The Best Greige Paint Colors Aren’t Boring—Designers Share 8 Go-To Shades
Including the top seller in Nicole Gibbons’s living room.
Published Jul 9, 2021 1:11 AM
Greige is one of those chameleon colors: It goes from gray to beige and back again depending on whether morning or afternoon sun is streaming through your windows. The newfound neutral may not scream “excitement” like lavender or claret red, but it’s a crowd-pleasing favorite for good reason—it can morph into whatever you need. Designers have relied on its versatility to create subtle accent walls and contrasting trims and molding—and even spruce up kitchen cabinetry.
But Nicole Gibbons, founder and CEO of paint company Clare, suspects greige’s ubiquity is thanks, in part, to its name: It makes a pair of ordinary colors sound more interesting. “Gray can feel cold and sterile, and beige can feel blah, but greige marries the two into a varied hue that can range from airy to dark and moody. It has the perfect mix of warm and cool that makes it more inviting,” she says. If you’re unsure about which undertones to look out for, fear not. We sourced eight recommendations from the experts (including one from Gibbons herself) to help you find the best greige paint colors for your next room refresh.
Our Top Picks
To Breathe Life Into Millwork: Bruton White, Benjamin Moore
When it comes to choosing that perfect neutral shade, greige is the answer. My go-to greige paint color is Bruton White, a part of the historic Williamsburg collection by Benjamin Moore. Anchored in 18th-century tradition, this soft gray was created using white and a touch of black pigment to achieve a chalky, romantic quality. It’s the perfect balance between a warm cream and a gray. The bespoke tone is great for millwork, like kitchen cabinets and doors. —Anthony D’Argenzio, Zio and Sons
To Brighten the Bedroom: Classic, Clare
We recently used Classic by Clare in my friend Emily‘s primary bedroom during our room swap and found it to be the perfect wall color. It kept her space light and bright without going with a truer white. —Jessica Klein, Oh, I Design Studio
To Make a Subtle Statement: DKC-07, Donald Kaufman
Kaufman has a limited line, but the hues are so dynamic and layered; the range is actually quite diverse. The colors turn shades depending on how much sunlight hits them at different times of the day. DKC-07 is neutral but still has personality, so it’s great for classic spaces that want a little pizzazz. —Megan Grehl, Megan Grehl Design
For Contrasting Cabinets: Balboa Mist, Benjamin Moore
I love Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist because it’s a great balance between warm and cool and a perfect putty neutral. We love to use greige on kitchen cabinets and vanities for a warm and approachable look. —Tiffany Piotrowski, Tiffany Leigh Design
To Warm Up the Living Room: Elephant’s Breath, Farrow & Ball
Elephant’s Breath by Farrow & Ball is the perfect greige because it reads as a fresh, rich gray, but the magenta undertones ensure your space will still feel very warm. —Emma Beryl, Emma Beryl Interiors
For Delicate Details: Scrimshaw, Portola Paints
Portola Paints has some of my favorite collections of greige. They’re understated while still being cheerful. I use Scrimshaw on kitchen cabinets and love the softness it brings. —Mandy Cheng, Mandy Cheng Design
If Green Is More Your Thing: Ripe Olive, Sherwin-Williams
We have a love-hate [relationship] with greige: The morning greige could be the perfect color, but by evening it takes on an entirely different look. We like embracing the differences, as long as the greige colors don’t spill into a pink or yellowy tone. We’re on board with greige this year, although we’re calling it “greege” since all the tones we love are in the green family. —Raili Clasen, Raili CA Design
To Soak Up Light: Penthouse, Clare
Our number-one best-selling shade of greige is Penthouse; I have the color in my living room. I didn’t want white walls—I didn’t want it to be void of color—because I love color so much. Coming from a dungeon-dark apartment, I really wanted to maximize the natural light and knew I could bring in pops of color elsewhere with my artwork. —Nicole Gibbons, Clare
Are paint swatches accurate?
In a word: Yes. But they’re usually so small it’s impossible to make a decision based on them. At Clare, swatches come in 8-by-8-inch squares and are peel-and-stick, making them easier to move around or place under light sources. “Live with your color for a good 24 hours at least,” suggests Gibbons, who recommends paying closer attention to depth (or how saturated the paint is) versus mulling over its undertones. “It’s about the mood you want to create, and that’s impacted by how light or dark the color is,” she adds.
What is the light reflectance value (LRV) number of paint?
LRV is a nominal term used to measure the amount of visible light that a color reflects. It’s mostly jargon used by professionals, says Gibbons, but can be a helpful reference point when you’re torn between choices. “Let’s say you have two shades of greige, and one’s LRV is 80 whereas the other is 76. It’s close, but the 76 will be a little darker,” she explains. In other words, the higher the number, the brighter the color.
Can you paint over a textured wall?
Yes, but you’ll need a bit more paint and primer, according to Gibbons. “You’ll also want to use a nap roller that has deeper, longer fingers to help get into those grooves and cover more evenly,” she says. “A lot of today’s paints, including Clare, are a self-primer or primer-in-one, which works for most applications. But if you’re changing finishes or painting over a dark color, stains, or patch repairs, you should prime for a more seamless look.”
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