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Cool Gray Paint Colours – The 3 Undertones You HAVE to Consider!

Posted on January 14, 2020 by KylieMawdsley

Do gray paint colours have undertones? You bet your booty they do!

Gray is right up there with white as the SNEAKIEST of colours regarding undertones. Just when you think you picked the PERFECT gray, you paint your walls and end up with a subtle (or not so subtle) shade of blue, green or purple. OH JOY!

Benjamin Moore Gray Owl one of the best gray paint colours for a dark hallway or staircase by Kylie M Interiors. With photo gallery wall of kids and dark wood and metal stair railing. Kylie M Interiors e-design

The key to picking the PERFECT gray is to figure out which undertone you want – because you’re gonna get one.

The 3 Undertones of Gray Paint Colours

Gray has three undertones – blue, purple and green. You might like to think you can avoid theM, but you can’t – like taxes, death, and empty wine bottles, they will haunt you. And even the MOST NEUTRAL gray will be susceptible to change based on the exposure of your room, landscaping outside the window, interior furnishings and your OWN perception of how a colour looks. Some people are more sensitive to undertones, and while the colour itself and ‘what is in it‘, is not subjective, how you SEE the colour (vs someone else) IS!ALL GRAY PAINT COLOURS HAVE UNDERTONES

You could have looked at any one of the above blobs (super technical term) under certain circumstances and thought they were pretty darn gray. However, they’re great examples of the many faces that gray can have – and they aren’t ALWAYS that obvious!

Gray Paint Colours with Blue Undertones

Gray with a blue undertone is usually the most popular choice.

  • a gray-blue can be either fresh (cool) or stormy (more subdued/earth-toned)
  • it can also have a blue undertone that leans slightly purple, making it seem a touch cooler
  • a gray with a blue undertone can also pick up a wink o’ the Irish. I won’t say it’s ‘warmer’, but it’s certainly a softer look

Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray hallway with white trim and Chelsea Gray painted door. Kylie M Interiors Colour Consultant online

Shown above: Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray

Grays with a blue undertone can be a great choice for a south or west-facing room, but can OFTEN be a bit too cold/flat for a north or east-facing room.

THE 3 BEST GRAY PAINT COLOURS WITH BLUE UNDERTONES

1. Sherwin Williams Big Chill SW 7648

Big Chill is a fave of mine with its subtle, slightly cool blue cast – it hits just the right note. I also love Sherwin Williams Gray Screen.

Sherwin Williams Big Chill and Ellie Gray feature wall. Best gray paint colours. Bedroom, beige carpet, natural light. Kylie M Interiors E-design, Online Paint Consulting

Read more: Paint Colour Review: Sherwin Williams Big Chill

2. Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray HC-170

Stonington Gray is a gorgeous stormy gray-blue with a wink more depth to it. Equally as lovely is the slightly darker Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray and Sherwin Williams Silverplate. Occasionally, all three can flash slightly blue-green, but heavily favour blue.

Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray and Chelsea Gray small bathroom, modern. Kylie M Interiors E-design, colour expert

Read more: Paint Colour Review: Sherwin Williams Stonington Gray

3. Sherwin Williams Tinsmith SW 7657

Tinsmith is a light-medium gray with a soft, blue undertone. Add a wink of green and you’ll have Sherwin Williams Front Porch.

The best gray paint colour, coastal beachy theme, Sherwin Williams in bedroom with white furniture. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting online blog

The best gray or grey paint colors for your room. Benjamin or Sherwin. Edesign, online paint colour services Kylie M Interiors. diy home decorating ideas blogger.market

Click HERE or on above image to see available packages

Gray Paint Colours with Purple Undertones

Gray with a purple undertone is the second most popular and is often seen as the ‘most gray’.

  • gray-purple can appear a bit more fresh-clean or more grounded-stormy
  • a cool gray-purple is more likely to pick up a touch of blue
  • gray with a purple undertone can also lean a bit warm

Sherwin Williams Repose Gray, master bedroom with dark cherry wood furniture, navy blue, white and red accents. Kylie M E-design and online color consulting expert

Read more: Paint Colour Review of Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Gray with a purple undertone can be suitable for most exposures, but because it’s cooler, is better suited to south and west-facing rooms. The ones with just a touch of brown often do better in north or east-facing rooms as they aren’t quite as cold.

This type of gray is also OFTEN found in many of today’s popular laminate, marble and quartz countertops.

Read more…

The Most TRUE GRAY Paint Colours from Benjamin and Sherwin

The 10 Best Paint Colours to Create Calm and Reduce Stress

THE 4 BEST GRAY PAINT COLOURS WITH A PURPLE UNDERTONE

1. Sherwin Williams Repose Gray SW 7015

Repose Gray can be a BIT of a chameleon, but it’s a lovely soft, slightly warm gray that does favour a mild purple undertone.

Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in an open layout kitchen, dining and living room. A warm gray. Kylie M Interiors E-design and online decorating and colour consulting

Read more: Paint Colour Review: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

However, in a north-facing entryway like this one (below), look at how much it can shift…

Undertones of Sherwin Williams Repose Gray, shown with orange toned oak wood flooring and railing. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

2. Benjamin Moore Collingwood OC-28

Collingwood is a soft warm gray with that OH so lovely purple undertone. Equally as beautiful is Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist, which is subtle, warm and a bit lighter.

Benjamin Moore Collingwood in a staircase with dark wood stair treads, black handrail. Kylie M INteriors E-design and online color consulting blog

Read more: Paint Colour Review: BM Collingwood

3. Benjamin Moore Abalone 2108-60

As far as grays with a bit MORE purple go, Abalone is hands-down my fave with Benjamin Moore Cement Gray in a hot second place.

Benjamin Moore Abalone, best gray purple paint colour. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour expert, diy ideas

4. Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist OC-27

Balboa Mist is a soft and gentle approach. It’s lighter than Collingwood but has that same subtle tendency to lean into purple. However, in the odd light, it can flash slightly purple-pink, whereas Collingwood is more likely to hold strong. If you like this look, but want your walls a bit lighter, check out Benjamin Moore Classic Gray.

marble-tile-floors-in-bathroom-with-benjamin-moore-balboa-mist-a-warm-gray-or-greige-paint-colour-with-undertones-kylie-m-interiors-e-decor-design-decorating-and-e-decor-blog

Read more: Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist

Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…

Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…

  • Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
  • At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
  • If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room

Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE

Gray Paint Colours with Green Undertones

The gray-greens are pretty sneaky…

  • a gray-green that’s cool-toned will look more green-blue
  • cooler gray-greens risk looking minty if there’s too much green or green-blue
  • a gray-green that’s warm, has a green that leans slightly into yellow. This warm gray will turn greige if you add enough warmth while keeping the green subtle (Revere Pewter is a great example of a warm gray-green)

Check out Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter on the wainscoting and trim in this home office…

Wainscoting, panelling Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, warm gray greige, White Dove walls, home office. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy update and consultant

See the WHOLE HOME HERE

Read more: Paint Colour Review of BM Revere Pewter

Gray with a green undertone is pretty, but definitely the least popular of the bunch. When I have clients looking for a gray, this is often the undertone they SAY they’d like to avoid. Why? Because it’s the least likely to look like a ‘traditional gray’.

THE 4 BEST GRAY PAINT COLOURS WITH GREEN UNDERTONES

1. Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172

Undoubtedly THE most popular, Revere Pewter is a warm, muddy gray with an earthy green undertone.

Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter in dining room. Kylie M E-design

Read more: Colour Review: All About Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter

2. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl OC-52

Oh sure, it has a green undertone, but that’s not all! Gray Owl can also look totally gray or even gray-blue (it’s a ninja)

Dining room with nook, Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, rustic industrial chandelier and large clock with cherry toned dining table and blue accents by Kylie M Interiors E-decor and design

Read more: Paint Colour Review of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

3. Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray SW 7043

To look at Worldly Gray you’d see a soft warm gray or greige paint colour. Look a little more and you just might see the wink of green hiding in it! I could also nod towards SW Colonnade Gray, although it’s a bit of a ninja with its undertones!

Worldly Gray, mountain lake cabinet, best greige paint color. Kylie M Interiors Edesign. Diy decor and paint color blog.jpg

Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray, dark wood flooring. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint consulting

Read more: Paint Colour Review of  Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray

4. Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray SW 7641

I love Colonnade Gray – so much that I painted a lot of our last home in it. Colonnade Gray has a VERY passive warmth which will die down in northern light and perk up with south-facing light. It ALSO has a mild preference for a green undertone, but can easily slip into the others.

Kylie M Interiors Paint Colour Review of Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray in home with gray brown wood floors

Read more: Paint Colour Review of Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray

And don’t forget, DARKER grays and charcoals have undertones too!

A colour like Wolf Gray might look ‘charcoal’ on the paint chip, but paint that big bad wolf on the wall and you’ll see a BEAUTIFUL blue-purple rise up!

Best dark gray charcoal paint colour with undertones. Benjamin Moore Wolf Gray. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, virtual online paint colour consulting and diy decor blog

So what does this mean to you?

It means that when you are choosing YOUR perfect gray paint colour you need to do the following:

1. Do your research and figure out which grays will work for you and the specific needs of your home! As you know, I have tons of articles on gray paint colours, so use me and abuse me (links at the bottom of this article). And if that doesn’t work, my E-design is fun too!

2. Clarify which undertones you need to avoid. Your exposure, furniture and finishings will dictate which undertones you’ll want and which ones you WON’T want. And just because YOU love a particular undertone, doesn’t mean your home can handle it.

3. SAMPLE SAMPLE SAMPLE! I can never stress this enough, particularly with wine tastings. And it’s not enough to just slap some paint on your wall and say, ‘it looks too blue’. The key is to order your Samplize sheets (or purchase traditional sample pots) and take a closer look.

READ MORE

The 5 Reasons You Keep Picking the Wrong Paint Colours

The Most TRUE GRAY Paint Colours from Benjamin and Sherwin

North, East, South, West – Which Paint Colour is the Best?

Can I Paint my North-Facing Room Gray?

How to Forgive and Embrace Gray Paint Colours

Do you want to know what YOUR perfect cool gray paint colour is?

Check out my E-design and Virtual Paint Colour Consulting packages! 

The best paint colors for your room. Benjamin and Sherwin. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Home Decorating and diiy ideas blogger.market

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature

 



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Comments

  1. Fantastic post! I hope the entire population hrough the world reads this. You are so right! The world of grays are so diverse. Great post.

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  2. Great article, thank you.
    What if I wanted to downplay the green in my kitchen ‘s glass backsplash? It wasn’t supposed to be green, but soft grey, however, because it’s glass, it lends green at times
    Thank you

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      Author

      Ooo, that can be tricky. Opposites attract, so if you were to put a gray with a purple in it, you might notice the green even MORE. If you do a blue/gray, things could feel a bit wonky – mismatched. Sometimes the best way to dilute the impact of a colour is to not fight against it, but rather go with it very mildly. A few mild grays are BM Moonshine, SW Gossamer Veil or maybe even BM INtense White. Without seeing the room it is hard to say for sure as your exposure/countertop can play a part in things too. If you’d like me to take a look and spend some time with it, I do have a fabulous E-design service! https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/
      ~Kylie

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      Hi! Agreeable Gray doesn’t have TONS of undertone and is more susceptible to picking it up from the environment. It can pick up a subtle blue in north facing rooms and sometimes a tiny spot of purple…

  3. I have just found your blog and you are absolutely amazing! I will definitely be using your colour consulting one the next few weeks as I try to decide on colours???? I have one quick question that can’t wait though???? do you think white dove is too grey to use for kitchen cabinetry in a north facing kitchen (leaning towards northeast)? I will be doing a carrara marble backsplash and so I am worried about pairing it with cloud white but so far cloud white looks the best in my space. I have to firm up on cabinetry colour today and I have said cloud white but am second guessing myself! I have read that white dove can look dingy in some kitchens and wondered if a north facing kitchen would do that.

    1. This is my last comment. LOL . I know simply white should be the perfect white (I read your post on whites) but it looked almost pinky in my space and kind of glowed in a strange way. So it is out of the running.

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        Oooo, I would say that is more about your lighting or something reflecting on to it – it is definitely an ‘anti-pink’ kind of white!

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      BTW, you can improve the brightness of White Dove slightly by asking them to add 4 ounces of white to a gallon – this tweaks it just slightly – I would say that Cloud White is likely a bit too creamy warm for Carrara Marble!

      1. Yes I was thinking that too???? I can’t lighten white dove because the cabinet company just needs a colour name. So you aren’t opposed to white dove in a north facing kitchen then? I might switch to that if you think it is okay

  4. Hi Kylie
    Your are the best and I am slightly (ok more then slightly obsessed) with all your paint color info. I have recommended your sight to anyone that talks to me about paint lol. We recently painted our main lr SW repose and main bath Sw Rainwashed. I am thinking of SW sea salt for master bedroom. But I am really hung up on small bedroom off of living room. It has two windows North facing and East facing so it does get that nice morning sun. I am trying to keep things neutral fresh (if that’s even a thing) to go along with my coastal decor but the bedroom I am inquiring about I would like a beachy neutral but it the walls be decorated with Grateful Dead framed posters and tapestry (my sons love if the Grateful Dead) I am thinking BM Edgecomb after reading your info. Any thought, recommendations is greatly appreciated. One last thing I have BM Wyndam Cream in my Kitchen one wall borders the SW Repose do you think those two are ok together ?

  5. I liked your article and currently looking at the color Drizzle by Bher paints. Would this color go well for a west to north west exposure?

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      Hi Marlene, unfortunately I focus primarily on Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams paint colours, but from what I’m seeing online, it might fall a bit cold/flat in the afternoon…

  6. Hello Kylie,

    Regarding Sherwin Williams grey paint colors like Repose Grey or Silver Plate is the primer mixed in already. I have heard that the primer being mixed in already from SW makes for a better and faster overall painting experience.

    Thanks
    Guy

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      Author

      Hi Guy. Some of the paint/primer products can be a bit better, but not always. If you are in a situation where you need to use primer, it isn’t a very good substitute, I would use real primer. As for a ‘general experience’, I’ve found that SW products are good enough (not in the white range, but in every other range) that it’s hard to go wrong with any of their mid-line paints with regard to coverage, so I wouldn’t let that be a huge selling feature 🙂

  7. Finding your blog was a game changer for me ! I have been a painting junkie for yrs .
    I think I understand LR V now !
    I have new construction , interior was Agreeable Gray SW. With our exposure it just sucked up all the light. Nothing agreeable about that ! It just looked yellowish 🙁
    Behold Gray Owl. Used +50% , -50% , and reg formula . My dreams have come true !! Now I’m on to tweaking everything else to jive with this beautiful , crisp , soft , PERFECT color !n

  8. Thank you for all this information!! I have been looking for an article which sorts out the different cool undertones of gray.

    We are looking to repaint our living/kitchen/diving room area which has windows that face north and south. We have tall, vaulted ceilings that currently have very dark, brown/reddish beams. The floors and trim, however, are a more orangish-brown color. Which undertone of gray do you suggest for this type of room? I’m struggling to find what works with all the warm wood and yet doesn’t appear too cold with the north/south windows and the vaulted ceiling.

    Thank you!!!

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      Hi Kate! Well, it’s all pretty relative to the room, the cabinets, flooring, exposure, etc.. so I totally can’t say!

  9. What gray goes best with cherry floors? I Currently have earthy paint colors (brown, green, maroon) and I want to brighten it up to make more modern, clean and bright

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      Hi Jenna, thank you for your note! I actually have an E-design service just for this! I try to give as much complimentary as I can on my website, but if that doesn’t work you might want to think about sending me photos and filling out the questionnaire so that I can spend some time with your home! A lot can depend on exposure and other things like furnishings, fireplace, countertops – all that jazz. https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/
      ~Kylie

  10. I need a gray for the majority of my home, with west, east exposures. I prefer green undertones. I want all white (not creamy) cabinets to be white. I must use SherwinWilliams paint. What gray would you recommend and with what white?

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  11. Hi Kylie,
    Besides paint consulting, do you offer any packages for e-design? I’m looking for help with paint and kitchen and bath lighting.

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  12. Hi Kylie

    I really like the blue undertone in grey and wonder if you have ever looked at SW Zircon? I’m trying to figure if it leans more blue or green or how exposure would affect it. It appears to be similar to BM Stonington Grey and seem bluer than SW Big Chill but I’m getting confused. Really don’t want a green undertone.
    Thanks.

  13. When I went to get a sample mixed of Collingwood gray, the lady that did it told me it has no blue coloring in it. So how can it have a purple undertone because don’t you need blue and red to get a purple?

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      Hi Crystal! Sometimes it can be about the type of black they use in the mix as well, as some blacks have a good degree of blue in them. And regardless, it still does come up with a purple undertone! Compare it to the likes of BM Gray Owl or Stonington Gray and you might see it a bit more :).

  14. My sister-in-law introduced me to your website and I am just fascinated. After reading it for only one day I have already learned so much. I am about to redesign the master bedroom and the first thing I must choose is the quilt/shams and coverlet. I love the bedroom you have shown in your website. The one with the white headboard, the nautical sailing ships above and the pillow with the fish. I have searched Wayfair for something similar but cannot find anything close. Could you tell me where you found this quilt and could you share the paint colour you used in the room ? Thank you .

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      Author

      Hi Patricia, well I’m so glad your sis-in-law shared my site – sweet! Now, I’m not sure where the quilt was from, that was actually the inspiration piece for choosing the paint colour, which is Sherwin Williams Tinsmith! What about a store like Bed Bath and Beyond or something like that??? Also check Overstock, although they often carry similar things to Wayfair ;).

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