5 Valuable Tips to Choosing the Perfect Gray!

Color911 gray grey color Amy Wax

Choosing the right gray is not as easy as it looks, here are some tips to getting it right the first time!


The right gray can be so beautiful. It’s a color that can be feathery soft or rich and saturated. As a paint color that can fit in with a vintage color palette, or be the perfect color for a sleek contemporary design.



Before you leap into piles of paint chips at the paint store, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are 5 important tips that will help you choose the perfect color that you will love forever!

The best choice without being a color!


  1. Looking for a gray but afraid to commit? A lighter option might be the best choice for you. Hold something white (like a piece of paper or white painted trim) against your lighter gray option. If there is enough contrast to see that the walls look like a darker shade of white, then you have chosen a airy and delicate paint color. For those who like a softer look with less color, this is the way to go!


Warm up your gray for a cozier appeal.


  1. Gray can appear cold, if it doesn’t have any warmth around it. The warmth can come from accent colors such as cranberry reds or burnt oranges. A softer approach is to have the warmth come from a little beige mixed in your paint. Gray and beige, commonly called “greige” gives you the appeal of a classic gray with a more organic feel. The color greige is between warm colors and cool colors, which makes it a very versatile color and so so easy to use!


Go with your undertones!


  1. Take a look at the image on the top of this blog post. You can see that so many grays have undertones of other colors in them. In this area, blue undertones are the most common. Most people describe this as a gray with a hint of blue in it. The phrase would be that the gray has blue undertones. There are very few “pure” grays, that don’t have a hint of some color in them. The paint swatches in the photo range from blue-grays to purple-grays to green-grays. I often take a color that is a clean version of the color (without any other colors in it) and use that as my guide. For instance, if I am looking at a color in the gray family and want to see what the undertones are, I would hold up Platinum Gray from Benjamin Moore, and see if the color still looks like gray next to it, or if it looks like a muted version of another color family.


Always look at the undertones, because they might be exaggerated in dimly lit spaces. If you have a version with blue undertones, in a space with less light, the darker version of that color will look even bluer! Look at the undertones of any color you select, before you commit to your final choice!


Use the right lighting to get it right.


  1. Gray is a color that is greatly affected by the colors around it. More than many colors, it is also affected by the lighting in the room. When a gray wall is illuminated by warm colored light, your cool color can go right to beige! When a cooler bulb lights a warmer gray, even the warmer color can appear as cool as a blue gray paint color. Therefor, it is of utmost importance when you are choosing your grays, to choose the correct lighting in the room.


Go dark for more elegance.


  1. Grays that are more saturated are more dramatic (and more exciting!) A rich charcoal or a darker slate, are the perfect choice if you are looking for a bolder approach. Black and white is a high contrast classic color palette. The beauty of using a charcoal is that it can have the same velvety appeal, with a softer touch. Cozy and plush, a darker gray has the same striking contrast that pairs beautifully with almost every color on the color wheel!


Are you looking for inspiration for not only what gray to use but for what colors to pair it with? I suggest trying the Color911 app to play with colors to see what you like the most. If you’re looking for color inspiration look at the pre-made color themes to see what grays you are really drawn to. It’s a great place to start, I hope you’re inspired!



I hope these 5 tips will encourage you to try looking at grays in a whole new light. Grays can be open and airy or sultry and dark. The color gray is also versatile and can work with almost any color you can possibly think of. Let yourself experiment with samples of a few colors out there. After all of your research, I hope you find the one you love.




About the Author: Amy Wax

Amy Wax, creator of Color 911®, is an artist and experienced color consultant, recognized for her expertise in the world of color and design. Fifteen years ago, Amy created Your Color Source Studios, Inc. a company specializing in the architectural application of color. Amy has received numerous awards for her color expertise.

Learn More About Amy


    • Color911 says

      I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this blog post Kathie, feel free to share any of the posts you enjoy reading or find helpful :).

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