How To Pick The Right Shade of Gray
Finding the perfect shade of gray for your home can be a challenge because there are dozens of options. Most importantly, how the paint looks on your walls depends on the natural and artificial light in your home, along with the furniture, fixtures, and materials in the room. Don’t despair! Follow these tips to narrow down your options and find the right gray for your walls.
1. Collect a variety of swatches with warm, cool, and neutral undertones.
Even if you have your heart set on a particular shade of gray, we recommend choosing a variety of swatches with different undertones. That perfect shade may look like a completely different color when you get home and hold up the swatch in the room. Collecting a variety of swatches you like with different undertones can save you a second trip to the store for swatches. Keep in mind that all paint colors have a foundational color, also known as the mass tone, and an underlying shade or tone. The mass tone, in this case, would be gray. How that gray appears in your home will vary depending on the undertones. Undertones range from cools (blues, greens, purples) to warms (browns, yellows, oranges, reds). Different types of lighting and contrasting home décor can bring out these underlying colors. Even laying gray color swatches together can help you recognize the undertones in the swatches.
2. Look at the swatches in the room in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
Once you have a selection of gray swatches, we recommend stopping by the space you plan to paint in the morning, afternoon, and evening to see how the paint looks in different types of natural light. Typically, if you live in Connecticut or the Northern Hemisphere: Light from north-facing windows will bring out the cool tones in grays, often making them appear blue. So if you have north-facing windows, it’s smart to choose a gray with warm undertones to balance the cool light. South-facing windows are ideal since your room will get the most direct, neutral-toned sunlight. Both warm and cool grays work well in these rooms.
Light from east-facing windows & west-facing windows is tricky. If you have east-facing windows, the light will be warm in the morning and cool in the evenings. The opposite is true for west-facing windows. The light will be cool in the mornings and warm in the evenings. We usually recommend choosing a gray with very subtle undertones to balance the effect of the light and give the paint a neutral appearance. You may also want to consider when you use the room. You might prefer a gray with a cool or warm undertone based on how the color looks when the room is most frequently used.
3. Look at the swatches under artificial light in the room.
Artificial light can alter how paint colors appear as much as natural light. For example, soft white or warm white light bulbs (2000K-3000K) bring out warm undertones while muting cool undertones. In contrast, bright white or cool white light bulbs (3100K-4500K) bring out cooler undertones, especially if your light bulbs are 4000K+. It is a good idea to mark which ones are your favorite in different lighting on the swatches.
4. Hold the swatches against furniture, fixtures, and materials in the room.
How the gray paint swatches look under different lighting isn’t all that matters. It is also important to choose a paint color that complements the room’s furniture, fixtures, decorations, and materials. Be sure to hold the paint swatches against large art pieces, furniture, window hangings, and other prominent fixtures or decorations. Discard gray swatches that clash with any key elements in the room.
5. Narrow your choices down to a handful and pick up samples.
Following these four steps should help you narrow down your choices. Now that you have your top three to five top choices, pick up 2 oz sample paint containers. Most retailers will provide these at a low cost. You can also order them online from some paint brands if you don’t mind waiting. Then paint small sections of the wall with the paint colors. Finally, repeat steps two and three: stop by the room throughout the day to check the samples in different natural and artificial light. The winner of your samples should become obvious.
If you have followed these tips and still can’t decide on the perfect gray for your home, don’t worry. We can help!
Franklin Painting has a professional color specialist on our team who will work with you to find the interior paint color you will love for years! Our professional painting crews serve residents throughout central Connecticut.
Give us a call at 860-678-7701 to book a quote today!