Never Say Never: The Story of My Gray Walls

When gray walls started to become a popular in the decorating world I resisted. I thought gray was cold. I thought it was lifeless. I thought it was boring. I even went as far as to say “I will NEVER paint my walls gray!” You see, I love color. And I didn’t think of gray as a color. I considered it the opposite of color.

Fast forward to a few months ago as I was starting my basement bathroom. I knew eventually it would function as the bathroom for our future bedroom suite. I also knew I had NO idea what color scheme I wanted that future bedroom to be. Who knows when I will begin (let alone complete) finishing our basement into the said bedroom. I will have probably decided on and changed my mind 5 times before that happens. What I did know was that both the bedroom and bathroom would have white wood planked walls. And the bathroom would have marble tile. I stewed and stewed about what color to paint the walls. White was not an option, cause remember…. I LURVE color :)

I finally broke down one day and while I was at Home Depot I picked out some gray paint chips to bring home. You know, just to see….

And then I taped them to the walls.

And then I kind of fell in love with one.

I had been looking at it all wrong. Gray can be the perfect backdrop. The perfect neutral that you then add color to. Gray didn’t have to be THE color. I could add whatever colors I wanted. And if I decided I wanted a different color scheme once the bedroom part is done, I can change it out without painting again.

Plus, the gray would look down right sexy with my marble tile.

So I painted my walls GRAY!!!

homeright paint stick edited 1 648x1024 Never Say Never: The Story of My Gray Walls

Sorry for the horrible picture. I took it with my timer and apparently I stink at that.

I have written a review about the regular sized PaintStick in the past. And I love it. But the basement bathroom has very short ceilings. The basement ceilings are just over 7 feet but in the bathroom, the previous owners furred out the ceiling to hide pipes. So it is even lower. Plus the bathroom is the size of a postage stamp. The regular Paint Stick would have been too long.

I decided to use my PaintStick Mini for the first time. The thought of stepping in a pan of gray paint and getting it on my marble tile that I SLAVED over installing made me sick. If you have ever painted a tight space you know the chances of stepping in or knocking over a paint tray goes up 127%.

The PaintStick Mini was perfection.

PaintStick Mini Never Say Never: The Story of My Gray Walls

(Image source: HomeRight)

grey paint 669x1024 Never Say Never: The Story of My Gray Walls

This is before I caulked, added the sink & toilet, and before putting up shelves in the “linen closet” space. So don’t judge…. But you can see it against the white. Isn’t it so soft!

I picked the paint color Driftwood Gray by Martha Stewart and had it mixed in Behr Ultra. I also had them mix it at 75% so it would be a little lighter. Did you know they could do that? If you find the color you love but it is too dark, you can ask them to mix it at 25%, 50%, or 75%. It is awesome!

This was my first time picking out and painting with gray.  I knew from other people that gray was a tricky color. I personally think that gray and yellow are the two hardest colors to choose the right shade.

When choosing a gray color it is vital to understand the different undertones it has.

There are grays that have virtually no undertones. I like to call them stone grays because, well, I just do. Then there are grays that have a warm undertone. They will either have a red/pink undertone or a brown undertone. Some grays are cool. They have a blue or a green undertone. Here are some examples:

undertones in grey paint edited 31 685x1024 Never Say Never: The Story of My Gray Walls

There is no way for me to sit and tell you THIS is the perfect gray or THAT one is perfect. Because there are so many factors. Lighting is a BIG one. It will depend on how much natural light you have and what type of light bulbs you use. It will also depend on the other colors in your home, the fabrics or upholstery, and the wood tones.

I would NEVER pick a paint chip and then buy a gallon of it. Even if I had taped the paint chips on the wall and tested them in different lights. Because paint will ALWAYS look a little different when painted on a large area. Please do yourself and your wallet a favor and buy the small $3 sample cans of your top 2 or 3 choices. Paint a large section of your wall and live with it for a couple of days. Then after that you can buy your gallons.

Have you ever painted a wall gray? Did you find it tricky? What are your favorite grays???

And for more points of view and info here are some other articles about choosing grey paint that may help you.

Grey Paint Color Ideas By Home Stories A to Z

Gray, Grey, or Greige {Finding the Perfect Grey} By Pretty Handy Girl

Room Evolution from Beige To Grey By All Things Thrifty

{Shades of Neutral} Choosing Cabinet Colors By The Inspired Room



  1. says

    I have said the exact same thing about grey and now find myself eating my words. I also think green is very hard to match. I once rented a house with apple green counter tops, pistachio green walls, forest green window seat cover, teal green carpet and kelly green floors. It was horrid. I affectionately (without much actual affection) called it The War of The Greens kitchen. I’m not sure which green won.

  2. Marie says

    I too am painting a gray. Started with the color cards at Home Depot. Then purchased a couple of samples. One had a green undertone which I did not care for. I chose the other sample because I had painted three walls an average of 12″ x 24″ and after a couple of days
    decided this was it. Lo and behold I purchased 2 gallons and when I painted a small wall it looked like some shade of baby blue!!!
    I was horrified. Took paint back and the kind gentleman tried lightening it and that didn’t work. So I bought a quart of a much darker gray,came home and found the perfect combo. Half the baby blue and have the darker gray. It was perfect. My advise don’t give up!!!

  3. Cathy says

    I’m still searching for the perfect gray to go in my kitchen; cabs are honey oak ( and I do not want to paint them white cause then I’d need new counters…) so I need one with more blue in it. I think I’ll try the color you chose and see if they can mix a sample. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Calliope says

    Now? Everything is going gray in my house…and it is the most difficult color to nail!
    I just painted the kitchen walls Light Pewter by BM which is a light gray/beige that I love more and more everyday and my bedroom walls Kendall charcoal also by BM. The bedroom is like a cocoon now and I am decorating with aged gold frames and red persian like rugs
    Gray rocks!

  5. says

    When we purchased our home in February, the entire (When I say entire, I mean every wall and ceiling. EVERY.) house was painted in a flat, gray paint. We are in the process of painting, room by room. While I like gray, I will not be sorry to see it gone, as it has become the bane of my existence. I may leave it in one of the guest bedrooms, though, since the paint is in good shape and that will be one less room to paint. :)

  6. says

    We had our bathroom painted a medium-gray last year and I love it – it has blue undertones. Not only does black look fantastic with this shade of gray, but so do bright accessories!

  7. dani e says

    I painted a bedroom a beautiful medim gray with white crown moulding. Everyone thought I was driving the bus to crazy town. It turned out amazing and I get so many compliments! Well chosen color! Thanks for the tip on percentage of color! I will save that tip in my back pocket! Can’t wait to see how you finish the room… good luck!


  8. says

    I too was anti-gray in my mind for quite a while. But it’s true, when you have a lot of colorful accents; it works perfectly. I used Benjamin Moore’s BUNNY GRAY. I thought it was a true light gray, but once I looked across the room to see what I had painted so far, I realized it had a lavender tone. I LOVE the color and it goes great with everything. It feels cozy but is still light enough for the darkness of the basement! I used it in my office with gold metallic and white accents. In my closet with many colorful accents. And in my bathroom with nature green and wood accents. There is a painting in the hall that is all pastel colors. It looks amazing in each one, and you barely notice it’s all one color paint!

  9. Lara says

    I wanted a grey kitchen, and at the time, hubs worked at the blue store (in paint, no less!) and found a reject grey that I loved! Since my kitchen does not get much light, I decided that the reject was too dark and decided to lighten it with a quart of white. Now, depending on the light, it’s periwinkle or lavender. But I decided I LOVE it and painted my dining room the same color. Found some fabric at Wally World that matches and installed that into my cabinet door frames. It all works!

  10. Sarah says

    The best grey I have found is Intellectual Grey by Sherwin Williams. No real undertones that are noticeable, but still in the “warm” grey family. My hair dresser re-did her salon and used this color and her black mirrors popped! So, I gave it a try in my all white kitchen! It makes my cabinetry pop and it goes well with all of the decor in my apartment (open floor plan)! Love it! I love how grey on the walls can make a white accented room look so crisp!

  11. says

    I love gray! Although i like color, I am not as bright as some :) I love how you pointed out that gray can reay change in light and different areas. I just found this out with some tile we put in. Luckily it all worked out in the end!

  12. says

    I’ve not painted a wall gray—yet!— but I LOVE gray. And I never used to either! My favorite so far is Sterling by Behr. It’s a very cool light gray, with little, if any, undertones. I’ve used it on furniture makeovers and in an upcoming kitchen makeover for my mom.

    Look forward to seeing your space with the gray!

  13. says

    That’s so funny, Stacy – - like you, I felt like gray was a lame-o color – - or rather, LACK of color. After all, we left Ohio to escape the gray days – - why would I ever want to incorporate it into our home. However, I’ve been won over, too! I have just seen so many rooms with gray accents or gray walls that really look so bright and alive – - the opposite of dull and lethargic. I even want to paint my new roll top desk GRAY! Thanks for sharing your story and for confirming the value of gray as a neutral.

  14. Kara says

    If you are painting an empty house, don’t be too freaked out by the undertones! I had my entire town house painted a lovely grey with blue undertone, only to walk in the first time and see a sea of blue. I was sick over it, until I took a piece of our large scale abstract art over to the place. Bam. the walls instantly turned grey again. Moral of the story — grey in a vacuum will look very much like its undertone — until you put your things back in the room.

  15. says

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