How to Pick the Perfect Grey Paint


How to Pick the Perfect Grey Paint

Grey has already been around as the new go-to neutral for a few years.  Its contemporary feel and neutral tone has made it a popular choice for many people.  It’s basically become the new beige for a lot of homeowners.  But there are literally hundreds of shades to choose from along the way to your perfect grey.

How can you possibly decide?  Having just struggled our way through our own paint selection for our bathroom , I wanted to pass along a few foolproof tips to help you pick the perfect grey paint.

Grey – learning the basics

At the most basic level, grey is simply a mixture of white and black.  Seems easy enough, right?  The tricky thing to remember with grey is that no two greys are created equal.

It can be warm or cool, dark and dramatic or bright and beautiful depending on a few mitigating factors.  Cool greys are going to have more blue undertones, while warm greys have their roots in yellow and brown.

So how do you go about picking the perfect grey paint?

1. Choose the feel you want for your space

When you’re picking any new colour for your home, think about the overall mood and feel that you want to achieve.  Are you looking for warm and cozy or bright and airy?  Do you have traditional tastes or a preference for something more modern?

Transitional Dining Room in CIL Pebble Grey

As we plan our reno, we would describe the look we want as clean and fresh with a rustic modern vibe.  This is the vision we had in mind anyways when we were choosing the finishes for our bathroom.  We wanted to find as true of a grey as possible, without the hints of blue or brown.

This took considerable thought and considerable brain power.  I think of paint shopping like buying perfume.  You can only view or sample so many until you reach your saturation point.  Then you’re done and you just have to take a break.

Design Tip: Find an inspiration photo for your space and use that as a basis for your colour selections.  Come back to that photo throughout your selection process to help keep you on track.

2. Consider your lighting

To choose the perfect grey shade for your space, you need to consider your lighting.  That means artificial lighting (check out my post on choosing your light colour temperature) and natural lighting.  Evaluate how much natural light your space gets and from what direction the light comes from.  Does it shine from the north, south, east or west?  Is there direct sunlight or only indirect light in the space?  How does the time of day change the natural light in your room?

Transitional Bedroom in CIL Pebble Grey

The direction of the natural light is a key factor to making your wall colour appear warm or cool.  Northern light gives rooms a cool blue hue, while southern exposures will have the most warmth with natural golden tones.  East and west will change from morning to evening as the sun’s position changes in the sky.  Eastern light is warmer in the morning and western light is warmer in the evening.

Notice how the samples in the picture on the right appear to be cooler than those on the left.  These two pictures were taken of the same samples in different rooms of our house at the same time of day.  This really helps to illustrate my point on how lighting and surroundings can affect a colour’s appearance.

Transitional Living Room in CIL Pebble Grey

This variation has proven to be a challenge for us for sure during paint colour selection.  We would really like the majority of the house to be painted the same colour when all is said and done, shy of a few accents here and there.  However this will be a bit tricky, as our main floor is flooded with warm light from the south while our upstairs (main bath incuded) faces north.  As a result we struggled to downplay the natural blue undertones in that room.  The colour we went with in the end is a CIL colour called Pebble Grey (CN62).

Design Tip: Once you narrow your paint choices down, compare the colours in the space throughout the day and into the evening.  Your final colour selection should work for the majority of the day, 100% perfection may not be realistic.  Pick the colour you like best during the time of day you will be in the room the most.

3. Coordinate with other interior elements.

When you’re trying to decide between a warm or a cool grey, consider the other elements that will be in your space.  Compare the greys to your flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures and trim.  The undertones of your interior elements should match the undertones of the grey you choose.  This will soften the transition between colours around the room and integrate the grey as part of your space.

Design Tip: If you want the colours in the space to pop against each other, choose a grey with opposite undertones to the other interior elements.  Choosing a grey, for example, with a blue undertone will pop against orange accents. The opposite is also true.  For a softer pallet, choose a grey with similar undertones to your existing elements to blend the colours of the room together.

Kids Room in CIL Pebble Grey with orange accents

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