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How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint

A huge thank you to Behr for supplying paint for this project. As always, my opinions are 100% honest and my own.

I could have entitled this post 50 Shades of Gray but eh… better not. For obvious reasons.

We’ve been chugging right along on the playroom makeover train. The last time I gave y’all an update, we had a major Goliath of a project with our wall-to-wall built-in shelving.

But I’m just as excited about the fact that we finally have some wall paint going on in here! I think if I had to look at our still white builder primer walls for one more day, I was just going to grab Olivia’s markers and start creating stick people murals everywhere. (Because that’s the extent of my artistic ability.)

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | blesserhouse.com - How to decide on the best gray paint for your room makeover using 4 quick and simple steps to eliminate confusion and find a color you love.

White is cool and all but come on, this was a little (okay, a lot) too much.

Can I tell you a secret though? I get reeaaally nervous choosing wall paint colors. Mostly because I hate that sinking feeling when we’ve spent days painting a large space and I realize as I look around after the whole project is completed that I secretly hate the color I chose.

But I’m usually stubborn and hate even more to admit that I messed up so I often live with it, which is probably even worse than the primer white walls.

Nowadays though, I have my method for picking our wall colors, specifically gray since those seem to be the most tricky for me. You don’t want to go too warm/beige and you don’t want to go too cool/blue.

Finding that perfect gray is like finding the most comfortable pair of jeans that also make your butt look really really good. You might have to try out a few duds but it’s soooo worth it when the right one comes along.

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | blesserhouse.com - How to decide on the best gray paint for your room makeover using 4 quick and simple steps to eliminate confusion and find a color you love.

  1. Browse color swatches.

It’s a lot easier to see cool/warm undertones in paint colors by seeing various swatches right next to each other.

 

2. Search Pinterest.

Don’t ever rely solely on images online for paint colors. They’re never accurate in my experience, and your computer monitor or phone/tablet’s coloring isn’t reliable anyway. But you can still do your research to find which paint colors are designers’ favorites and see paint colors in real room designs to at least get some ideas.

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | blesserhouse.com - How to decide on the best gray paint for your room makeover using 4 quick and simple steps to eliminate confusion and find a color you love.

3. Test sample paint pots.

When I’m standing in front of the wall of color swatch cards in the paint aisle, I’m always tempted to just hand one of the cards directly to the guy behind the desk and have him whip up a gallon. Been there, done that, never turns out well.

I get impatient. But spending $15 on paint sample pots to try them out on your walls is worth every single penny. Better to spend $15 on samples than $100 on the wrong color paint. If you don’t want to paint directly on your walls, you can just swipe your sample paint on a piece of white foam posterboard to tape up on your walls instead.

When trying to pick the best gray for our playroom, I ended up with NINE sample pots!

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | blesserhouse.com - How to decide on the best gray paint for your room makeover using 4 quick and simple steps to eliminate confusion and find a color you love.

It’s amazing to see how different the actual paint can look from the color swatch card. I was so close to choosing the color Curio until I realized it was very much on the blue side. (But it’s gorgeous and I’d love to still use it somewhere else in our house.)

And Castle Path, which looked like a warm gray on the card looked much more tan on my walls.

4. Look at your lighting.

After you paint your samples on your walls, look at the colors at various times throughout the day and on several different walls in your room. A paint color can look completely different in the afternoon than in the morning. How many windows you have in your space plays a factor in how dark or light you want your paint color to be.

In the end, we went with Seagull Gray in Behr Premium Plus Ultra eggshell. (In one coat- thank goodness!)  It’s a cool gray but definitely not blue, and it’s light, which is what I wanted in our playroom since I wanted to keep the space airy and bright and open. (The window trim paint is still coming along.)

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | blesserhouse.com - How to decide on the best gray paint for your room makeover using 4 quick and simple steps to eliminate confusion and find a color you love.

It’s a subtle difference from before, but I also didn’t want a color too dramatic since our playroom is open to our entire upstairs hallway and stairway. In our hallway, where there are no windows, the color looks much darker but not so dark that it feels like a cave.

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | blesserhouse.com - How to decide on the best gray paint for your room makeover using 4 quick and simple steps to eliminate confusion and find a color you love.

Do you think we made the right color choice? Do you have any paint color choosing tips of your own that you’ve discovered? Or have a favorite gray paint color that is your go-to? Share away!

I can’t wait to show you guys more playroom progress on Thursday this week for another One Room Challenge update! But for now, you can see our real-time progress on my Instagram stories.

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43 Comments

  1. I love the color! I am with you when is comes to choosing paint colors, it stresses me out and gives me anxiety. I am currently trying to decide what color to paint my office/guestroom, gray is certainly option. Great post!

    1. Yes! Always stressful! And what looks like a beautiful color in one room can look completely different in another room. Completely maddening.

  2. I just finished painting a total pain-in-the-ass two-story wall (around a curved staircase, no less, so had to do it without a ladder) and I think I might have chosen the wrong color. AHHH! It can be so frustrating – I doubt myself about choosing the color, just like you do, and ESPECIALLY when it comes to grays!

    1. Thanks, Pam! I almost went with the Dolphin Fin. It was a close call. 🙂 Since I plan on having dark curtains, the lighter shade won.

    1. I LOVE BM Moonshine! We have that in our master bedroom. I’ve heard great things about Edgecomb Gray but it’s always a tad too beige for me.

  3. For anyone interested but not wanting to spend $15 on a sample jar, Ace does pint samples for $3 a couple of times a year. And there’s enough in the can to use on a small project for the ones you don’t like on your walls! Lol. Love your gray choice, I have similar behr color in my kitchen but it has blue undertones. But in there, it works! So much nicer than builder cream. (Yuk.)

    1. Oh, I should have clarified. They’re around $3 per sample jar at Home Depot too. If they were $15 per jar, I’d be winging it. So not spending that much on samples! Haha I agree. That’d just be crazy.

  4. Seriously, Lauren, were you reading my mind?? I came home today with 50 swatches of off-whites and greys!! Nothing stresses me out more than picking the perfect color…and today we were looking for the perfect grey! Will have to look through my pile and see if I brought your color home! Thanks for lots of great info!

    1. Thanks! Would you believe they were a thrift store find? I just spray painted them and they were good as new. $4 a light!

  5. That’s the very color we chose for our last home and have continued to use it in our new home! It is such a subtle grey that goes with everything .
    Keep up the good work!

  6. I have 4 different gray samples in various spots on my walls. Sort of deciding on Behr’s sterling but reading that one of your readers loves stonington, I’m debating on running out for another sample….oh well, this is not the most important thing in this world.!! Love your blog. I think I hit unsubscribe by mistake…hope it did not go through!

    1. We painted sterling in our office it was darker than what we thought it would be. I wish we had done a sample first.

  7. Home Bunch is a good blog for photos of paint colors, esp. light neutrals. The homepage has links for various colors–Benjamin Moore link is in top navigation bar and scroll all the way to the bottom (her pages are long and full of photos) for various other color pages (there are lots of them). http://www.homebunch.com/.

  8. Hi Lauren… I love that color … I painted the master bedroom in a gray that I think is a little dark but not doing it again. I like the color you picked… and Silver Drop. What did you notice was the difference between those two. Was Silver Drop on the blue side?

  9. Great tips here!!! We painted our whole house with Behr’s Fashion Gray and absolutely love it. We did our bathrooms in the Burnished Clay, which is more blue than I imagined and definitely clashes with any tan… so it’s moving me to give the bathrooms a decor refresh to get rid of any tan. 🙂 Can’t wait to see how your playroom turns out.

  10. Looks great! My trick is to search rooms painted in the color I’m considering on Houzz. I can usually find a dozen other rooms in the same color and it’s fun to see how they look different in each picture. I also paint with samples on the wall and look at them over the course of a week at different times of the day.

  11. An awesome gray is Clay Figurine. We just painted our entire house this color and we get nothing but compliments on the color. We also added 7 3/4 inch baseboards. It looks great! I found out about this color from a friend who is a decorator.

  12. I wish I had read this before we had all the rooms in our house painted last spring. I knew I wanted gray and I found out there are a bizillion shades of gray!! My husband had a hard time understanding why one gray didn’t work everywhere. Ha! I am pleased for the most part of our shades of gray.
    I can also advise everybody, never, ever, have all the rooms in your house painted at one time! Especially if you are 70 years old. I’m still recovering. ??

  13. Love the paint color you chose. It is the one I chose before finishing the article. I too am try to find the right grey to paint my office/sewing room. I just finished painting it chiffon yellow. The sample was great but it was just too much when all 4 walls were chiffon. Can’t wait to see your reveal!!

    1. I know what you mean. I’ve tried to go the colorful route in the past with wall colors but it always ends up so overwhelming. Thanks, Marci!

  14. I love your pick! When I moved into a new house 6 yrs ago I was obsessed with grey. Being from Canada I was in Phoneix escaping from the cold in the middle of the house build and stopped into Restoration Hardware, as my husband says I can’t leave leave a store without a paint chip! I picked up “Slate” and had it colour matched as we at the time could not get it in Canada. It is a warm grey…I have tall windows and a lot of light on the main floor….and painted it everywhere. I have never regretted it. It goes with absolutely everything colour scheme. If you went on their website that colour still exists. It is a warm grey with a brown undertone. BTW I’m a regular reader and love your style!

  15. I am with you Lauren on buying those tester pods they have saved me more than once from making a big mistake. I love the color you choose and I love gray. I have used gray in the last year in several places in our up stairs where our family room is and my office and bedroom. I choose Stonington gray by BM. love it in all different lights. And Puritan gray also BM. its a little darker but our family room is huge with lots of light. Cant wait to see your finished room!! :))

  16. We have a serious decor budget but we ALWAYS figure in paint sample pots. They will save you money every time. I’ve even mixed them together and had the store do a color match to get the perfect color. They never go to waste as they are perfect for small projects too! Thanks for sharing the info.

  17. Ha! The funny thing is…before I scrolled down to see what paint color you picked I saw the Seagull Gray color and thought I loved the color. Funny that it is the one you picked! I’m so close to being finished with my master bedroom which seems to be the hardest room I have had to makeover and am so ready to go on to the main places in our house which will include repainting the space. I’m going to pick up a sample of that color and see how it looks.

    1. It’ll get there. I always have to tell myself Rome wasn’t built in a day. 🙂 Main spaces are definitely the hardest, which is why it took us two years before we could tackle our kitchen and playroom.

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