Update: I am so happy and grateful that so many people are finding this post useful. I have been receiving requests for paint color advice via comments and email. I am unable to provide advice on your specific room or home in the comments because I need more information in order to give you accurate help.
The other day I did a consult with a client to select paint colors for her open living room / dining room / kitchen. The home had been a builder spec home in a new development, and the client had re-painted when they moved in but felt the color, which was a very cool blue-gray, wasn’t quite right.
Her instincts were right, and I could definitely see how she’d had trouble selecting the right paint color. The builder had used a pretty stone on the fireplace with warm gray undertones, tan carpeting, medium dark wood floors (not too red, which was good), espresso colored cabinets, and then granite countertops that were mostly gold with flecks of burgundy. The fixed finishes were all over the place, and the gray they’d picked was too cool to coordinate with any of them.
I brought my Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore paint decks along with loose swatches of some of my favorite colors. I also brought drafting tape and a piece of white foam core. I like to tape the loose swatches to the foam core and then move the foam core around the room. Plus, the white of the foam keeps the existing wall color from distorting the color of the swatches.
We eventually settled on three options for the living area that were all warm grays and then three options for blue-greens in the kitchen and dining area. We discussed painting the cabinets ivory to better coordinate with the cottage style the client prefers.
These are my go-to, warm, light gray paint colors and my starting point in just about any room where I know I’m not doing a color or a beige.
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray SW 2029
Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams is definitely one of my top favorite colors for walls. It’s a warm stony color right in between true gray and beige. The undertone of the color leans more towards yellow-orange than toward green.
Julea Reinventing Space, Palos Park
Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172
I know that everyone (on Pinterest) is loving Revere Pewter these days and with good reason. This is my top contender for my client’s living room because it paired nicely with the stone in her fireplace. It’s got a little more pigment in it than the Sherwin-Williams light grays (second swatch down on the strip) and has a more yellow-green undertone.
Scavullo Design Interiors, San Francisco
Lucy McLintic, San Francisco
Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray SW 7043
Worldly Gray is cooler than Agreeable Gray with more green in the undertone. It’s a beautiful color that looks lovely with natural wood.
Unique Spaces, Ottawa
Boyer Building Corporation, Minnetonka
Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray HC-173
Edgecomb Gray is right below Revere Pewter in the Benjamin Moore paint deck, but Edgecomb Gray has more yellow in it than Revere Pewter and less pigment. It’s a wonderful alternative to beige and much more versatile.
Cardea Building Co., San Francisco
Divine Custom Homes, Hudson
Sherwin Williams Useful Gray SW 7050
Useful Gray has a yellow-green undertone to it and also looks great with natural wood. It’s light and fresh feeling.
Scovell Wolfe & Associates, Inc, Kansas City
Sarah Stacey Interior Design, Austin
Benjamin Moore Stingray 1529
Stingray also has a yellow-green undertone. It’s another beautiful versatile gray that’s neither too warm (beige) or too cool.
Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders, San Francisco
Kelly Mcguill Home, Walpole
Sherwin Williams Sedate Gray SW 6169
Sedate Gray is probably my all time favorite gray. It’s definitely a green undertone, but it’s still warm. It doesn’t tend to look sagey, and it works well with all colors of natural wood. I have used most of the colors from the same paint strip and find that they are somewhat changeable with the light, looking cooler or warmer depending on the time of day. It also looks really beautiful with marble.
CM Glover, New York
T.R. Builder, Inc., New Port News
All of these grays work really well for rooms with lighter hardwood floors and for rooms with wood trim. If you prefer darker colored walls or just a little more pigment than these light grays, you can always use the third swatch down on the Sherwin-Williams paint strip or the fourth or fifth swatch on the Benjamin Moore strip (for the non HC colors). I like to use the lightest color on the strip for the ceiling instead of stark white.
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