12 In all/ House & Home

Picking A ‘True Gray’ Interior Paint Color, Plus Inexpensive Re-Decorating Tips

Paint is tricky…

Ask anyone who has ever gone looking for a simple ‘white’ paint color to paint a room.

There are literally hundreds of different shades of white.

Why? Well, it all comes down to a little thing called ‘undertone’.

These are the colors that are underneath the overall color.

It can come as a nasty shock when you’ve picked what you thought was a nice light caramel taupe color from the 2×2″ sample card, only to discover after painting an entire room (or house) that what should have been a nice neutral brown now looks ‘pink’ in a 300 sq. foot room.

Been there, done that.

So, needless to say, when I wanted a ‘true gray’ I made sure to do my homework.

Many grays have undertones of red, yellow, blue, and even purple.

I wanted a pure gray with no obvious undertone.

I found what I was looking for in Sherwin William’s Repose Gray:

This gray is light and silvery, rather than a heavy-handed ‘industrial concrete’ shade.

Paired with an ultra white trim color, and Dovetail for the cabinets, my bathroom re-dec is approaching its one year anniversary.

Considering my budget was minuscule, I incorporated a few hacks in my project and figured I’d share!

 

SPRAY PAINT HAS COME A LONG WAY!:

Spray paint is an incredibly inexpensive (around $5-7$ a can!) way to give your existing old builder’s oak colored items new life. Head down to the ‘cage’ in your Home Depot paint department, and check out all the fabulous colors and sheens! Β I’m partial to Rustoleum products, as I’ve found they consistently give the best results on all sorts of different surfaces (wood/metal/plastic).

Here is the before and after of the bathroom wall cabinet that was in the house when we bought it. The ‘before’ is a stock photo (as I’m terrible with taking ‘before’ photos). However, it is an exact replica of the old cabinet.

BEFORE:

photo courtesy of Lowe’s

I sprayed the entire cabinet a flat white, then gave it a protective layer of clear sheer matte coating.

*Look for cheap hardware and spray with a layers of white milk paint (yes, Rustoleum makes this!). Then use a small square of sand paper on surface until you get the vintage look you’re aiming for:

AFTER:

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Can’t afford a new bathroom vanity or medicine cabinet? Paint the old one!

I was terrified to do this! I’d never painted an existing piece of furniture before this, and figured it would involve complicated steps and products.

Coupled with the fact that the vanity was a hodge podge of real and pressed wood (with a faux wood colored paper glued on it), I did not know how well the paint would stick. Honestly, I simply brushed on two layers of SW Dovetail and called it a day. Its held up fairly well, but after a year a few spaces need touching up. But, it’s a great alternative until you can afford to replace the whole thing.

BEFORE:

photo courtesy of Interior Housing

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AFTER:

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A few parting tips & tricks:

  • Instead of replacing existing hardware, use Rustoleum’s metallic spray paint on old ones. I LOVE Rustoleum’s Metallic Oil Rubbed Bronze. Simply unscrew the hardware, take out back, and spray a coat or two. When it dries, you’ll have what looks like brand new up-to-date knobs and handles! My handles were a nasty gold color, now they’re a chic up to date black bronze.

 

  • Live plants are always an inexpensive, but lovely way to accessorize.

  • My CHEAP go to re-dec resources: Tuesday Morning’s / Craigslist / Facebook Swip Swap / Amazon ‘Deals’ / Houzz

  • ‘Milk Paint’ is a vintage lover’s best friend! Revitalize existing wall switch plates with a coat or two!

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Sharon Hutchinson
    August 26 at 10:29 am

    Wow, and I thought I was the only one who loves gray, even in clothing/shoes! It was really fun looking at these tips and the nice look they bring to just about everything (in my opinion). Light to dark, doesn’t matter. Gray rules!

    • Reply
      kristine
      August 26 at 11:17 am

      Thanks Sharon! Especially when you ‘warm’ it up by pairing it with a crisp white or pale pink!

  • Reply
    Karen
    August 26 at 12:04 pm

    We got advice from an interior designer on getting a gray paint with no undertones. We painted every wall with it and had all of the woodwork repainted (from that nasty Navajo White that yellows so badly your house looks like you smoke 3 packs a day). Then put on new hardwear. The house looks very updated now! And the gray provides such a nice neutral backdrop. You can change out your accessories and have an “all new” color scheme!

    • Reply
      kristine
      August 27 at 6:52 am

      Thank you Karen! Yes, no undertones makes SUCH a huge difference! I had the same ‘smoker’s white’ on my old trim too! LOL! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Katie
    August 26 at 2:07 pm

    The thing you must first remember is, it’s only paint. Not heart surgery. If you find samples of the colours you like, grab 4 and group them together somewhere you get different day (and night time over head light). Over the next few days, check off the ones you don’t like at certain times of the day. Have your partner do the same with different marker. This has never steered me wrong.
    It’s the physicality of painting that’s a bear!

    • Reply
      kristine
      August 27 at 6:49 am

      Very true Katie! Paint color will look completely different depending on the time of day.

  • Reply
    Debbie
    August 29 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks for the ideas Kristine. Just painted and it sure did not come out the color like the sample cards. Love the bathroom. We are getting ready to remodel a small half bath. Love the two mirror idea.

    • Reply
      kristine
      August 30 at 8:59 am

      Thank you so much Debbie! Right?! Paint colors on the tile can be SO deceptive! If possible, its a good idea to get samples to paint on a good sized section, then let it dry for a few days to see if it is what you want.
      Good luck with the half bath!! FUN! πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    Anne
    September 11 at 5:40 am

    Nice informative post… I have been having issues with my old cabinet looking all old and rundown. Thank you for the tips. They are ingenuous.
    Anne recently posted…Best Cream For Nipples When Breastfeeding In 2017My Profile

    • Reply
      kristine
      September 11 at 9:01 pm

      You’re welcome Anne! Good luck with the old cabinets. There’s nothing like a fresh facelift! πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    Li
    September 14 at 10:24 am

    So you went from double vanity to single?

    • Reply
      kristine
      September 14 at 9:30 pm

      No, the ‘before’ is a stock picture. Like I said, I’m terrible at taking the time to take ‘before’ pics. However, the wood color is exactly the same color as my vanity before I painted it.

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