Game-Changing Advice for Picking YOUR Best Paint Color
Paint numbers, you say? Yes, paint numbers. And let me tell you, these magical little numbers will save your life, or at least the small thread of sanity you have left after trying to find the ever-elusive perfect paint colour.
Every paint color has an LRV number. This isn’t just a number based on science; it’s a number that tells YOU how light or dark a paint color is. These numbers run on a scale from 0-100.
0 is BLACK
100 is WHITE
In the USEABLE residential paint world, no colors have LRVs of 0 or 100 (our scale runs from 2 to 95). However, the 0-100 range gives us a place to work from when finding a paint color.
As you may (or may not) know, depending on how much of my Koolaid you drink, LRV is a great way to choose a paint colour. But where do you find a color’s LRV? You can click on the previous link for some amazing info, or get the short and curly right here…
Sherwin Williams (below) shows the LRV on the back of each color in the fan deck, in the index, AND on each color’s website page.
Benjamin Moore (below) shows each color’s LRV in the index of the fan deck OR on the color’s info page on their website.
So why 60-65?
Having done many thousands (for real) of Online & In-Home Color Consultations, I see the same things repeatedly. So, I took all of the info crammed in my wee lil’ noggin’ and thought about the how and the why and came up with the LRV range of 60-70 based on some common averages…
- The average room size
- The average amount of natural light that comes into a room
- The personal tastes of the average homeowner as it relates to how light or dark they want a room to look
And, of course, some rooms fall outside these averages; I work with them EVERY day. The super dark rooms, the super bright rooms. The ones with tricky exposures and interior finishings in wild and wacky colors – I deal with these, too. But I’ve found some SERIOUS consistencies regarding the FINAL COLORS that my clients choose, and many of these colors fall in the LRV range of 60-70.
WHAT’S THE PERFECT LRV NUMBER?
It depends on who you talk to. I’m one of the top color experts (insert horn toot here), and 65, give or take a few points, often hits the spot, hence the 60-70 range. HOWEVER, the most popular LRV right now is closer to 70-75 (the off-whites).
Learn MORE about LRV here
If you can find a color that you and your room agree on, between the LRV numbers 60 and 70, the chances of it being a good depth for your room (based on averages) are pretty darn good.
- Is your room a bit darker? Then bump that number up by 5 (or more).
- Is your room brighter, and you want more coziness? Then close the drapes, strap on some jam-jams, and snuggle up to your honey. Or go lower than 60 by a little or a LOT.
Now, let’s look at a few of these bad boys.
BENJAMIN MOORE GRAY OWL OC-52
SHERWIN WILLIAMS AGREEABLE GRAY 7029
Agreeable Gray has an LRV of 60. While it’s one of the few colors on the lower end of our magical range, it’s a great choice for the average home/room because of its flexibility in temperature and undertones.
Agreeable Gray is a warm neutral that can pass as a gray or greige, depending on your room, exposure, and PERCEPTION. This makes it a great choice when you’re unsure which color suits your room and just need to start somewhere!
BENJAMIN MOORE COLLINGWOOD OC-28
Collingwood is a popular warm gray with an LRV Of 62, which can be the sweet spot for some rooms. But ALL grays have undertones, so expect to see some purple popping up in this beautiful shade of gray!
With trends leaning warmer, grays aren’t as in demand. However, warm grays, like Collingwood, are likelier to last longer than the cool end.
BENJAMIN MOORE EDGECOMB GRAY HC-173
I love Edgecomb Gray, and so do my clients. With an LRV of ALMOST 64, it is a great choice for MANY rooms and exposures.
One reason for Edgecomb Gray’s popularity (other than its badass LRV), is that it has no real commitment to green or pink undertones, leaving you with a pretty darn easy-to-please warm neutral.
SHERWIN WILLIAMS NATURAL TAN 7567
Natural Tan is a popular color for those who are tired of gray and ready to lean into the warmer, beige-tan world. With its LRV of 65, it’s in the middle of our ideal LRV range and offers a well-balanced warmth and depth.
As for undertones, beige and tan differ from each other. So, being a tan paint color, Natural Tan has a very (very) vague green undertone, although some people see a wink of pink (which I’m yet to see).
SAMPLIZE offers peel-and-stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER, and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots.
- Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1 BUSINESS DAY!
- they’re more affordable than the sample pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
The above suggestions are colors that come up repeatedly with my Online Paint Color Consulting clients. Does this mean they’ll be right for you? Not necessarily. There are many things to consider when it comes to choosing the COLOUR for your room, such as…
YOUR ROOM’S EXPOSURE & HOW IT AFFECTS COLORS
Whether you have north, south, east, west, or a MIX of those exposures – each room has its particular colour needs (which can be unrelated to the LRV number). And yes, I’ve written blog posts on EACH of those compass directions if you click the above links.
Kylie M & V1 Real Estate Photography
THE SIZE OF YOUR ROOM (size matters…amen)
The size of your room can be GREATLY affected by the LRV of the paint colour. I mean not literally, but visually. For example, if you have a room painted a light color, and you paint the end wall a darker shade, that end wall will look CLOSER and make the room look smaller.
On the other hand, small rooms often benefit from paint colors with higher LRVs as they reflect more light. However, I’ve made some small rooms look PRETTY DARN AMAZING with wicked dark hues.
INTERIOR FINISHES (HARD & SOFT)
Do you have wood cabinets or flooring? Or maybe you have a challenging carpet, couch, or countertop colour. Whatever it is, your paint colour must work WITH it, not against it. Often, we get caught up in the colors WE love and forget to honor our home’s finishes. While you want to keep your personal tastes in mind, listen to your home FIRST and work out from there.
Which always amaze and excite me.
So, as you can see, picking the right COLOUR can be challenging; however, looking at colors that are between 60-70 is a GREAT place to start your color search. And if that doesn’t work? You know how to call…and it ain’t the Ghostbusters.
Find out your 3 BEST PAINT COLORS
Written in 2017, updated in 2023