50(0) Shades of Grey

Grey has been a trendy colour for many years. I love grey as it is such a wonderful neutral background colour.  But it is not that easy to select the right shade of grey. The colours  you see in magazines or on paint swatches are often very different to what you envisaged when painted on your walls.

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Jack’s Paint – Fan deck

A week ago a friend painted her bedroom walls a light grey, but it turned out light purple and she hates it! A couple of years ago I also selected a grey for student accommodation and it was more purple than grey!  It was a huge shock!  After this booboo I researched on how to avoid such a mistake again which could potentially be very costly.  I also compiled a checklist on how to select your favourite colour.  Every time I need to purchase paint I take this checklist with me. Click here for my free checklist.


To find the undertone of your grey, it can assist you with planning the mood of your room. Use a brown undertone for a warmer mood. The undertone of  blues and greens  are cooler and has a calming effect.


This method of selecting a colour is ideal to match a grey with your furniture, carpet or curtains.  For example, yellow is a warm colour.

Home shopping spy

Having yellow curtains or upholstery you could contrast them with grey walls in a cooler hue (blue or green).  A favourite colour in a Persian carpet can be discreetly emphasised by repeating it in neutral grey walls.


Grey is not a pure colour; it is a combination of black and white and small amounts of other hues.  In the colour fan shown above there are shades of grey in each of the different colour hues! So you can see that there are many more than only 50 shades of grey!!


You need to determine and compare the base colour of your favourite grey.  The presence

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From Left to Right the undertones range from green to brown

of the undertones are best noticeable in the darker colours in a fan deck strip and also by comparing different grey swatches.  The undertones can be red, yellow or brown for warmer colours or blue and green for cooler colours.


It can be difficult to determine the undertone hue of a grey colour.  If the darker colour

Pacific Union

in the strip isn’t helping you, go the the adjacent strips in the fan deck.  Fan decks are compiled according to family hues with different intensities, mostly from lighter to darker colours. The same with the swatch racks in paint stores.


Light has a huge influence on how a colour is perceived by the human eye.  A swatch can appear very different in daylight from a store’s fluorescent lights.  Try to chose your colour swatch in daylight.  Colours also appear different on the walls in a room. Walls painted in the same colour will look different.  Walls with lots of sunlight (facing north or west) will look different to a wall in a passage or south facing room with little sunlight.


Painting sample boards or strips on walls are expensive. One liter is the minimum quantity that most suppliers offer.  Painting samples depends on your budget or the size of


the area that you need to paint.  For a huge area or an entire house it will be cost effective to paint a few boards or strips to make absolutely sure you have the right colour.  Repainting the whole area could burn your pocket or you will have to live with an unwanted colour for many years.  By painting  boards of 1m² in your colour(s) and holding them in different areas at different times of the day and night could save you a lot of pain and money. When painting strips remember to paint them on all the walls as I explained about light in the paragraph above.


My advise is never to choose a colour by it’s name alone. Remember the names given to paint colours are subjective and sometimes playful (tongue in cheek). All the colour strips in the fandeck shown below have one swatch with GREY in the name, for example Carbon grey, Submarine grey,  Faux grey, Denim grey and Moor grey.  Many of my favourite greys aren’t even called grey, but Cement, Old socks, Headache, Stormy Cloud and Boredom!!!!!!


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Jack’s Paint uses the NCS colour system

There are different standard colour systems that paint manufacturers use. Jack’s Paint uses the NCS system (Natural Colour System). Therefore the codes of the colours from different manufacturers are not the same .  Ask your supplier to explain the codes of their products.

Lastly, to make absolutely sure you have the correct shade of grey ask for the break down of the pigments used in your chosen colour to avoid unwanted surprises. Click here for my  free checklist.

Happy painting and I would love to hear your comments!


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