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It’s an art, I tell ya…

This was the view in my kitchen last night. I’m down to the final contenders.

But let’s back up a second to the primer. You know when you read review after review after review online, pick the primer that you’re 100% sure is the right primer for the job, and then spend hours trying to find a damn retailer in the state that isn’t A) closed down B) falsely reporting to the manufacturer that they carry it or C) has a disconnected phone line?

I do. After spending a day and a half thinking that my only resort might be spending twenty bucks to ship the primer to my doorstep, I finally found it:  a local retailer that not only carried the primer and the paint brands that I plan to use (for those wondering, it’s Zinsser Smart Prime and Benjamin Moore Advance), but they also offered to call me when the next shipment of the primer came in. And then they called me back the same afternoon to tell me that they had been mistaken – they had three gallons already in stock, and one would be waiting for me when I arrived.

Hooray for the little things, amIright? Gregory’s Paint & Flooring, you rock. When I got there, I quickly found my primer and grabbed a few paint swatches to round out my already growing collection of options for dark gray hues. And then I was apparently so pleased with finding my primer that I then forgot about the swatches in my purse until after the sun set.

I suppose it’s for the best, though. Considering my full schedule, I don’t see these cabinets much during daylight hours. So picking the paint colors based on how they look at night probably isn’t the worst thing in the world. Especially since it helped me eliminate the ones that looked to be so perfect in the store but were definitely way too dark as I continued my stare down.

Pictured here are my top three options:  Valspar’s Porcelain Shale, Martha Stewart’s Seal, and Benjamin Moore’s Amherst Gray. I sat for a good twenty minutes moving the swatches from drawer to drawer, just to see if they changed hues on me in the kitchen light. But I’m fairly certain I know the winner. I’ll take one more look in the morning just to make sure. It’s also hard to picture when all of the surroundings are still so dark (and a good portion of them are going to lighten up significantly with new paint, backsplash, etc.). Which do you think you’d go with?

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  1. I’d use Seal! But that is also only because I used Seal when I painted our bathroom cabinet and I love the way it’s held up so far. It’s an awesome color.

  2. In that photo the Shale (MS) looks darker. I am glad you are not going with the darkest. Before you choose should you/have you matched up with your backsplash colors if needed. And to be sure your hardware has enough of a contrast against the paint. Hate to spend money on your new hardware and then it just kind of blends. MY ideas/suggestions with 4th house under my belt and one who loves to decorate and is obsessed with kitchens/baths and pulls for cabinets!

    1. I don’t have a backsplash picked out yet, and you can catch a glimpse of the hardware in this post. So one is contrasting, but the other is still a total mystery (though I’ve received some awesome suggestions from you guys)! Maybe picking out the backsplash as an afterthought will turn out to be a mistake, but I’m pretty confident about the color now that I’ve seen it in the morning light too. It’s love, and no backsplash will stand between us. (I feel like there should be a “Dammit” to end this comment). Ha.

      1. I hear you–when you KNOW–you KNOW!!! Go for it! And of course I saw your hardware–you’re on my daily check-in on Bloglovin’. I don’t miss a beat!

  3. I like the Seal. The Amherst has a green tint to me, but that may just be how it appears on my screen. But I don’t think you can go wrong with the Seal or the Shale!

  4. I like the blue undertones in Seal. For some reason, my brain like cooler colored kitchens. Maybe it’s to balance out all the heat from the oven and the stove?

  5. I think the porcelain shale is the best of the three but honestly I would have to be there looking at it in the light to give a real opinion.

  6. For some reason the Porcelain Shale really caught my eye. Seal looks a little too dark and Amherst looks kind of gray-green? It might just be that it’s smaller and further than the other swatches so I don’t pay attention to it as much. I need some of those horse visors to concentrate on it, lol.

  7. I like the Amherst Gray. I think because you mentioned grays turn bluish in your house, and it seems to have a touch more of a lean toward brown. They all look killer though. Btw, a friend who did creamy-white uppers and black lowers used oil-rubbed bronze hardware on top and antique brass on the bottom. I like the hardware you have picked out, but it was pretty gorgeous from a contrast standpoint. I love watching this project!

  8. Put a large piece of white paper behind the swatches. The current cabinet finish is affecting the paint colors. They’ll look a bit different with the white behind. Right now on my monitor they look more brown than gray!

  9. Seal! Martha’s colors seem to be legit.. we picked a blue from her collection for our front door- here’s hoping that the color is legit!

  10. Pulled up all three on my computer and love the way Seal looked. Agree with putting white paper behind the samples to get a truer showing. Go Seal!

  11. I go for porcelain shale. I think it’s lighter than the other two.

  12. Are you keeping the floor as is? If so, I would put the swatches on the floor to see how they compare. Are you keeping the black appliances or changing to stainless or white? If keeping the black, then I think the Seal is to dark (at least it is on my screen). I kind of like the Shale, but I might even go a little lighter. IIRC I saw a similar color scheme in a recent Ikea catalog that looked good. I will try to dig out the catalog tomorrow.

    P.S. – I found your blog when I did a search on Level 5 finishes.

  13. I used Zinsser Smart Prime and BM Advance on my kitchen cabinets too! Oh. My. Word. THE perfect primer/paint combo for a kitchen on old cabinets. They have held up beautifully. Super smooth. Super scrubbable. You will be very happy.

    1. Glad to hear it! I’ve been testing out the paint and so far, so good! Can’t wait until it’s all done :)