Deciphering Undertones part 3: Warm Gray, Cool Gray

by Guest 2

Back by popular demand is another installment in the deciphering undertones series.

This time we will be delving into the mysterious world of gray.

Though in the world of science gray isn’t technically considered a color, in the realms of art and interior design it is. Grays, varying mixtures of black and white, are considered neutrals. A true gray will not posses any discernible color, nor exert any color influence on its surroundings. So why do some grays appear warm and others cool? You guessed it, color undertones! Let’s take a look at what adding a bit of color does to change the appearance of gray.

Warm Grays

Gray and Red

Adding a red to a gray creates a gray with a slight pink cast to it. In cooler lighting these grays can look purplish and in warm lighting they can appear more like a taupe.

Gray and Orange

The red and yellow combination of orange will warm a gray up significantly. The resulting mixtures lean towards the brown family and appear as taupes.

Gray and Yellow

Adding yellow to gray creates what are known as ash tones. They are popular color selections due to their neutrality and warmth.

Cool Grays

Gray and Green

Another popular color choice, these sagey mixtures combine the soothing qualities of green with the gentle influence of gray.

Gray and Blue

Cool steely, or stone grays result from the combination of gray and blue. We find these grays used frequently on exteriors.

Gray and Purple

Gray and purple create cool smoky tones. In the right light sources these grays can appear to emit warmth like a red undertone.

Even with undertones, the neutral nature of grays allow them to be effortlessly paired with other colors. Try using these color enhanced grays as you would a color- pairing them with members from the same undertone family, or with the undertones’ complement.

Colorfully yours,


5 responses to “Deciphering Undertones part 3: Warm Gray, Cool Gray”

  1. Myrna Beachy says:

    Hello. Thank you for this handy information! What is the trim color in this lovely dinner room?
    Thank you

    • Deanna Torrez says:

      Hello Myrna,
      Thank you for visiting our blog!

      The trim color is Polar Bear 75.

      Due to differences in monitors and technical factors, the colors here cannot be represented with
      their true qualities. These color samples should only be considered a guide. Please refer to actual swatches for true color. We strongly recommend beginning with an 8 oz. sample container of the color you choose and apply it to a small area on your wall to ensure your satisfaction with the color choice. It is always a good idea to see how the light and ambient conditions affect the color at different points in the day.

      Colorfully Yours,

  2. Rosanne m Wellmaker says:

    Fabulous!!! Thanks so much!

  3. Michelle says:

    It was nice seeing all these grays in one place. I have a hard time seeing all the undertones. I wish this article was more explicit, I.e., gray with red ….. then dark to light.

    I am looking for a gray with subtle blue undertone. I’m having a hard time picking them out. This is for my living room. I want a medium color for the living room. I want to do a much darker version of the same color for an accent wall. And I need a lighter color going up the stairs and the upstairs hallway. And I was going to paint the stairway and hallway ceiling the same color as the walls…..it would be too hard for me to trim up there.

    I just showed my fiancé the picture depicting cool/warm grays. I like cool …… he just said warm. Hmmm. Smh ‍♀️

    So ….. if you can help me with three colors in warm and cool, I’d appreciate it. We’ve used Behr paints throughout our house. Last time we used the Marquee paint, and now we’ll never go back. Such a big difference with the Marquee!!

    • Deanna Torrez says:

      Hello Michelle,
      Thank you for visiting our blog!
      Warmer grays do indeed have some red/yellow/brown. Where as cool will gave blue/green/purple.

      Let me put a combination together that may be helpful for what you want and your husband.

      You can do an accent wall in living room in Slate Rock N460-5 and remaining walls in Planetary Silver N460-2.
      Wall going up the stairs/hallway in Chic Gray PPU26-10.

      Hope this helps!

      Colorfully Yours,

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