DIY Painting: Testing Benjamin Moore Gray Samples

A few weeks ago I got the go-ahead from my landlord to paint our apartment. I know I want a color in the gray family, which is the tallest of tall orders since there is no such thing as "gray." There are a million color variations, and picking the right gray for your space can be difficult. So I've started with six Benjamin Moore color samples and am testing them out in my living room:

It had been part of our lease that we weren't allowed to paint, and for two years we've lived with the plain off-white walls (exact color/brand unknown). Truth be told, we get a lot of light in the living room, so having off-white walls wasn't that bad. But the walls have started to look dingy, and I'm ready for a change... something subtle, not too heavy.

Why Benjamin Moore, you ask? Well, you have to start somewhere, and I had heard good things about Benjamin Moore's Abalone, which Aaron so successfully used in his apartment. Abalone is the lighter shade of Silver Fox, which our resident color expert, Mark Chamberlain, calls a "classic gray paint." It's a warmer grey, more in the "wet cement" group of grays. I knew that Silver Fox would likely be too dark for my space, so I thought I'd start out with Abalone. I also knew that should I find a good Benjamin Moore color, I could get it in their Natura No-VOC line, which is obviously a big priority.

My Abalone paint sample was really skewing lavender in the evening light... so much so that I took the paint sample back to the hardware store to make sure they'd mixed it right! They told me that it can be difficult to get the exact pigment measurements when you're creating such a small batch as you have in a sample, so that the color might be off from what it would be if I buy a whole gallon. Not the greatest news when you're trying to pick a color and subtleties matter, so since I didn't know yet if I was sold on Abalone, I decided to try out 5 other Benjamin Moore paint samples, which I painted on a board and hung on my wall.

1. Sidewalk Gray
2. Stonington Gray
3. Silver Fox
4. Coventry Gray
5. Iced Cube Silver

I can already tell that some are going to be too blue or too dark, but I'm living with the colors for awhile to see how they play, and I'll report back with my next step!

(Images: Cambria Bold)