How to Choose the Best Grey Paint Color for Your Room

Gray Pain Colors Natural Light
Looking for that perfect grey for you room makeover? Here is the “how to” and my top three light grey paint colors by Benjamin Moore.

My Top 3 Light Grey Paint Colors

Picking out your paint color is a high stress decision. It is the background to your entire room, if not entire home. Not to mention, typically one of the most expensive and time consuming changes done. Greys and whites seem to still be a popular choice but ughh…grey with all its’ undertones, it is just painful to find the right shade for your home. So if you are going with grey for your main house color, here are my top three Benjamin Moore choices each for their own set of reasons.

How to Find Which Grey Works Best

Here are some basics in how to choose the grey that will work best for your room! 

Light Reflectance Value (LVR)

In my opinion LVR is key to transforming a room to your desires. This value just means how reflective the paint color is to light, so if you have a higher LRV, light will bounce off and give an overall warmer, lighter feel and appearance to your room. In general a higher LRV will make your room look bigger; whereas, a lower LRV (seen in darker colors because they absorb light) will make your room feel smaller. Which, I want to add, a lower LRV is great in certain circumstances such as: large basement, accent walls, libraries/office, or even a bedroom to form smaller and cozy settings. Greys are tricky as they can look bright on the little paint swab but can still have a lower LRV. So once up on your walls will not reflect as much light and give a flat appearance.

Undertones

Undertones are the painful part about greys, because of which way your natural light is coming in. It can completely pull out an undertone from the grey and you can have a green, blue, lavender, yellow, or brown hue to your walls. Cool grey will have blue, green, or lavender undertones. While warm grey will show more beige, brown, or yellow. My goal was to find greys with the least amount of undertones that could be flexible and true to their nature in any room. As I was doing a new house build I only had 1-2 colors to choose from. If you are doing this yourself or willing to pay the painters extra for more colors you can choose different greys for each room based on the direction the most natural light is coming. This will give you the most neutral grey avoiding those undertones. Next let us break down what each room direction of natural light will do to the undertone.

Direction of Light Into Your Room

North Facing:

These rooms have more indirect light, which will bring in cool light. So if you have a grey that has cool (blue, green) undertones it will really draw that out. If you want that look go for it, but if you want more true, neutral grey do a warm grey in north facing rooms.

South Facing:

These rooms bring in all that natural warm light, to cool it down (neutralize the grey). Choose a cooler grey to prevent walls from looking brown or yellow.

East and West: 

Sorry, but whichever grey you go with, it will look a little different in the morning and afternoon no matter what you try. The best thought is choose a color based on what time of day you mostly enjoy in that particular room.

East Facing:

This will provide warm light in the morning. So if you chose a warm grey it will be pretty bright with slight strength of beige in the morning and neutral in afternoon/evening. Cooler tones will not show off their undertones in the morning but evening very well could. If you have NE lighting I would go with warm; SE cool, personally.

West Facing:

These rooms are just the opposite. So warm grey will be neutral in the morning and showing undertone/brightness in the afternoon.  Cool greys will show their undertones in the morning and be neutral in the evening (so if I had a West facing dining room or living room would chose a cooler grey).

Now the good part...the 3 BEST grey paint colors!

Gray Pain Colors Natural Light

^ The three colors in bright, direct, & natural light. Best reflective of light from South rooms, East mornings, West evenings. Benjamin Moore’s Nimus (left) Gray Owl (middle) Metro Gray (right)

Gray Pain Colors Dark Light

^ The three colors in indirect natural light. Best reflective of light coming in North rooms, East evenings, and West mornings. Benjamin Moore’s Nimus (left) Gray Owl (middle) Metro Gray (right)

#1 Owl Gray

LRV 65.77

If you have visited My Abode you will see my walls in Owl Gray by Benjamin Moore. This was my primary color for all my rooms so of course it gets #1 spot.

Undertone: It is supposedly the most versatile, but it ever so slightly leans cooler with a green undertone. I see this in my north facing living room and NE bedroom in the evening (and I especially love it in there). I am starting to love greens, being drawn to the natural and neutral vibe it brings. 

Speaking of green…

See this beautiful sage green next to the owl gray in my kitchen

Stay tuned for a post soon all about accent greens!

Looking for an accent grey with Gray Owl

Accent Gray

If you are looking for a contrast grey in the same family of Gray Owl, check out Desert Twilight, this would look wonderful if you have light woods, beige, gold, leather accents, see below!

#2 Metro Gray (this is NOT Metropolitan, which is darker and cooler)

LRV 58.9

Undertones: supposedly cooler, and can bring out lavender, but I have not seen that.

My mom actually has this in her house and she has mostly East and West, some North rooms. I have never once seen it look lavender.

This color will be a smidge darker due to lower LRV compared to Owl Gray. But it is extremely neutral in my opinion! 

Metro grey paint color

#3 Nimbus (NOT Nimbus Gray that is more cloudy blue)

LRV 60

Undertones: Warm, beige; this is your color if you are looking for a “greige”. If you are making the switch from beige to gray I would really consider this. As most of your furniture, existing carpet, and décor is already probably catered to beige this will allow for a little better transition.

Thanks for bearing through all this. Now all you got to do is go test out your colors! I got paint samples and painted a white board to take into each room. But I have heard about these reusable peel and stick wall stickers. Benjamin Moore can even do this, wouldn’t hurt to try before putting the money and time into painting. Check them out HERE.

                                      Happy Painting!