12 Cool Neutrals That are Great for MORE Than One Room
If you’re looking for a gray or greige paint colour that’s UNIVERSALLY gorgeous, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re getting your home ready for the real estate market, painting all of the rooms in your brand-new home, or freshening up a few rooms in your current home, these colours have a TON of flexibility for a wide range of exposures, finishes and tastes.
However, even universally gorgeous colours aren’t fool-proof as there isn’t one colour that will look exactly the same in every room in your home – no can do Sue. It’s like finding a pair of shoes that looks good with every outfit or a wine that tastes good with every meal – it’s not going to happen (I’ve yet to find one that suits Mr.Noodles). Your magical universal paint colour WILL shift on a room-to-room basis, for example:
- North-facing rooms: Cool colours 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 colours for northern exposure
- South-facing rooms: Cool colours 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 might have in your north-facing room. Read MORE about the best paint colours for southern exposure
- East-facing rooms: In a room with eastern exposure, cool colours 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 colours for eastern exposure
- West-facing rooms: Western light is flat in the morning, but warms up a ton 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 colours for western exposure
Quality of Light
Colours will also change depending on HOW much light you get in a 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 colour looks!
- A LOT of natural light will wash-out paint colours, especially the ones we’re going to look at – but remember, the sun shifts throughout the day and so will your paint colour!
- Rooms with LOW natural light can make a paint colour look a bit darker or more shaded than normal
- Average natural light is when your paint colour will look truest to form
And the MOST IMPORTANT thing! 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 circumstances. You MIGHT not be able to satisfy EVERY room, EVERY countertop, EVERY flooring in your home – sometimes, something has to give (and it may have to be you), so be prepared to look at additional colours in your palette if you need to.
Let’s just hit that one more time…
You might not be able to satisfy EVERY room, EVERY countertop and EVERY flooring in your home with one paint colour – sometimes, something has to give, so be prepared to look at additional colours 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 Most Popular and Flexible Gray and Greige Paint Colours
It’s no secret that gray and greige are the most popular paint colours right now – even though white and black are sure making a run for the title! REMEMBER, I’m not going to tell you that these colours WILL work in your home, with your multitude of finishes, exposures and needs, but they are sure a great place to start.
And because we’re trying to find that one-trick pony – that one colour that suits as MANY finishes and exposures as possible, it ONLY makes sense to start with…
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray SW 7029
Oh, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…LOTS! Agreeable Gray is a warm gray or a greige that leans CONSIDERABLY into gray – far more than it leans into beige. As for its undertones, it can hit blue, green or purple, but MOST often favours purple (but 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 colour (read about that here), but really, this totally works. Not sure what LRV is? It’s SUPER important and you should read more about it here.
BM Collingwood OC 28
Collingwood is another greige inspired colour that leans HARD into gray, so that it’s more gray than beige by a good shot. It’s kind of like a blush wine. Sure, it has a reddish tint, but it’s way closer to being a white wine (wine analogies always help to cement an idea). And unlike Agreeable, which can flex a little bit, Collingwood commits more to a subtle, soft purple 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.
BM Edgecomb Gray HC 173
With an LRV of 63, this colour is just fantastic, but it’s on the border of our range and I’ll tell you why. Edgecomb Gray is a greige for sure, but it’s SUPER warm greige, sandwiched right between gray and beige, with no real specific allegiance, meaning 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 greiges on the market.
BM 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.
Paint Colour Review: Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
SW Big Chill SW 7648
Big Chill is wicked cool…literally. It’s a light gray with a soft, subtle blue undertone.
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 my happy place (Tim could take some lessons from it, wink wink). I also have a mild weakness for SW On the Rocks and Crushed Ice – same idea…slightly different undertones.
BM 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 the LRV of 65, not only is it lighter, it’s also cooler.
It’s a light gray, and in fact, it’s 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 colour ninja to really change its tune as your exposure shifts.
‘Whole Home’ Paint Colours with a BIT More Depth
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.
So, 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…
SW 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 its got a bit more meat on its bones.
Just LOOK at the shift below. Above the cabinets, you can see how it picks up that touch more blue-purple with the northern light, but down the hallway with the southern light MAN does it go warmer, picking up that green undertone!
SW Repose Gray
Repose Gray is one of Sherwin Williams more popular gray paint colours, 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 that favours a purple undertone, it can pick up just a nugget of green with the right encouragement. I often recommend lightening Repose Gray, just to lift it up a touch.
And remember, I’m 110% dedicated to using only photos from my local or Online Colour Consulting clients (and my own home), so HUGE high-fives to all of you for sending me your photos!
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 colours, this one could hit a great spot.
Seriously, check out how Mindful Gray (and a new backsplash and countertop) updated the look of those oak cabinets – love how this update turned out without having to change much 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’re finding that it’s similar in nature to Repose Gray, you’d be right, as it’s like a slightly darker version of it!
Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray HC 170
Oooooo, Stonington Gray ALMOST made it into round 1 as its LRV is getting awfully close to my happy place. However, I find that because of the TYPE of colour 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 hallway as it can look a bit friggid.
BM Revere Pewter HC 172
As far as LRV goes, Revere Pewter is a bit dark when it comes to universally beautiful paint colours, but because of MASS APPEAL, I almost squeezed it in with the first batch of colours – DAMN is it a popular colour!
In this next photo, look at how soft and pretty it is in the bedroom, but AROUND the doorway to the bathroom, where it’s more shaded, look at how moody it becomes! That’s going to happen much easier with colours that have a lower LRV.
Revere Pewter in the bedroom, Wickham Gray in the bathroom
You would be hard-pressed to find a colour that is more well-known than Revere Pewter right now. Why? Well, it does a whole bunch of fantastic things. RP is a light (let’s call it a heavy light) warm gray, trying to be a greige, with an earthy-green undertone…HOWEVER, I’ve been known to see flashes of blue and purple (subtle undertones) and the above 3 photos are the PERFECT examples of that range!
Sherwin Williams Anew Gray SW 7030
Anew Gray is stunning. It’s a light-medium greige, and while it does slightly favour gray, overall, it can appear relatively well-balanced, with a bit more contrast than the lighter version, 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 colour happiness!
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