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April 23, 2010

Playful Grays Make Beautiful Neutrals

Gray has not always been equated with beautiful interiors. It has a history of feeling cold, stark, uninviting, and boring.  Today, Gray is being reinvented.  Design professionals are using Gray in spectacular ways that redefine the color's stereotype.  Gray can be bold, sophisticated, indulgent, feminine, and classic.

Gray As A Neutral Canvas 

Kara Mann Design Chicago Gray 
Designer Kara Mann Creates Subtle Drama in a Chicago Residence 

Kara Mann uses texture and pattern in this living room to conjure a soft sensuality using a muted palette of grays.  The gray walls are the perfect contrast against the lightest and darkest hues in the setting.  The original artwork on the wall instantly becomes the focal point and is full of vitality. 

Gray As An Accent

Elizabeth Martin Interior Gray
A Georgian Revival by Elizabeth Martin Design

This mid-tone gray has a warm undertone that is complimented by Elizabeth Martin's design concept with the warm, yet neutral stone, the brown influenced blacks, and the hint of orange in the branches and the vase on the shelf.  The overall palette makes a confident color statement with just a few brushstrokes.

Gray In Specialty Finishes

Ned Marshall Home New Orleans Gray
Entrance Hall at Designer Ned Marshall's Home in New Orleans   

Metallic glaze and paint produce a stunning stripe in Ned Marshall's Louisiana abode.  If you're worried about gray being too dark, using a silver or metallic glaze (translucent like a layer of color infused shimmer on top of paint), will help to reflect light into the space creating an ethereal effect.  This hall design emphasizes the height of the space by the use of vertical lines.  It's a great trick for spaces with lower ceilings, too.

Some of my Favorite Gray Benjamin Moore Hues



Where does Gray belong in your home?


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This is pretty interesting. I was looking for something but found your blog instead through Bing. I love blogging. Anyways, just wanted to drop by and say hi. I have subscribed to your site and I am looking forward to the updates. Thanks

This is beautiful. Great post... thanks for sharing. Love the designs.

I'm getting ready to paint my house. These are great ideas for color combinations. Thanks for the help!

Hi Sonu,
I loved this post! I thought it would be really useful for our readers, so I linked to it in a post I wrote yesterday:



Hi Rebecca, there are a couple of ways to get that look.
First, decide on the depth of color you're after. Pick your favorite gray or one from the group above.
To make the stripes, there are some great basic rules in our book Paint Styles (available on benjaminmoore.com)
Here's an idea of how to do it:
Measure and mark a vertical line from ceiling to flooor using a plumb line and center the first stripe on that line. Measure and lightly mark the remaining stripes across the wall with a snap line. Use a level or plumb line to make sure the lines are all parallel. Starting in the center of the wall insures that the focal point of the wall will look perfectly patterned leaving the remnants to the corners.
Then you have two options when it comes to getting the color/sheen level shift:
Option 1. Metallic Glaze Option. Paint the entire wall/room in a base coat of the color you choose using a product like Aura (self priming, so it saves a step and dries very quickly). Once it's completely dry, tape off sections that you would like to see shimmer according to the width of stripe you're after. Using metallic glaze in silver, try a specialty technique like ragging, color washing, stippling, etc (more details on these techniques on benjaminmoore.com). The effect will be a soft shimmer of silver that allows the gray underneath to blend with it.
Option 2. Sheen Level Shift.
Once you've decided on the color you want to use, get the paint in two sheens (preferably a matte and a semigloss).
Paint the entire wall/room in the matte paint, let it dry completely, tape off as you desire and use the higher sheen paint to create the stripes. This offers a simple way to get the look in the photo without a metallic component.
Hope that helps & good luck!

Sonu - can you tell me how to create the effect in Ned Marshall's home? What paint colors would I use?

Thats a really really nice house you have. I've being researching about beautiful homes and reading your blog, I found your post very helpful :) . I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog!

Hi Tania & thanks for stopping by-- Take a look at Pashmina AF-100 for a neutral gray that offers a soft green cast. It can work well with your vintage concept without being too overpowering. All the best! Sonu

Hi Sharon, Benjamin Moore has an awesome collection called the Off White Colors (OC)of over 100 white colors. Each has a tone of gray, green, yellow, pink, blue, violet, etc. to it. With the palet of Black glass and silver, you have, in effect, a palette of varying blacks & whites. Some wonderful whites from that collection are: Morning Dew OC-140, Moonlight White OC-125, White Ice OC-58. Take a look and see what speaks to you (and let me know, too!)

Hi Sonu,
I am always scared of using color, and used to like the shabby chic look. I would like to experiment a little and paint my room with gray (Equestrian gray), but my bed has a vintage green-grayish color. Which for me is more difficult to find the perfect color for the walls. Outdoor light enters the room, but for me is more on the dark side. I dont know if this is a good combination, any suggestions? I like vintage.

Hi Sonu,
I want to paint a study white with perhaps a slightly contrasting woodwork. However, I do not want the look of the white apartment painted walls of the 70's. Is there a white paint now that has some "life and song" in it? the floors will be hard wood...and accessories black, glass and silver.
Thanks...love your blog!

My pleasure, Patti! Let me kn ow how it turns out! Sonu

Hi Francila, You're almost there-- I love that you took color on in a confident way. We just have to figure out the colors that will make it work. Cany you please send me some photos of the exterior and the Sherwood Green area? Sonu

Hi Sonu

I recenty painted my house in the Caribbean with Benjamin Moore colours and I have some colour matching issues.

1. Eterior. Design -French Colonial with wrap around patios. There are three levels, living floor, bedroom floor and a short basement. I used dorset gold for the two upper levels, trimmed with cream yellow. That looks lovely. So as not to have the building look too tall, i wanted a darker complemtary colour on the basement. I used Coppertone. It looks bad. I need to change this. Can you please suggest a colour?

2. Interior. I have a fairly open floor plan for Living, dining and kitchen. A short wall separates the dining from the kitchen. A central staircase leads upstairs. Parts of the upstairs corridor is visible from the living/ding/kitchen areas.
I used Asbury Sand as the living/dining colour and wales green in the kitchen. The wales green is balanced on the other side of the open stairwell and walkway to the utility area. If the door to the laundry area is left open, you can see a hint of the wales green colour there as well.
The problem is the stairwell & staircase. Facing the staircase there is the Asbury Sand on the left side of the staircase, There is a wall with a standard size window facing back at you, that wall is painted sherwood green (it's supposed to be an accent wall). The left side of the stairwell continues into the upstairs corridor with suntan yellow. The sherwood green looks horrible. I want to keep the Asbury Sand and the Suntan yellow. What colour shoul I use on the accent wall with the window. Window is trimmed with white. Stairs are wooden treaders (medium brown tone) and the rises are now painted in the Sherwoood green. Again, the stairwell looks horrible.

I'm a Confused novice who took bad advice. Please help!!!

Thank you so much for your quick response. I will look at these colors right away.

Hi Lisa, I just posted to your q&a about paneling today-- let me know if you have any questions... Now for the gray-- Check out these colors:
A really great, light gray- Gray Owl, OC-52
Lightly Green influenced gray that's a mid tone: Winterwood 1486
Hope tht helps!

Hi Patti! In looking at any color, make sure you look at it in your room w/the room's lighting, etc before you paint. Edgecomb Gray, HC-173 is a gorgeous choice and may actually read warmer than it seems. Compare it to Wickham Gray HC-171 to see what I mean. Wickham Gray has a bluer cast and then you'll see Edgecomb Gray is quite warm. It would still look fab in your condo with an off white trim as you've described. I suggest either finding a color that actually is a tint lighter than your furniture in Ivory Linen or trying a color like Horizon OC-53. In fact, the combination of Wickham Gray, Edgecomb Gray, and Horizon is very flattering. Hope this helps!

I'm going to be starting to paint my home here this weekend. I would love to go with a gray. All through the living room and kitchen and down the hallway. I would like to stay on the lighter side cause the area is very small.

To add color, I had a little darker gray futons, with an area rug that has lighter brown and green and pale blue.

Also do you know if possible to paint over paneling. This paneling as a plastic coat with texture. And I hate it , please help me

I should add that the blue will be a pale blue-green
color since it seems that Edgecomb gray has a green undertone.

i would like to paint a small condo living room with Edgecomb gray and am wondering what white trim color to use. Other colors in the room will be Ivory linen sofa and silver gray microfiber chairs with blue accents. I am stuck on the trim-bright white or cream, and other complementing gray or beige paint colors.

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