I’m back and this time it’s all about grey. The perfect grey for my living room that is.
When I first moved into my space I knew that I wanted to do something dark, moody, masculine, and slightly modern. I also knew that I had loads of natural light, as you can see from the pic below. It is a 1920’s Spanish style with high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, and lots of original charm and character. So, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to go dark. I wanted to find a paint color that was a true grey, one that didn’t have too many undertones of color bleeding in. You know, more ‘silver fox’, less ‘just for men’ – if you don’t get that reference then let’s just move on to the room.
Greys, I quickly found out, can be very tricky. Some look blue, some look purple, some look green or brown, and some look any combination of the aforementioned. Grey is one of those colors that seems to absorb from every other color around it, so depending on what else you have going on in the room it can go so many different ways. Which for some rooms is an asset, but I didn’t want my room looking a muddy brown or a periwinkle purple so I was on the hunt for just the right grey. Picking out a grey is about as easy as picking out a white, meaning not easy at all. They all look grey when in the paint deck or by themselves, but when you start seeing them in the context of your room or next to other seemingly grey objects, you quickly realize how many shades of grey there are.
Step one in finding my perfect grey was heading to a paint store (or 5) to pick out some paint chips. In reality I wouldn’t have gone to 5 different stores but as I wanted to make this as informative and helpful as possible for someone else trying to pick the perfect grey, I figured it would be best to include the best greys from a handful of different paint retailers – Therefor giving every brand a fair chance at my heart (or my living room walls).
Once you have picked out a handful of your favorite paint chips, have your paint store mix up sample pots of each of those colors. They run anywhere from $2-5 dollars per pot depending on the brand, and that $2-5 dollars is money WELL spent. (Side note: give them a call ahead of time and ask them to premix them for you. You would think it is fast to mix 15 pots of paint, but I assure you it ain’t so quick – I sat there trying to chat to the paint store clerk about the mall, boys, clothes and even threw in some politics because I was SO bored during the next hour and half. . . he wasn’t having it).
Some people open up all those pots and paint directly on the walls, but I choose to just use some large sheets of paper to paint on. That way I would not have 50 shades of grey to try and paint over on my walls (see what I did there). Also, this way I could move the papers around during the day to see the way the light picks up the color on different walls as well as try it next to certain pieces of furniture and surfaces in the room.
An hour or so later and I had all of my favorite paint samples on paper and on the wall.
Don’t mind the old Ikea couch that is being used temporarily while my new sofa is on it’s way. I taped the size of the new sofa on the wall to help me plan around it. But, please DO notice a sneak peak of that stunning credenza that arrived from CG Sparks (one of my favorite stores that I always used to find myself in when I lived in Utah).
I sat and stared at these colors for the next couple of days (and nights) to see which one I really liked. Paint color, especially dark paints, look COMPLETELY different at night than they do during the day. In simpler terms, it’s like when you meet a guy out at a bar one night and you think you have found Mr. Right. His hair looks nice, his teeth are white, and his jaw is perfectly structured. Then you go out with him during the day, and it’s like “WTF was I thinking”. He looks shockingly different in the daylight – so is true with paint colors. So I will repeat myself. Check out your paint colors during both morning, mid-day, and evening light. It WILL change quite a bit, and you don’t want to end up with the heinous grey that has thinning hair, yellow teeth, and no jaw line.
I narrowed my favorites down after a few days of mulling it over, and I have rounded them up for you below. I always love to see how paint colors look in other people’s rooms. It gives you an idea of how it could possibly look, but also how different the paint color can read in different rooms, which again is a lesson in why you can’t pick out your paint color by just selecting a paint chip at the store and grabbing a gallon and slapping it on the walls one evening.
Elegant Charcoal by Glidden: This one is tricky, as on my wall it looked very much a true grey without too much of any other colors bleeding in, however in these two photos both the rooms have slight hits of a chocolaty brown in it if the light hits it in the right way.
Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore: Definitely has been a long time favorite of mine. I like that it has some depth to, and can go a variety of shades depending on what you place next to it as well as the amount of natural light it has. In the picture you can see that without a lot of natural light it is a deep charcoal color, whereas on the right it leans a bit more greenish brown.
Charcoal Slate by Benjamin Moore: Very similar to Elegant Charcoal in color, however, it is a slightly darker and more rich color. It also had slight hits of blue and darker grays when in my living room. (bathroom photo by: Edmund Barr via Our Humble Abode)
Amherst Grey by Benjamin Moore: Similar in color to Kendall Charcoal, however, it exudes a lot more green undertones in the light.
Seal Grey by Glidden: This is definitely the lightest of my favorites. This one is probably also the most true grey of all the above. It doesn’t really have any undertones of different colors so it was a good possibility for my living room.
At this point I am pretty sure which one I am going to go with, but as it goes with Mr. Right you gotta introduce him to your friends to know if he will really get along with everyone (in my case that means my sofa fabric, drapery fabric, and a few accent colors I am throwing in). Come back soon to see the next installment in Is Brady Still Single?, I mean, Makeover Takeover. Until then, I’m headed back to the paint store to give that paint clerk a second chance.