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True Colors…the quest for the perfect grey paint

July 24, 2013

Let me get this out of the way first of all.  I spell grey with an “e” not and “a”.  I’m not British, I just prefer it that way.  Grey is a moody color like mist, smoke, or storm clouds and, in my opinion, when spelled grey the word itself looks moody.  Like looking through half-closed eyes.  When you spell it gray it looks all bright eyed and cheerful which is not what what I think of when I conjure that color.  Silly?  Yes.  That is just a small sample of the strangeness that is my brain.  See what I have to deal with?

On to paint.  Choosing a grey paint to be more specific.  Yikes!  Grey is a hard color to get right.  It can really be a chameleon of color.  With undertones ranging from blues, purples, and pinks to browns, yellows, and greens, it can be a trick to pick the perfect one.

Our fireplace only has rock up to the mantel then is drywall the rest of the way up to the ceiling.  We talked about painting the area above the mantel a grey color that would tie in with the grout and stones of the lower portion to help it look more finished.  It would also add an accent color to the wall color we want to use for that room.  So, that didn’t seem too difficult really.  Just a medium grey, right?  Based on paint chips I had collected I tried a test can of Benjamin Moore Rock Gray (they spell it with an “a”).

  That looked absolutely navy blue in my house. Not a freakin’ hint of grey to it.  Next I tried Benjamin Moore Sabre Gray.  This color does not look blue at all on the chip or in the can. But guess what?  On my wall, it looked blue.  Unbelievable!  A greyish powderish blue.  See that’s the thing with color, it reacts to light and to the things reflecting around it and so you can’t just see a color on a chip, or in someone else’s home, or on the internet and expect it to look the same in your home.  I guarantee you it will not ever look the same. And this wall has very little natural light and it comes in from a weird angle so I knew this was going to be a hard nut to crack.  Next I tried Kendall Charcoal also by Benjamin Moore. It was too dark for my taste and also (I hate to say it) did start looking blue to my eyes after a while.  I started to think that maybe there was just something wrong with my eyes and I could now only see colors in shades of blue.  Oh that would be bad!  My husband liked it and said he didn’t think it looked blue at all.  Then I was sure I was going bonkers.  Still not happy I went back to the drawing board (or should that be the paint palette?)  On a trip to visit my parents I started looking at a brick fireplace that my mom had painted.  It was the prettiest smoke grey and it looked like the perfect color for our fireplace wall.  It was Behr paint called Anonymous.

Behr Paint Anonymousd148a7049ea_300











Mom told me that she had lots of paint left over and I could have it to take home and use on our wall.  So it came home with us and I tried it out.  Womp womp.  On my wall it didn’t even look grey.  It looked tan!  At least it wasn’t blue.  Thank God for small favors.  At this point I began to seriously question my color picking ability.  An ability that I used to depend on, and trust, and have confidence in.   Then I started looking at the two painted swaths on the wall, one was BM Kendall Charcoal that was too dark and the other the Behr Anonymous color from my mom, and my brain started mixing those two colors together.  I pondered this idea for a while and then I did a little test.  I mixed two tablespoons of each color into a plastic tub and tried it out.  Painting it on it didn’t look good and I figured I was in for another failed attempt, but when it dried, magic happened!  A perfect shade of not blue, not too dark, not too tan, grey!  So pretty and almost the exact color of the grout in the rocks of the fireplace! Needless to say I got right on mixing a bigger batch of paint.  Once finished, the clouds parted and a shaft of light beamed upon the newly painted wall.  Actually it was just the light that I turned on above the fireplace but it had the same effect. (The beige colored walls look different in the side by side picture but it’s just due to different time of day lighting.)

before and after fireplace paint















It was kismet really.  Had I not struggled to find the perfect grey paint I wouldn’t have had the ingredients to create the perfect grey paint.  Boom. Mind. Blown.  Plus I really like the idea that I have a color that no one else has.  I think I’ll name it “Grey With An E”.

P.S. My dream job would be naming paint colors.  Seriously.

P.P.S. My mantel already looks different. It is such a massive thing that everything I was putting up there looked teeny tiny and ridiculous.  It’s getting better.  I’ll do an updated mantel post soon.

P.P.P.S. If you take anything away from this post let it be, “Always test your paint out before you commit to the color and don’t be afraid to mix your own color. Magic just might happen!”

Signature2 blue

One Comment leave one →
  1. Patti Colemam permalink
    July 24, 2013 6:29 pm

    good job, it looks great!

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