Fourteen Shades of Gray

Over the past week, The Hubs and I have purchased 22 Benjamin Moore samples. We may have gone a little overboard, but we’re actually paying for a real professional painter – we feel like such grown-ups! – so we want to be absolutely sure we’re picking the right colors. Plus, as I recently discovered: it is damn near impossible to find the perfect gray.

Of the 22 samples, nine were various shades of light gray. The Chosen One would cover our entryway, living room, dining room, kitchen, stairway, and two hallways. We had also decided that our bedroom should be light gray (though not necessarily the same light gray as the rest of the house). So, as you can imagine, we weren’t messing around. We were looking for a warm, soft gray that was light enough to make the room feel airy and bright, but dark enough to pop against white trim and frames. I won’t lie: I went in with a bias. I thought Moonshine would be the winner.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Light Gray Paints

But once the colors were on the wall, I got confused. Moonshine was the right intensity, but not the right shade. It was reading too tan in our house – it even seemed to have a hint of olive green. Brad agreed. In fact, he hated it. We checked a few rooms just to be sure.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Light Gray Paints

We both agreed that we liked Horizon, but I was worried that it was too light. Iced Cube Silver was a really nice color, but too blue for such a large space. Marilyn’s Dress was too light and too blue.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Light Gray Paints

Paper White was too light, and looked a little dingy. And Silver Satin didn’t even look gray to me – more of a peachish-beige.

I brought over some small white frames to see what, if anything, would pop. Horizon did not.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Horizon against a white frame

There was a clear contrast between Moonshine and the white frame, but not the contrast I was looking for.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Moonshine against a white frame

So, we wanted something a teeny bit darker than Horizon. We wanted something cooler than Moonshine, but still warm. We wanted something grayer. It seemed impossible, but we went back to the paint store anyway.

After all our hemming and hawing, at least we had a better idea what we were looking for. We came back with three more paints and painted right over the three colors we definitely planned to veto.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Light Gray Paints

You can’t really tell from these photos, but Alaskan Husky was the same darkness as Moonshine, but much grayer. It was cooler without being cool. REJOICE.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Light Gray Paints

We liked Gray Owl, too, but it was just a hair too warm. And Sleigh Bells was just a hair too dark.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Benjamin Moore Light Gray Paints

So, Alaskan Husky is the winner for the majority of the house. The decision for our bedroom was a bit tougher. I was gunning for Gray Owl, but both Brad and I were having trouble letting go of Horizon. We ultimately decided that it didn’t matter that it wouldn’t pop as much against white, since most of our furniture and frames in our bedroom are black, anyway. So that’s that!

And since we also liked Iced Cube Silver, we decided that could work in our master bathroom. We’re going for a soothing, cool feel in there, so ice blue should be perfect.

Now, I’ve only mentioned nine shades of gray so far, and the title of the post is “Fourteen Shades of Gray.” I know you’re disappointed. Don’t worry – there are more coming. We also picked colors for our guest room, office, and two more bathrooms. But I’ll save those for another post.

Have you ever gone crazy trying to find the perfect color? What’s your favorite paint shade?


  • Mgraceshore

    One bit of advice. Go over there during the day when your painter starts and make sure you love it after he paints one wall. After all this intensity you need to be to sure!

    • I don’t know which wall he’s starting with, but I’ll definitely be checking in daily. Because I’m a control freak.

  • Bri

    We definitely seem to be in the exact same stage of home ownership, like down to the day! At our house the color we’re looking for is the perfect off-white. We feel like crazy people, buying more and more paint samples! We want a creamy neutral, falling more on the warm side, with just enough contrast to make the baseboards/moldings stand out. So far the top contenders are BM Navajo White, Timid White, and White Linen. Looking forward to following your house progress! Thanks for making me feel less crazy! 😉

    • YES! Creamy neutral with contrast for trim! It is SO tough. But well worth all the hard work, I bet. 🙂

  • I was nodding my head reading this, totally understanding exactly what you were saying. I approve of your choices. No bring on more Christian! Errrr I mean greys…

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  • Madeline

    Thank you for posting all this!  We are looking at several of the same gray colors with similar concerns.  

  • Laura B.

    Thank you for helping me make a decision. I am painting a guest room and have a sample of half moon crest on the wall, which is one shade darker than sleigh bells. It’s the right balance of gray but I was afraid it would end up too dark. Based on your conclusions I am going with sleigh bells.

  • Mrs.Phelan

    I recently staged my parents house for sale in San Francisco. I did the staging myself but I hired someone to pick the paint colors. I asked for a gray with blue as the master has picture windows and an ocean view. Yup – Horizon. It looked great with my new West Elm oatmeal upholstered headboard, turquoise, chartreuse and orange accent pillows. The master bath was the darkest gray – Metro Gray, ditto an office area with a picture window and bright new white desk. Hope this gray thing last for a few years because I”m using these colors in my new house.

  • JuliadL

    We had a really hard time choosing a grey. Years ago, we had a red accent wall and we thought that was a hard one to choose. We thought grey would be a breeze! Ha!
    We ended up with Owl Grey for our living/dining, hallways downstairs and upstairs. It is absolutely beautiful.
    We then went a shade darker in our kitchen with Sea Haze. We thought it might have been too green or darkbased on the swatch but it is actually really nice. Our kitchen has a lot more sunlight than the rest of the house.
    We are right now redoing our soon to be tween’s room (without her knowledge as she is away at camp). She wanted turquoise. No way we were going full room with that but we will be doing 1 accent wall in Poolside Blue (2048-40) and are hesitating on a grey for the other 3 walls. Reading this I don’t know if Ice Cube Silver would be too blue…