shades of gray: part one

this post is strictly informational for anyone who may be interested in using gray in their home.  gray is a very tricky color to use.  i'm incredibly picky.  trying to find the right gray, therefore, is quite the process.  i have tried and used quite a few different grays over the last year, so i will be sharing names and information on specific shades which will hopefully help someone else out.  

they say gray has three different types of undertones: purple, blue, and green.  i believe there are also grays with brown undertones that don't read any of these colors, but those would probably move more into the taupe or greige category.  the truest gray you can get would be to mix straight white and black.  paint stores will do that, but i have never actually tried it.  i imagine it could possibly get quite sterile.  why are undertones important?  viewing them on a small card you may not notice them much, but once you get all your walls painted, those undertones can really scream at you.  on top of that, the colors and accents used in the rest of your room will really look different depending on which undertone you choose.  for example, if you choose a gray paint with a green undertone, you will have a warmer gray.  pair that with light blue accents and the whole room could look completely off.

here are some grays i have used in my rooms:

serious gray by sherwin williams
lazy gray by sherwin williams
these two colors are from the same card, which means they have similar undertones.  the top picture is of our bedroom, which is a dark gray.  in some lights i see gray, but most of the time it looks navy blue to me.  this was not what i was going for in my bedroom, but now that i think about it probably would have been a nice color in the basement.  the second photo is really hard to see because i took it on my phone awhile ago.  it actually looks pretty gray in the picture, but in person it had definite blue/purple undertones.  most of the time it looked baby blue, but i could definitely notice some lavender as well.  

porpoise by behr

porpoise is the color i used in the bathroom.  it is a very nice medium toned gray.  when i got a sample of porpoise at 50% for the bedroom, i was noticing there are slight purple {but not lavender} undertones.  i don't notice it in the bathroom though, so i would definitely recommend this color.

anonymous by behr
 this is the room i helped paint in my sister's apartment.  it is on the same line as porpoise, but a whole lot darker.  if you are looking for a dark gray, this is definitely recommended.  

pictures of grays really never do justice.  it completely depends on your lighting and everything else on which undertones you want and how much you will actually see them.  if you find a color you like but it is too dark, don't be afraid to get it in twenty-five or fifty percent.  i always thought that the various shades on color cards were the same, just darker or lighter.  that is not always the case and in some instances, different colorants may be used completely.

all that info on gray leads perfectly into my current project:  painting my bedroom.

the top color is owl gray by benjamin moore, middle color is silver drop by behr, bottom is horizon by benjamin moore.  owl gray has green undertones, which means it will be a warmer gray.  a lot of people swear by that color though, so it is worth checking out.  my current blue walls were really throwing me off and making it difficult to tell what the colors really looked like.  i decided to paint a white primer underneath so the current color wouldn't skew new colors.

and then things started to become very fleshy.  and i don't mean in the typical bedroom scene kind of way.  all i could see when i looked at the bottom middle color was pink.  i'm not sure why since there are absolutely no hints of pink in the color, but the lighting in my room is all kinds of messed up.  and once you see it, you can't unsee it.  silver drop was out.  

when sampling colors, i highly suggest painting the color on white tagboard and leaving a strip of white around the edge.  this will help you be able to move the swatch around the room without painting 17 different spots {like i did}.  it will also help you see the color without the influence of your current wall color.  i didn't have any tagboard in my house the first time around, but made sure to do it the second time.  it made a world of difference.

the color i ended up choosing was dolphin fin by behr at fifty percent.  i currently have one coat on all the walls, but desperately need another coat.  normally i would say this is a perfect shade of gray, but for this room i was looking for something a little warmer.  dolphin fin seems to be a little silvery {i am having a really hard time picking out ANY undertones though, which is good}.  

so before i go purchase a second gallon, i am going to sit with this for a little while and see if i LOVE it, or just like it.  stay tuned for part two, which will include my FINAL paint selection and the reveal of the room.


  1. Can't wait to see the finale!!!!!!
    Sure. hope. its. Dolphin. Fin.


  2. Hi, are the stripes of Annonymous the same color, just with different sheens?

    1. yes, the stripes are all anonymous, one is a high gloss and the other is eggshell. hope that helps!

  3. The wall in your sister's apt.....IN.....LOVE!!! It's SOOOO totally my vision!

  4. I love the embrace/love frame in the last post. Can you tell me where I can find it?

  5. I'm looking to paint my downstairs two shades of grey. Do you think porpoise and anonymous would look nice together?

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