Review of Gray Undertones

February 3, 2016

Undertones. We have learned enough about color to know we can not ignore them. But I have found that knowing the undertones of a color makes the color selection process much easier and less stressful.

So I thought I would do a little review as a reminder of the undertones of gray. Gray is still very popular right now and we should be aware of what makes up the color so we can be educated when choosing a color for our home.  Gray has the undertones of blue, green, violet and taupe:

Blue Undertone Grays:

The most popular grays with blue undertones are Coventry Gray HC-169:

coventry gray


Gray Owl OC-52:

gray owl


Stonington Gray HC-170:

stonington gray


Notice how the blue- grays tend to look blue when on  the wall. I think it is the most obvious undertone of all the grays.

Green Undertone Grays:

The most popular of all grays are the green/grays such as Revere Pewter HC- 172:

revere pewter2


Sandy Hook Gray HC-108:

sandy hook gray exterior


And Rockport Gray HC-105:

rockport gray


Green gray will look more of a neutral, grayish brown color when painted on the walls, rather than show the undertone such as the blue grays.  Sandy Hook Gray and Rockport Gray are excellent exterior choices to work with stone because of their green undertones.

Violet Undertone Grays:

The two colors I think of right away is Collingwood OC-28:



And Elephant Gray 2109-50:



Taupe is a a combination of gray and beige, not to be confused with greige, which you can read more about here. Two of the most popular taupes is Cedar Key 982:

cedar key


And Stone Hearth 984:

stone hearth


They do have a pink undertone because of the beige color underneath. This color works really well with chocolate brown.

Not to confuse you, but there are two other combinations of gray undertones to be aware of:

Green/Blue Gray such as Gray Cashmere 2138-60:

gray cashmere


See how the green stands out more?

Fieldstone 1558:

fieldstone cabinet


Again you notice the green undertone first. It stands out a bit more. Fieldstone continues to be a popular cabinet color.

Then we have the Blue/Green Grays:

Woodlawn Blue HC-147:

woodlawn blue


And Wickham Gray HC-171:

wickham gray


Can you see how the blue is more prominent than the green in the gray? I think of these  Blue /Green Gray colors as Turquoise Blues.


I hope you have enjoyed your refresher course! 🙂 It is easier to understand how the color will work when you understand the undertones.


  1. Kelly, This is such a helpful article. Thank you! I love all the examples you gave. Do you think Edgecomg Gray has a beige undertone? I painted it on a big sample board and it looks beigey, but when I painted a sample ( 2 coats) over my light maize yellow walls, it looks gray!

  2. I am painting my kitchen cabinets and trying to find the right gray. I plan to paint the bottom cabinets a shade or two darker than the top, wall cabinets. I will be using Sherwin William paints. Is there a color or colors in the grays that you recommend.

  3. Such great information! I just found your blog this morning and I’m obsessed. I’ve learned a lot about undertones but I do have a question. Should you keep the undertones consistent throughout a house? I’m building a new house so I have a clean slate to work with and I’m trying to do a whole house paint plan. I’m going with the very popular grey/beige theme but I just don’t know if all my paints should be in the same family of undertones.

    Thanks for all your information and please keep the blog going.

    • Hi Lori,
      Thanks for your kind words! Yes, you should try to keep the undertones the same, especially when dealing with beiges. With the grays you have a little more leeway but I try to keep the same undertones also so that you have a nice flow throughout your home.

  4. Hi Lori,
    Is it possible to use one of these grays in a North Facing room without making it look dull? I want to use a light but not too light color and wanted something besides tan or yellow. It is a family room. I wondered if Gray Cashmere would work. Having a very hard time finding a color.

    • Hi Tracie, I would try the Gray Cashmere as a sample first in your room and see how it looks both night and day. That is the best way to see if it will work and if you really like it.

  5. Hi Lorie! I’m converting a tub shower combo at a ranch house to a limestone tile 5 ‘ shower with rimless glass enclosure / door. Will texture and paint walls. The existing floor is stained concrete and is a dark rich cordovan brown. The 10 year old trim is in perfect condition and is painted BMoore 986 ” Smokey Ash”. It will not be painted. I’m looking at BMoore 972, 971, 984, & HC 84 for the walls. (They have previously had wallpaper on them, which has been removed. ). Do you think these wall color selections could work with the existing trim color and if so, which ones are best? Please please hurry your answer. So appreciate it!! CBall

    • Hi Charlotte- who’s Lorie? 🙂

      I would use a color from the same strip as Smoky Ash. Either the smokey taupe 983 or stone hearth 984. That will tie everything in together. Hope this helps!

  6. I have a darker interior due to lack of natural light flow. My wood floors, trim and cabinets are richer darker stain. I want my space to look fresh, airy and big. Been testing collingwood, sea pearl, slipper satin, light pewter and rever pewter. Not sure what to pick to give the overall look I want. Worried about how the undertones will look when I paint a larger wall more than I have done with my sample swatching. Love collingwood but will the violet undertones be too much with lack of light? Please help!!!

  7. Hi!
    I’m having a hard time picking a nice neutral color for my master bathroom. It doesn’t get much natural light but does have a frosted window over the bathtub. It’s an older house so I have honey oak cabinets, cream counter tops and beige tile. We just got married so reno will have to wait but I’m hoping a nice new color will brighten things up a bit. Which beige colors work best? I want a nice neutral, spa-like soothing color. (I have a Revere Pewter paint chip sample and it looks dark in the room)

    • One of my favorite soft neutrals that would work Rebecca is Manchester Tan HC-81. Beautiful soft color that will work well with your existing furnishings. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Cam- my favorite grays to use with stained wood is medium to darker grays( or any color). If you look on the left side of my page,there is a search box. Put in ‘stained trim’ and you will find a few posts I have written on colors working with stained trim. Good luck!

  8. Hi
    I have a large finished attic with slanted ceilings/walls, it gets very little natural light. There is one window at each end. What color do you recommend? This will be used for a guest room.

    Cheri Morgan

    • Hi Cheri, One idea I would use is to paint the ceiling the same colors the walls to make the room appear larger. I would stay away from whites, because of the fear of ‘dirty’ walls. If you like light blues, I still love Palladian Blue for bedrooms or Woodlawn Blue. My new favorite beige for a bedroom is Grant Beige. Love it. Hope this helps!

  9. Hi Kelly,
    I’m trying to choose a paint for my open concept floor plan. The space has a lot of north facing light, floors are darker hardwood, counters and backsplash are greys, kitchen cabinets are antique white. We want a light grey that will stand the test of time. Currently Leaning towards collingwood. We painted revere pewter in our last place and love it, however, we want something lighter.

    Thank you

    • I think the best way to figuer out which color you will like best Ashley, is to paint two large poster boards in the two colors. Move them around day and night in the different lighting. You should be able to pick the winner!

  10. Hi, I put Wickham Gray in my kitchen and it looks green! Any suggestions? I have Kraftmaid Dove White cabinets (with a blue/gray undertone), hardwood honey oak floors, and Cambria Torquay countertops (tan and gray marble-look). Thanks!

    • I can not understand why you are seeing green Patty. The counters, cabinets and floor do not have any green. I see blue coming out of this gray but not green. Do you have a lot of big windows to the outside?

  11. I have a fairly large vaulted ceiling living room. I have walnut hardwood floors and tons of light. The colour currently is a tan (not my choice) I really like Collingwood and am wondering if its too light? I am having the walls done professionally so I am stressed about getting it right. I have a lot of windows but we are in a treed area so in the summer it can be a bit darker inside. Do you find Collingwood gets washed out and doesn’t show the grey as much? Its so hard to tell with just a little swatch.

    • Hi Leeanne, I do not think Collingwood gets washed out. The best way you can check the color is to paint a large sample board and live it a few days. Best way to find out if color will work or not. Hope this helps!

  12. Hi Kelly, We are painting cabinets white cloud and have busy granite, golden peach. Earthy tones. We are you painting the kitchen but not a lot of wall space in since it will be very light in there now he wanted something darker. A good deep gray with brown or beige undertones. We have Stoneharbor in our living room, edgecomb gray in halkwAy so definitely want it to be different than that. Considering Rockport Gray, pashmina And thunder but if you have any suggestions or comments at all but love them! It’s southeast facing.

    • Hi Sarah,

      You sure know your undertones! Very good. haha All with green undertones. The Rockport would be the darkest one of your choices. Pashmina might look too ‘green’ on walls. Thunder is a great neutral and the lightest of all your choices. I would get a sample of two of the colors, paint poster boards and live with color and your counters and see which you like best. Good luck. You seem to know what you are doing- just harder because it is your own home.

  13. I am trying to find a gray that would be slightly lighter then Gray Owl. The color above it on the strip looks too minty. What would you suggest? Every color I try either goes blue or green. I am using it with light oak colored floors and white trim.

  14. We just painted our kitchen Decorator White because the person at the paint store said it would give us the lightest gray without adding color. It is against 2 walls of honey oak cabinets and oak floors. Now when I look at it all I see is blue. What would you suggest? I want a bright light, light crisp gray.

    • Yes, Decorators White has blue undertones. They probably show even more blue because of the yellow undertones of your cabinets. I wish I could give you a neutral gray, but all grays have blue, green, purple or beige in the color. Can’t get away from that. How about a pretty green with your cabinets? Green looks great with honey oak cabinets. Hope this helps!

  15. Thank you for the great information!

    I struggle SO much with seeing the undertone. I had selected SW, Balanced beige or accessible beige and Balanced is too dark and accessible is too light.

    My back up is BM Litchfield Grey but I can’t nail down the undertone and also Shitake, do you have any insight on those two shades and their undertone?

    Thank you!

    • HI Karen,

      Ben Moore Litchfield Gray has a slight beige to it- warm and so does Shitake. You will have to get samples and try out in your lighting to see which you like best. Good luck!

  16. Great post Kelly, wish I would have seen this earlier! I have travertine floors and creamy trim throughout the home. We just painted accessible beige at 60%, essentially it looks like a very faint taupey color. We have 2 islands in our kitchen which will be paired with white dove cabinetry and taj mahal quartzite counters. What would be a good recommendation for our island colors???
    Thanks!!! Love your site.

    • Hi Jon,
      Thanks for the kind words. If it were my island to paint, I would choose a dark blue such as Hale Navy or Van Deusen Blue. If you have black appliances, how about black? 🙂

  17. Hi Kelly,

    Trying to select a true grey paint for my new construction home with a very open floor plan. The entire home must be one color. My current favorites are Stonington Grey as well as Repose Grey but I am concerned about blue undertones with Stonington Grey. Overall aiming for a clean, modern, soothing look. Thank you for any recommendations you may have!

    • Hi Aly. Yes, Stonington has blue undertones so your walls will look blue. How about a soft greige like Classic Gray or Ballet White? Very pretty fresh colors. Good luck with your project!

  18. Hi! We are looking for a exterior gray to change up our exterior paint for siding and brick. Looking at Coventry Gray from BM. Any thoughts or other suggestions?

  19. Hi Kelly,
    We recently opened up a room ( the house is 200 years old )one big great room and painted the kitchen 50 percent lighter gray owl. The other side (the family room) is my problem. The original trim is on both sides of the opening – snowfsll white. Cabinets are snowfsll white. I can paint the family room the gray owl but would rather have a warmer tone with my pottery barn oatmeal sofa. I was thinking revere pewter or a grey beige with a similar undertone as grey owl. Or will grey owl be ok ? West facing room.

    • Hi Amy,

      I wish I could be of more help, but without seeing photos of your home, I could not start to guess. If you would like to work together or for more info on my services, send me an email. Thanks!

  20. I love this website and your ideas and helpful hints. I need your help. I painted my foyer and living room grey owlI love it I the foyer but in the living room does not work well with my furniture. My sofa and loveseats are a tweed with greys black and cream dove grey looks awful. I’m looking for a deeper grey with no undertones that will blend in grey owl. I might add that the foyer and living room are somewhat not connected if that makes sense. There’s lots of white molding and wood. Please help thank you

    • Hi Irene,

      To give you the best advice for your paint colors, I would need to see photos of your home. If you would like to work together, I can help you choose a color with an online color consultation. If you would like more information, let me know. Thanks for writing.

  21. I just finished a new build and think I made a huge mistake with one color: BM Stone Hearth 984. I have a forest green sofa and from what I’ve read only certain greens can be used because of the pink undertone in Stone Hearth. Should I repaint before I move in? Or, would forest green be okay with the Stone Hearth? Please advise. Thanks so much.

    • Hey Lynn, if I were you, I would take a large painted sample of Stone Hearth and try with the sofa. I am almost sure it will not work, but I want you to be sure. So sorry. Better to know before you move in though, right? (Looking for positive!)

  22. Hi Kelly,
    I am struggling with finding a greige color to go in my family room and hallway. It presently is a tan with orange undertones. The fireplace brick has many colors including quite a lot of pink, and our trim is a fruitwood/honey colored oak. I’m looking at BM Edgecomb Gray or Manchester Tan, but wondering if I should be concerned about the green undertone in those colors with the brick. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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