Whether their designs are surrounded by Lake Minnetonka’s mist, San Francisco’s fog, Toronto’s ice, L.A.’s glare, Denver’s snowdrifts or Atlanta’s steamy air, design pros seeking fresh neutral paints are looking to light gray. “Grays can be so transparent and versatile that they can pair with just about anything,” says interior designer Crystal Russell. Here’s a look at 10 light gray paints design pros love and why.
Paint names can be deceiving, interior designer Greg Clarksays. “This is a warmer gray, or ‘greige,’” he says. “It gives warmth to a room without being too warm, and has a great contrast with white trim. And depending on the lighting it can appear cooler.” The hue provides just the right foreground for the view of Minnesota’s Lake
Minnetonka outside these windows.
Designer and owner of Earnest Home Erin Souder knew she wanted something very neutral for her 100-year-old Ohio farmhouse. “It didn’t cast blue or yellow,” she says. “I find that very important in an older house where things tend to look dingy if they are yellow cast."
“Because of the fog in San Francisco, gray paint can sometimes look blue, so we need a warmer gray,” interior designer Tineke Triggs says. “This one is my go-to color.” Here it provides a great backdrop for bold colors in the painting on the wall and textiles in the room.
“This is a beautiful white that has gray and blue undertones,” interior designer Emily Griffinsays. “Depending on how it’s lit, it reveals stunning colors.” In this north Toronto entryway, it reads as gray with the slightest hint of periwinkle to it.
Interior designer Carl Mattison specializes in taking dilapidated historic Atlanta homes and breathing new life into them. A range of warm and cool grays play a big role in his aesthetic, which appeals to many buyers.
“Warm grays tend to fall on the scale of less blue and a bit more taupe at times. It also could be said they are less ‘silvery,’” the designer says. “Repose Gray is very light in person. It pairs well with brighter white trims and a buttery Chardonnay.” Does he mean paint colors or wines? You be the judge.
Mattison also finds Knitting Needles works with all sorts of colors, materials, styles and light. “This is very similar to Repose Gray but a little cooler in tone,” he says. “It’s a great neutral gray that pretty much goes with everything. It’s the little black dress of the paint world.”
“An easy color to live with,” interior designer Jane Haley says of this hue. “It is a great color because it is neutral gray, it’s cool and it will take on greens or blues if put with those colors.” Those properties infused this South Padre Island, Texas, home with subtle coastal color.
One color came up a lot when I was asking designers for their go-to light grays. “This is a warm gray that reads cooler when painted,” Clark says. “It easily balances out other warm colors in a space. For example, if you have true brown or red-yellow-brown-tone flooring, Mindful Gray is a smart tool to counter those tones.” The designer recommends balancing it with both sides of the warm-cool spectrum for the best look.
Interior designer Jane Haley is also a big fan of Mindful Gray. “My favorite neutral gray that still has warmth is Mindful Gray, which I have used in 25 percent, 50 percent and 100 percent for walls and ceilings. It also paints up beautifully in an oil-based enamel for cabinets,” she says.
For this bathroom in Denver, interior designer Crystal Russell knew exactly the light gray she needed. “This particular gray was very soft and modern, with just enough cool gray, but with a subtle green undertone,” she says. “The color just reads very ‘quiet,’ and you can pick up more or less green during different hours of the day. It’s truly a perfect soothing bathroom color.”
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Los Angeles interior designer Shannon Ggem used this almost imperceptible gray on the walls in this bathroom. “I love Graytint because it’s like that backlit gray light on an overcast day,” she says.
Your turn: Have you found a light gray that you love? Please share your favorite light gray paint colors in the Comments. Bonus points for sharing photos!