Choosing Gray Paint Colors for our Chicago Condo

We’ve all heard it before…


…and now I am here to prove to you that this statement is oh-so-true!The master bedroom- before

And the master bedroom after- what a difference!

Am I right? Dang. Gotta love how a new color can make a room look and feel so much different. But let’s backtrack a little bit here so we can chat about how I decided upon all of the new colors for our home (which I’m now calling Augusta…since that’s the street we live on).


I knew that I wanted to go gray before we even moved in. I’m a sucker for gray and I love the way it looks with white trim and dark floors. Plus, so much of our home decor works well with gray. So for me, it was gray all the way from the start.

I decided that I needed to narrow down my choices from about 50 shades to 6 shades. I started researching online, which for me involves a combination of blog reading, Pinterest searching, looking at paint swatches, google image searching specific colors, and reading home decor articles about the best shades for each brand. Not exactly scientific research, but it certainly helped me narrow down my choices.

Picking a Perfect Gray Paint Color
The top six- a variety of shades and tones

  • Sherwin Williams #7064  “Passive”
  • Sherwin Williams #7065 “Argos”
  • Sherwin Williams #7016 “Mindful Gray”
  • Benjamin Moore #2137-60 “Gray Owl”
  • Sherwin Williams #7015 “Repose Gray”
  • Sherwin Williams #6002 “Essential Gray”

We used both “Argos” & “Passive” in our Chicago apartment, so I was very familiar with them. The other shades were all new to me. Samples from Lowe's! Definitely worth it.

I purchased samples (which come in quarts at Lowe’s…that’s a lot of paint!) so I could easily try out each shade on the wall. Each one only cost a couple bucks, so it’s absolutely worth it to buy samples and try the colors out on your walls. Trust me.

Paint the samples in a grid in each room of your home

I then proceeded to paint the samples in every single room in our place. Make sure you don’t mix up the colors as you go. Keep them in an organized grid.

The grays look different in every room- it's amazingLive with the samples for a few days before you decide

It’s crazy because the paint colors looked sooooo different in every space! Finn thought I screwed something up because once we decided on a color, we would walk to another room and be perplexed as to how it could look so different. But that’s the crazy thing with paint.

Here are a few tips for painting the samples on…

  • Make sure you paint on a large enough sample so you can see the color from afar.
  • Paint the color next to other key elements in the room (the kitchen cabinets, the tile in the bathrooms, etc.).
  • If you have white trim, hold up a piece of white paper next to each shade so you can understand how it will look next to the white.

Or you can check out this comprehensive post with lots of tips for picking the perfect paint color.

After checking out all of the shades in our rooms, we picked our favorites and gave the colors to the painter. I know what you’re thinking….this is the DIY Playbook and you didn’t even paint yourself? We decided to hire a pro because of the short timeline in between closing on our home and moving into our new space. There was no way we could pack, paint, and work at our jobs and make it into our new home in time. So hiring a pro was the way to go. Less stress for us, and perfectly painted walls.

Gray Paint Colors in our Home

We selected this gray for most of the living space in the condoWe went with GRAY OWL in an eggshell sheen for a majority of the apartment. This light gray was my favorite so we used it in the main room, kitchen, and hallways.

The guest room got this gray, same as bathrooms but looks totally differentWe used REPOSE GRAY for the bathrooms and the guest room. I liked how this looked next to the tan tile. It wasn’t too blue next to it, instead, it complemented it well.

We selected this gray for the master bedroomWe tried MINDFUL GRAY in the master bedroom. At least for a few days, it was “Mindful Gray.” See here’s the thing…the color ended up looking waaaaay different when the entire wall was painted with this color. Instead of the dark gray we wanted, to us, it looked purple. Like Easter egg purple…The gray came out looking a little more purple than we liked

It’s hard to tell in the photos (in fact, it looks awesome in the photos…like the dark gray I was striving for!), but in real life, it screamed purple to us both. In fact, the first time Finn saw it he said “Our master bedroom looks like a little girl’s room. I don’t like it.” Eek. All of my planning & painting samples, and now I had a purple bedroom?! Yikes. The master bedroom, with the purple-y gray

So what did we do? Well, we had the painter re-paint the master bedroom. We felt silly, wasteful, and like homeowner divas…but we both knew we would look at the walls and always see purple. Plus if we were ever going to change it, we knew now was the time before all of our furniture came into the home.

We updated the master bedroom with a lighter, less purple, shadeWe had about 2 seconds to decide on a new paint color, we decided to just go with “Gray Owl.” The light gray color from the rest of the home that we both L-O-V-E. The painter had to come in the morning of our move to give it a fresh coat of paint before our stuff arrived a few hours later. We cut it close, but ultimately we’re 100% satisfied with our decision to suck it up and get the space re-painted.This one turned out SO much better

So let’s bid adieu one last time to the green master bedroom…And again, the beforeAnd the after... amazing!

Oh, the power of paint! ( see how I like all of the colors today check out this paint review!)All you need to transform your home

Tackling a painting project? Check out some of these helpful posts.


Gray Paint Swatches

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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