The TOP 12 neutrals you can paint your WHOLE HOME
If you’re looking for a shade of gray or greige that’s UNIVERSALLY gorgeous, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re home staging, painting a brand-new home, or freshening up your current home, these colors have a TON of flexibility for a wide range of exposures, finishes and tastes.
However, even universally gorgeous colors aren’t foolproof, as there isn’t one color that will look exactly the same in every room in your home. It’s like finding a pair of shoes that looks good with every outfit, or a wine that tastes good with every meal – it ain’t gonna happen (I’ve yet to find one a wine that suits Mr Noodles). Any magical universal paint color WILL shift on a room-to-room basis, for example:
NEUTRAL PAINT COLORS IN NORTH-FACING ROOMS
Cool colors will ONLY look chillier as they interact with gray-blue northern light. The undertones can also show up a bit more to the party because remember, EVERY gray has an undertone! Read MORE about the best paint colors for northern exposure
NEUTRAL PAINT COLORS IN SOUTH-FACING ROOMS
Cool colors will soften up in a south-facing room. They won’t necessarily look WARM, but they won’t have the same icy, cold, clean look that they have in a north-facing room. Read MORE about the best paint colors for southern exposure
NEUTRAL PAINT COLORS IN EAST-FACING ROOMS
In a room with eastern exposure, cool colors will look pretty natural and as they should in the morning, but MAN can they look cold and flat in the afternoon. Read MORE about the best paint colors for eastern exposure
NEUTRAL PAINT COLORS IN WEST-FACING ROOMS
Western light is flat in the morning but warms up in the afternoon. And while you won’t get overly toasty-looking walls, you’ll notice your grays and greiges offering a bit of balance to warm south-facing sunshine. Read MORE about the best paint colors for western exposure
How the Quality of Light Changes Paint Colors
Paint colors will change depending on HOW MUCH NATURAL LIGHT you get in your room. For example, let’s say the main floor of your home has mostly south-facing windows, but the bottom level has greenery or a deck that blocks a lot of natural light. Or maybe, your living room is north-facing and your kitchen is south-facing – either of these situations will TOTALLY affect how your paint color looks and even the SAME COLOR in both spaces can look considerably different!
- A LOT of natural light will wash out paint colors, especially the ones we’re going to look at. Just remember, the sun shifts throughout the day and so will your paint color!
- Rooms with LOW natural light can make a paint color look a bit darker or more shaded than normal.
- Average natural light is when your paint color will look truest to form.
And don’t forget to pay attention to your LIGHT BULBS!
And the MOST IMPORTANT of all! Me. Just joking…kind of. Really though, it’s important to remember that a gray or greige may favour one or two undertones, but can slide into ANY of the cool undertones (here) given the right environment. You MIGHT not be able to satisfy EVERY room, EVERY countertop, EVERY flooring in your home with ONE paint color – sometimes, something has to give (and it may have to be you). Be prepared to look at additional colors in your palette if you need to.
Let’s hit that bad boy one more time…
You might not be able to satisfy EVERY room, EVERY countertop and EVERY flooring in your home with one paint color – sometimes, something has to give. Be prepared to look at additional colors for your palette if you need to.
So, while I love to hear myself talk, I know that you’re REALLY only here for the pretty pictures (wink wink), so let’s get at it!
The Top 12 Flexible Gray & Greige Paint Colors
It’s no secret that gray is slooooowly losing the popularity race, although it’s still in the running in MANY homes. This is why greige can also be a great option for those wanting a choice that’s more likely to last. REMEMBER, I’m not going to tell you that these colors WILL work in your home with your multitude of finishes, exposures and needs, but they’re a great place to start.
BTW, if you’re WORRIED about choosing a gray due to trends, take a look at WARM grays (or greiges) instead of cool ones as they’ll have more of a lifetime.
And because we’re trying to find that one-trick pony, the one color that suits as MANY finishes and exposures as possible, it ONLY makes sense to start with…
1. SHERWIN WILLIAMS AGREEABLE GRAY SW-7029
Oh, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…LOTS! Agreeable Gray is a greige that leans CONSIDERABLY into gray, far more than it leans into beige (to the point where you COULD call it a warm gray). As for undertones, Agreeable Gray can pick up blue, green or purple, but most often favors a very vague green (it’s so vague, it’s not even really a thing – it’s more about me being anal-retentive and loving to hear myself
As for the LRV of Agreeable Gray, 60 is a great place. I usually lean a BIT lighter when I’m wanting an ‘overall’ paint color (read about that here), but this LRV still works. Not sure what LRV is? It’s SUPER important and you should read more about it here.
2. BENJAMIN MOORE COLLINGWOOD OC-28
Collingwood is another greige-inspired color that leans HARD into gray so that it’s more gray than beige by a good shot. And unlike Agreeable Gray, which can flex a little bit, Collingwood commits to a subtle, soft violet undertone.
And BOOM, right on the money-maker, the LRV of Collingwood is 62, which in my eyes, is the most magical LRV number of all.
3. BENJAMIN MOORE EDGECOMB GRAY HC-173
Edgecomb Gray has an LRV of 63, this color is just fantastic, but it’s on the edge of our range and I’ll tell you why.
Edgecomb Gray is a taupe (quasi-greige), but it’s a SUPER warm one, sandwiched right between gray and beige, with no real specific allegiance. This means it can swing warm or cool (like me once a month) depending on your exposure/interior conditions. And while it’s the warmest of the bunch, I’d be missing a BIG boat if I didn’t mention it as one of the best neutrals on the market.
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4. BENJAMIN MOORE CLASSIC GRAY OC-23
Classic Gray is the lightest of the bunch, coming in hot with an LRV of 74 – RIGHT on the border of off-white and light.
Classic Gray is an off-white warm gray with a very soft, subtle, warm purple undertone. In the ODD light, it can pick up a wee wink of pink, but don’t expect it all the time. If you want soft, subtle and simple – Classic Gray is a gray-t choice.
5. SHERWIN WILLIAMS BIG CHILL SW-7648
Big Chill isn’t an OVERLY icy gray, but it sure as heck isn’t warm, ESPECIALLY in a north-facing room. And with its LRV of 62, it hits me RIGHT in the happy place (Tim could take some lessons from it, wink wink). I also have a mild weakness for Sherwin Williams On the Rocks and Crushed Ice – same idea…slightly different undertones.
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6. BENJAMIN MOORE GRAY OWL OC-52
Gray Owl has been popular for quite some time now, right up there with Revere Pewter (which we’ll be talking about shortly). However, with an LRV of 65, not only is it lighter, but it’s also cooler.
Gray Owl is a light gray. In fact, Gray Owl is a WARM gray (whodathunk it, right?) that will act as a soft cool gray on your walls, picking up a sometimes green, sometimes blue, and sometimes non-existent undertone. You can expect this bad-ass color ninja to really change its tune as your exposure shifts.
Now, not EVERYONE wants a soft, light neutral – there are some of you who like things a bit deeper. That being said, if you’re doing home staging, I would HIGHLY recommend that you stick to the ABOVE depths for mass appeal.
For those of you who want a bit more depth, without getting too hot n’ heavy (you can read into that line AS MUCH as you want), you might REALLY love…
7. SHERWIN WILLIAMS COLONNADE GRAY SW-7641
My love affair with Colonnade Gray has been going on for a while. And while I sure as heck didn’t love our last home, I DID love how Colonnade Gray looked in it.
Colonnade has an LRV of 53, so it sits like a soft, light-medium depth, rather than a fresher, brighter ‘light’ depth as it’s got a bit more meat on its bones.
Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out shortly 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 ONE BUSINESS DAY depending on the location
- they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
- if you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
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8. SHERWIN WILLIAMS REPOSE GRAY SW-7015
Repose Gray is one of Sherwin Williams more popular gray paint colors, even though I lean more into Big Chill/On the Rocks for flexibility. Repose Gray is darned interesting though, as while it’s a light warm gray favoring a purple undertone, it can pick up just a nugget of green with the right encouragement. I often recommend lightening Repose Gray by 25%, just to lift it up a touch.
And remember, I’m 110% dedicated to using only photos from my local or Online Color Consulting clients (and my own home), so HUGE high-fives to all of you for sending me your photos!
9. SHERWIN WILLIAMS MINDFUL GRAY SW-7016
Mindful Gray is warm gray, and with its LRV of 48, it sits more in the SOLID light-medium range, rather than the off-white or light range. For HOME STAGING, this has more depth than I’d prefer, but for personal use, if you aren’t into the lighter, softer colors, this one could hit a great spot.
Seriously, check out how Mindful Gray (and a new backsplash and countertop) update the look of these oak cabinets (above). I love how this update turned out without having to paint all of the wood!
Mindful Gray does favour a vague purple undertone, but I’ve also seen it pick up a weeee willy wink o’ green, giving it a bit of flexibility. If you find that it’s similar in nature to Repose Gray, you’re right, as it’s like a slightly darker version of it!
10. BENJAMIN MOORE STONINGTON GRAY HC-170
Oooooo, Stonington Gray ALMOST made it into round one, as its LRV is getting awfully close to my happy place. However, I find that because of the TYPE of color it is (gray), it can look just a wink too heavy/stormy for some rooms.
Stonington Gray is a light (heavy-light) gray that is cool looking, but not super ICY cold – it has more of a stormy look to it. It can definitely crisp up in a north-facing room, but be careful in a dark room or hallway, as it can look a bit frigid.
If you’re worried about cool grays going out of style, check out some of the popular warm grays on this page, ie. Collingwood, Revere Pewter and more.
11. BENJAMIN MOORE REVERE PEWTER HC-172
As far as LRV goes, Revere Pewter is a bit dark when it comes to universally beautiful paint colors, but because of MASS APPEAL, I almost squeezed it in with the first batch of colors – DAMN is it a popular color!
In this next photo, look at how soft and pretty Revere Pewter is in the bedroom. However, AROUND the doorway to the bathroom, where it’s more shaded, look at how moody it becomes! This is going to happen much easier with colors that have a lower LRV.
Revere Pewter in the bedroom, Wickham Gray in the bathroom
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a color that’s more well-known than Revere Pewter right now. Why? Well, it does a whole bunch of fantastic things. Revere Pewter is a light (HEAVY light), warm gray, trying to be a greige, with an earthy-green undertone. HOWEVER, it’s been known to show flashes of blue and purple (subtle undertones), and the above three photos are the PERFECT examples of this flexibility!
12. SHERWIN WILLIAMS ANEW GRAY SW-7030
Anew Gray is a stunning light-medium depth greige. While it slightly favors gray, overall, it can appear relatively well-balanced, with a bit more contrast than the lighter version, Agreeable Gray.
What’s the MOST POPULAR light neutral paint color?
Right now, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray and Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray are in the top spot. In previous years we saw more of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, Revere Pewter and Sherwin Williams Repose Gray but as trends are leaning that bit warmer, we’re seeing the greiges and taupes stepping up their style game!
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray
So, there you have it, my funny friends. Again, while these might not suit EVERY single finish in your home, they should at least get you on the path to color happiness!
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ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN OCTOBER 2019, OVERHAULED IN 2022 FOR YOU!