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?


The Perfect Gray Walls

I’ve been really trying to avoid posting about our home-buying situation, because it’s still kind of up in the air, and I’m very superstitious. It seems like every time I mention something publicly before it’s set in stone, the situation ends up falling apart.

But things are going to continue to be up in the air for at least another month, and I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer! So here it is: We found a house. We made an offer, and it was accepted. If all goes well, we should be closing in the next 30-ish days.

I can guarantee you this – I’ll be paranoid and superstitious until we have the keys in our hands. But at some point, we have to start making plans. So, for now, I’m trying to think about low-commitment plans that could be applied to any new home we end up in. Paint colors!

In the past, Brad and I have always chosen to go bold. Our current home has a deep charcoal in the bedroom, a bright sunshine yellow in the living room, and turquoise in the foyer. You can see the latter two in this post. We love fun colors – my foyer genuinely makes me happy every time I step into it. But when you start thinking about living in a house for an extended period of time – hopefully at least five years, if not 10 – bold starts seeming a little more intimidating. Especially when you’re embracing an open floor plan that would require the same color to coat the living room, downstairs hallway, stairway and upstairs hallway.

I’ve actually been thinking more about neutrals lately, anyway. I don’t regret the color of our foyer, because it has very little furniture and is an isolated room. But the bright yellow in our living room has really limited my design options in there. I’m learning to love rooms that feature neutral walls with throw pillows, blankets, artwork and accessories lending the pops of color. Smaller items are so much easier (and cheaper) to change out when you get bored!

We’re leaning toward a pale gray as our neutral. Not a blue-gray, or green-gray, or even beige-gray – I’m talking about a soft silver/dove/pearl gray. The only requirements are that it’s vivid enough for white frames and trim to pop against it, but not dark or saturated enough to make a statement on its own. Simple, right?

These are some of my favorites, so far.

Young House Love - Living Room - Benjamin Moore Moonshine
Benjamin Moore – Moonshine. Via Young House Love – they have this color all over their house! Here’s a post about how they picked it.

Centsational Girl - Living Room - Benjamin Moore - Tranquility Tweaked
Benjamin Moore – Tranquility, but with some changes made to the formula. Via Centsational Girl. She kindly included the formula: S1 0x 3.0000; Y2 1x 1.5000; B1 0x 20.0000; O1 0x 19.0000. However, she also provided some similar colors: ‘Portico’ by Valspar, ‘Sea Salt’ by Sherwin Williams, and ‘Chicken Wire’ by True Value.

Centsational Girl - Master Bedroom - Custom Gray Paint
Another custom color – nooooo! But Centsational Girl provided a few color matches: Valspar’s ‘Clothesline Fresh,’ Glidden’s ‘Grey Leaf,’ and Sherwin Williams ‘Silver Mist.’

Daily Dream Decor - Family Nest - Gray Gallery Wall
An unidentified shade! Sadface! This one is via Daily Dream Decor.

Hirshfields - Benjamin Moore - Smoke
Benjamin Moore – Smoke. Via Hirshfield’s Color Club. Based on other photos, it looks like this one might be too blue, but I sure do like it in this picture.

Design Crisis - Nursery - Benjamin Moore - Harbor Gray
Benjamin Moore – Harbor Gray. Via Design Crisis.

I’m sure we’ll start finding other favorites when the search starts in earnest. I won’t be buying samples until after we close, though, thank you very much!

Which do you like best? If you had to pick one color for your entire home, what would you choose?