How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | JC Licht


How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint

  • 4 min read

How to Choose the Perfect Gray Paint | JC Licht

Choosing a gray paint can be daunting. You only have a few thousand choices!

Do you want a light gray, medium gray or a charcoal gray? A blue-ish gray, brown-ish gray or black-ish gray?

Gray’s reputation has certainly undergone a transformation in the past few years. It’s no longer associated with dreary days or a gloomy outlook. Gray has not only replaced beige as the new neutral, it’s become a stylish, sophisticated and glamorous color choice.

Even though gray has been the ‘it’ color in recent years, it remains popular because of its versatility. Gray goes well with almost anything, adds depth to subtle colors, and makes bold colors pop.

Grays are everywhere you look but picking the right tone for your room is not always easy because there are so many shades to choose from.

Whether you’re painting walls or using gray as an accent color, you’re sure to find the right tone from Benjamin Moore’s collection, and we’re here to help!

How to Choose

The shape of your room, the style of your furniture, the amount of natural light and the direction natural light enters from all come into play when choosing a gray color for your space.

The temperature of your gray is an important decision as well. You can evoke cool or warm tones depending on the mood you want to create. Warm gray paint colors are a great choice because they can transform your room without taking over your entire color scheme.

Natural light is a crucial consideration in the process of choosing a gray. How much natural light does your room get and which direction is it coming from? The direction of the light coming in will make your gray shade either warmer or cooler. Northern-facing light is the coolest, creating a blu-ish tone. Southern light creates a warm golden tone. The warmth of Western and Eastern light will vary throughout the day as the sun moves. Western light is warmer at sunset and eastern light is warmer at sunrise.

Let’s take a closer look at how natural light plays a role in choosing your perfect gray.

Northern Light

North-facing rooms can be difficult to decorate. Consider using gray as an accent color if your northern facing rooms have little to no natural light.

Cool northern light can make some grays look dull and chilly. To warm up the room without using bold colors use a gray with brown undertones.

So if you prefer warmer tones, avoid gray-blue or green gray paint colors. These will make your room look and feel even colder. Yellow or beige-based grays (sometime referred to as greige) bounce the light around, making your room feel warmer.

Bedroom painted in Wish AF-680 from Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore: (WALLS): Wish AF-680, Flat (TRIM): Pure White OC-64, Semi-Gloss (DOORS): Storm AF-700, Semi-Gloss.

West-Facing Rooms

A lot like North-facing rooms, west-facing rooms are best suited with grays that have a hint of beige or yellow that warm up as the evening arrives and lights are turned on. Grays with hints of yellow create a cozy atmosphere.

Grays in west-facing rooms will appear cooler earlier in the day and warmer late in the day as the color changes from morning to night. If your room doesn’t have a lot of light, choose a warm light gray to energize your space.

Bedroom painted in Portland Gray 2109-90

Benjamin Moore: (WALLS): Portland Gray 2109-90. Natura, Eggshell.

Southern Exposure

South-facing rooms are a delight to decorate! Southern light allows you to use both warm and cool gray colors.

All colors look great in a southern exposure.

Use pale tones or warm grays to make your south-facing rooms feel light and spacious.

Barn doors in a bedroom painted in Storm AF-700

Benjamin Moore: (WALLS): Nimbus Gray 2131-50, Regal® Select, Ulti-Matte (TRIM): Pure White OC-64, Regal® Select, Pearl (DOORS): Storm AF-700, ADVANCE®, Pearl.

Gray Paint for Eastern Light

Room with eastern light tends to appear a bit blue. It’s best to embrace this and choose a blue or green gray.

As with South-facing rooms, you can get away with a more blue toned gray, but add layers of gray if your climate is on the cooler side so as to not make your room look too clinical.

Living room painted in Wickham Gray HC-171

Benjamin Moore: (WALL): Wickham Gray HC-171, Aura, Satin.

Color Schemes that Go With Gray

The undertone of the gray makes all the difference.

The best way to visualize the undertone is to look at two grays side by side. You’ll be able to see that one might be more purple and the other more red, for example.

Choosing gray paint based on its undertone will create the perfect vibe.

Grays with a purple undertone appear more feminine, blue or green grays are slightly more neutral and brown or red grays look warmer. Cool grays pair remarkably well with stainless steel appliances so they look great in kitchens.

Chalkboard paint in a kitchen

Benjamin Moore: (WALL – chalkboard paint): Gettysburg Gray HC-107, Ben Chalkboard- Eggshell (TRIM & CEILING): Seapearl OC-19.

When choosing a color scheme to go with gray, it’s best to choose a gray that has an undertone opposite to your accent color. For example, royal purple or blue undertones pair best with a yellow accent color and vice versa.

If you’re wanting to create a softer look, ignore the opposites rule and choose a gray with the same undertones as your accent color. So if your accent color is yellow with a green undertone, choose a gray with a coinciding yellow/green undertone.

Bathroom painted in Charcoal Slate HC-178

Benjamin Moore: (WALLS): Charcoal Slate HC-178 Aura® Bath & Spa, Matte (CEILING): Atrium White OC-145 Aura® Bath & Spa, Matte (TRIM): Atrium White OC-145 Aura®, Semi-Gloss.

The best way to start your journey of finding your perfect gray is to find an inspiration piece and use it as your muse. It can be a decorative item, a pillow or a swatch of fabric. It will serve as your guide when it comes to choosing undertones, accent colors and your main paint colors.

Or leave it to the professionals at JC Licht and schedule an at-home color consultation with a color expert! They’ll take all these factors into consideration to find your PERFECT gray.

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