The New Dominant Color: 50 Shades of Gray

Leave a Comment - 16


Joetta Harris

Subject: I converted from beige to gray

I was recently going through a bathroom remodel and went to Sherwin Williams to pick out my paint. The associate pointed me towards the top selling interior colors, one of them being a particular shade of light gray. I was a die hard beige fan, but found that the the light shade of gray looked cleaner and more soothing against the old dingy looking beige color. So I went with the light shade of gray and just love it!


Subject: Gray

Oh dear, I hate gray too. My Dad was a Naval Officer. Everything on The Navy Base was a shade of gray, from battleships to planes. It always reminds me of war time and sadness and men having to go overseas. Oh well, no trends last forever! I'll look for another neutral that is more "happy."


Subject: Wanted very contemporary

I became interested in gray when I was upgrading the townhouse I bought a few months ago. Everything in the house was shades of beige, including the walls and carpeting. I had Gray Flannel Oak laminate installed throughout to replace all the wall-to-wall carpeting. I left the tiled areas (bathrooms, kitchen, front entryway) intact. Then I got a Sherwin Williams color catalog and went through all the grays. I wanted a true gray, not mixed with brown, yellow, blue or green. I placed about 20-30 shades of gray next to each other and weeded out any that had a 'tint' to them and came down to the one true gray color I wanted. It's Sherwin Williams "Morning Fog" 6255. It's a very rich medium gray, not too dark, not too light. I contrasted my kitchen area with Sherwin Williams "Fusion" 6919, a kind of electric lime green. The Morning Fog and Fusion look very contemporary and hip, very Seattle, New York. I've eradicated all beige in the house. I chose various other colors for the bedrooms and baths, but the majority of the house (entire downstairs, stairway, entryway, upstairs hallway) is done in the Morning Fog. It looks fantastic and very contemporary!


Subject: Grey is back!

We have lived in our 1908 house for 29 years and have always had a light grey carpet upstairs in the 3 bedrooms and on the stairs and hallway. This gave us the freedom to use deep colors on the walls - royal blue, deep terra-cotta and a mid-range gray green, with lighter sage bathroom walls, and white or light grey trim throughout. When we got bids from 3 Angie's List carpet companies, they all exclaimed "Gray is really in right now!" I guess they were right. Our new carpet just went in last week and is a light to medium gray with 2 tones intermingled subtly that give it depth and interest. We love it and there was no trouble having it "match" our color palette, so no painting needed!


Subject: Grey paint list

Hi,I was under the impression that there was. Grey (color) paint list,as it states in the article.After signing in ,what next??????

Garrett Kelly
Garrett Kelly

Subject: 50 shades

Hey Cindy, thanks for writing. Sorry for any confusion or if the headline was misleading. However, the 50 Shades of Gray is a play on the movie title 50 Shades of Grey, there isn't a list of paint colors. Thanks and have a great day! 

Sharon D

Subject: grey with light oak

I would love to use grey tones on wall is a couple of my rooms-living room and bedroom but always seen it shown with white woodwork. We built our whole house and my husband made beautiful solid white oak trim and doors throughout house and is MUCH against painting any of it white. Is it still feasible to use grey on walls with light natural oak trim?

Lydia Torres

Subject: Grey?

Am I the only one who hates grey? It is the saddest, loneliest and most depressing non-color. It reminds me of caskets and death. Yuck! Just my opinion.


Subject: Grey?

I have three shades/values of green-gray in an open space area. For me it's having a second color in the gray that keeps it from being depressing. Took me awhile to figure out the combination but I am happy. (I try to anticipate trends so that I don't find myself repainting to keep updated.)

Marilyn Patton

Subject: Mexican decor items and gray

Could you tell me a good grey wall color shade that would do with muted Forrest green chairs, other soloed like some muted gold, terra cotta colors, and wood tones. I also have a lot of brass and silver items from Mexico. If I were to paint some book shelves and cabinets, what darker shades of grey would be appropriate?

Staci Giordullo
Staci Giordullo

Subject: Reply to Mexican decor items and gray

Hello Marilyn - my name is Staci and I'm a writer for Angie's List. It sounds like you have a lot of beautiful items and colors already in your house, and I'm confident there is the perfect shade of gray to complement them all! Unfortunately, I'm probably not the best person to direct you toward that perfect shade (I'm no interior designer!). However, Angie's List is chockfull of highly rated interior designers who would be more than happy to help you with your quest. If you're not yet an Angie's List member, be sure to give the promo code "ANSWERS" when you sign up! In the meantime, feel free to check out our Guide to Interior Design:  Thanks for the question and good luck!

Debbie Paterson

Subject: Gray paint

Some shades of gray are too purple, some even look green or sage! We found the perfect gray: Behr Classic Silver and no it's not shiny like silver metallic. We used it in our master suite; looks great with our white woodwork & light wood floors

Debra W

Subject: I Love Gray!

When Imoved tree years ago, i selected a warm gray for the throughout color scheme. In my living room I chose one wall as an accent wall and used a gray about two tones darker thatn the overall gray. I looks great! For my kitchen and bathrooms I selected the neutral light beige and my bedrooms - one is mauve and one is seafoam green. They are all calming colors and I have only one regret and that is I didn't have my trim painted white. That's an easy and inexpensive fix, I hope. GO GRAY!!!

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That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.


Remember, you not only have to remove the popcorn texture, but also redo the ceiling in some other texture.

Price will depend on several factors:

1) how much the contractor you choose hates removing popcorn or textured ceilings - some charge $1 or so/SF extra just because they hate it. There are even some who bid total drywall replacement cheaper than removing the popcorn, so you have to first find contractors who are happy to do that work, or your prices will be out of the realistic range

2) if the popcorn predates about 1990, then it could likely have asbestos in it, which doubles or triples the price, and in many cases uncapsulating it with a spray coating and then removing the drywall entirely is actually cheaper than all the protective measures necessary if it is scraped off. 

3) whether the popcorn is primarily gypsum and vermiculite (comes off REAL easy) or was the plaster of paris variety, which takes a fair amount of soaking to soften it enough to scrape off

4) what type of finish you are replacing it with - if a textured ceiling, slapcoat, knockdown finish or paneling, not real problem. If you want to go with a perfectly smooth ceiling (generally a bad idea as any variations in the drywall on a ceiling surface really shows up dramatically), then it will demand a lot of care in preparing the scraped surface, and a complete surface drywall compound skim coat to smooth out the scrapes and gouges from the removal process.

5) what underlying conditions are - if there is a lot of furniture to move around (should go to adjacent rooms) or cover and work around, high-quality rug or hardwood floor to super-protect or such, will drive cost up.

I have seen costs run from as low as $0.60/SF to $1.25/SF (for removal only). Generally, remove and recoat with a surface texture of some kind (anything but smooth) and paint will run you about $2.50-3.50/SF.

Now the bad news - if asbestos containing, can run from $5-10/SF. Many homeowners in that situation go the other legal route - have it encapsulated with an asbestos-rated sealant by an asbestos contractor, then paint it and leave it for the next homeowner to decide what to do about it. Some contractors encapsulate it and then put a 1/4" thick drywall layer over it - this usually looks like a disaster unless it has a VERY rough textured finish on it, because putting drywall sheet over a rough surface like popcorn invariably means a wavy surface commonly looks like a gently rolling ocean surface.

Hair spray is one of those things that is really bothersome.  We've run into this alot unfortunately.  And NOTHING we've found will actually clean it off.  The problem is that if you just paint over it, you still see shiny spots wherever the hairspray was.

Our companie's policy is to prime the area with any bonding primer.  This will seal the hairspray in and not let it affect the next coat of paint.  It would also be a good idea to lightly sand the area first.

Our recommendation for primer would be Zinsser's BIN Spray (red can) and can be bought at most paint stores or home improvement stores.  Other than that, any thing that specifically says "bonding" for a primer should be adequate enough. 
This is a good question.  However, the question makes the assumption that there is a paint that covers everything in 1 coat, which I don't believe is the case.  My recommendation is Benjamin Moore's Aura.  Now the fine print.  Aura will cover very well because it dries to approximately twice the thickness of other paints.  However, Aura says it will cover any color in never more than 2 coats, but there are exceptions to that as well, including some deep reds.  The main thing is the color change.  If the color you are using is within the same family of colors, you have a chance, we've also had pretty good success of grey covering over tan in 1 coat, but if you're making a major color change, don't expect any paint to cover perfectly in 1 coat.

Some other 1 coat coverage paints you could use would be Sherwin Williams Duration, and Behr Ultra Premium Plus.

Hope this helps!