Learn all about Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal, plus see 25+ real homes that use it!
Having choices is a good thing in life. Mostly. Sometimes though, instead of empowering us, having choices, especially when there are too many options, leaves us feeling paralyzed rather than decisive.
Choosing gray paint can be like that. Being such a popular paint choice for everything in our homes from top to bottom, inside to out, has compelled the paint companies to make lots and lots of gray paint options.
There are some great ones out there, but the sheer volume is mind-blowing.
That’s exactly why I have been writing this in-depth paint color series! I want to share analyses of popular paint shade options so that you can pick up the nuances of these colors, and hone in on those that will look truly amazing inside (or outside) your home.
The paint shade du jour? Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal (AKA HC-166).
FAQs about Kendall Charcoal
What color is Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal?
BM Kendall Charcoal is a deep, moody gray paint shade with some (albeit mild) green and brown undertones that make the color appear rich, earthy, and grounded.
Does Kendall Charcoal look green?
The green undercurrent of Kendall Charcoal is mild, but it’s there! The green may be more pronounced when there are other green elements in the room alongside it, or outside, where it can pick up those colors in the environment.
The green is what gives this shade a true earthy, natural, slate vibe which is very pretty.
Is Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal a warm or cool color?
The green undertones of this shade make it cool, although it’s subtle, and certainly not cold or off-putting.
Kendall Charcoal is less cool than many grays that have stronger blue undertones. And once in a while, the color can pull a bit brown, making it feel a touch on the warmer side…but that’s less common.
Where should I use Kendall Charcoal?
This shade looks great for your home’s:
HC-166 Kendall Charcoal is a great color to use in many styles of home including modern, mid-century modern, traditional, and even farmhouse!
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal Undertones
Let’s take a look at BM Kendall Charcoal’s undertones. This hue lives in the gray family, but it has mild green, and sometimes brown undertones. When you place Kendall Charcoal next to cool paint colors, it’ll appear cooler, and when paired with warmer colors, it warms up (a bit), too.
NOTE: Because no paint colors will look the same at varying times of the day or in two different places, use paint swatches to help you know exactly how your lighting and surrounding decor will affect the way your favorite colors appear.
My favorite way to sample? These re-usable, re-positionable, peel and stick samples that won’t damage your walls ⤵
How Different Types of Lighting Affect BM Kendall Charcoal
Different lighting situations play with undertones in varying ways. Here’s a basic idea of how you can expect Kendall Charcoal to read based on natural lighting.
- North-facing light – northern light is blue-tinted and cool, which will tone down any warmth this color projects and make Kendall Charcoal read more blue gray.
- South-facing light – warm light from the south will play with the tiny bit of warmth in this shade to make it show off its browner side.
- East-facing light – eastern light is a warm yellow light in the morning and cool light in the afternoon. That lighting combination will cause Kendall Charcoal to read as a truer gray in the morning, then shift to a cooler, blue gray leaning toward black as the light fades late in the day.
- West-facing light – western light is the opposite of east-facing light because it’s cool and shadowy in the morning, then ultra-warm in the evening. Kendall Charcoal will appear like a cool, slate blue gray in the early part of the day until the rich, red-tinged western light draws out its mildly warmer tendencies later in the day.
Before we dig in, if you are the type of person who never feels completely confident in choosing paint colors, then grab a free copy of “5 Massive Paint Picking Mistakes” to help you avoid the pitfalls! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Great Coordinating Colors for Kendall Charcoal
This beautiful and popular shade plays well with many shades throughout the color spectrum.
LRV of Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal (HC-166)
Looking at paint involves many subjective interpretations based on how shades change due to nearby influences. Let’s briefly cover an objective method for evaluating paint colors.
Light Reflectance Value (LRV) is a number on a scale between 0 and 100 that each color has assigned to it based on how much light it REFLECTS. A lower reflective value number means the color reflects less light, while a higher number means it reflects more light. (0 = absolute black; 100 = pure white)
The LRV of BM Kendall Charcoal = 12.96
Kendall Charcoal is definitely a dark color. Yes, it’s 13% lighter than pure black, but it’s definitely a deep, rich, pigmented paint.
This paint shade is part of the Benjamin Moore historical collection (which is loaded with lots of popular paint colors). The explanation of the color Kendall Charcoal that the Benjamin Moore paint company provides is:
Honestly, it doesn’t give us a whole lot of information but sounds like the Ben Moore crew thinks this color can be pretty universally appealing. Let’s keep going to see if that vision aligns with real-life room interiors (and exteriors) out there.
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!⤵️
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal Color Comparison
To understand the Kendall Charcoal undertones and overall color profile a bit more, let’s look at this gray next to several other popular Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams colors.
Kendall Charcoal vs. SW Peppercorn
Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (SW 7674) is a color that we have done a full deep dive into before.
Peppercorn, with an LRV of 10, is a smidge darker than Kendall Charcoal (remember, 0 is pure black).
When you see these shades next to one another, we can see Peppercorn is darker, and also a little more toward the cool side compared to Kendall Charcoal. It’s a bit more of a true gray, while Kendall Charcoal looks more toward a dark, dark greige.
Kendall Charcoal HC-166 vs. Grizzle Gray SW 7068
SW Grizzle Gray has an LRV nearly identical to Kendall Charcoal (13 for Grizzle Gray versus 12.96 for Kendall Charcoal), so they are equally dark.
These two shades are super similar, but you can see that Grizzle Gray, like Peppercorn, reads a hair cooler, and more toward a blue-gray than Kendall Charcoal.
Kendall Charcoal vs. Chelsea Gray
Chelsea Gray (Benjamin Moore HC-168) is a lighter gray than Kendall Charcoal (it has an LRV is 22.16).
The undertones though? Pretty similar. Both have a hint of green, and Chelsea Gray can be quite a chameleon, sometimes showing a bit blue, brown, even purplish depending on the lighting.
Kendall Charcoal vs. Amherst Gray
With an LRV of 17.12, Amherst Gray (also in the historical collection from Benjamin Moore HC-167) is a lighter gray but is definitely similar to Kendall Charcoal in that it has that hint of a green undertone, too.
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal vs. SW Urbane Bronze
Looking at Kendall Charcoal next to Sherwin Williams’ popular Urbane Bronze, the Ben Moore shade definitely feels more like a classic gray.
Urbane Bronze has strong brown undertones, making it a much warmer shade. As far as LRV goes, Urbane Bronze is darker, too, with an LRV of 8.
Are you already feeling a little lost? Let me help you get back on track. Grab a free copy of my guide to help you avoid the same paint color picking mistakes most people always make!
Ok, it’s time to stop the comparison game with paint swatches and get a better feel for Kendall Charcoal in real-life 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.
Remember that photos on a computer screen are in no way a substitute for seeing a real sample on your own wall. But, I think it can be really helpful to at least rule colors “in” to buy samples for or “out” to just scratch completely. And whatever you do, do not go buy a gallon (or more) of paint if you haven’t tried the color out yet in your home (unless you have lots of cash to burn).
More Colors to Consider
I totally understand how challenging it can be to choose new paint colors! If you aren’t ready to jump on the Kendall Charcoal bandwagon yet, check out these shades. I know at least one of them will win you over.
- Amazing Gray (Sherwin Williams) – a mid-toned, warm greige
- Shoreline (Benjamin Moore) – soft, warm-leaning neutral light gray
- On The Rocks (Sherwin Williams) – is a neutral gray, but can show mild purple undertones
- Drift of Mist (Sherwin Williams) – a soft, neutral gray-leaning shade
- Wordly Gray (Sherwin Williams) – a neutral, medium-toned gray to greige color
- SIlver Strand (Sherwin Williams) – a neutral, light to medium-tone gray/green color
- Wrought Iron (Benjamin Moore) – a rich, dark neutral paint
- Anew Gray (Sherwin Williams) – a neutral, light to medium greige paint
- Oyster Bay (Sherwin Williams) – a lovely medium-toned gray-green with hints of blue
- Quiet Moments (Benjamin Moore) – a pale, whisper-soft mix of light blue, green, and gray
- Collingwood (Benjamin Moore) – a balanced, warm light gray
- Iron Mountain (Benjamin Moore) – a rich deep gray with brown undertones
25+ Real Homes Using BM Kendall Charcoal Paint
Ok, the “boring” informational part is over! Let’s get to the fun part and see how Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal looks in homes when used in different ways, rooms, and different lighting situations.
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal Kitchens
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.
For kitchens, eggshell or satin are popular finish choices for walls. For cabinets consider semi-gloss or high gloss for the most durable finish (and a gorgeous glow).
1. Classic Tuxedo Kitchen, with Gray in lieu of Black
This kitchen from Bria Hammel Interiors is WOW-worthy, right? If you love the classics, like a good tuxedo – then consider that aesthetic in your kitchen. Worried about using black? Gray is a great option. Upper cabinets in this kitchen are painted Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee. (Photo credit: Spacecrafting, Builder: SD Custom Homes, Architect: David Charlez Designs)
2. Kendal Charcoal Base Cabinets in a Rustic Traditional Kitchen
In this space with a lot of natural light, and green pops of color in the plants, as well as hints of it in the kitchen rug, you can see the green undertones of Kendall Charcoal peeking through.
3. Kendall Charcoal on Open Shelving
Below is another look at the same kitchen shown above from Julie Howard and Timber Trails Homes (photo credit: Stoffer Photography Interiors), from a different angle. I wanted to show you how pretty this color looks in a darker area, like here in this butler’s pantry.
The Kendall Charcoal looks darker, almost black in the shadiest spots, while it maintains the lighter tone appearance where the sunlight is stronger.
4. Kendall Charcoal Kitchen Cabinets (Uppers and Lowers)
HC-166 is used on both the upper and lower kitchen cabinets in this kitchen from Stonington Cabinetry & Design (shared via Home Bunch).
Using a dark color on the uppers definitely gives the kitchen a different look than the white uppers. It can often make the room feel cozier, and richer to some, but also can look heavy and too dark if used in a space without enough natural light.
5. True Gray in Daylight
In this kitchen refresh from Paper Parade Co. Kendall Charcoal looks like a true gray with the natural light coming into the space in mid-day. If anything, it’s leaning a little blue in this light. Just proof that even when you’re told a certain color behaves a certain way…that may not necessarily be the case when you put it on your own walls (or cabinets).
Upper cabinets in this kitchen were painted Cloud White.
6. Kendall Charcoal Paired with White Dove
In this awesome DIY kitchen renovation from Melissa at The Inspired Room, most of the upper cabinets were removed, but here in this little baking nook, the Kendall Charcoal base cabinet is paired with White Dove uppers. And it’s a match made in heaven.
7. Earthy Undertones
Can you see a bit of an earthy, ruddy brown undertone coming out in this kitchen island from Quartersawn Design Build via Home Bunch? The tones in the wood floor and counter stools help bring that coloring out in the paint.
Living Rooms Painted with Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal
Sheen note: For living rooms and family rooms, you can choose a flat finish, but I usually recommend at least an eggshell sheen to help with cleanability.
8. All Around Wall Color
When used on the walls, it’s more common to see Kendall Charcoal used as an accent color, but in this space from BHDM Design via Architectural Digest, it’s used everywhere and has a big impact.
Here you can see the beautiful relationship Kendall Charcoal can have with leather tones, and industrial accents like the metal in this unique chandelier. To me, it’s a color with a masculine vibe that’s inviting, not standoffish.
9. If there was such thing as a napping room…
Kendall Charcoal would be a go-to paint color for them. Look how cozy this living area from Petrucci Homes looks with charcoal walls.
Notice how dark the color can look in the shady corners…truly almost black, while the areas kissed by the sun look much more like a graphite gray. Going all dark like this on walls, ceiling, furniture certainly isn’t for everyone, but it can look so inviting when executed well.
10. Kendall Charcoal Accent Wall as TV Camoflauge
Kate Marker Interiors does a beautiful job in this family room adding interest to the molding detail by painting the TV accent wall a rich hue, HC-166 to be exact.
Not only does the deep color add visual interest to the space, while still keeping to a neutral palette, it also brilliantly camouflages the TV!
Love accent walls? So do we! Check out these articles we’ve written:
11. Awesome in a Living Space with Ample Natural Light
Making a choice to add a deep, dramatic color can be easier in a space like this one that is flooded with natural light because you can get the intensity without worrying about making your room a little dungeon-esque.
The other walls and ceiling in this room are painted in Decorator’s White.
Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal 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.
12. Kendall Charcoal Above The Chair Rail
Even with the brown tones in this bathroom coming from the tile, floor mat, and towels, the earthy undertones in Kendall Charcoal aren’t as evident in this space. Nor are the green undertones.
Likely that’s in part due to the cooler natural light coming in from the window there. The paint likely warms a bit in the late afternoon sun.
13. Cooler Kendall
In this bathroom from Quartersawn Design Build (via Home Bunch) the bathroom vanity is painted Kendall Charcoal. We’ve seen this color looking much warmer in other spaces, but here, surrounded by nothing but cooler grays, and bright afternoon natural light, it definitely reads like a true, cool gray.
Dining Rooms in Ben Moore Kendall Charcoal
14. A Sophisticated Dining Space
Dining rooms can be a great place for introducing dark paint colors, and here in this sophisticated space from Dear Lillie Studio, where Kendall Charcoal shows its upscale artistry.
And it creates a great backdrop for pops of color like we see in the flowers here.
The white trim in this room is Simply White (which actually surprises me a bit because it’s not showing up as warm as it usually does. But these two colors can look great together. One reason? Both have green undertones.
15. Dark but not Dingy Dining Room Shade
Here in Lauren’s dining room from Blesser House, you can definitely see the lovely earthy tones pulling through this paint, thanks in part to the beautiful assortment of greenery she has brought into this room.
The paint is dark, but it’s balanced really well by the bright ceiling, the light paint below the chair rail, bright upholstery and curtains, and the natural sun pouring into the space.
16. Fireplace Focal Point with Paint
Kendall Charcoal helps create a fireplace focal point in this dramatic dining room from House of Leo. The white fireplace pops with the dark paint behind it, but the room stays mostly light and bright thanks to the windows, doors, and skylights.
The rest of the white in this room? It’s Chantilly Lace. A hero shade for those on a quest for a white without strong undertones.
BM Kendall Charcoal in Bedrooms
17. Restful Bedroom Retreat
Grays can be a great neutral backdrop in a bedroom. Here in this space from Kate at House Mix, Kendall Charcoal is used behind the bed to create a great, and visually comforting focal point.
18. Super on Shiplap
Here in this lovely, inviting bedroom from @maureenelizabethinteriors, Kendall Charcoal is looking quite warm. Why? Could be the late afternoon sun, warm, soft white light bulbs in the overhead fixtures, the pink accents…or a combination of all of these. In the end, the color has helped create beautiful results in this space.
19. Updated Take on Traditional
And here, we see the same paint color with a totally different look in a bedroom from Chris Jovanelly Interiors.
The green undertones are more apparent here, and the whole space feels a bit cooler than the bedroom we just saw. It’s amazing (and aggravating) how different the same color can look in two different homes, right?
Want the cliff notes for choosing the perfect color every time? Grab a FREE copy of my guide to help you avoid the paint color picking mistakes most people make!
HC-166 on Doors
A note on finishes: For doors and trim, opt for an easier to clean finish like semi-gloss or high-gloss (especially for base moldings). More details in this all-things-paint-sheen post.
20. Knock, Knock, it’s Kendall Charcoal!
HC-166 is a very popular paint shade for doors, both interior, and exterior. And for good reason…it looks great, like here at the end of a hallway in a home designed by Kate Marker Interiors.
21. Dreamy French Doors
And here is Kendall Charcoal creating a work of art from these french doors in a home designed by Julie Howard and the Timber Trails Development Company…they are such champions for this shade! (photo credit: Stoffer Photography Interiors).
Just a simple pop of color is all that is sometimes needed to elevate a space, and this color definitely got the job done.
Kendall Charcoal Exteriors
Sheen note: For exteriors, cleanability is key. I’d recommend satin for all-over color, and something higher for trim, like semi-gloss to help with durability.
22. Cape Cods – Great in Gray
Grays are perfect choices for a home’s exterior. It’s a popular, universally appealing color, and tends to hold up well against dirt, sunlight, etc. Blacks are very popular right now for exterior color as well, but in my opinion, it’s a bit of a riskier option because of the trendiness.
A gray like this one is a lovely choice that is more of a time-tested classic, especially paired with black shutters and the white trim. Want a little excitement in your outdoor paint scheme? Try a fun front door color as they did on this home painted by Elegant Painting with a beautiful, beachy light blue.
23. Makes a Statement on a Modern Farmhouse
Sure, @hathaway_interiors could have gone with a white, but Kendall Charcoal gives this modern farmhouse so much gravitas, doesn’t it? It was a bold choice, but one that works well, I think don’t you?
24. Modern Marvel
And here we see Kendall Charcoal looking great on another, and totally different style of home! Pairing beautifully with the stone and wood elements on this modern exterior from Steven Dailey Construction, Kendall Charcoal is a very inviting, appealing color choice.
Other Kendall Charcoal Sightings
As you’ve seen already, Kendall Charcoal is a very versatile dark gray paint color, that can be used here, there, and everywhere. Let’s see some other spaces and places this shade can be found (like hallways, nooks, studies, and more)…
25. Stellar in Snuggly Spots
Great in studies, reading nooks, and libraries, Kendall Charcoal is a great color for spaces where introspection is important, like this darling niche under the stairs from Yellow Brick Home they call the “snug”.
In this shot, Kim is showing how the paint color in this spot changes dramatically over the course of a day. In this north-facing room, the color appears warm through most of the day but takes a dramatic dip toward the cool in the evenings.
26. Outstanding in a Home Office
In a home office from M. Lahr Homes, Kendall Charcoal is used on all the shelving and cabinetry creating a rich, serious, studious space.
27. Focus Zone
A dark color like Kendall Charcoal can help create a great zone for focus and attention, like in this space shared by the Ballard Designs blog.
28. Works well with Wood
This could be any number of rooms…a dining room, a hallway, a foyer. The point is that the pairing of dark Kendall Charcoal with many types of wood can be a visual match made in heaven.
The rich paint works so well with other natural elements in this vignette from the Ballard Designs blog, too, like the rope on the chandelier, the tortoiseshell, parchment, the beautiful metal tones in the trophy vase and rustic chandelier, and lastly, the green branches.
And that brings us to the end of this color study! I hope that this has given you a bit more of a glimpse into whether or not Kendall Charcoal is a color that you’d like to use to give your home a fresh look!
If you’re in the market for great gray paint colors, give Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal a chance. It may not work in every single home, but it’s versatile enough to add timeless sophistication to many spaces!
And if this is a color you’re seriously considering, remember paint-sampling is better than ending up paint-sorry! I highly recommend these peel and stick samples because they are inexpensive, re-usable and re-positionable…
Pin this paint color for later! And if you use this paint shade, leave a comment on the pin! That helps others decide if they want to try this color, too!
Pssst…before you go, I sure would love to hang out with you again really soon! And before you’re on your way, make sure you grab your free copy of the 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Picking Paint, so you can avoid the heartache (and hole in your wallet) when your paint choices don’t quite work out! Click here, and I’ll send your free copy right now!