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What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Posted by kendog2 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 16:45

I'm painting our bathroom in horizontal gray and white stripes. Our tub and toilet is Kohler Country Grey which is a blue gray. It has been a nightmare trying to come up with a gray that didn't clash with the fixtures. I think we've finally settled on Benjamin Moore Silver Lake at 50% strength. Now I need to make a final decision on the white for the stripes and wood trim. I thought that choosing the white color would be easy compared to the gray. I should know better by now. I tried BM Simply White but it was too yellow next to our white (grayish-pink undertones) tile. Next, I tried BM White Dove but that seemed brownish yellow. I got two more samples, BM Oxford White and SW Snowbound - both bright whites. Snowbound leans pink and Oxford is lighter but looks a bit gray.

Does anyone know what shade of bright white is supposed to look best with gray? It seems there are are differing opinions on whether the gray should be matched with a gray white or a warmer white. At this point I'm almost tempted to just go with Beh'r Ultra Pure White because I'm tired of spending weeks trying to choose paint colors.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

BM Decorator's White? CC-20


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

All whites and all grays in every color collection belong to a hue family.

They're all colors. All of them. To call them white and gray is misleading but to call them what they actually are is confusing.

The whites are tints and the grays are chromatic grays.

Pastel and chromatic whites are terms heard less often but it's also correct to use these terms for colors that look very near a pure white.

In every color collection for paint, tile, whatever... you will find a range of near pure white colors each belonging to a different hue family.

You have to choose a color of white just like you choose any other color. It has to harmonize and relate to other elements in the room.

Start by figuring out what hue family the color of your fixtures belong to and choose a couple whites from the same hue family. Still have to test to make sure the spectral reflectance curve (the fingerprint) of the paint color plays nicely with the quality of light in the space.

Essentially that's all choosing a paint color is about. Coordinating hue families and partnering color fingerprints with quality of light.

Hue families, overtones, spectral reflectance curves. If you can get your head around what those three things are, choosing whites and grays is easier than falling off a log.

Colors of white in first row aligned with hue family below.

This post was edited by funcolors on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 20:09


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

NOTE ... "Hue families" seem to be the mysterious "undertones" but easier to understand


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

When I was looking for a nice bright white with no undertones, the guy at the paint store said to just use the BM pastel base, just the base white, nothing mixed in. I painted all the trim, doors and windows with this color in a spare room. Looks fantastic. I put BM Utah sky on the walls, so it I really wanted a clean bright white. The pastel base was the best of all the whites I had tried. Not cool, not warm. Just white.


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

My absolute favorite for a bright, soft white, that works great with gray, is SW Pure White. It’s shown and talked about at the bottom of this blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: SW Pure White


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

lazygarden, could look at it that way.

Another way to look at it is hue families, overtones and undertones are distinctly different.

Just about everything color is corollary. If there is a yin there has to be a yang. Laws of duality kinda thing.

Overtone and undertone are corollary.

Overtone defines a color's direct relationship to a hue parent - it's about how far a color leans one way or another towards a hue family on a color wheel.

Undertone is a physical result you can leverage and manipulate by spreading a medium, like paint, at different rates. i.e. undertone is revealed when a medium is spread thinly or when the medium has an element of translucency and when applied to a substrate an undertone color is pronounced.

Not all colors have an undertone. But all colors have an overtone, are predisposed towards a particular hue family.


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Thank you everyone for the helpful replies. Funcolors, are you saying that there are right and wrong white colors to match every color family? I do understand that all colors have undertones but I am still having trouble figuring out which white will work best. The color we chose is BM Silver Lake at 50% strength. It is a gray with blue undertones. The BM Oxford white has gray undertones and looks a little bluish to me. I'm not sure I like it because it looks like the color of skim milk to me when compared with Simply White and SW Snowbound. Those two colors look more creamy like whole milk. No sure if that makes sense. I've never used a gray-toned white. It might look fine if I put it on the wall and stopped looking at it next to the other whites but then again, maybe not. I might take another look at Simply White because I had it mixed in a base that was discontinued which may be why it came out looking too yellow.

Are you saying that I should be looking for a cool white to go with gray since it is a cool color? So something like Oxford White or Decorator's white would be better than a creamier white? What about Chantilly Lace, Snowfall White or SW Pure White?

Angie, thank you for suggesting the BM Pastel Base. Unfortunately, the nearest Benjamin Moore store is an hour away. I usually have my Benjamin Moore colors mixed at Home Depot.

Nanny2a, thanks for posting the link. I will check out the SW Pure White. I never thought I would collect such a large number of white paint samples.

This post was edited by kendog2 on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 23:54


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Funcolors, are you saying that there are right and wrong white colors to match every color family?

Not right or wrong. Every color belongs to a hue family except a true neutral white, a true neutral gray and a true neutral black. Those three are achromatic, which means without color, and therefore can not be categorized into hue family.

Achieving true neutrality in paint color is not easy. Truly neutral white/gray/black usually comes direct from a manufacturer; is not mixed in a store.

I do understand that all colors have undertones but I am still having trouble figuring out which white will work best.

All colors do not have an undertone. If you spread a color thinly and the revealed color is the same as the top tone/hue family parent - there's no undertone, it just the same hue through and through.

It is a gray with blue undertones.

There is no such thing as grays with undertones. There are chromatic grays that belong to hue families and there is true achromatic, neutral gray.

Gray with blue undertones is a backwards way to interpret how color works. Reversing that thought could be helpful.

Instead of a gray with blue undertones, it is blue that has been grayed down so much..... grayed down so far........ that it is very near a true neutral gray. The color looks like it could be just gray but it's not, it is still blue. And that's a chromatic gray.

The color we chose is BM Silver Lake at 50% strength. It is a gray with blue undertones.

BM Silver Lake is #1598. If you look in the front of the BM fandeck you will find an index of BM hue families organized by color numbers. #1457 - #1680 is BM's "Cool Neutrals Toned Blues"

Yes it is blue. Yes it is toned/grayed.

The BM Oxford white has gray undertones and looks a little bluish to me.

Again, let go of the "gray undertones" concept because it is not correct and very likely the root of why you're having a hard time finding the colors you want.

BM Oxford is #869. And according to the hue family index, #743 - #973 are Teals-Blues Fresco Pales.

It doesn't have very much chroma or colorfulness to it which is why it looks gray more than anything else. Not sure I'd call it bluish - altho compared to other colors it could very well look bluish.

Yes, BM's "fresco pales" description suggests a skim milk kind of description.

So something like Oxford White or Decorator's white would be better than a creamier white? What about Chantilly Lace, Snowfall White or SW Pure White?

I would choose to sample Chantilly Lace or SW Extra White. With Silver Lake. Chantilly Lace should look warmer/creamier/cleaner/clearer compared to SW Extra White. SW Extra White will look slightly cooler and more grayed. Those are two good, slightly differing choices.

Keep in mind that closest/most similar to does not mean "match" or even close to a match. Just means close/most similar. Here's a comparison of BM whites to the few whites SW does offer:

BM 876 Alabaster is closest/most similar to SW7004 Snowbound

BM 869 Oxford White is closest/most similar to SW7005 Pure White

BM 2121-70 Chantilly Lace is closest/most similar to SW7006 Extra White

BM 2143-70 Simply White is closest/most similar to SW7006 Extra White

BM 2144-70 Snowfall White is closest/most similar to SW7006 Extra White

BM Decorator's White is closest/most similar to SW7007 Ceiling White


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

I was going to suggest BM Chantilly Lace. It is definitely a cleaner white than the other BM choices you have tried. I used it throughout my home. Love it. Here is a small comparison of Chantilly against Simply White and White Dove.

 photo bm-top-3-whites_zpsa68f4c4b.jpg


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Whites tend to show even the most subtle differences, so because the Behr base you're going to use is different from the BM base in which the BM colors are mixed, I would strongly recommend choosing a Behr white to use. A BM white is going to look different in a Behr base, unless you have a BM sample the HD store can scan (rather than pick up the formula in their computer). And for that, you'd have to drive the hour to the BM store...

Whites will drive you crazy. Simplify the process, and choose a Behr white.


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

My house is SW Pure white inside and outside (interior & exterior paint of course. semi gloss on both.


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Funcolors, thank you so much for taking the time to explain about hue families. I have never seen this information before. I will get a sample of Chantilly Lace. It sounds like that color might just work.

Thank you, Mamorella, for posting the white color comparisons. I'm glad to know that Chantilly Lace looks great in your house.

Peony4. I have heard that BM colors can be most accurately mixed in their own base. However, so far, I've had pretty good luck with having BM colors mixed in Behr paint. I think the BM formulas have been adjusted to work with the Behr bases. Otherwise, the colors might come out completely different than what they were meant to be. I do have a BM fandeck so I could ask the Home Depot staff to do a computer match instead of using the formula. Does anyone else have an opinion on whether the BM colors can be more accurately matched using the formulas or a computer match of the chip?


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

After trying several more colors, I think I've narrowed it down to Chantilly Lace or White Opulence, both Benjamin Moore colors. I love the clean white of the Chantilly Lace next to the gray. However, the White Opulence matches much better with the tile and doesn't look nearly as stark as the Chantilly Lace. White Opulence looks pink next to other whites. If I choose it, I'm afraid that I'll be able to see the pink a little even after I eliminate the other colors around it.

Chantilly Lace is on the left, White Opulence on the right. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos.


 photo DSC06621_zps4df024f3.jpg


 photo DSC06620_zps1c849edc.jpg

 photo DSC06628_zps1d62f129.jpg


We're planning to frame the mirror with wood molding (similar to the photo below) which I guess should be painted the same color white as the walls.  photo traditional-bathroom_zpsaac794f5.jpg

I could ignore the tile since we eventually plan to change it but it could be a couple of years before we get around to it. (We're still working on another bathroom and plan to remodel the kitchen after that.)

I would welcome opinions about which color looks best. I'm thinking of buying sample jars of both colors and painting them on the wall. If I still can't decide, what do you think about mixing the colors 50/50 or maybe 25% Chantilly Lace and 75% White Opulence?

This post was edited by kendog2 on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 18:35


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

The one on the right, White Opulence, definitely looks best! I dont know that I would mix them, I really think the White Opulence on its own looks great with both the stripe and the tile, fixtures, etc.


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Thank you rdbrya2 for weighing in on the color. Maybe I just need to get over my fear of having pink striped walls. The White Opulence doesn't look as pink when I remove the Chantilly lace card so maybe it will be all right once I stop comparing it to other colors.


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RE: What White Paint Color Goes with Gray?

Any other opinions on which white is right?


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