Home Annie's Home Renovation Welcome to Paint Hell!

Welcome to Paint Hell!

So you’d think that choosing paint colors for the new house would be, well, a piece of cake for me.  I have done it for years and I have done it often. I do it for work. I do it for my houses, and I have certainly helped others.  Not so!  I agonize. I try colors on for size—mentally.  I consider various palettes when I am in the bath tub or waiting for a delayed flight. I give it a lot of thought. Decisiveness comes and goes. After all-day dreaming, I sort of home in on what I am looking for. Then and only then do I venture to the paint deck or the paint store.

See above for the reason I have learned to go with an idea in mind! I love color and can see AND argue for just the choice of just about any color! It is difficult to settle on THE ONE. And this time I am exercising restraint! I am searching for the perfect warm yet expressive soft gray. So, supported by all the prior daydreaming and armed with my ever-present Bark Shingle, I quickly pass over the gorgeous array of colors on offer (each of which is valid in the right circumstance) and zero in on the, by comparison, boring gray/beige realm of the spectrum.  Ho hum. Stay strong.  Do not stray from the plan. . . .

I am looking for an exterior trim color and an interior color for the majority of the downstairs rooms. These are important choices to mavens of color such as me. It doesn’t promote world peace (I certainly wish it did), but it does, if done right, promote inner peace.  The right color will make you happy every day. The wrong color will—ouch—be your cross to bear until you can repaint!

With this in mind, I select four colors to have them mix in a pint for $6.95 (a big bargain) and I pick up a few of the pre-mixed Benjamin Moore minis to try, as well.

Here are four of the colors that I decided to experiment with.  I painted each onto a board and tried them up against the window and bark shingles. I stepped back. I closed in. I stepped farther back. I closed in again. I narrowed it down to two and finally to one:  Stardust 2108-40! It’s the one on the lower left.  I wanted to find something that bridged the gap between the dark bronze of the window trim and the variegated lighter tones of the bark shingles.

Now on to the interior . . .

Here I wanted a light warm gray. I tried two colors from a color chip, Lacey Pearl 2108-70, which was a bit too light, and the color next to it, Abalone 2108- 60, which was a touch too dark.  I painted each on a big sheet of foam core and held them up. Then, once the walls were primed, I painted directly onto the wall. What looked gray on the foam core turned into Band-Aid beige when it was up on the wall.  This was not what I was looking for!  So, back to the paint store, again and again (this went on for a whole week), trying everything to kill the Band-Aid and get my color. I tried to counteract the red by going more green. It didn’t work.

Back to A. W. Baldwin & Co. in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where  Henry was a total trooper as we tinkered and mixed and matched the Benjamin Moore formulas until we settled on a formula of half Lacey Pearl, half  Abalone with two extra squirts of gray to counteract that pesky red that kept showing up.  It is the color you see to the right below.  Note: I tried each of the colors on southern, northern, and western exposures of the house, and looked at them at various times of day to see how the color behaved in different lights.

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite shade of gray?




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Kim July 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

The Stardust 2108-40 is perfect with the windows and the shingles. The interior colors are trickier, though, not knowing the light in your house. I love the darkest color above, but is it too dark for what you have in mind?

Happy 4th of July to all!

Debbie Shue July 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I live in the Pacific Northwest, gray is not my favorite color in any shade…..

dorothy sergi July 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I just painted the interior of my home with shades of grey ,tan and blue..so the paint colors were completely familiar to me ! My all time favorite shade is Ben Moores Revere Pewter . I have it in my kitchen and hallways and love it ..and get complements constantly ….It looks great with so many colors!!

Good Luck and Happy 4th

Mary July 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Benjamin Moore’s “Horizon” is a good classic gray – it’s clean and classic, and has none of the beige tones that can make a gray wall turn into a muddy-looking mess. It looks wonderful with white trim. White – there’s another deceptively complicated color that can drive you up a wall.

diane July 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Oh I feel your pain! Would love to have you check out my remodel blog as misery loves company!

Kathy July 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I live near Lake Erie. Believe me, grey is not a color I want to see in my house. Around here only charcoal grey looks good.

Heather July 18, 2012 at 6:47 am

Love A.W. Baldwin! I usually obsess over paint colors, but we painted our entire living/dining/hallways with a color that I didn’t even test first. Edgecomb Gray. I will never try or use another – it’s perfect. Soft. No yellow, blue or red undertones. It’s part of their Historic Colors line and on the same chip as Revere Pewter which another reader posted above.

Mary Rembold March 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I know I’m commenting months after the original post on this subject but wanted to chime in here anyway. I’m with Heather on the Edgecomb Gray and Revere Pewter. They are both timeless, classic colors. Another favorite of mine, if you’re looking for something with a little more blue to it, is Booth Bay Gray, also by Benjamin Moore. Having just been through paint selection hell trying to pick out an off-white, I completely sympathize with you, Annie!! After months of going back and forth and considering all of the lighting conditions and many other factors (and driving my husband a little crazy in the process), I selected Antique White by Sherwin Williams. Absolute perfection!!

Jane October 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Can you please share the color of the gray you added to the mix of Lacey pearl and abalone? I’m looking for the perfect warm gray for our kitchen/family room and ironically enough a professional colorist recommended either of these colors. As you well know abalone on its own looks like a band aid so not the look I’m striving for. Loved your article.

Fresh American October 9, 2014 at 11:17 am

Hi, Jane! This one turned out to be a bit tricky, because the grey paint used in the original formula from Baldwin’s is no longer sold. When she needed to repaint some areas, she took a piece of painted scrap wood to Home Depot for color matching. She still has a can with the new formula on the label, and as soon as she’s back from travel, we’ll post it here!

Justine January 5, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Hi Guys,

Did you find out the formula of that gray?

I’m liking this color used too and would have to color match in Australia…Eeeek!

Take care,

Fresh American January 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

Hi, Justine! The original formula is somewhat obscured on the can, but it turns out that Benjamin Moore’s Horizon Gray is a close match: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/horizongray. We recommend getting a sample can and giving it a shot on a test wall. If you find it either too light or too dark, you can then describe to your friendly paint store associate which direction you want to go in, and they should be able to help you custom mix the color exactly to your specifications!


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