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Interior Designer, Licensed Therapist & SoCal mama of three. Welcome to the blog!  I hope it brings you inspiration to create a life (and home) you really love.

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How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint

April 24, 2020

Want the perfect gray paint color for your home? Here are a few of my favorite options and explain what makes them just-right for your home. Bring home these samples, you might be surprised!

santa anita race track, shayne blue,

Paint is a very popular topic and I can see why! It literally can transform any object, wall, cabinet, floor, ceiling into something magnificent and different. I love how designing for myself and others allow me to explore new paint colors. I discovered three gray paint colors you can’t live without!

Recently, one of my clients wanted me to help choose their interior paint colors after their bathroom renovations were complete. The bathrooms were white and she wanted to warm up the other common areas. She also noted that her 3 teenage kids and dog would probably get white walls dirty pretty fast.

Anita Yokota Method mid century dream bathroom

She suggested the old go-to paints of the past such as Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige or Agreeable Gray. These two are still wonderful to use. However, I have seen it used a bit too much.

It was fun to whip out my Sherwin Williams paint deck and explore the options for her. Her home is built in the early 1980s. So there are tall ceilings, closed-off rooms, and choppy floor plans.

Gray Undertones

Do you know the difference between the overall tone versus undertone in paint colors?

The mass tone is what you see on the paint chip at the store, but the undertone is a bit more inconspicuous. Undertones are what make or break your color choice. Once you can spot the undertone, you can decide quickly if the color is yours!

For example, my client wanted a greige (gray-beige) and suggested Accessible Beige. Why did I immediately know that was NOT a color for her home?

I found this color with ColorSnap® Visualizer for iPhone by Sherwin-Williams: Accessible Beige (SW 7036).

Image Credit: Sherwin Williams

Well, one look at the paint chip order, I noticed the very darkest shade is Van Dyke Brown. And I didn’t want to choose anything in the brown family. I wanted to steer towards cooler tones such as blue and even green! Ultimately, I wanted a light gray with cooler undertones.

Warm colors include undertones of red, orange, and yellow. Cooler undertones are in the blue, purple, and green. If you can remember this, it will cut down your search for paint in half the time!

There are other pretty tricky factors such as natural/artificial light, trees outside the windows, even wallpaper can impact the paint color you choose. Beware of what you are up against before heading to the store. I suggest you take pictures of the room from all 4 corners during the brightest time of the day and bring it into the store as a visual reminder.

Once you bring home samples, paint a swatch on each wall and observe what the paint looks like over different periods of a day. You might be surprised!

Choosing the Right Gray

Now that you have an understanding of undertones, it’s time to choose the right gray!
I knew that there wasn’t much light in most of the home for my client. Her dining room and kitchen were especially dark with typical 80’s low drop ceilings. Her living room had tall cathedral ceilings so I wasn’t as worried.

The first color I chose is Gossamer Veil. It was derived from the blue undertone category, yet had the mass tone of taupe. To the naked eye, it looks quite taupe. I have the confidence it won’t turn brown or yellow though. Why? Because of the bluish undertone! Again, I’m going for a cool tone.

Another easy paint trick is to pick a shade lighter or darker to delineate adjoining rooms. Whether it’s a jack and jill bathroom or a common area leading into a kitchen (which is the case for this client), pick two shades on the same paint chip. You literally can’t lose.

Drift of Mist is right below Gossamer Veil and I think it would be a great transition to the dark kitchen in the back of the house.

A second gray color that I adore is Front Porch. Initially, it reads a true gray. The darkest shade on the paint chip is gray. That is a great clue to myself that I won’t run into too much purple or pink problems. However, the beauty of this color is that in person it is SO warm. I can’t quite describe it! This is the color that we used for our backyard cement pad refresh.

Anita Yokota method cement pad front porch paint sherwin williams target outdoor rug

We have had it for 4 months now, and it is still so inviting! Not icy cold or sterile. I’m absolutely in love with it. As an interior paint, it is fabulous to get a fresh cool look that is deep in tone. There is a subtle hint of taupe and I think that’s why it’s so inviting. But you can’t see the taupe with the naked eye—you get the best of both worlds in this one.

My third favorite gray is Worldly Gray. I just painted one of my bathroom projects in this greige and I think you’re going to love this in your home too!

I first discovered this color when another client wanted yes, again, Accessible Beige. After doing a deep dive into greige paint colors without brown undertones, I discovered Worldly Gray. It does have very slight green undertones which can be tricky for some spaces. However so far in my projects, no client has yet to complain about it. It just depends on the space and lighting.

Does this make you want to head to the paint store and start re-painting your home? I know I have the itch to paint the girls’ room! Should I paint it white or gray? What do you think?

Happy painting!

Anita

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