Shades of Grey…

As you read this post, hopefully, somewhere warm and dry with your bum on a comfortable seat, I will be decorating. That is, I will be up a ladder, standing on a dust sheeted table, or wielding a paint roller with the dulcet tones of an electrician in the background, hacking a channel out of our plaster work to relocate a light switch. Because that’s what you do when you’re in search of perfection, no?!

If the paint roller had been the least of it, I would not be complaining – with a week off from work, we decided now would be the time to re-decorate. But in my infinite wisdom and as our lounge and dining room are open plan, it seemed only sensible to decorate both of them at once. I reasoned that if I did one or the other, the other would potentially get paint splattered or dusty anyway. What I didn’t consider was that I was basically unleashing chaos on the heart of our home. At the present time I have not put my bum on a seat, (including our sofa that I am practically having hallucinations about collapsing onto,) for five days. Five whole days of being stood up, climbing ladders, sanding (read: destroying my nails) painting, (read: getting paint in my hair) and now I’m fast approaching complete knackered-ness. All of our downstairs living area is in disarray – either covered in dust sheets, covered in plastic bin bags, (as are the fireplaces) or covered in piles of paint tins and wood offcuts.

Then there is the dust. The dreaded dust from sanding back Edwardian skirting boards and replacing the picture rails. We’ve also been finishing off the arch created when we knocked through from the front to the middle room 5 years ago. Yes, for 5 years it has been a bare rectangle of painted plaster which we were ‘going to finish off soon.’  And now I look at it finished I am kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

It’s been a slog through. As I write, my Mum and her partner Phil have just left. He’s a bit of a handy man with a saw and he and Pete saved us about £500 on employing a joiner, by installing the picture rail and architrave (decorative wood around a door frame) themselves. It’s taken the best part of 2 days but I’m so proud of them and grateful we had the help. Mum has been cleaning around us all like a demon, painting, hoovering up, keeping the troops fed and watered, and generally being fab. Thanks Mum!

So today’s post is dedicated to what we’re halfway through achieving, the perfect grey room. I wanted something contemporary but elegant and in keeping with the period features of our home. We already have a neutral sofa and blue/brown 2-tone arm chair, plus some hessian-look roman blinds with a blue/brown edge that I’m undecided whether to keep or not. I wanted a true grey, neither so pale as to be mistaken for off-white, nor so dark that it looked like cement. Chic but not cold looking and the existing colour (Dulux Egyptian Cotton) was a pale taupe that already looked grey in some lights, so it had to be different to that.

Let me tell you, it is seriously hard to find the right grey. We started off at Farrow and Ball, (which we considered still an economy as we tend to lean towards wallpaper usually, which would have cost much more) determined that spending money would yield the perfect shade. How wrong we were. For all its great press for fabulous neutrals, the greys were all slightly green, too beige, cool blues. Our preferred shades were splitting hairs when compared with the existing paint so F&B, however luxe and lovely, was out.

Top row, all Farrow and Ball, bottom row as labelled.

Disheartened, we headed to B&Q and bought them out of tester pots in everything resembling grey. I’ve never been a paint snob and true to form it was here we found our chosen shade. I wonder if you can guess which one?

So today, I’d like you all to make me feel a little better! Let’s hear if you’re decorating – have been wiped out by a project like this, or if you have got the perfect shade of grey paint in your home?

Oh, and ten Florence Finds points for any of you who can guess which shade I chose 😉


PS. Did I mention we have new carpets coming tomorrow? Eeeek! Which means we need to be finished by then. Double eeek!

PPS. Please excuse the rubbish iPhone pictures. I promise there will be a full, beautifully photographed before and after soon, but for now an iPhone is all I can muster!

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43 thoughts on “Shades of Grey…

  1. Charleston grey is my favourite F&B grey, we have some walls painted in it but it’s probably a bit dark for a whole room. And French Grey is definitely green in my books (my bathroom is painted in it).

  2. We’ve just gone for FB Pavillion Gray and will be painting all weekend as we have a new sofa bed arriving on Monday, but can’t decide which one you’ve chosen – Eglise Grey?

  3. I reckon it’s either Eglise Grey or Light Rain. I LOVE a grey room, and we’re looking to decorate our bedroom in shades of grey when all the work we’re having done is complete (we’ve asked for homebase vouchers for xmas so we buy paint as the whole house will need to be done!). In our last house, we had the chimney breasts in our open living/dining room painted Urban Obsession (Dulux feature wall matt) and it was absolutely gorgeous.

  4. Ooo, ooo me! I’ve been without a proper kitchen since Aug. And have been washing dirty dishes in the bathroom for the last month. And eating microwave meals – but no more! We are so nearly there, I can taste the proper food! The hob was connected up yday, oven today…yippeee!

    And I vote for polished pebble.


  5. Wow, what great timing. We currently have most of these colours as paint swatches on our bathroom wall and I still can’t decide. It’s so difficult finding a grey that’s grey and not green-ey or blue-ey.

    At the moment we’re veering towards B&Q’s light rain, but I’m just not sure about the paint quality. The tester pot left the wall pretty streaky and I hate the thought of all the work we did on putting in a new bathroom being ruined by crap paint (clever other half did it all….I wouldn’t know where to start with plumbing and such like. so provided lots of tea and biscuits!!). How did you find the tester pots? i’m half considering getting B&Q to colour match it in dulux, but the hubbie thinks I’m mental!


    • Hmm, we didn’t have any problems with pain quality I have to say – although we painted 2 coats onto lining paper (top tip – then you’re not trying to cover the patches you tested on the wall with 5 coats later on) with a brush.

      I have to say we bought white B&Q paint for the ceiling and I wasn’t impressed with the quality but I think if you’re prepared to do 3 coats any of them work well.

    • I painted a bin with the Light Rain tester pot and it needed 2 coats and I ran out, it was very thick, gloopy paint I thought. Wasn’t a fan of painting with it. Finished the outside with the Valspar and it only needed one coat and was much easier to go on.

      • I should point out, we still did 2 coats of valspar on the walls but could have almost got away with one – it was just a bit patchy in some places, probably more to do with our technique than anything. Although when using the roller, we had to be careful not to go over half-dried bits or the paint came back off again! We went round the room making sure to do top and bottom using an extension rather than all the top then back to the bottom as once it started drying, it was difficult to join them up without making a mess!

        • Thanks for the tip on Valspers, Bex. My local B&Q is tiny, so think a trip to the big superstore might be in order.

          Have you updated any pictures of your new room on your blog. Would love to see it!

  6. Oh my! I’ve got 3 of those F&B greys in my house – I have a grey addiction! Cornforth White is next on the list – will look great with a black fireplace x

  7. Am liking the Chic Shadow very much! We’ve got Elephant’s Breath in our Dining Room and it has a purplish tone in some lights. I’ve used Light Rain on some of our furniture and love it’s blueish tone. Just done our bedroom Egyptian Cotton – there’s a theme emerging here! Looking forward to seeing the final result x

  8. I had the exact same problem a few weeks ago re: greys! So many of them came out bluish on the wall in daylight! I would go with Light rain but when we tried that one it came out A LOT darker on the wall, but then we have one tiny window in the corner of the room so maybe I’ll stick with that guess!

    We got Valspar paint in the end (in B&Q also) they had SO many shades of grey it was difficult not to buy ten more testers! We went with Windswept which isn’t on their website for some strange reason (tried googling it to show in-laws) it’s the one with the extra spot underneath it here…

    (Light rain is the top left one) I also quite liked the middle bottom row which was Engraved Locket by the Dulux ‘Timeless Classics’ range.

    I just wish I knew when the room would be finished, it’s all the little things like sorting, organising and de-cluttering that’s taking ages now the painting’s done! I just want to get one with the fun accessorising part now!

  9. I love the Eglise Grey its such a beautiful colour, but think it may be a bit blue for what you were after so my guess is with the Chic Shadow as ut looks a true grey x

  10. My vote goes for Eglise! I am currently trying to convince the Husband that grey is the way to go in the bedroom… it’s a slow battle but I can taste victory!

    We just had our bathroom done… 10 days without proper facilities but my was it worth it!

    Keep going Rebecca; I for one can’t wait to see the finished results.


  11. I love this post! I’ve seen a few of the pics that you’ve posted on Twitter Rebecca, and I can’t wait to see the finished result – am certain that all of your hard work will pay off!

    My vote, like Rach’s, is for Eglise Grey or Light Rain… both are gorgeous. We have a pale grey living room – I adore the colour. We too struggled – so we ended up doing the Dulux mix your own shade colour pots!


  12. Loving the timing of this as we are in the middle of bedroom rennovations and are also painting grey (clearly the “in” colour ;-)) The plasterer is in as we speak and I am not loving the mess/dust/no wardrobes!!! We’re also putting down wooden floors so i think it will be a few more weeks until we are completed…

    We are off to choose paint this weekend so will be taking this with me! I Very much like the light rain…

    Good luck and cant wait to see when its finished!

    Rachie xo

  13. Ooooh I cant wait to see which one you chose!

    We have just bought grey paint for our baby’s nursery which we are going to attempt to paint stripes with (ha ha we will see how that goes) on to one of the plain white walls we have just painted.

    We ended up going with Dulux’s tailor made colour in Grey Steel 2, which we did try a tester pot of and liked after two coats, so I really hope it looks ok, especially with the cost of 1 litre of that paint!

  14. Oh its good to be back…I have missed your posts Rebecca!

    I just love these posts! Thanks for sharing your renovation project!

    Every time I see a picture / read information about your house it spooks me quite a bit – my house is very similar decoration to yours…My hall is grey – I too found it a long hard slog trying to find the perfect grey and have settled on the Laura Ashley “Cobblestone” It looks more beigey on the tin but on the wall is the perfect shade of grey! My bedroom is painted the Dulux Egyptian cotton that you talked about and the main wall is the Laura Ashley “Lille” stripped wallpaper in Dark Linen which I think looks similar to yours from your photo yesterday!

    The grey’s you have picked out look fab – I tested the Light Rain and it dried very blue on my walls so my guess is chic shadow!?!

    Can’t wait to see the finished results!!


  15. My guess is Light Rain. We’ve just done the same with reds in our hallway (went for a B&Q own brand on that one), and are currently painting squares all over our bedroom wall – hunting for the perfect ‘st ives blue’, the perfect pale but warm blend of blue/green/grey (don’t make things easy do we).

  16. Oh Rebecca this is a brilliant post…and laughing so much about your sofa hallucinations! Your place is going to look incredible in grey. And having read this? You’re forgiven for not calling 🙂

  17. Thanks for all the comments ladies!

    I’m going to keep you all guessing for a little longer on the colour. – I’ll post it at 12 🙂

    I should be painting now, but am tackling my inbox instead… when the electrician arrived Pete suggested we add another plug socket into the lounge so that has halted all painting in the room because of the dust. I’m starting to sweat a little bit about the carpets coming tomorrow and the fact we need to have finished the painting all the way down to the woodwork by this evening :/


  18. I wanted grey for our bedroom last year and could not believe how different all the greys were! We ended up with Dulux French Grey and I love it. Grey is gorgeous and I hope you are now at the stage where it was all worth it!

  19. This post has brought back so many memories of hours spent debating different shades of grey that I’m driven to make my first comment! We went for Cornforth below the dado rail, and F&B Pointing above.

    And Elissa, it looks fab with a black fireplace!

    Gearing up for the big (little) kitchen extension in the spring. Am scared.

    Vote goes to light rain – looks gorgeous!

    • I know! When we first painted our flat 4 years ago I found it in a bargain basement section for £5! Now its time to redecorate so new sofa, blinds, chandelier etc.. but I’m sticking with the same paint colour because it’s just right for our living room!

  20. We too have been on the search for the perfect shade of grey for our utility room and kitchen….

    The room has been re-painted 4 times, Theyve all either been too white / too blue / too lilac and we’ve just had it done and are finally happy with the colour…

    Its Chic Shadow!!

  21. Eeeek I know what it feels like to have a carpet arrival deadline looming over you!! We have just been through the same, 6 manic months of living in dust and debris horror whilst the kitchen, bathroom then bedrooms all got done. I never want to see a piece of sandpaper again!!! I never thought I would be so in love with the arrival of carpet – it seriously transforms a room, good luck with getting it all done! (And love the grey shades – we have gone with boring-but-thinking-of-re-sale-potential-white…) x

  22. Oh, I love the polished pebble! I can’t even remember if I have a tester pot of that on the walls (we’ve bought so many, I swear we spent more on them than we spent on the bathroom!). Think a trip to B&Q on the way home is in order.

  23. we originally had our house in a grey tone it was a dulux colour called muted stone but because our house is quite dark anyway it wasnt until when we had the flood and had to redecorate last year that we realized just how dark it was. We have now got a chalky downs colour from dulux which has made it so much brighter and feel twice the size!
    Farrow and ball have lovely colours but I would have to say they are not a great paint and having worked as an interior designer for many years and worked with decorators they hate using Farrow and ball. My advice would be to spend the money on getting your own colour mixed. If you wanted a light grey I would say you would have gone with polished pebble but I think you want a deep grey in which case chic shadow. I can’t wait to find out!!!

  24. Guys I know this post is old but could anyone tell me from the other end of the chart what bright colours are most suitable with a ‘light’ grey?
    Thanks in advance

  25. Help can anyone advise on finding a true light grey we must have around 15 samples on the wall now and all look to blue or to purple/lilac looking I have tried Dulux, Crown, Laura Ashley
    Any ideas will be most appreciated

  26. Hi,

    I love what you’ve done with the dining and living room.

    I was just after a bit of advice.

    My house has the same layout as yours and i’m currently in the middle of decorating it. I wanted my living and dining room to look similar to yours but I was unsure of the colours you used until seeing the comments on these pictures. I was also struggling with what colour to paint the hallway/stairs/landing.

    In the end I bought Chic Shadow and began painting the hallways/stairs and landing. I like the colour but now I’m worried that if I paint the living room and dining room in a similar colour (grey) that it will be too much grey in the house.

    What would you advise? Would it be too much grey to pain the LR and DR in a shade of grey too?

    If so, what type of colours should I go for? and would it look strange to have the hallways grey and DR/LR another colour?

    I’m tempted to cut my losses, repaint the hallway in a lighter colour and paint the LR and DR in grey.

    Sorry for all the questions, your advice is much appreciated.

    • Hi Micheal,

      Our living Room is Crown ‘Eglise Grey’ below the picture rail and Polished Pebble (Dulux) above. The hall/stairs/landing is ‘sail white’ (not sure who by) which is a chalky soft white and we chose it to maximise light as the hall has no windows other than our front door glass. I think this is really the crux of the issue. If you have enough light and the grey isn’t too dark, then it’s fine. It is after all just another neutral.

      Hope that helps!

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