If you are looking for a neutral color besides white, beige, or tan, try gray. Gray is a beautiful neutral color that goes well with anything in my opinion. However, there are so many options for gray that one can get lost and frustrated just trying to pick out a gray that works for their space. There are warm grays, cool grays, grays with blue undertones, green undertones, purple undertones, red undertones, or no undertones (which I like to call pure gray). So many options can make one’s head spin. I have looked at many grays myself but have found one gray to be my favorite –Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl. It’s described as a cool gray with a cool green undertone. It’s quite a popular gray and I’ve used it on a few design projects because it’s such a great neutral color to work with. It did however lean towards a bluish undertone (rather than green) appearing lighter or more muted in different spaces, but still beautiful. My clients loved how the color turned out in their space.
Gray Owl is is pretty much a predominately gray color that can display either a green undertone or a blue undertone. Some color experts say that gray owl leans more on the greener side, but I haven’t seen that in any of the projects I’ve worked on. It definitely was on the bluer side. However, it really depends on what else is going on in the room because Gray Owl is a fairly reflective color with an LRV of 65. It can pick up subtle tones in the space from other colors, furniture, floors, ceiling, natural light, as well as bulb color temperature from artificial light. All these factors can affect how the color looks in the space. What is an LRV? Each paint color will have a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) which measures the percentage of light a paint color reflects from or absorbs into a painted surface. At 65 LRV, Gray Owl is definitely towards the lighter side reflecting a fair amount of light which is why I love the color. It’s not too dark, nor is it too light and it’s worked well in all the spaces I’ve designed. In fact, I recommended Gray Owl to one of my new clients after she spent days looking for paint colors. Her walls were covered from various shades of purple to mustard yellow and beige before I started working with her. She spent countless hours looking for paint colors and didn’t like any of the ones she selected. I dropped by recently with a sample of Grey Owl and after putting the sample on all 4 walls, she immediately loved the color just like that! Again, it leaned towards the blue undertones. An interior designer can help save you a lot of time because they have the aesthetic eye and the experience to guide you in the right direction. I’ll post a picture once her room is painted.
If you have spent wasted hours looking for the right color for your room and can’t find a neutral color, try Gray Owl. Get a sample and paint a big enough swatch on your walls. Not just one wall, but all your walls because the color will look different on each wall based on the amount of natural light as well as artificial light. Look at the color during the day and at night. It will look different. You can even specify 25 % lighter or 50% lighter although you’ll lose the original pigment and it starts looking faded and washed out which I don’t recommend. Whatever you do, don’t just rely on the color swatch at paint stores and don’t rely on brushouts (sample board of the paint color). Absolutely paint a sample on all your walls. If you have furniture in the room, paint a large sample next to your furniture and trims to see what it looks like because depending on your space, it can pick up the blue undertone or the green undertone or it might just look pure gray.
Also, check out images online and see how Gray Owl looks in different rooms. It can give you an idea of how the color works in different spaces and it’s a starting point if you are tired of spending hours looking for a neutral color that’s right for you. Here are some images of Gray Owl to inspire you. You’ll see some that show gray owl looking more blue and others that pick up the green tones.