I receive so many questions about Benjamin Moore Gray Owl that I thought I would go ahead and do a Color Spotlight on the color to talk through the differences between Gray Owl, Sherwin Williams Repose Gray, Benjamin Moore Stonington and Benjamin Moore Classic Gray because there are some significant differences.
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
Gray Owl has been one of Benjamin Moore’s bestselling paint colors for about 4-5 years now and it’s no surprise because it is a gorgeous and very versatile light warm gray.
Gray Owl has just the right balance of warm/cool undertones that makes it such a dependable color. However, with all light warm grays, the more natural light in a space, the cooler the color will go. I personally think that Gray Owl works best in spaces with either some natural light or very little natural light. In spaces flooded with natural light, the color CAN go cool gray or even blue tone like so many of the light warm grays. The exception is in spaces with an abundance of natural light that is receiving direct West facing sunshine. Gray Owl looks AMAZING is this situation!
It’s very important for me to mention that when it comes to light warm grays, I do not recommend color matching but rather buy the brand of paint of the color you want. I have been seeing some significant differences in color when it comes to the light warm grays when this is done. Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Behr all have different shades of white bases prior to the color being mixed. Any slight change in base color can dramatically impact these light warm greige colors.
via Heydt Designs
Gray Owl is (in the right lighting) can be one of the prettiest wall colors out there and it can be the perfect foundation for other beautiful design elements and colors in a space.
This bathroom below is the perfect example of when I think Gray Owl looks its best! Notice that the space has a mix of some natural light and some artificial light. To me, this mix is the best situation for Gray Owl.
While Gray Owl is one of my favorite colors, it is a very finicky color and it must be sampled in the space and lighting to be sure all the stars align.
I receive questions all of the time about the differences between Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, Sherwin Williams Repose Gray, Benjamin Moore Stonington and Benjamin Moore Classic Gray and let’s talk about these ever so slight differences.
When you look at the colors above via computer, the differences are not slight but rather pretty significant. However, on a wall, the differences are so subtle but in certain lighting conditions, the differences can be huge!
Sherwin Williams Repose Gray
Gray Owl is ever so slightly lighter than Repose Gray and Repose has just a tad more warmth than Gray Owl. However, these two colors are nearly identical on the wall. Repose Gray is the number one color I recommend for my clients because it’s not as finicky as Gray Owl because Repose has a tad more warmth. BTW, you can read more about Sherwin Williams Repose Gray here.
Here’s Repose Gray below in a space:
Notice above in my client’s dining room that the space has a lot of natural light flooding in. Notice how Repose stays warm in this situation. Gray Owl would more than likely go a tad cooler in this space with this much light.
Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray
As you look above at the color swatches, Stonington Gray looks like it’s a completely different color, right?! On the wall, the differences between Stonington and Gray Owl are very subtle. BUT!! As you can see above, Stonington has more cool gray in the color, which can go very cool in spaces with a lot of natural light. In spaces with a mix or some natural light/artificial light (or west facing direct sun), Stonington can be stunning and sometimes hard to tell the difference between Stonington and Gray Owl. Stonington is also a tad darker in shade.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray is lighter than the other three colors and is the color I recommend in spaces with an abundance of full natural light when the other three colors could go cool/sterile.
This space below designed by Studio McGee is full natural light and notice how Benjamin Moore Classic Gray is still a beautiful mix of warm/cool light warm gray. Classic gray may not be the best color choice in spaces with no natural light but it’s the perfect alternative to Gray Owl, Repose and Stonington when there is full, full natural light flooding in.
via Studio McGee
I very rarely use Classic Gray but when I do, it’s this exact lighting situation above with an abundance of natural light. Gray Owl, Repose and especially Stonington would go too cool/sterile and maybe even light blue in this light.
So the moral of the story is lighting can dramatically impact this light warm grays significantly! It’s so important to sample the color first in the space just to be sure.
Well… I hope I explained the differences that make sense. Please let me know if I did not or if you have any questions!
By the way, if you’re interested in my “Go-To” colors that I recommend to my clients, you can get to that post by clicking the image below.
Thanks for stopping by today!
Which would you use in a basement bathroom with no natural light. I don’t mind if it is somewhat blue.
Ellen from Ask Away Blog says
I looooooove gray as a neutral color now!
Thinking of painting my whole house gray owl but would like to do a darker accent wall and dining room color. Do you have a suggestion for a darker color that coordinates nicely with gray owl?
I am looking for a true gray. Which gray would you recommend in this case. Thank you.
I would think Stonington is the closest out of all the colors to being a true gray. Especially in spaces with natural light. 🙂
Great article! I’m having a really hard time finding the right gray. I just knew that Repose Gray or Agreeable Gray would be perfect, until I painted swatches all over my house. It has a blue tint during the day an very blue at night. We have low natural light in many of our rooms. The only room with natural light is our kitchen which faces SW and they both look ok there. I did find Edgecombe Gray that looks grey in our low light areas but has more beige than I would like in our kitchen. I may pick up a sample of Gray Owl and see if it works better. Any other suggestions for Gray’s thatbdont turn blue in low night or artificial light?
Ahhh…. I bet you have energy efficient light bulbs or LEDs?… You said that Repose and Agreeable leaned blue but you had very little natural light in those spaces. Repose and Agreeable should look perfect (and actually lean a little warmer) in that lighting situation so I’m thinking light bulbs. You can get energy efficient bulbs in soft white, which should make a big difference. Keep me posted! 🙂
We used grey owl in our home and to me it is straight blue.
Very helpful article! I am in a pickle with a north facing alley style bathroom with 1 small window. After 2 rounds of painting (1st was BM Light Pewter and 2nd was BM Silver Chain/ Harbor Gray). Each had undertones that I was not looking for. Light Pewter took on a pinkish undertone and Harbor Gray took on a Purple undertone at certain times of the day. The tile is a planked light grey and white driftwood look – a cool toned tile. I am looking for a truly neutral gray that will not turn purple, pink, too blue or too brown. I am looking at gray owl and cliffside now, any thoughts on these two gems? Or, can you suggest any alternative colors? I have not painted the vanity yet but it has a plain white marble counter top with chrome faucets. I sure would appreciate your help! (P.S. bulbs are clear soft white 2950 rating).
I can’t decide between agreeable gray by SW or edgecomb gray by BM for the first level of my tri- level home. I have golden oak trim and cabinets (hubby’s not about to change). I used to think I was pretty good with colors but Grays are tricky. I know EG leans a bit more beige and I find myself leaning more towards it. Do you think it will be kind of boring next to oak trim?
We’ve used Gray Owl in multiple homes (typically in the kitchen)…just bought it as the primary color to use in our newest project…a SW facing condo here in FL. I did a sample but hadn’t realized the effect lighting may have. We’re planning on using LED lights throughout for efficiency and bright light. Fingers crossed it’s going to work out great.
Bobbi Brady says
I love these greys! I’ve got Revere Pewter throughout my home and it looks amazing with white base and mouldings. I’m trying to find a really nice neutral color that would look great in a cute little rent house that has medium brown base and mouldings. Any ideas for that? I’m not a big fan of the brown trim but I don’t want to have to paint it all just to be able to use grey wall paint. Any advice would be so appreciated!
You can use a color like BM Gray Owl or SW Repose Gray with brown baseboards and trims because both of these grays have warmth in the undertone. These two grays blend and compliment wood tones beautifully and the coolness also in the undertone help to calm the warmth in the wood. If you have a lot of natural light in the space, these two grays could go cooler and slight blue. If that’s the case, you will need a light gray that has even more warmth to offset the light. I hope that helps.
Stephanie Anello says
In my home I have a mix of rooms that are flooded with natural light and then those that are not. Most windows face North/South and the house is quite shaded by trees. Therefore the light is filtered that floods through the windows. Our floors are almost a honey colored wood (very warm). I am torn between Classic Gray and Owl Gray. Any suggestions?
P.S. We have not done any test spots yet.
Wich of these grey work better for an open basement with one window on east
Tricia Mcrae says
Hi! Wish I read this article last week! I just painted my entire house classic gray on the advice of an interior decorator. It’s very light, looks almost white in my kitchen with little impact. It’s neutral but my house feels boring and I feel I need some accent walls or a darker colour in the dining room for added warmth. How can I fix this?
Oh no!! You must have a lot of natural light in your home! If you want to do some darker and warmer accent walls, I would sample some of the darker colors on the Sherwin Williams color strip #244, which I took a picture of in this post here: https://www.thecreativityexchange.com/2017/03/sherwin-williams-mindful-gray-color-spotlight.html You can’t go wrong with those darker colors on the strip, which always look so pretty (no strange hues jumping out) and they would compliment Classic Gray beautifully. I hope that helps! Keep me posted! 🙂
This thoughtful post was very helpful to me, a non-designer who is deciding between all of these colors!
I am so happy to hear that Jen and I sure hope it helps you as you make a color decision! I know it’s so overwhelming. Thanks for your kind note! 🙂
Amy Dowell says
Hi ~ Great article. I’m trying to find the perfect gray for my west facing home. High ceilings and open concept. First was SW Olympus White; it was steril blue, like cotton candy. Just awful!
My sweet husband just repainted it SW Latitude
It’s richer and fuller, but is looking purple in places. When I tried other grays as swatches, they were turning more greige, but the blues are intolerable. I’m at a loss!!
Any thoughts?? I learned I like richer, warmer tones. Gray owl? I appreciate your help!
Christine Pollard says
This was super helpful! I had decided on Repose Gray, but really wanted to stick with a Benjamin Moore paint, as the Regal does really well with 1 coat. We are starting reconstruction on an insurance claim for our house and they only cover 1 coat of paint. I have a bathroom with no natural light at all, and a hallway with little natural light. Is there a Benjamin Moore gray you could recommend for those spaces? I’d like to have a warmish gray. Thanks so much!
Thank you for your kind words! Benjamin Moore Gray Owl is very close to Repose Gray (Gray Owl is just a hint warmer). I would also suggest you take a look at Benjamin Moore Collingwood, which is a tad darker than Gray Owl and such a beautiful warm gray and very versatile. I would sample both in the space to see which one you like best. I hope that helps! 🙂
What is the paint color of the cabinets in the first pictures where the wall is gray owl?
Suzie Stearns says
I have gray owl in master bath, with afternoon sun and lots of artificial lighting. The entire rest of my house is simply white, but I want to warm the master with a warm soft creamy color. What can you suggest?
I really enjoyed this article and have found it super helpful! As mentioned in another comment above, can the LED lights affect the color? We have really bright indoor lights & I thought I was set on stonington gray, but blue undertones seem to really pop, even in natural light.. I am currently favoring Gray owl or Cliffside gray(which I thought would show more blue initially). I’ll wait and see if the night time lighting makes a difference. Wondering if Repose gray sample would be worth it for comparison!
These color articles are very interesting. I’ve not had to choose paint colors before, but have purchased a house in Washington state that has a light shade of gray on the walls, but will need to be painted (my daughter called it “renter’s paint job”). It’s got a good bit of natural light with living room and master bedroom facing east. Small master bath has a small glass block window opening to the mudroom, which is all windowed. The bathroom and master bedroom and office are all separated from the living room by a door. The short hall between the bathroom and bedroom has no natural light. I want to use the same color gray in the main rooms – living room, dining room and short hallway to bathroom and master bedroom (all on same floor). I’m redoing the bathroom with white tile and sink and toilet and would love to use something similar to Benjamin Moore Quiet Moments above the white wainscoting and tile and don’t know which gray would go or whether the bedroom should be the same color or something approaching the Quiet Moments or Beach Glass. The project is also somewhat complicated by an unfortunate yellow-toned cabinetry in the kitchen – yet a gray countertop. I may end up having to paint the cabinets. TMI, but which gray would be optimal to be used throughout the house?
We purchased a home that is painted out with BM Gray Owl (I think I saw a SW can so they had it colour matched) I will be doing a shiplap accent wall in white and would like a suggestion that Will keep a nice neutral fresh white! I’m afraid of picking one that pulls yellow or another off tone.
I am using gray owl to paint cabinets in a very well lighted kitchen/family room. What would you recommend as wall color in this case. I currently have white walls.
If I have a white kitchen and decide to do the island in gray owl. What colour should I paint the walls? I really like revere pewter.
I have done my kitchen walls in gray owl and the trim snowbound white by sherwin williams. I am trying to find a color for my kitchen cabinets that will tie everything together, please help.
Bonnie cheung says
Hi Cyndy, I really like reading your blogs! I am repainting the exterior of my house and have a flat rooftop bilevel home. Whichever bm light gray would you choose for their the wall with the and white trim? I live in Vancouver, Canada and we have beautiful sunny summers but also lots of rain during the other seasons. I would like the lighter gray to give a fresh and lively feel. The front faces east and our best and our backyard faces west. i have been looking at Stonington gray, Metropolitan gray and simply white but white but I would love your input!
Do you have recommendations for a darker accent wall to go with Gray Owl? Someone else asked this and I didn’t see a response. Thanks!
Hey! I have a north-facing bedroom with two decent-sized windows, I want to make my accent colours sage green -maybe a sage duvet, some beige and gray pillows and sheets, plants etc. We have white nightstands and a light gray fabric bed frame. I was originally looking at Gray Owl, do you think I should opt for something else so it doesn’t pull out too much green? Pale oak or your classic gray suggestion?