A Common Mistake When Choosing The Perfect Pale Blue Paint

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

Dear Laurel,

I only discovered your blog a few days ago. I think I was up until 3:00 AM the other day because I couldn’t put it down. Thanks. I’m just joking. I wish I had found you a month ago. We just painted our living room. I wanted it to be that soft silvery, calming pale blue paint color I’m seeing all over the place.

I chose the most beautiful pale, blue I’ve ever seen.

The painters came. I went to work… came home and eeegads! My living room looks like the baby’s nursery. No wait. I wouldn’t do that to my baby. It’s horrible. It’s like the most annoying, cloying baby blue. How could this have gone so horribly wrong?

Betty Blueper

Dear Betty,

I bet you didn’t test the paint. But please don’t beat yourself up. What you did wrong is as common as corn flakes. You went to the store. Maybe you didn’t even bother to bring the paint chip home. But even if you did, you probably put it down flat on a table to look at it instead of flat against the wall where it’s going to live. Looking down on the color, is not the color.

Looking at it at the store or outside in your car is also not the color.

Still, no one ever told you this, so how were you supposed to know?

But take heart. The color that people most often mess up is blue. Why? Because when you want to paint a room a pale blue, we have a tendency to be seduced by those “pretty” blue colors. But when they go up, look out! We ignore the really great colors because they look so gray! But gray is what makes pale blue soar when it’s painted on a wall— or a ceiling!

[tweet_box design=”default”]Today, I’m going to give you nine seriously wonderful pale blue paint colors that don’t scream BABY BLUE![/tweet_box]

What is the trick?

I’m going to tell you right now.

Please go and fetch your Benjamin Fan Deck. The  “Classic” one.

Do you have it?

Good.

Now, please rip out everything between 547 and 854. Common’. I’ll wait.

All of them, Laurel?

Okay, there are about 20 colors in there that are good, but the rest, unless your name is Miles Redd, Mary McDonald or Katy Ridder, please stay far away. Some of those colors should be illegal they are that bad.

I really wish Benjamin Moore would have codes something like this:

*** = GREAT COLOR, GO FOR IT!

xxx = SUCKY COLOR. SORRY, WE’RE JUST MESSING WITH YOU. hehehehe…

(sadistic freaks!)

Fortunately, there are many, many lovelies in all of the Benjamin Moore fan decks.

Again when choosing pale blue paint colors, think gray.

And don’t forget to test!

Here are some beautiful Benjamin Moore Pale Blue Paint Colors

(please note that the corresponding photos aren’t necessarily the color but something fairly close.)

benjamin-moore-sea-foam-looks-like-farrow-and-ball-borrowed-light

GRAY SKY 2131-70

tvK1jiAvOb0xDeborah Needleman via Lonny

LOOKOUT POINT 1646

mona-ross-berman-lonny-photo-courtney

Mona Ross Berman via Lonny  photo: Courtney Apple

QUIET MOMENTS 1563

Interesting room, isn’t it? I think what makes it work, is the calm soothing color on the wall!

tria-giovan-suzanne-kaslerSuzanne Kasler  photo: Tria Giovan

SEA FOAM  2123-60

charlotte-moss-lonnyCharlotte Moss

SILVER CREST 1583

naomi-stein-lonny-kitchen-pale-blue-settee-suzanne-kasler-dining-chairsNaomi Stein

I don’t think the walls are actually blue here, but this has to be the most beautiful eating area I’ve ever seen! I would be the one who would slobber marinara sauce all over the settee and while I was cleaning it up would knock the coffee over.  If this were mine, I wouldn’t serve my guests anything but saltines and seltzer. ;] By the way, those gorge chairs, I recognize as one of my faves from Hickory Chair by the wonderful Suzanne Kasler. Love the floral fabric on the back. Really smart.

summer-thornton-lonny-pale-blue-ceiling-neo-traditionalSummer Thornton

ICE CAP 1576

Don’t forget the ceiling! A pale blue-green-gray is amazing on the ceiling.

summer-thornton-lonny-pagoda-gold-lanterns

Those pagoda pendants kinda took my breath away.

I made it my mission for about 30 minutes to find those pendants and I did it in 20! I found them on Circa Lighting. 

That made my day!

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 7.52.31 PM

 

Coincidentally, Circa Lighting is opening up a new showroom in New York City next month and I’ve been invited to attend the opening reception. Since they’re one of my fave vendors, I’m going!

House_Beautiful_01-dering-hall

Gary McBournie  photo Julian Wass

PICNIC BASKET CSP 730

We just did this color in a master bedroom and it’s very pretty!

flickr-blue-strie-walls (1)via

GLASS SLIPPER 1632

This isn’t glass slipper. It’s a strie of these two colors. MYSTICAL BLUE 792 glazed with FADED DENIM 795. But since you’ve ripped them out of your fan deck, sorry, you’ll have to use something else. Actually, this looks nothing like those two colors! I added this, because I love the photo!

pholhemus-architects-woodlawn-bluePholhemus Savery DaSilva

WOODLAWN BLUE  HC-147

Woodlawn is the bluest of the pale blues here but it’s a definite winner!

benjamin-moore-pale-blue

 

I know everyone says that it’s the end of summer now, but until it’s around September 21st it’s still summer in my book! Whatever your views are. Please enjoy!

xo,

laurel

 

  • RM - July 14, 2017 - 7:36 AM

    Good Morning Laurel. Another helpful post about the color I am loving at the moment. Can you share what shades you’d recommend for a “haint” blue porch, like we do down in the South? What are some of the best? Thanks! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 14, 2017 - 9:04 AM

      Hi RM,

      Thank you! If you don’t already have it, I think that you would benefit a lot from purchasing the Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection/Palette collection which is 144 Benjamin Moore Colors with all of the best porch ceiling blues as well. And that now comes with a palette guide which is 40 inspiration boards with furniture/sources, palettes, palette families on and on… For more information please refer to the top menu tab where it says rolodex and paint products. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - May 30, 2017 - 10:07 PM

    Hi Laurel, I can’t believe I stumbled upon your article about choosing the right blue. I literally just got through painting my hallway bathroom yesterday. I have always had a darker bathroom and decided to change things up. I choose Tricorn Black for the ceiling and Site White to go on the walls both are Sherwin Williams. I have beautiful crown molding that actually goes up to and on the ceiling. I decided on a matte finish for both, when I purchased the paint I had a long discussion concerning the undertones of the color site white. I was told that the undertone was blue which I was fine with. The color was the lightest in a row of grey’s which is what I wanted. Well two coats later and it is the softest blue you could imagine. If you open up the can it looks like the palest grey, not blue at all. I’m guessing the black ceiling and the fact that there is no natural light in this room might be the reason, in any case it looks beautiful. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 31, 2017 - 8:30 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      Love the black ceiling. Sounds gorgeous!

      Yes, the blue undertones come out on the wall, not in the can. My color also looks blue-ish sometimes and it does not look even remotely blue on the chip.

      Benjamin Moore Shoreline. ReplyCancel

  • Vanjul - May 20, 2017 - 10:45 AM

    Hi! Love your blog! I was contemplating using farrow and ball’s mizzle for my master bedroom. Any experience with this color? I have painted 4 different squares in my room and sometimes it looks too blue. I was afraid to take the plunge! Please help!

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 20, 2017 - 10:47 AM

      Hi Vanjul,

      I have not used this color, but even if I had, if you are seeing it as blue and you don’t want it to look like that, then in your light, it might not be right for you. If you subscribe, you will receive a guide on a better way to select colors than painting them on the wall.ReplyCancel

  • Dan Moorman - April 21, 2017 - 6:41 PM

    One of the other important things to consider is scale. Even if you do test a swatch on location, a tiny square of blue is going to feel different than an entire room flooded in it. The more vivid the shade, the more loud the room will be when it’s done.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 21, 2017 - 6:43 PM

      Hi Dan,

      Yes, that’s true. I recommend making a large sample board and taping it flat against the wall and moving it around to different locations and looking at different times of the day and night.ReplyCancel

  • kate baron - March 29, 2017 - 8:35 AM

    Hello Laurel,

    Thank you for sharing these pretty blue colors. I have learned the hard way that…yes…your blue needs to be more towards a gray. I had my two story foyer painted in SW sea salt!!! It is a very sunny space and just glows!!! and I don’t mean that in a good way. The color itself is not terrible….just not for this space or my house. My kitchen sits behind this space and my cabinets are creamier..like dover white or timid white. The bright blue just looks so disconnected and makes my kitchen look dingy:( I have two questions….Do you think blue/gray is an appropriate color for a large foyer? My foyer space, like in many homes, also carries through the upstairs hallway to a staircase at the back of the house. I’m questioning if blue is neutral enough considering almost every other room in my house is up against this foyer color? Also, I am having my kitchen ceiling re drywalled to a smooth ceiling. I am considering having the ceiling painted one of these pretty blues. When you paint a ceiling a color what do you do with your recessed lighting??? I do not want to have a pretty blue ceiling…which I think would look beautiful with my cabinets… with all these white dots on it from the lighting? Thanks for any advice you can share.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 29, 2017 - 9:37 PM

      Hi Kate,

      The best advice I can give you is to find a designer to consult with– who can help you with these issues. It’s impossible without being there to see what’s going on.ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Clendenon - March 22, 2017 - 1:12 AM

    lol Laurel! I was working on a project and searched for a specific blue chip for my presentation from Ben Moore and damned if you did not pop up instead! I am commenting only to let you know Seaside Resort #725 in on a coastal kitchen I did years ago and is probably one of the most prolific “blue” kitchen pinned etc….I can reverse image search it and it comes up around the world ….silly little kitchen but powerful color…AND IT IS between 547 and 854 🙂 And I am most assuredly not Miles Redd! I think that almost any color can work for something in the right hands with the right light and with the right “friends” to play with! Always enjoy stumbling onto your blog posts…you are hilarious!
    ~~~~CherylReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 22, 2017 - 1:19 AM

      Hi Cheryl!!!

      Love this and you are so right. I’ve seen some colors that look pretty gross on the chip but when they are up, with art, furniture and lighting look awesome!

      See ya back at the ranch! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Lori Cropp - March 17, 2017 - 1:13 PM

    This is clearly a Ben Moore safe place:) but Sherwin Williams has a color called Opaline which is so pretty in most rooms. It’s a super soft gray/blue with a touch of green. I’ve probably used it 30 times with great results.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 17, 2017 - 1:55 PM

      Hi Lori,

      Thanks for sharing that info. I always love to hear about great paint colors.

      I love those watery – gray blue greens! I took a look and close BM colors are – Silver Crest 1583 which is a hair deeper and Stone Washed 865 which is a nano-hair lighter, but otherwise, to my eye, exactly the same.

      I love Sherwin Williams but I felt it better to focus primarily on one company because there is already so much confusion and Benjamin Moore is the number one brand– at least around here, it is.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Young - March 8, 2017 - 10:23 AM

    Hi Laurel:
    I have a bathroom with grayish/white floor tile and grayish/white granite countertops. Dark cherry cabinets. There is white tile in some of the room with a thin sky blue stripe running through it. Two walls that face opposite each other are beadboard, which I am going to paint a shade of white,similar to the tile. I was thinking of trying to paint the remaining walls, which are above the tile and just a small portion of the room, a different color from the white. My question is: Should I try to match the paint color to the granite and the floors or to the thin sky blue stripe of tile that has no other color like it in the room. Or is it best to try to find a blue/gray shade of paint that incorporates everything?
    Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 10:13 PM

      I’m sorry Stephanie, but I can’t address this in the comments. Wish I could but I would need to see it in person. No worries, I’m asked these questions dozens of times a week.ReplyCancel

      • Stephanie Young - March 9, 2017 - 7:23 AM

        I totally understand! It’s hard enough and I’m staring at it all day! I will play around with different blue and gray paint colors to see what I come up with. Your blogs are very helpful. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Ceirwyn - February 26, 2017 - 9:52 AM

    No Polar Sky?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 26, 2017 - 12:09 PM

      Hi Ceirwyn,

      I’m sorry but you lost me.ReplyCancel

      • Ceirwyn - February 28, 2017 - 6:22 PM

        I mean good old 1674 in the Benjamin Moore deck.ReplyCancel

  • Ila - November 25, 2016 - 3:46 PM

    I’m painting a new very small room, I’m thinking a very light blue gray with darker blue gray trim. The room is only 8 X 10 feet, it will be a small office with only natural light coming from a sliding patio door.
    I’m thinking about painting walls and ceiling the same color, friends tell me I’m crazy. I’d like your opinion concerning both walls and ceiling the same colorReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 25, 2016 - 8:27 PM

      Hi Ila,

      Christopher Columbus’ friends also said that he was crazy.

      As well meaning as I’m sure that they are, please ignore them. They only know what they know and what they know are white ceilings.

      I think it sounds stunning. Now, I haven’t seen your room, but I would paint the trim the same color as the walls but in a semi-gloss finish.

      Oh, there’s a post here about that too. Hang on and I’ll fetch it for you.

      Here ya go.

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/06/23/husband-wont-change-blue-trim-color/

      There are several rooms in this post that are painted all one color and most of them are blue.

      Wishing you strength against that incessant chorus of naysayers. And then practice your best gloating smile when they come over and tell you how amazing it looks!
      ReplyCancel

  • Suzi - July 26, 2016 - 10:09 PM

    Hello Laurel,
    I just read your “Blue” blog and have one question that I think you can answer – Out of all of these blues, which ones don’t have any kind of green undertone look to them? I’m buying a new house and we have lots of painting to do. It is on a lake and has tons of big windows letting in lots of light. I’m in Florida and want to use mostly pale blues and yellows. I don’t like grey or green, they bore me. Thank you,
    SuziReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 26, 2016 - 10:32 PM

      Hi Suzi,

      I’m so sorry but I can’t answer that because I don’t know what your light is like. I don’t know what else is going on in the home–what the permanent finishes are, what your furniture looks like. I don’t know if pale blue and yellow is a good idea.

      My best recommendation would be to get some samples of colors you like and test them. Or, you could hire someone in your area for a color consult. ReplyCancel

      • Suzi - July 27, 2016 - 1:10 PM

        Thanks for replying. I looked at all of these blues on the BM website (I know that’s not perfect) and they all looked either green or gray to me. Not really a more pure blue like I’m looking for. I don’t want baby blue either. I actually will have 2 living areas, the blue is to go with light tan furniture with pillows that I made that have blue nautical designs where the darkest blue looks like Poolside and gets lighter from there. My other area is for the yellow, where I have very bold reds, yellows and blues – sort of a French country look (slipcovers that I made of coordinating fabrics, 3 put together). In my home in Indiana, I had a very bold yellow on the walls and liked it, but in Southwest Florida I thought I should try to mellow it a little. I am going to buy samples today and paint on the poster board, I like that idea. Thank you.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 1:34 PM

          Hi Suzi,

          I think what I’m hearing is you want a French Blue and that would be a lot deeper than any of the blues on this page.

          A blue that doesn’t have a good amount of gray in it IS going to look baby blue. In fact, the best light blues, actually look gray on the chip.

          That is the mistake people make. The color that one perceives on the chip is NOT what ends up on the wall.

          Please remember not to look down on the color. It must be put up – FLAT and perfectly vertical (not propped up) and taped directly to the wall.
          ReplyCancel

          • Suzi - July 30, 2016 - 10:11 AM

            Hello Laurel,
            I have a question that I hope you can give some guidance on – the house that we just bought has rounded corners everywhere. What is the best way to change from one color to another where the corner meets two separate areas? Tape it for the first color and then just use a steady hand? There are a lot of corners and I don’t want all of the areas to be the same color, like it currently is. Also, I did my paint samples on poster board yesterday and found some very pretty blues that don’t look like baby blue, like Silvery Blue and Summer Shower. I also think Snow White has a lot of blue in it, I might use it in my bedroom or a guestroom. Thank you,
            Suzi Bloemker

          • Laurel Bern - July 31, 2016 - 1:15 AM

            Hi Suzi,

            Gosh, I would not paint it different colors unless there’s an architectural way that you can create a definite separation. That’s the problem with stuff like that. And there is no shame in painting it all ove color. In fact, it’s a great way to unify the spaces that connect with rounded corners.

  • Arden - July 21, 2016 - 10:52 PM

    Hi Laurel. I want to change my dining room from a red color to something more neutral and lighter. I have BJ Richmond Bisque on the adjoining living room walls. I have already primed the dining room walls. What would you suggest for a light gray/blue that would go well with the living room?
    Thanks so much for your input.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 21, 2016 - 11:02 PM

      Hi Arden,

      I’m sorry, but I cannot recommend paint colors in the comments because first of all, it’s impossible from a description and two per the note above, cannot give individual help in the comments. No worries. I get similar comments from about 50 people a week.

      It’s impossible to select a color without seeing the entire space and it really should be in person. I’ve done it long distance but it’s nerve wracking. ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Jordan - July 17, 2016 - 1:27 PM

    I read your post today about trends in kitchens. My question is how do you feel about using 2 colors of cabinets. Upper light and bottom darker. I have mixed feelings and can’t decide. I just bought a gutted villa and have a kitchen and 2 baths to do. Am feeling overwhelmed at times with all the decisions.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 17, 2016 - 3:31 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      Yes, I am a bit ambiguous about it and share your feelings. Quite frankly, I would never do it. I would do an all-white kitchen and possibly something else on the island if there is one.

      However, it also really depends on the configuration and what else is going on in the home.ReplyCancel

  • Sheila Powell - July 12, 2016 - 5:59 PM

    I have red wall color in my kitchen with maple cabinets. I really want a change. Do you think the pale blues will go with my cabinets & dark black countertops? A friend suggested Palladium Blue but it looks a little green.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 12, 2016 - 6:11 PM

      Hi Sheila,

      I think you mean Palladian Blue. I’m sorry, however, you may have missed the above statement, but it’s impossible for me to give individual advice.

      The primary reason is that I am not there, so it’s impossible to say.

      If you had said, “what’s a color a shade bluer than Palladian Blue?” I could answer that. Woodlawn Blue hc-147.

      If I had to guess, I would probably go with a richer deeper blue and/or teal color. There are some beautiful ones in the Laurel Home Essential Paint Color Collection –

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/05/18/laurel-home-essential-paint-color-collection/

      But as I said, I am not there. I don’t know what’s going on in your other rooms, what the lighting is like, your furniture, what style your home is… Lots of variables.ReplyCancel

  • Patrice - April 6, 2016 - 1:53 PM

    Hi Laurel
    I love your blogs!!!!! I just painted a small bath Quiet Moments – tile is same color…now everything looks green. Thinking of now doing the walls in White Dove to contrast shower tile…..cabinet is white dove with Calcutta.
    thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2016 - 4:53 PM

      Hi Patrice,

      Sorry, not sure if I answered you or not, but I can’t give thoughts without seeing the situation. It’s like saying to your dr. that you have a headache. Is he going to diagnose you and prescribe meds over the phone? It’s just like that.

      But if you have a shower curtain, a nice crisp white will cut the blue-green. White towels and don’t forget artwork. Black frames would look great. But again, this is just off the top of my head, not hard and fast since I can’t see what you are talking about.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 6, 2016 - 4:22 PM

      Thank you Patrice,

      I’m sorry but I’m not doing paint consults at this time. Perhaps you need to find a color specialist to help you if you are struggling.ReplyCancel

  • D - March 29, 2016 - 2:38 PM

    Laurel,

    I have to admit, I wish I had found you sooner. You crack me up and I need that as life has not been so kind to me. Your blog has been one of the few bright points in my life recently. Just wanted you know that. It’s inspired me to perhaps start my own blog one day. Blessings to you!
    ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 29, 2016 - 8:03 PM

      Thank you D. That is so sweet of you to let me know. Please, yes, start your own blog! It’s a lot of fun and very gratifying–especially when I receive such kind messages.ReplyCancel

  • julie black - March 28, 2016 - 10:00 AM

    Laurel,
    You didn’t mention BM Palladian Blue. I am thinking of painting my kitchen that color. It seems to have a lot of green in it.
    Do you have experience using this color?
    JulieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 28, 2016 - 12:08 PM

      Hi Julie,

      Yes, it’s a great color! If you look in my portfolio, in the sunroom with the white love seats, the ceiling is painted Palladian Blue.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - March 24, 2016 - 12:35 PM

    My kitchen is all white except for the floor which is medium blue ceramic tile. I am looking for a pale blue for walls so does not look to much with the blue floor. Any suggestions?

    Thank YouReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 24, 2016 - 2:21 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,
      I am sorry, but I cannot give paint recommendations in the comments because I cannot see your room and also there’s a fee for color consultations. However, I’m booked up right now and not doing that.

      However, I would not also paint the walls blue if your walls are blue. I would probably paint them a white to go with the cabinets. To bring in the blue which I think you should do to help make sense of the blue floor, I would do that with the window treatments, art, upholstery if you have that and accessories. I would probably also put down a small indoor-outdoor rug or some other type of rug if the expanse of blue is large, but that is an optional thing depending on the size of your kitchen and layout.ReplyCancel

  • April L - March 13, 2016 - 9:41 AM

    I’m so thankful I’m stumbled upon your website. I have written every light blue color down and have looked for hours on Pinterest. Quick question, I have painted my hallway, foyer and living room Revere Pewter. I’m looking to find a beautiful pale blue for my kitchen as it adjoins the living room. We have santa cecilia granite with a bit more gold than I’d like but I’m stuck with this. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 13, 2016 - 12:45 PM

      Hi April,
      I’m sorry but I can’t give out that kind of help in the comments. Even if this were a hobby and not my livelihood, it’s impossible to say because I can’t see anything! Santa Cecilia granite means nothing to me. Natural stone no matter what, can vary greatly. I can’t see your lighting or what else is going on. The only advice I can offer is for you to get your paint samples and make big boards and move them around the room.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Meredith - February 23, 2016 - 2:46 PM

    I had BM paladian blue in another house in the bedroom – and loved it –
    now I am looking for a blue for living and dining room above a chair rail with painted paneling the color of the trim – and it is not white white but a creamier white –
    a good friend suggested Silver Marlin – BMoore –
    what do you think?
    JanetReplyCancel

    • Robyn Sears - March 7, 2016 - 2:35 PM

      I have Silver Marlin in my main living area. It’s a two story foyer and family room. I love it! If I could upload a pic I would. The adjoining dining room I painted Foggy Day, the flow nicely. I also painting the half bath Classic French Gray and I like it also with the SM. You really can’t go wrong with the SM. It’s very versatile.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - March 7, 2016 - 11:57 PM

        Hi Robyn,

        I haven’t actually used SM, but I’ve read about it. It is actually quite close to one of my go-to colors which is Quiet Moments. These are very beautiful, sophisticated, soothing colors!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 23, 2016 - 7:08 PM

      That’s a great color Janet! It’s also very close to Quiet Moments which is my go-to bedroom color. SMarlin is a touch deeper. Very pretty!ReplyCancel

  • courtney - February 23, 2016 - 12:56 PM

    Hi Laurel, I’m confused as to which color is what on this page. Are the names of the colors listed under or on top of photo?
    thanks!

    CourtneyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 23, 2016 - 1:17 PM

      Hi Courtney, The color names are underneath the photos but they are only a suggestion as monitors can read colors differently.ReplyCancel

  • Barb - January 15, 2016 - 3:16 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Your blog posts are so helpful thank you so much! Probably one of my biggest problems is being able to tell what the undertone color is in a paint. For example, with gray, is the undertone purple or green etc. Do you have a full proof way to correctly tell the undertone of the color?

    Thanks in advance!
    BarbReplyCancel

  • anne - January 9, 2016 - 9:17 PM

    Thanks for this!

    I am currently debating between BM “Pale Smoke” or “Gray Sky” and key will be to find a beige-y neutral that can work with my chosen color in the master bath which has some older beige tiles. Any tips? Do you prefer pale smoke or gray sky? I am looking for a calming blue for my bedroom

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 10, 2016 - 1:40 AM

      Hi Anne,

      My fave, fave, fave pale blue is Quiet Moments. Look no further. As for your bathroom, it’s impossible to speculate. Did you know that you can paint tile? You can google it. They have tutorials on youtube. There’s a special paint for it. ReplyCancel

  • Veronika - November 27, 2015 - 9:41 PM

    Hi Laurel, your post on best shades of whites solved a huge headache for me and i have since passed the link to friends who struggled selecting the right white. i would like to ask you if there are two blues you like together. this is for exterior door and shutters, to create interesting and bold visual focal points in an otherwise bland white house. thank you (apologies if the question is too specific), veronikaReplyCancel

  • Lesley - November 5, 2015 - 7:33 PM

    Your blog is great, and so helpful!

    Do you think Picnic Basket is too intense/colorful for a (small) living and dining room? Here’s why I’m considering it vs something more neutral. Our house is a 1924 bungalow with the living/dining rooms facing east, across the front of the house, with a wide opening between them. They don’t get a huge amount of light even in the morning, because both face the porch. And we live in rainy Portland OR. But they do each have a large lovely window to the porch. And on the end of each room are the original built-ins (painted a nice soft but clean white) with smaller windows above. So those end walls are mostly built-ins/windows/fireplace, not much wall.

    I would have more wall color choices, but the previous owners painted the door trims and baseboard/crown moulding in these rooms a pinky-grayish color, sort of between BM Sea Froth (2107-60) and Cloudy Gray (2107-70). Maybe even slightly pinker. The house needs a lot of other things and we can’t deal with painting that trim right now, but the walls are a horrible mauve I can’t live with, so I’m looking for a wall color that can go with the trim. When I put the lighter gray-blue-greens (such as Silver Crest or Wickham Gray) next to this pinkish trim, it all looks really bad.

    We have the original light oak floors, and the living room rug (vintage Moroccan) has an ivory background with floral pattern in navy blue, pale green-blue, lavender and pumpkin.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on my Picnic Basket plan, or if you have a completely different color idea for my living/dining room!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 5, 2015 - 10:08 PM

      Hi Lesley, I have tried to figure out a way to say this and it’s on my contact page. and believe me you are not alone. I’m so sorry, but I cannot answer questions that constitute individual advice. If I did that, I’d be sitting here all day answering questions for free!

      I’m not doing any paid consulting work at this time either. My recommendation is to seek out someone who you can hire if you’re needing additional help.ReplyCancel

  • Jackie B - September 2, 2015 - 12:38 PM

    Hi Laurel – I love all the colors you suggested and will definitely be checking them out when we start painting our new home. But that is not why I am commenting – – I noticed that almost every photo had gold accents. Gold pendants, gold chandelier, gold mirror frame…etc. Since industry professionals are always ahead of the trends, I’m wondering if this is something to consider. NOT that I actually follow the trends…just wondering. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Teri - August 31, 2015 - 4:09 PM

    When I finally convinced my husband to let me paint our orange knotty pine solid wood paneling (what is it with men, anyway?), I painted it in Silver Crest (1583). Absolutely gorgeous color, although when I moved to my new house, it didn’t look at all good here. But then, neither did a dozen other of my favorite colors. But I read blogs, so I knew to test them first. Now I have beautiful colors here, too.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:41 AM

      Hi Teri,

      That is a common problem with the old colors not looking good in the new house! And it just goes to show that lighting is everything!ReplyCancel

  • Joyce - August 31, 2015 - 2:25 PM

    My absolute favorite blue gray is BM Iced Cube Silver. I painted my living room this color against the advice of an interior designer who lobbied hard for a “warmer” color and insisted I would tire of my choice very quickly. Six years later, I abolutely love my walls as much as I did the day the paint went up. In fact, I’ve painted the guest room (with two north-facing windows only) the same beautiful color. I love it all times of day from morning with some natural light to evening with artificial light. If you’re looking for gray or “silver” with Iced Cube Silver, you’ll be disappointed…but if you want the perfect hardly-there blue, this is a winner.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:40 AM

      Hi Joyce,

      Oh those decorators! Just shoot them all! lol It is rare that I insist on anything. But six years ago, things were still going more towards the warm side. It’s actually very hard to come by a perfectly gray, gray. And quite frankly, not sure I would want a flat gray. I’ve heard other people say good things about iced cube silver too.ReplyCancel

  • Betsy - August 31, 2015 - 2:07 PM

    Agree with Minica’s picks! I recently specified mostly blue colors for a 15 room newly renovated/ rebuilt colonial shingle styled home. Entry & halls are BM Gray Owl ( blue undertone). Love it! The LR/DR are another toned or grayed blue; Iceberg. For anyone looking for a medium dark denim blue we chose BM Buckland Blue for the office. Very nice w a hint of green to warm it. For Master BR we used One of Lauren’s picks: Glass Slipper. Also used Quiet Moments in a bath. Lastly for the younger girls BR we used BM Heaven on Earth. It’s a bit brighter but doesn’t look too “baby blue” it’s a color used by the color maven Tobi Farley! Thanks for another good post!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:35 AM

      Thanks for all of that Betsy. I’ll have to look at Heaven on Earth! That has to be a lovely color! I painted my boys’ bathroom Buckland Blue. It looked great and it was north facing with a hill and a very small window! So, that warmth worked really well!ReplyCancel

  • Monica - August 31, 2015 - 1:34 PM

    My favorite blue gray is BM Gray Owl. Just the perfect color if you want a hint of blue. It’s soothing and elegant. It looks great with traditional and contemporary decor. Another wonderful blue gray is BM Gray Cashmere. It has a little more green than Gray Owl but still looks like a soft blue. If you are looking for a “true” pale blue with no discernible undertone Topsail by SW is wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Betsy - August 31, 2015 - 12:13 AM

    Great post but hold on. The Gary McBournie LR is painted BM Palladian Blue not Picnic Basket. I am sure because I loved his house featured in House Beautiful and I have his book. It’s definitely Palladian Blue. So was my kitchen for 6 years. It’s a great toned grayed Aqua.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:27 AM

      Hi Betsy,

      Oh, no dispute whatsoever! I’m sure that you’re right. I don’t know if you saw, but I said that the photos aren’t necessarily the color but something close. It’s difficult enough to find the source much less the color they used! So, I just have to guess. Palladian Blue is the color of the ceiling of the sun room in my portfolio with the two white loveseats. I always forget to use my own images! There are so many great pale blues and blue greens!ReplyCancel

  • Sandy - August 30, 2015 - 10:49 PM

    @Laurel/Betty Blueper–SO GOOD! Betty is as funny as you are 😉 (“No wait. I wouldn’t do that to my baby…” )

    When you said “Please go and fetch your Benjamin Fan Deck. The “Classic” one” I actually did–for real!! And I totally agree about the offending slab of ridiculous shades, but since I don’t have the patience to rip them out–it would take a very long time given how many there are–(even though you graciously offered to wait!) I’m just going to say Noted/Accepted…

    As for the blues, I can personally vouch for Woodlawn–we’ve used it in one of our own rooms and loved it. It has just the right amount of gray/green punch to be a gorgeous backdrop for white/black/caramel neutrals!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:17 AM

      Hi Sandy,

      I don’t know how these things just come to me. But I put in the funny names so that people will hopefully realize the entire thing is fictionalized. Although, probably every sentence has been said to me at some point, just by ten different people! haha. Good to know about Woodlawn. I think I’ve actually only used it once or twice on a ceiling, but I study all of this and people always rave about it.ReplyCancel

  • Kasey D. - August 30, 2015 - 9:54 PM

    Beautiful rooms! I love blue! It took me months to find the right blue for my living room- Laurel followed some advice you gave about the great colors from clasdic art- drew inspiration from a Monet exhibit poster I have and chose BM Slate Blue. It’s definitely blue but not too strong. I like color and found some lighter/grayer shades too pale for me. Also a fan of deep dark blues- my dining room is valspar Flannel Gray. It reads as navy/indigo in my home- nothing like the paint chip under fluorescent light at the paint store! May not be for everyone but blue is my favorite color, so I love my two blue rooms next to each other.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:14 AM

      Hi Kasey,

      That all sounds wonderful. I’ll be getting to some deeper blues eventually.ReplyCancel

  • jackie - August 30, 2015 - 8:28 PM

    I just had the same experience with trying to find the perfect blue for our master bedroom. After about 20 test samples we went with Behr quite teal. It looks great! It was a slight grey and pale blue. Now to find a great color for the master bath!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:13 AM

      Hi Jackie,

      Thank you for that. I’m always on the lookout for great colors!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn Baldwin - August 30, 2015 - 6:48 PM

    The tale of two cities in home decor; blue walls!! When done right, so calming, serene, ethereal!!!! When done wrong ……cloying, annoying, cringe worthy!!! For an amateur decorator, blue is fraught with peril……. Yet people are fearless and so the disasters continue! Please readers, listen to Laurel, stick to the recommended shades…… Don’t be thinkin you can make your own choices; you can’t! Blue seems easy and straight forward, nothing, could be further from the truth!! Hands down; the most difficult colour …… Should be reserved for a select few professionals!!!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Mundy - August 30, 2015 - 3:36 PM

    Hi! Iam so confused! Help. Iam sitting here with my fan deck and my deck looks nothing like these references. Whats wrong? ThxReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 4:22 PM

      Hi Suzanne,

      The colors represented are light to medium light blue colors. Some are blue-green. The photos are a suggestion. The colors on monitors can vary quite a bit as well. In addition, looking down on the chip is not the color. You have to hold it flat against the wall and even then, the little chip, unless you’ve had a lot of experience is difficult to see. Then, you have to look at it on all the walls, high and low. The color will change a lot in different locations. This why we recommend making large samples that can be moved around. Hope that helped!ReplyCancel

      • Suzanne mundy - August 31, 2015 - 8:39 AM

        Thanks Lauren. All the samples i pulled looked dirty grey and I was very confused! Ha! Love your blog!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 12:31 AM

          Hi Suzanne,

          Yes! That’s the premise of the entire post! The best blues usually look dirty gray!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - August 30, 2015 - 2:51 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Buying the right color paint is a bit like buying the right makeup, isn’t it? If you merely buy the foundation or lipstick at the store and take it home, without first trying it on, walking over to the window and looking at it under natural light, don’t be surprised if you end up with something completely different than what you thought you had. Even then, the natural light at your house will be different than the natural light at the cosmetic counter. It will look more intense in the bright sunlight, than on an overcast day, and the light will change depending upon the time of day and the season. I could go on and on. There are just so many variables that come into play.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 4:19 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      So true. Lighting is everything! Most stores use fluorescent. ugh.ReplyCancel

  • KL - August 30, 2015 - 1:15 PM

    Lovely suggestions, beautiful rooms! We painted our Master BM Aura Lavender Wash and although very dull gray looking on the chip it’s a gorgeous pale blue gray with just a hint of lavender in certain lighting. We’re now desperate to find a good med/dark bluish gray for our exterior that’s not too bright, too drab, too green or too purple to work with an antique black roof, white windows and trim, stained wood posts and gray stone. We’ve tried so many samples but can’t yet seem to find the ONE! We sampled amd liked BM Black Pepper and Englewood Cliffs but worried they might be too dark or purplish. The painter is coming soon and we’re going in circles! Just sampled BM Affinity Montpelier and we like it also but wondering if it also might be too bright/purplish too. (We tend to lean toward blue purples as you can see!) A pretty med/dark blue gray that’s not green and doesn’t look too bright too drab or too purple is what we’re after. Scary to pick something for the whole 1 1/2 story exterior, any ideas?!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 4:19 PM

      Hi KL,

      Good luck with that. Keep testing!ReplyCancel

      • KL - August 30, 2015 - 7:01 PM

        Any tips come to mind or have you seen any beautiful mid-tone blue gray exteriors lately, and any thoughts on BM Black Pepper or Englewood Cliffs?ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 10:21 AM

    Hi Susan,

    Let’s see if I can comment. Having problems this morning. Yes, Woodlawn is lovely. That sounds interesting with the stair riser. The only thing I can’t stand is when it’s stained wood unless the entire place is wood. The back of a cabinet is also a great place to get your dark “feet” wet.

    Waynes Coating! hahaha! That’s right up there with an ad I once saw for a car with “curse control.” I’ve seen Palladian Windows spelled “Palladium.” Uh, dude! That’s a metal not a window!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 10:11 AM

    Hi Maureen,

    I’ve always spelled “gray” with an A too and I’m from Indiana. It rhymes with bay, day, lay, say, stray… so why would there be an E in it? Although, English is full of stuff that’s weird. My clients painted their family room that color and you are right! They used it in their son’s room too and it is still wonderful, just darker because of the north facing dimmer light. In fact, I like it even better in the darker room.

    I’m with you with the dark colors. (although my bedroom is Tropical Dusk which is fairly dark). First of all, I would confine it to a smaller room and one with good light. Although, I’ve seen some gorgeous very dark halls. People who’ve done Van Deusen Blue are very happy with it. It’s a tad warmer than Newburyport. But, maybe you don’t want it to be warmer.

    Hmmm… sumtin’ strange is going on here with my site. First, your comment appeared 4 times. I’m having trouble answering and someone else’s comment appeared two times. Let’s see if this works.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - August 30, 2015 - 9:54 AM

    oops! That should be, wainscoting. I once read a real estate ad that spelled that, “wayne’s coating”, haha.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 1, 2015 - 9:16 AM

      Susan,

      I was having trouble with answering the other day and the answer is near the top if you came back and missed it.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - August 30, 2015 - 9:47 AM

    Glad you included Woodlawn Blue! It’s a great blue. I have successfully used it in a kitchen & bedrooms. We now have a bedroom with (ivory) white walls and the ceiling, Woodlawn Blue: So fresh & pretty. Sherwin Williams’ Copen Blue is a close cousin.
    The reader who mentioned wanting to try a dark dark blue. I, too, was afraid of committing to a deep, dark blue–so I painted just the risers of a staircase, visible from our foyer & living room, Smoky Blue (Sherwin Williams) and love the outcome. Steps are stained wood adjacent to wainscotting, painted off white.ReplyCancel

  • Maureen Byrne - August 30, 2015 - 9:03 AM

    Here I am again with my Farrow and Ball paint, but I did our hallway in FB Light Blue
    and it is stunning. Not to dark, not too blue, not too gray (Canadian spelling).
    I have always wanted to paint something a dark dark blue like Newburyport or Kensington , but it seems to be a little like sticking a toe in the ice cold ocean. Maybe I’ll get brave enough some day!ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - August 30, 2015 - 6:47 AM

    Good lord, Laurel! Those are some seriously breathtaking rooms-I keep going back and forth on which one is my favorite, without conclusion, and now I’m looking at all my rooms, wondering which one I could repaint with one of those ravishingly lovely colors!
    Thank you for another great Sunday morning read..:-)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 9:46 AM

      Hi Dolores,

      I’m having the same problem. One of the perks of doing the blog is that I am constantly learning about more and more exceptional designers. Sometimes I think I would like one of these for my bedroom. Don’t laugh.(too hard) I have trouble committing. haha!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - August 30, 2015 - 1:33 AM

    What about Sherwin Williams Sleepy Blue? I already painted the master bath with it and I really love it with the white painted woodwork and white vanity…. thinking of carrying it over into the master bedroom.ReplyCancel

  • Ann - August 30, 2015 - 12:42 AM

    What about BM Affinity, AF 540? I just brought a large pre-painted panel of it home from the paint store to try out in a south-facing bedroom that is currently brown, beige, and more brown.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 30, 2015 - 12:45 AM

      Hi Ann,

      That’s a pretty color too. Please let me know how it looks, but most of the gray-blues look terrific with brown.ReplyCancel