Picking out paint colors from one swatch

May 30, 2012

I’ve been really excited to tell you about the paint colors in the basement – really excited. I don’t know why exactly, I guess maybe because it’s a whole new floor to decorate. (About the best. thing. ever. for someone like me.) But it’s also that I’m going a direction with colors that I’ve never gone before. 

I finally finished the painting of the main/family room in the basement just tonight. Remember when I said it was going really fast? Yeahhhh. Well, that was a week ago and I worked on it pretty much every night. Not “really fast.”

It took forever, and at times I wondered why I didn’t just pay to have it done. But most of the time, I kind of enjoyed it. And at the risk of sounding hokey, I feel fortunate that we have a basement to paint, that we’ve been able to finish our basement and that I’m able-bodied to paint it myself. Cheesy I know, but true.

And I am IN LOVE with the result. But first, I want to share my paint plan for the whole lower level.

I’m taking every color from one paint swatch:

  benjamin moore grays

They are Benjamin Moore colors that I’m having mixed at Sherwin Williams (they go on sale all the time and I’m just plain in love with it now). Did you know they have the BM formulas? (Or at least they say they do.) Home Depot has Lowe’s colors as well (and vise versa I believe).

I’ve never done this anywhere else in our house, but I’m using the different tones of the colors throughout the spaces.

The lightest color, Pebble Beach, will be the laundry room:

pebble beach, benjamin moore

The lighter colors on the swatch show up darker on the computer screen, and the darker colors show up lighter. What the? Oh well.

I tried to examples of each of the colors and it was hard! But Dear Lillie had two rooms painted in Pebble Beach, and they are gorgeous!:

pebble beach bathroom dear lillie 

pebble beach bedroom dear lillie

OH my gah. Beautiful!

Isn’t that a lovely color?

The next color is Silver Lake and it will go in the bathroom:

silver lake, benjamin moore

I couldn’t find anything “in real life” in this color, surprisingly. I’m really excited about the tile I hope to use in the bathroom and I think this will go with it beautifully!

I showed you a bit of the next one last week – it’s the one I used in the large family room space:

marina gray, benjamin moore

I had it lightened 25 percent because I was concerned it would get a little too dark. I’m so glad I did – it’s perfect!

We LOVE it. Love love love. Every time hubby walks down there he comments on it. (So does the Bub, which cracks me up every time.)

It’s a very warm gray – so cozy, but cool:

marina gray benjamin moore 

moon chairs

Doesn’t it look great with the moon chairs? Awesome!

I’m not using the next two colors on the swatch (Timber Wolf and Hearthstone). I have a BIG accent wall in mind for the Gunmetal color:

gunmetal, benjamin moore

I’ve been hashing out ideas for that wall in my head for months now. I want to do something fun and a little different. I love that I get to stretch a little bit in the basement and do things I may not do in the rest of the house.

The final color is the one I’m most excited about. Like REALLY FREAKIN’ EXCITED:

graphite, benjamin moore

This color is actually a bit lighter on the screen then it is on the paint chip – it’s dark. And I love it.

Here it is on a bathroom vanity:

graphite vanity

(Amy D. Morris)

It’s going on the walls (yes, the walls) in hubby’s office. There will be a white treatment around the bottom of the walls, and this will go above. I saw a black room with white trim on a TV show a year ago and I’ve been planning to do this ever since.

This color isn’t black, but it’s dark. I’ll do more of a matte finish with this one to keep it from getting shiny. See how I used this almost black color on our interior doors down here!

This is a different way of picking out paint colors for me, and I gotta say, it’s the easiest yet. :) Seriously, it took all of five minutes. I especially love these grays because they really act as a neutral – pretty much every accent color works with them. (I’ve tried quite a few.)

So how do you pick out paint colors? Go room by room or plan it out and match? Go tonal or every color in the rainbow? Do you like the calming feel of the similar colors or do you need more spice?

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  1. Love the colors you've chosen & all of the inspiration pictures!! Can't wait to see them on your walls!! Very exciting!

  2. Hi Sarah! :) Love these paint colors, they are going to be FABULOUS! By the way, this post tripped me up where it said, "they have the BM formulas..." LOL! Can't wait to see the final results!!

  3. Thanks so much for this!! I'm trying to pick a paint color in the grey family for our bedroom, and I'd love to do just about any of these!! Love them. By the way, I know I don't really know y'all, but your sweet Bub is getting so big!! I've been reading for 4 years, and wow! It's amazing how fast they grow!

  4. Great way to choose the colors. It does simplify things immensely! Looking great!

  5. You will love the graphite. I used a VERY dark,close to black color on one of my spare room walls and LOVE it! kinda thinkin i should've done all the walls, but it's good the way it is, plus i'm too lazy to repaint the other 3!;) can't wait to see what's next! looks great so far.

  6. All the colors are so pretty. I can imagine you ARE excited! A whole floor to decorate too?
    Bonus =)

    I know what you meant about being thankful that your are able to paint. I don't think it's cheesy at all. I think you are being thankful of your blessings!

    I am having a heck of a time just picking a shade for my upper floor? I bought the paint while on sale, but have not had it tinted yet. LOL.

  7. A year ago I would have doubted the whole super dark gray/black thing, but then I saw my back neighbors house. They have half of their great room painted jet black and it really makes the accessories pop. Besides worst case scenario it doesn't work and it means $40 and a weekend of painting. Totally not the end of the world :)

  8. I LOVE these colors! We just started our "operation finish basement" as we are calling it and painting seems like it is miles away for us, but it is encouraging to see your progress :) Lesson learned when we painted our main floor, paint a spot on the wall a few days before you paint and see what the color looks like at different times of the day - light really changes the color...

  9. Our kitchen is Porter Paint's wrought iron with white trim and we LOVE it!! I think the paint name may be different now since we did this about 7 years ago! We've thought about changing it but love it so much that we haven't. Just put a fresh coat on last month. Our daughter's room is a dark gray with white trim and bright pink accessories and it looks awesome!

  10. Love that strip of gray! I think I did the pebble color in my guest room. Is it wrong when you start recognizing the names of paint colors?? :)
    When I have start picking colors on a new house, I usually pick a "collection" from the paint store to start. Then I can pull in similar hues in different colors that make sense to that room in particular. (ie-I pick a collection with no blue, but pull in a similarly hued blue for our bedroom) However, when we finished our basement I did the same thing you did. I just moved down the strip from the trim color in the level above. It was lazy, but it worked and it really cozied up our basement level playroom. Have fun! I know we are watching all your updates!

  11. Absolutely stunning collection of pictures!! Do you mind if I pick your brain for a moment? I am trying to convince our youngest two that they want their room repainted... as they complain about it being dark. It has a single north facing window & its is painted in stripes of (top to bottom) medium brown, espresso, cream, & parrot green. Colors that make a small low ceiling room look all that much smaller. Add in a black loft bed & twin sizes platform bed and you end up swallowed. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  12. I'm so excited to see the office! That is EXACTLY what we're doing for my husband's office - he's currently 'stuck' with my cast off bright white office furniture, but saw a photo of a dark office with white on the bottom. Yay!

  13. Looks GREAT! Definitely go with flat paint for the graphite paint. Even eggshell will appear really shiny in eggshell.

  14. I have a similar very dark grey in our bathroom (with white beadboard on the bottom) and I LOVE it! I think your office will look awesome in that color. I think picking out colors on one card is a great idea...you know they all look good together!
    And funny, but the lighter colors look blue on my screen; I wanted a soft blue in my bathroom, and all the blues were too...purple, baby blue, pink....so I finally chose a gray and it is most beautiful...blue! (people can't believe it's really a gray!)
    Does yours show blue at all in real life?

  15. Lucky for me my best friend is a very talented interior designer and picks all of my colors! I have finally been around her enough to learn a little about picking a good color. The first color I ever picked (before Patty) looked like Silly Putty on the walls so I at least always run it by her first!

    Wood floor changed to tile floor/stair redo is going well. My husband regrets the day I discovered blogs and the cool stuff all you guys do!

    BTW, Avocado Banana Ice Cream - AWESOME!

  16. Pretty dang cool I say ;-) Can't wait to see the finished room(s).

    I like keeping the walls/floors in rooms neutral. It gives me opportunities to change out the accessories and still have things work :-)

    BTW, I tried the banana avocado ice cream. Hubby and I both liked it better as a slushy before it was frozen. Not sure I'll make it again, but it sure was a fun experiment.

  17. So fun! I love the idea of using colors all from one paint strip. I think your hubby will love the office color. We have a dark charcoal on some of our walls (living room, dining room, master and office) and with white trim and enough lighting it is dramatic and perfect.


  18. Love these colors! I need to try some of these and see if they will work for me.

    I've been trying to find the perfect gray for my house and the samples painted on my walls are just not speaking to me. The walls are beginning to looked spotted with all the samples on them...LOL.

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. Wow, that is such a SIMPLE way to choose a palette and I love it! Just go with the colors on the swatch... practically a foolproof way to make sure the colors coordinate. AWESOME!

  20. This is a great way to pick colors. We built two years ago and painted ourselves to avoid the $500 extra per additional color charge from the builder. I imagine your arm and knees are feeling the last week! Gray/greys are great for changing things up. Our boys have gray walls in the brown family and our bedroom is a great blue-gray. We brought in samples and pictures of our furniture and fabrics in our home to help us choose paint colors that went with everything.

  21. Let me just say I love you...seriously! I Never knew you could take a paint color and have it lightened by a certain percentage. What a great idea. I am currently using this concept for a blue paint color that is too dark but the hue was what we wanted. And I love the Ben Moore paint swatch you chose for your basement. I have that one and about 30 other ones, no lie. I am currently trying to get my boyfriend "all in" with gray for our new master bathroom. I'm selling it but he aint buying it....Yet.

  22. Love all those colors. Especially the graphite! And thank you so much for mentioning our blog! I can't wait to see how everything turns out!

  23. love your basement choices! We chose the same color strip when we painted the exterior of our house last fall. Timberwolf is the main house color and graphite is the trim. It looks amazing and everyone loves the fact that the darker color is deep charcoal not black.

    I painted my basement last year - but it wasn't finished - just cement block wall. I used beachy colors and am very happy with the choices!

  24. hiya...does your laundry room have windows....wondering if the "pebble beach" reads as a gray or a blue in a room without windows. considering it for mine but no windows in ours. tx :)

  25. oh the Benjamin Moore Graphite reminds me of a colour by Farrow & Ball called Railings...it is amazing on doors!

  26. Love your shades of grey! It's going to be wonderful to see it all on the walls.

    I did the graduated-colors-from-one-chip in my last house. Aside from three or four rooms that were painted with custom colors, I used three different tans from one of Ben Moore's Historical Colors strips. They all worked together beautifully!

  27. I definitely gravitate toward tonal room, and do the same thing in my wardrobe. Just yesterday I wore a brown and cream checked skirt with a soft orange shirt and a very pale peach cardigan, and my apricot purse. And saddle leather shoes. Oh wait, this is a decor blog! ;-) My bedroom, which is my least-compromised color scheme and my favorite in the house, is grounded in brown and taupe, layered with dark blue, robin's egg blue, and seafoam green, plus a slash or two of goldenrod. I like your method with the paint chips!

  28. How I pick paint colors- go to Wal-mart, Lowes or Habit for Humanity Restore and buy whatever cheap, on-sale or mis-tint paint they have. I have paid as little as a $1 a gallon and as much as $30 for 5 gal bucket. Now the fun part! If I don't happen to find a color I love I just mix 2 different gallons of mis-tint / mystery tint together. I always paint a sample area ( after I once painted my dining room what looked grey but dried PINK ) but even then I just dumped another gallon of paint into the pink and ended up with a really nice grey. My laundry room is my favorite and it's 3 different gallons mixed together all of which cost a $1 each! My entire house has been painted like this. I currently have 5 "sample" squares on my bedroom wall. I can't stand paying full price for paint and struggle with picking colors. So this works out really well!

  29. I LOVE grays, so I'm excited to see all the rooms when you do them. I love your family room!

    We have all sorts of Benjamin Moore 'grays' in our house. At least they say gray in the name, even if they look more taupe or even golden tan. Most do, though.

  30. LOve, love your colors in the rooms, what great choices, keeping color in coordinating grays is very smart. They're very soothing, can use any other colors with them. I saw a l/r room with grays and browns mixed in the furniture, drapes and rug. Really liked how it looked.

    Isn't it amazing how all of a sudden we've discovered grays and are thrilled with them? I was going to go with some shade of brown/tan but keep changing my mind. I've waited 6 yrs. to get inside of house painted so guess I'm not in a hurry. Maybe by the time I get it done I'll change my mind about painting at all, NOT!!!
    We have a mobile home and it has awful vinyl wall covering on walls. The bathrooms are painted and they look so much better. Guess I'll have to do some threatening and nagging. No that doesn't work. Will start painting myself and hub will jump in as he complains about how I paint. At least I get it done when I start. Enjoy your beautiful basement. Take some time to enjoy summer tho.

  31. I am loving the basement color choices! We currently have 5 rooms painted grey... Some light, some dark. It's such a versatile color! Goes with EVERYTHING! Enjoy the new basement!

  32. Sarah, gorgeous color! You did good! :) I've never painted my basement walls so I've really enjoyed watching you finish you finish in your "terrace level." That's what the decorators call basements in the super expensive country club subdivisions around ATL...the terrace level. ;)

  33. I was curious to see what this colour looks like in person so i pulled out my old colour fan deck (its part of the old colour series here in canada) and I am surprised how not blue it is in person. my computers show it as have a blue undertone when really they are just solid cement greys. very pretty.

  34. Love your color scheme - very calming! Because color changes with light & adjacent to other colors, I would love to send you a free sample of our product "Small Wall" to try before you commit to your wall. Small Wall is a specially engineered polymer that mimics your wall. No need to prime, just paint it, peel off the adhesive strip and preview the color on your wall. The repositionable adhesive allows you move your sample from wall to wall and preview the color in different lighting & locations. For more info, visit us at www.MySmallwall.com. And if you's like that free sample, just shoot me an email via our website. Have a colorful day!

  35. Great color swatch (and I'm glad you're not doing ALL the colors in one room, because people actually DO that, and it drives me bananas)! I used trout gray in my room last year, and I love it. I had gone with something similar to a graphite and it was too light and not at all dramatic.

    As for the color formulas, all the paint stores have most of the other competitors formulas, but they can only match to a certain point (some formulas are brought in from customers, while others are trial and error. SW still uses oil bases in their pigments, while BM's newer line (Ben, Regal Select, Aura) is totally latex paint, using totally water based pigments, proprietary blah blah gobbledy gook. Most of the time, the color match is so close that you can't tell it's slightly off (no matter where you get it matched), so you'll most likely be as happy as a clam, but there are people who are so picky that they can tell that it's off by even 1 part Y3, and therefor, they hate it.

    But you don't sound like the picky, impossible type. :o)

  36. I have done this before too. In our last house I used the same swatch to paint two rooms next to eachother. It works out well because when you find a swatch that you like, you often like all the colors on it as well. I have this same swatch for my new house that you are using, but I have not used it yet, we are going more greige and I used a similar but different light grey in our bedroom as you did in your family room.

  37. Love your color choices! I'm very familiar with this BM paint strip as we just painted the exterior of our house gray. Let's just say we had over 9 shades of gray on our house trying to pick one. Timberwolf was in the running but we ended up going a bit darker...rock gray by BM...we love it. CAn't wait to see your b-ment after it's all decorated etc. But looks great so far!

  38. No way!! So I'm on Google, researching paint colors, and I'm lead to your blog...and what do I find in addition to the fantastic color selections you picked, but that SAME fabric on your moon chair, I HAVE THE SAME FABRIC! That's awesome! I think I'm definitely going to have to look more into your color choices, because we are also paiinting our basement, and I would love something along these lines. Great work! Looks good!

    By the way, if you're interested, stop by my blog, Thrift Diving. I'm all about THRIFT STORES!

    Thrift Diving

  39. LOVE your basement family room! We're doing the same color scheme with the IKEA map and I was wondering what color you used for the ceiling. Thank you!!

    1. Thank you Emily! That color is just a basic flat white ceiling paint. :)

  40. Hello!!! I just love everything you've done to your house. You are such an inspiration to me the way you pull out those power tools like nothing!

    Are both sides of your doors graphite? Or do you keep them white? My son's room is a dark navy with white trim I don't know how a dark door would look? Thanks for all the inspiration you've given me over the years. Jeanine

    1. I paint both sides, but you can leave one side white!


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