A more complex light gray color, thanks to its various undertones (which we’ll go into!) Passive is a popular Sherwin Williams gray. But is this gray right for you? Because remember, just because you saw this trendy hue online, doesn’t mean it will work well in your home.
Find out if Passive is right for you with my full color review.
What are the undertones of Sherwin Williams Passive?
Passive has not one, not two, but three undertones–blue, purple and green–making this color a bit more complex than some other popular blue gray paint colors that just have one or two undertones.
Understanding a paint color’s undertones is actually very important in terms of getting your paint color right. The key is matching up the undertones in the paint color with the undertones in your fixed elements. Passive primarily has blue undertones that lean a bit purple and secondarily, you’ll find some green undertones.
Because of the mix of undertones, I find it’s a bit easier to work with Passive than those grays that practically scream blue thanks to their strong blue undertones. That doesn’t mean you can just pair Passive with anything. We’ll unpack this concept towards the bottom of the post.
What is the LRV of Passive?
Passive has a Light Reflective Variance of 60, which puts in the lighter side of paint colors. As far as popular gray paint colors goes, Passive is more middle of the road, but leans just slightly lighter. It’s not as light as Horizon or Gray Owl, but it’s not as dark as Boothbay Gray or Coventry Gray.
How do I know if Sherwin Williams Passive will work for my space?
Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes of this post! The first thing you need to do is to identify the fixed elements in your space.
Identify the fixed elements in your home
Say you’re considering Passive for your home office. What do you already have in your office that isn’t moving? Carpet or tile? Built ins in a specific paint color? A desk, rug, etc? Anything that can’t easily be swapped out is a fixed element.
Classic hardwood floors, which are commonly found in offices don’t need to be “matched” to a color, as they go with everything. Now, if you have cherry wood floors or gray wood floors, I don’t consider those to be as classic and they will need to be evaluated for their undertones.
Now, by now you know that Passive has three undertones–blue, purple and green. But, the blue/purple is by far the most prominent. You need to make sure the fixed elements in your room will work with blue/purple to pull off Passive.
This is a wonderful example of paint working for and not against you. Elements of blue and green can be found in furnishings and perfectly coordinate with the blue and green undertones found in Passive.
Many cooler grays that have blue or green undertones can come off as cold, but even the iciest grays can be warmed up by decor, as you can see from this example. This room looks so cozy and inviting!
The absolute best way to make sure your paint color is this perfectly coordinated is to pick out your furnishings first. Paint color should always be picked last! If a blue/green gray isn’t for you, be sure to check out my full post popular grey paint colors for your home, where you can sort by undertone!
Make sure the LRV of Passive suits your space
As you read earlier, Passive isn’t the darkest gray, but it’s not the lightest, either. Make sure this medium-light toned gray is saturated enough for a space that has ample natural light and light enough for a space with not a lot of natural light. You can only observe this when you test it out.
Test it out
The easiest way to test out paint colors is to start with a clean white background. You don’t want to be putting up paint colors onto anything that isn’t pure white, as it will make it hard to objectively look at the color.
I advise testing out hues in varying shades so you can quickly see what’s too light, what’s too dark and which undertones are present with each color.
Observe how I test colors here:
Which trim color works best with Passive?
I recommend a true white color when selecting a trim color that works best with Passive. True whites are free of undertones and my favorites in this category are Oxford White, High Reflective White and of course, everyone’s favorite, Chantilly Lace.
You can pair Passive with an Off-White like Cloud White, but it’s just not as crisp, in my opinion.
What colors go well with Passive?
Passive vs. Light French Gray
Passive and Light French Gray are actually somewhat similar in that they both share a purple undertone. Passive also as a blue undertone that sometimes leans green, though, whereas Light French Gray is pretty committed to purple. Passive is also a lighter color, whereas Light French Gray just has a bit more depth to it.
Passive vs. Repose Gray
Passive and Repose Gray are also similar, as they both share a violet undertone, but Repose Gray is just a significantly warmer color, where as Passive is definitely a cool paint tone.
Is there a Sherwin Williams gray paint that has no undertones?
Now that you’re fully aware of the undertones found in Sherwin Williams Passive, you might be asking yourself if there is a gray that is free of undertones, and the answer to that is, unfortunately, no.
Gray has either green, blue, purple or a combination of those. There is not one single gray that won’t have an undertone. Some paint colors have more pronounced undertones and others have less fussier undertones. I’d consider Passive to have less fussier undertones that are easy to work with.