How do I choose the right color combo?

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Getting ready to paint a garage. I'm looking for a 2 tone look. The bottom part has vertical boards (wainscoting I think) and a chair rail. The previous owner painted the entire garage the same color... some kind of beige - (top, chair rail & wainscot). Oh, it's sad. I was thinking two tone grey-- darker on the bottom, white chair rail and then lighter grey on top? The garage faces east so only gets minimal sun in to the first half --the back of the garage is always in shade. I don't know how to choose the color combo. (Also... it is used as the entry to the house. Park and go in the kitchen door.) There are so many grey swatches out there!! Help! (The best picture I have of part of the garage.)

q how do i choose the right color combo
  12 answers
  • Karen Brunck Karen Brunck on Feb 22, 2019

    Hi Cindy. Pick a few samples of the dark and light grays. Paint a few areas in the darkest and lightest areas to find the ones that you like best. Grays do have green, blue, or red tints, so you'll have to see them in place with the different light throughout the day. Just a suggestion: When you paint the walls, paint the board holding the rail the same color and stain the rail. I'd also paint the ramp frame in the lower wall cover. I would definitely stain and seal the plywood floor of the ramp to keep wet feet from eventually rotting it out, then add a nice outdoor runner along the top for traction and dirty feet. If you run a few lines of caulk on the backside of the runner, let it dry before placement, it will not slip or slide. Finally, choose your favorite happy color for the door.😀

  • Sal3170064 Sal3170064 on Feb 22, 2019

    Grey's are nice,but as your garage is mostly in the shade I would go for warmer colours. You could use a dark grey on the bottom and something like a mustard gold above. Then find any accessories like curtains cushions with both colours in. In England the gold's are very much intend at the moment.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Feb 22, 2019

    If your eye cannot distinguish the undertones of gray colors, take swatches home of the ones that attract you. The easiest way to be certain they "go together" is to choose a light and dark from the same color family (will be on the same swatch or the adjacent number swatches). If all else fails, get sample size jars to test the colors. I would put the dark on the lower portion to hide dirt. You can always use white on the top section if you are at a loss!


    I agree to properly finish the ramp so it stays intact. Any sealer/primer and paint or stain can work as long as it's waterproof once you're finished. I would not permanently affix a carpet to the ramp portion as you'll want to be able to clean or replace it as needed.


    Yes, do pick a pop of color for the door! Using gray, you can choose just about any color that you love!


    Finally, in the grand scheme of things this is only the garage and it's only paint. Easy and fairly cheap to redo if you aren't happy at the end.

  • Grace Gleason Grace Gleason on Feb 23, 2019

    Maybe you just don't LIKE gray? Pick something you would use in the house. It's just paint. You can change it if you don't like it.

  • Dee Simmons Dee Simmons on Feb 23, 2019

    I feel like this area is probably already pretty dark no matter what time of day so if you are not afraid of color goes for a color you like and paint the bottom a darker shade of that color and the upper a few shades lighter. I agree with getting samples of the colors you are thinking and trying them in several areas of the garage. Check them out at different times of the day to see what works best for you. Do not be afraid to go bold if that is what you like. Remember this is an extension of your home so go with colors you would want to see inside your home. Good luck!

  • Rose P Rose P on Feb 23, 2019

    Paint it gray sounds so simple, I just did my kitchen walls gray . I couldn't believe how many different gray colors there were. Gray is a great choice, have fun deciding which one.


  • Ivy Ivy on Feb 23, 2019

    Hi there ! You have some great suggestions from other ladies. I have had training in color . Go to a paint store or hobby shop and get a good color wheel. Try your color choices in the shade of your garage. Your eye will tell you. You need to send us all a before and after photo !

    Best Wishes !

  • Jeanette Jeanette on Feb 23, 2019

    Be very careful with grays! What I thought was gray in my kitchen had purple undertones. Definitely buy a sample jar of whatever you choose. I love soft, sunny yellows to liven things up, but you should choose shades of a color you love.

  • Pam M. Pam M. on Feb 23, 2019

    Color wheels are great! They identify colors that compliment each other. I would consider light gray on top if you like gray. Don't go gray just because it is "in", but because you really like it. Consider a darker, different color for the bottom but not too dark. I think the chair rail and door would look good the same color. Maybe something bright! Good luck!

  • Rebecca Platt Rebecca Platt on Feb 24, 2019

    I’m an artist so I’ve mixed lots of gray’s. Gray is tricky. A lot of bloggers like SW REPOSE GRAY, & GRACEFUL GRAY. Very neutral grays. Definitely go darker on the bottom. My favorite grey/black/brown combo is SW Urbane Bronze. Buy samples!

    good luck.

  • Dee Dee on Feb 26, 2019

    Grays have a lot of undertones, I know I painted my Laundry room gray and within a week it was lilac I really did not want a purple laundry room so I started over. You garage is going to be dark because no windows. I would either go with light blues or off white. Good luck.

  • Chris Gignac Chris Gignac on Feb 26, 2019

    I’d go with gray two different shades. White looks dirty way too fast in my garage, every little cobweb just sticks out