Both colours are flexible enough to work with the popular ‘modern farmhouse’ look as well as transitional styles.
Need help? Curious about which gray is best for you and your home? Check out my Online Color Consulting services!
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