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June 10, 2011

Calm & Comfortable Wall Color? Bet the GRAY Every Time!

Lucianna Samu

I've been having so much fun reinventing backsplashes and painting over glass doors here at the Farm, I haven't had time to look out the window!  So this morning, watching my peonies practically bloom before my eyes, I took it as a sign that it's the perfect day to reveal my freshly painted Shale gray kitchen walls to you.  The color is absolutely sublime.  Everything in the room has come alive surrounded by this newly minted envelope of cool stone gray and its teensy dash of green-brown.  I'm captivated....  Delicious.


Shale 861

Shale gray has just enough of a slight green undertone in it to link the reflections coming off the green foliage outside the window.  Like all grays, the color is very easy on the eye and not at all jarring.  Warmer grays than Shale may have a bit more brown in them, but the thing I'm loving most about Shale, is that it is truly neutral and very cool.  It's the green that causes this cooler sensation in this gray (blue has the same effect), and has my kitchen feeling natural and peaceful and balanced by day.  In the nighttime, under incandescent lighting, the color will warm and appear slightly more brown.


For north facing rooms or a space where the west light streams in all afternoon, a colder, bluer steel gray, such as Pigeon Gray 2133-50, or a favorite cool grey of mine, Smoke Embers, AC-28, would remain cool no matter the lighting.

Pigeon Gray 2133-50, Smoke Embers AC-28

The absence of brown, or more specifically umber, equals a much cooler gray.  To help you discern the quality of a gray, put out a few brown paint chips near your gray chips and you'll see the difference every time.  Red will also help you see the warmth in a gray, while a little assistance from a blue chip will make the very cool gray tones stand out for you visually.


Now that my wall color is up, and the toned cool white backsplash is complete, it's easier to see how my palette translates to the space.  Here's how my color chips all looked together on my palette.


The whites all have a slightly different tint, or undertone, and the variation in the colors is more evident now that the wall perimeter is offering a reference color.  Still, these are very "close" whites--standing on their own they'd look plain white.


The whisper of peachy-orange is really making a difference in the room.  I'll explain more about that little departure in my next post, because you are correct, Crisp Straw 2157-50, is NOT white and it is NOT a cool color like the rest!

Back to the walls, here's how I use mama's china and my white collections to help me arrive at Shale.  I relied on the china, which I could carry around the room more easily than a painted test.  It all looked lovely near the backsplash and that was enough for me.


Shale has turned out to be such a comforting mid-tone gray, that I feel I could just stare at my walls all day long.  Gray is always a stabilizing color emotionally and visually, not unlike a good mid-tone cool beige.  But few colors other than gray can communicate architectural integrity or strength, which is a good thing to have in a very old house.  As for Shale, I'm convinced that in any room where the lighting is out of whack--too dark, overly bright, uneven or in competition with anything jarring--Shale has enough depth and personality to do exactly what every great gray does best--calm and comfort.  Try it out and let me know if you agree. Shale, Classic Color #861: a super, winning gray by a long shot!

Stay colorful!


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Hi Ashley! So sorry I overlooked your question on the Living in Color blog. The kitchen cabinet color is Benjamin Moore's Cotton Balls, 2145-70, from the Color preview collection. It's a very nice vanilla white--no yellow or grey, with just the tinniest bit of green, which keeps them appearing very white under incandescent and day light. Please let me know how you're projects are coming along here on the blog!

what color did you paint the cabinets?

Thanks for reading Kathie. Hope you'll pass this along to all your Gray loving friends.

So lovely.

Kelsey, that's so nice! You're welcome to visit and borrow any and all my ideas for your own home. I hope I'm inspiring you.

Thanks Dale. I'm so pleased with the backsplash. I think of any soft combination of colors would have worked out beautifully too. These are very peaceful colors to live with. Thanks for reading.

So beautiful!! I seriously want your farmhouse!

Love the color combinations. Really a great job on the backsplash.

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