3 grAYS

Choosing gray wall color

How to choose the right color of gray for your new wall color.

Again the other day I was helping a gal choose a gray wall color for the transition from the brown living room to the envisioned gray one.  She had tried a few grays on one wall, but the blue undertones didn’t work at all and she was stuck. This one was easy; there was only one choice. Read on.

A traditional way of choosing a color scheme suggests using an inspiration piece — some fabric, a painting, a favorite pillow, something with a print containing the colors you want to use. From this you choose the background color for your walls, the second most prominent color for your main pieces of furniture and the third most prominent as your accent color. Foolproof. This gives you a solid 3-color scheme, often something like white, red and blue; cream, brown and green or blue, yellow and white.

This method doesn’t work so well when you want a monochromatic or two-color scheme, which are by far the most popular schemes now.  For example; the gray trend dictates that gray be paired with black or white with jewel-toned accent colors. Rooms decorated in this “Parisian fresh” feel are almost totally devoid of pattern, so there is not necessarily an inspiration piece to follow. Often you will start with a picture of a room, or one piece of furniture, or a duvet cover, or just the desire to have gray walls.

So, here is how to choose a gray wall color. Believe it or not, the color of your white trim plays a significant part in the selection.

Gray has undertones of either blue, green or purple. If you can’t decide what the undertone is, put the gray paint swatch beside some samples of clear blue, green and purple — one will blend with your gray better. That’s the undertone.

Your white trim will be either true white or cream-white. If you put blue or purple gray with true white trim, the trim looks clean and crisp. Which is probably what you want if you are going for the gray trend. If you put blue or purple gray with cream-white trim, the trim looks dirty.


Green-gray is the gray for cream-white trim:

gray for off white trim

So, if your trim is white, you should use  blue or purple gray. If your trim is cream white, you get green-gray.

Blue Gray

3 grAYS


                       Stonington Gray            Gray Owl                     Coventry

Purple Gray



                 Portland Gray        Misty Memories            Excaliber

Green Gray



               Revere pewter              Moonshine               Carolina Gull

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