John and Alice's Kitchen

Hunting For The Perfect Shade Of Gray

The other day, Alice and I were talking about plans for updating the kitchen in their home. I gave you the tour of the current kitchen and family room a few days ago, but let me remind you what the cabinets look like.

I had originally planned on painting all of the cabinets a creamy white, but as the start of the project drew closer, I began to wonder if a color on the cabinets might be a better choice…or perhaps two colors used together. So I asked Alice if she had any ideas, and in fact she did. She had recently seen a kitchen over on Cote de Texas that she really liked.

Isn’t that beautiful?!  I absolutely love those gray lower cabinets in combination with the white upper cabinets and the white backsplash.  So while John & Alice’s kitchen won’t look exactly like this, this will be the inspiration for the colors.  The differences?  I will be using butcherblock countertops and beadboard backsplash, and they have black appliances.

So I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect shade of gray.  The color used in the kitchen pictured above was Farrow & Ball’s Mouse’s Back.  Here’s what the “paint chip” looks like from their website.

Now I could just purchase this paint and run with it, but there are two problems.  First, Farrow & Ball is a British paint and wallpaper company, so finding a supplier here is challenging (the nearest store is 110 miles away).  Second, it’s quite expensive.  Also (and I’m starting to sound like a broken record here) when it comes to painting cabinets, I’m pretty partial to Kelly Moore interior oil-based paints, and they’re great at color-matching any color I bring to them.

So the other day I spent about half an hour just mulling over the color options at Home Depot.  I really love the new line of Martha Stewart colors, and I found a couple of grays that I really liked.  But then I thought I had found the perfect gray with Behr’s Elephant Skin.  I was having to go by memory with the Farrow & Ball color since I didn’t have a paint swatch to take with me.  It turns out, the two are really quite different.  Here’s the Elephant Skin color.

I never know what to think about those paint chips online. I’d much rather see the paint actually used on something–in a real room used by a real homeowner–so I searched and this is pretty much all I found. This marble coffee table makeover is from the blog Claiming Your Space.

I love the way it looks on the coffee table, and I also like that she describes this gray as a fabulous color with a hint of tan, which is what the Mouse’s Back looks like. But I don’t like that she describes it as a “dark gray”.

So, it looks like I’m still on the search for the perfect light-to-medium gray with a touch of brown. Darn. I was so hoping to use Elephant Skin on the cabinets! (Okay, that just sounded downright strange.)

Have you used the perfect shade of gray on a paint project? If so, please share!



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16 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachel
    December 3, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    We painted our old master bedroom gray and it was a huge hit! It might be a little darker than what you are going for but we got more compliments on it. I believe we used Creek Bend 790F-4 by Behr. Gray is a hard color to get just the right shade!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Paradise Regained
    December 3, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Two Ellie (twoellie.blogspot.com) painted her cabinets like what I think you're talking about. You can see pics and the color descriptions here: http://twoellie.blogspot.com/2010/09/my-kitchen-redo.html

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    dawn
    December 3, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    i did my cupboards in B&q colours light rain its a wonderfull colour. ive had so many people copy me.

    dawn…forever decorating

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen
    December 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    This is almost exactly what I want to do with our kitchen when we redo it. We have black appliances and I love the idea of a white kitchen. But I do love the way the gray lower cabinets transition between the black and the white. I'll have to file this away in my idea file…

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jungle Girl
    December 3, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Kristi,
    Great idea and grey is the ultimate in chic in london right now. Definitely don't use the farrow and ball, I've just used it to repaint a patch on a repair and my goodness, the mixed paint is nowhere near the original color. They specify because of the rustic pigment or whatever colors can be very hit or miss! For other British color inspiration "Fired Earth" is just utterly delicious. Whatever you decide it will be fab!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    December 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I agree about not trusting online paint chips.
    I like the warmer gray. But I also think the gray in her 'dream kitchen' looks too pale for black appliances.
    So just pick a new one from Martha that is warm and medium toned.
    I would say not to overthink it but then what would I have to read about?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachel
    December 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    We painted our kitchen cabinets Mourning Dove by Sherwin Williams and they turned our fantastic! Might be just what you're looking for…

    http://rachelandryangray.blogspot.com/2010/10/kitchen-re-do-phase-1.html

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Designs That Sell
    December 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Try Spalding Gray SW6074, I have never tried it but a friend of mine absolutely swears by this color! Remember, if you like a color they can cut it down to 25%, 50%, 75% etc if you ask them. Good luck! Can't wait to see what you choose 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharmin
    December 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    While you're deciding about which color to commit to, you can go to Home Depot and get little $3.00 jars to test out some of the colors you have in mind. I think they can match whatever brand you have w/their computer, but I'm not sure, so you might want to call them first. A pretty gray, that's kind of bluish, is Duron's "Designer Gray".

    Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Miss Madison's Mommy
    December 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I just used Martha's Sharkey Grey on my living rooms walls and love it. It's a true grey not blue, very much like the 1st inspiration picture!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    December 5, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Tropical Tan by Kellie Moore is a gray with tan my decorator chose it for my living room.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    CK
    December 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Silver Fox by BM is a perfect gray with a hint of tan, and I have Elephant Skin sitting in two cans waiting for my teenager's bedroom (been 5 months but I bought it!) so I will let you know!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brighton Decorator
    December 8, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I think the shade of grey really does depend on the architecture in the room, the detail and mouldings on the doors and more importantly, the lighting in the room. What will work in one space could be a disaster in another.

    When painting kitchen doors it's also vital that you choose a paint which will stand up to abuse, no good painting them only for the edges to look work 1 year down the line. As you may be having trouble sourcing Farrow & Ball, I would suggest you have a look out for 'Fine Paints Of Europe' which are distributed in the US, expensive but worth it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Designs That Sell
    April 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Try Spalding Gray SW6074, I have never tried it but a friend of mine absolutely swears by this color! Remember, if you like a color they can cut it down to 25%, 50%, 75% etc if you ask them. Good luck! Can't wait to see what you choose 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachel
    April 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    We painted our old master bedroom gray and it was a huge hit! It might be a little darker than what you are going for but we got more compliments on it. I believe we used Creek Bend 790F-4 by Behr. Gray is a hard color to get just the right shade!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Summer Else
    February 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you! You nailed this one on the head! Just finished painting one room with it and I think I’ll do a couple more. It’s elegant, light and quite simply, perfect.

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