All About Benjamin Moore Gray Owl + 17 Real Homes That Use It…
Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore (AKA OC-52 as well as 2137-60) is one of the top-selling shades of gray paint. And it’s no wonder why. It’s a beautiful shade of gray…but is it the right shade of gray for your home? Hopefully, this post will get you a step closer to that answer.
Not long ago, the designer world was buzzing about cool-toned grays. That’s no surprise since they project a clean, modern vibe.
But just as the wind changes direction, so do the preferences in the world of interior design. Over the past few years, there’s been a shift from cooler grays to warm-toned grays and greiges (a blend of gray and beige).
Today I have a terrific color to introduce you to… Benjamin Moore Gray Owl. It’s the latest addition to a series of posts that deep dive into different paint colors.
What color is Gray Owl?
This lovely shade of paint is an uber-popular light gray that usually reads as neutral to cool. Gray Owl and Stonington Gray (another popular Ben Moore shade) have reigned as two of Benjamin Moore’s most popular grays for several years.
Okay, let’s investigate this color’s nuances as we examine Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl.
FAQs about BM Gray Owl
Does BM Gray Owl look blue?
It definitely has blue undertones, which can show up in rooms with cool northern light, although you’ll most likely see its green undertones instead of the blue ones.
Is Benjamin Moore Gray Owl warm or cool?
Looking at one of those 1” by 1” Gray Owl cards may lead you to think that it’s a nicely balanced neutral gray. However, once it’s on walls, Gray Owl often reads cool (even though many people describe it as a warm gray).
How it reads ultimately comes down to how the lighting and surrounding decor impact the color.
Where should I use BM Gray Owl?
This color is so beautifully crisp and clean that you can use it anywhere and everywhere! Consider using this hue for any area in your house, including:
Gray Owl works well in traditional, modern, farmhouse, coastal, and transitional style homes!
If undertones make your head hurt, you’re not alone! Grab your free copy of 5 Biggest Paint Choice Mistakes Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl Undertones
Undertones are those subtle differences that you notice which make one gray (or any color) look different from another gray (or color in the same color family). These sneaky colors aren’t usually noticeable on paint chips, but then they seem to jump out and glare at you from the wall after you’ve painted the entire room.
Gray paint colors often have undertones – usually blue, green, or purple. Instead of running from them, use them to their advantage with other shades in the room.
Gray Owl has soft green/blue undertones that cause the shade to do some shape-shifting based on light exposure.
What are Benjamin Moore Gray Owl’s undertones?
Gray Owl is a light gray with green/blue undertones. As with many neutral grays, you will likely catch it reflecting nearby decor colors.
NOTE: NO paint colors will ever appear the same in varying times, locations, or circumstances. Use paint swatches to show you how you can expect your lighting and decor to impact the appearance of your paint.
As far as sampling goes, I highly recommend these mess-free, re-usable, re-positionable peel and stick paint samples ⤵
How Different Types of Lighting Affect BM Gray Owl
Paint is not a static thing. It’s more of a living, breathing, ever-changing feature in your home. And both light exposure and surrounding decor affect the way it appears.
Here’s how you can expect chameleon-like Gray Owl to look in different types of natural lighting.
- North-facing light – northern light is cool and has a blue tint which will draw out Gray Owl’s blue-green undertones.
- South-facing light – consistent warm light from the south is the most favorable to paint and will allow Gray Owl to show its true nature.
- East-facing light – with warm yellow light in the morning and passive natural light in the afternoon, Gray Owl will shift through the day from neutral gray to blue-green gray.
- West-facing light – with passive light in the morning and ultra-warm light in the evening, Gray Owl will shift appear more blue-green gray in the morning and balanced gray in the evening.
Great Coordinating Colors for Gray Owl
I love BM Gray Owl paired with coastal colors. It’s a natural fit with greens and blues and also looks stunning with white and wood tones.
Check out these specific shades that play well with Benjamin Moore Gray Owl:
- Super White
- Chantilly Lace
- Decorator’s White
- Woodlawn Blue
- Simply White
- Providence Blue
- Boothbay Gray
- Beach Glass
- Chelsea Gray
- Palladian Blue
- Amherst Gray
- Desert Twilight
- Cushing Green
- Aegean Teal
- Wrought Iron
- Coventry Gray
- Paper White
- Hale Navy
LRV of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (OC-52)
First, here’s the “numerical” details, or the LRV.
LRV = Light Reflectance Value: Rated 0-100 with 0 being pure black and 100 being pure white. Lighter paint shades REFLECT more light from them and therefore have a HIGHER LRV, and vice versa for darker shades).
Gray Owl LRV = 65.77
Gray Owl reflects quite a bit of light. It has enough saturation to leave no doubt that it’s gray (as opposed to off-white), but it’s light enough that it won’t make a room feel dark.
LRV…what? Don’t worry, I’ve got you! Grab a FREE copy of my new guide to avoid the paint color picking mistakes people make! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Gray Owl Compared to Other Colors
To understand the overall color profile of Gray Owl, including its undertones, let’s compare it to several other popular colors: Classic Gray, Stonington Gray, and Repose Gray.
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl vs. Classic Gray
Classic Gray (LRV of 74.78) is a lighter shade than Gray Owl. Compared to Gray Owl, Classic Gray OC-23 is much warmer and leans toward a beige-y brown tone but can also read off-white in bright rooms.
Both of these shades have green undertones, but Gray Owls’ are more prominent.
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl vs. Stonington Gray
Another very popular Benjamin Moore paint to throw in here for comparison’s sake is Stonington Gray (HC-170). Stonington Gray (LRV of 59.75) is likely even more popular than the others noted here, including Gray Owl.
But I think can be frequently overused, especially in spaces without a lot of natural light where it can feel quite dark. What’s more, Stonington Gray has undertones that lean cooler and more blue compared to Gray Owl’s predominantly green undertones.
It’s a beautiful shade, but don’t get sucked into the hype unless your space is well lit. There are lots of other beautiful shades for lower light situations…like Gray Owl, perhaps. I think of Gray Owl as “beachier” and Stonington Gray as “stormier.”
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl vs. Repose Gray
Sherwin Williams Repose Gray (SW 7015) is the last color comparison we will make with Gray Owl. With an LRV of 60, it hits that sweet spot of saturation. It’s darker and richer than Gray Owl, with deeper beige undertones and less prominent gray undertones.
More Colors to Consider
Do paint color possibilities have your head spinning? If you aren’t quite ready to commit to Gray Owl, check out these other greige paint colors, and popular gray paint colors:
- Alpaca (Sherwin Williams) – SW 7022 is a cool, taupe-leaning greige
- Anew Gray (Sherwin Williams) – SW 7030 is a soft, light to medium warm greige
- Dorian Gray (Sherwin Williams) – SW 7017 is a warm, neutral medium gray
- Agreeable Gray (Sherwin Williams) – SW 7029 is a warm mid to light greige
- Drift Of Mist (Sherwin Williams) – SW 9166 is a medium to light greige
- Shoreline (Benjamin Moore) – Ben Moore #1471 is a light tone gray-leaning greige
- Worldly Gray (Sherwin Williams) – SW 7043 is a popular mid-toned greige
- Chelsea Gray (Benjamin Moore) – HC-168 is a velvety rich medium to dark gray
- Paper White (Benjamin Moore) – OC-55 is an off-white with very subtle blue-gray undertones
- Moonshine (Benjamin Moore) – OC-56 is a timeless cool-leaning green-grey
- Gauntlet Gray (Sherwin WIlliams) – SW 7019 is a moody warm gray with subtle undertones
- Revere Pewter (Benjamin Moore) – HC-172 is a very popular (dare I say over-rated) dark greige. Admittedly not my personal favorite, but I’d be remiss not to mention it as an option
Feeling lost? I gotcha, boo! Grab a FREE copy of my new guide to avoid the paint color picking mistakes people make! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Real Life Homes Using Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
Now that we’ve taken a close-up look at the swatches and made some comparisons, let’s take a look at where the rubber meets the road. Or, in this case, where the paintbrush meets the wall.
We’ll check out how Gray Owl looks in some real spaces under lots of different lighting situations and with lots of other “things” in the rooms (furniture, countertops, etc.) that the paint can play on.
Keep in mind that photos on a computer screen are no substitute for seeing an actual sample on your own wall. However, I think seeing them can help at least rule colors in or out of further exploration.
Gray Owl Kitchens and Dining Rooms
A quick note here: don’t forget to consider picking the right paint finish…it’s not only about getting the color right! We have an in-depth explanation of choosing sheens here.
1. Perfect Neutral Backdrop
Christine has beautiful marble in her kitchen. The Gray Owl paint does a great job in this space from @christineonpoint staying neutral and letting the wall tile be the star!
2. Great Pairing with Wood Tones
Below, you can see a beautiful example of Owl Gray Benjamin Moore used in Dear Lillie‘s old dining room space. She has windows in the room, but as you can see, there are some shadowy spots, too.
Gray Owl stays very gray in this room and plays so well against the bare woods as well as the crisp whites that adorn the room. It expertly bridges the divide between the warmer-toned wood floors and cooler-toned black doors.
3. Makes for a Cozy Space
Kellie of Gratefully Vintage has a lot of Gray Owls in her gorgeous home. You’ll see her entryway below, as well, both painted with Gray Owl.
Bedrooms in Ben Moore’s Gray Owl
In general for bedrooms, and low-traffic areas, flat paint is fine. If you like something with a bit of shine (and more ease of cleaning) opt for eggshell or satin.
4. Favorite Gray Paint
How about a hint of green? Home with Kiki brilliantly uses Gray Owl to imbue a clean, modern, and tranquil vibe in this bedroom.
5. Blue, Green, or Gray?
The lighting conditions in this room from Sengerson shows the color variation and shifting undertones that make up Gray Owl. The differences are subtle and work extremely well here! Definitely some light blue vibes happening in this space.
6. Pairs Beautifully with Warm Rosy Tones
Doesn’t this shade go so well with the warm, dusty pinks in this feminine space from @simplehomelife?
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl Bathrooms
Don’t forget the finish! For bathrooms the perfect sheen is either an eggshell or satin. Why? We’ll tell you in this post about paint sheen.
7. From Casual to Luxurious
Here Gray Owl has been used as the cabinet paint in this serene bathroom space from Kendra Parker Design.
8. Calming Gray Master Bath
Owl Gray looks great accompanying this gorgeous white clawfoot in @ourdavidsonbayhome‘s master bath. It stands back a bit and lets the tub be the star.
Living Spaces Painted with Ben Moore Gray Owl
9. A Middle-of-the-Road Gray
Just a pretty gray in this light-filled living room from DIY Playbook. No serious undertones…just a middle-of-the-road, true gray in this shot.
10. Leans Cool in this Space
Here’s a nice example from @buildingalifeadventured of Gray Owl on a living room wall. It’s unassuming and happily sits back to let the decor catch the eye.
11. Welcoming Basement Family Room
Finally, a great look at Gray Owl from @dallasonyxwillyandfamily in a situation with no natural light! It’s great to see how the Gray Owl plays in this type of situation under, in this case, recessed lights.
Gray Owl Entries & Hallways
12. Warmed Up by Brown Tones
Here’s Ben Moore’s Gray Owl seen in @prettythings61‘s foyer with interior lighting on. It almost reads beige here, thanks to the abundance of wood and brown tones.
13. Chic Modern Entry
So, if you’ve seen my own foyer, you’ll know I’m TOTALLY partial to the light fixture Shannon and Aaron have here in their very lovely foyer. And while we use Benjamin Moore Nimbus (also a very true, but bit darker gray with an LRV of 60), I love how Owl Gray looks in this space from Fabulously Vintage with a great amount of natural light.
It stays true gray, not looking too warm or icy. The light fixture is also on in this shot, and if that chandelier is anything like ours, those are fairly cool-temperature LED bulbs.
Other Sightings of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
14. Friend to Farmhouse Style
Isn’t this a lovely space?! Gray Owl is such a great segway between the gorgeous flooring and stunning ceiling in this room from @thehouseof_w.
15. Bright and Clean Paint Color
Gray Owl looks great when used in a space with marble. In this laundry room from @twicelovefurniturepainting, the paint reads just a wink blue.
16. Gray Owl Bungalow
As The Phinery shows, Gray Owl makes a lovely exterior paint as well. The abundance of natural light brightens this color so that it appears very pale and pairs well with dark accent colors.
17. Gorgeous Gray Owl Outside
Believe it or not, this lovely tutor, also from The Phinery, is painted in Gray Owl.
If you’re searching for a beautiful clean gray that looks fresh and modern, Gray Owl just might be the ticket. Don’t let its undertones scare you off because they’re subtle and lovely. The trim color is Simply White. Notice the tremendous difference this shade shows depending on whether it’s in the sun or the shadows (that’s why it’s important to look at your paint sample at various times of the day).
Seriously considering this shade? Make sure to sample first! I highly recommend these re-usable, re-positionable peel and stick samples👇
Best of luck on your color journey!
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Can you suggest Sherwin William light gray for exterior brick paint?
Mindy Spring says
I would like to paint my whole house I have a dark turquoise sofa and my living room faces west. I was thinking of grey owl Stonington gray or wickem or any other great. I was also thinking of a darker shade for the stairs and hallway. Help!!
The colors you are deciding between are definitely pretty ones! Hallways and stairs usually lend themselves to light, light, light colors in general since they are usually lacking natural light. I’d maybe look for some colors that are a shade lighter than the ones you are mentioning as options, too. It’s never fun to walk in a dark hallway, so be sure you love the darker grays before you get too far.
Do you have any recommendations for a light to medium gray/green paint color without blue undertone? I’m considering BM November Rain or SW Sedate Gray. Thank you.
I really love Nimbus by Ben Moore. Give that one a look 🙂
Hi Heather, I’m considering painting my entire house bm nimbus. We get a lot of natural light, vaulted ceilings, we have a white kitchen and trim and light greyish hardwood floors. I’m definitely drawn to warm neutrals. Does Nimbus look really gray and cool?