I’m on the search for the perfect charcoal gray paint color for our living room and in looking for the right color, I’ve come across several beautiful charcoal colors that I wanted to share with you.
What color goes with charcoal gray?
Because charcoal gray is so dark, to highlight it, you really want to go with an opposing color. Think a creamy white like White Dove by Benjamin Moore or a light blue gray paint color like Benjamin Moore’s Eternity.
We’re going to use a charcoal gray color in our family room and pair it with white board and batten to really highlight it. Here’s the photo I’m using for inspiration (we will choose a charcoal and not a black paint color, but you get the idea of balancing dark colors with light).
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Do gray walls make a room look smaller?
Gray walls can make a room look smaller if you choose a dark gray color and you also have dark floors and little natural light in your room. By default, dark colors will make a room look smaller, so if you want to go that route, either balance it out with a lot of lighter elements (like trim and floors) or make sure your room is substantial enough to handle the color.
The best charcoal gray paint colors
Kendall Charcoal is a dark gray color, warmed by yellow and green undertones. This color is deeply saturated and looks very “earthy.” It’s a great neutral paint color and works well with a crisp white or a more creamy white.
If you like Kendall Charcoal, you’ll also like Iron Mountain, which I included in my list of modern exterior house colors to watch in 2022.
Benjamin Moore’s Wolf Gray is simply divine. I’m really leaning towards this dusty charcoal blue paint color for our living room. Definitely a cooler paint tone, this gray paint has visible blue undertones and would work well paired with crisp white paint.
Another top contender for our living room, Englewood Cliffs is a medium-toned charcoal paint. Although it doesn’t have quite the same amount of blue in it as Wolf Gray, Englewood Cliffs does have a hint of blue undertone, that will come out more in rooms with ample natural light.
The darkest color on this list, some might call Sherwin Williams Peppercorn a black paint color. I even included it my list of favorite black paints, but here’s the thing with Peppercorn–with the right light it’s totally a deep charcoal. Painted in a room that gets a good bit of sunlight, peppercorn will present as a dramatic deep charcoal. Painted in a room that’s not directed towards the sun and doesn’t have too many windows peppercorn will look very dark, almost black.
If you really liked the drama of Peppercorn but wanted something just a hair lighter, try Web Gray. A rich color, Web Gray is softened up a bit with some deep navy blue undertones.
If you like Web Gray, be sure to check out my full list of favorite black-blue paint colors!
Summit Gray is a dark charcoal paint with taupe undertones. Because of the creamier undertones, its best to pair Summit Gray with a white that has more of a creamy/yellow tint to it.
Pike’s Peak is a beautiful steely blue gray paint color with notes of charcoal. For those looking for the drama of a charcoal without all the darkness, Pike’s Peak might be just what you’re looking for. In rooms with less natural light Pike’s Peak will read more like a charcoal with notes of blue undertones.
Arctic Seal by Benjamin Moore really reminds me of Peppercorn, it’s a deep, dark charcoal, but it’s just a smidge lighter. If you really want a dark hue but don’t have ample light and are torn between Arctic Seal and Peppercorn, go with Arctic Seal!
Tips for choosing the right charcoal gray paint color
Look at the LRV
When in doubt, search for the Light Reflective Value of the color you’re thinking about. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell which color is darker or lighter if you’re considering two very closely related hues.
The Light Reflective Value is a scale of 0-100, with 0 being true black and 100 being pure white. It’s essentially a numerical scale designed to show how much light is reflected in a paint color.
When you live in a home that doesn’t have a ton of natural light, you really should choose the number closer to 100 if you are comparing two similar colors, so that you’re not left with a color that’s too dark
Take note of your light
We live in a home that is surrounded by tons of trees, and while I love it for keeping our home and backyard shaded in the summer, it makes it difficult to choose paint colors. A warm gray is likely to read totally dark beige in some of the rooms in our home. Likewise, if you have a lot of natural light and you’re searching for a more saturated hue, you might be upset that your paint color looks washed out.
The key to getting around this is to test out the colors in the room you are thinking about and observe them throughout the day to see what they actually look like on your walls.
Test it out!
If you’re the type of paint picker outer (Yes, I’ve coined that term) that walks into a paint store and picks a color based on how a swatch looks in the store, you’re always going to be disappointed.
It’s so important that you see how the color looks in your home, next to your floors, furniture, and especially, the light in your home.
Either go to the paint store and get a handful of samples to paint on your wall ( I recommend painting on a white poster board and taping it to the wall for best results) or try the peel and stick paint samples from Samplize. After discovering Samplize, I typically use them to decide on a paint color, as it’s just easier for me than going to get an actual sample.
PS, I have a whole guide on how to pick paint colors if you’re interested.