Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore

Happy April! I hope you had an awesome Easter weekend!

Kevin played guitar at our church’s Pike Road location, and we had a really great lunch with his family yesterday afternoon. His mom sent us home with a whole tub of Watergate salad, so I will be enjoying more of that this week, too. #ICouldEatItEveryDay

 photo Fireman_Trivit_zps75c031e2.jpg

Last Thursday, we went over to Fireman Keith’s place to check out the sample paint colors we gave him to try out and I think the winner is going to be Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore.


But before we purchase a couple of gallons of it, Keith wants to try out a 50% darkened version of it to make see if he’d like it that way even more. I’ll show you which one we go with after our paint party on Saturday, April 20th!

Right now, his living room is painted bright yellow…


…so while I was researching gray paint color’s online, I was pretty pumped to see this picture over at Sarah’s blog, Cozy. Cottage. Cute. She went from bright yellow to a 50% lighter version of Gray Owl at her place…


…and boy does that look sharp, doesn’t it?

We got some good news in the fireplace department last week, too. AirStone is generously going to hook Keith up with some of their faux stone product, and Southern Accents is going to donate a mantel beam, so it looks like we’ll be tackling that project after we get the walls painted in there!

In around-the-fireplace news, Keith dug the look of the old, blue gray-stained wood above the mantel so much, he’s thinking he may want to extend it into the back of the bookcases, too.


He’s out pallet-hunting right now, so we’re excited to see what he finds. We’ve never worked with pallets and blue-gray stain before- but I think with a little sanding (to clean ‘em up) before we stain, it could turn out to be a pretty neat project!

Have you ever worked with pallets before? If so, do you have any tips you could share with us about them?

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  1. says

    I don’t have pallet experience, but I painted my bedroom Gray Owl. I absolutely love the color. It is really light, which was great for my dark bedroom. I could see how someone would want to darken it for a family room though.

    • Layla says

      That’s great to hear, Jennifer! We’re thinking about using it in our living room too, but we may try the 50% lighter version that Sarah used. I can’t wait to see how it brightens everything up. Our living room walls are pretty dark right now, so I’m craving something a little airier! :-)

  2. says

    We just finished building a pallet planter – love pallets – mainly because they are free LOL Sometimes they are hard to get apart if you are reusing just the wood or moving it around. Some pallets don’t smell too great when they are wet but be patient because once they are dry the smell goes away. Sanding may or may not help smooth them out – some of the wood used is pretty rough – but then that’s why I like them – rustic. They paint up very nicely but if you’re using paint, you may want to prime them first because they eat the paint. Haven’t stained one so can’t help you there.

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Jill! We were actually thinking of sanding them to just clean them up a bit- not really to smooth them out. Good to know that they eat paint. I’ll keep you posted on how they take stain. It’ll be an adventure, I’m sure! :-D

  3. says

    I love that gray, but in Oregon, bringing that much of the outdoors in might not be such a good idea. lol

    We tiled our fireplace interior – an ugly grayish/reddish brick w/ magenta mortar that ‘squished’ out (yep, you read that right – quite a look in its day I guess). On the exterior we plan to do river rock using a similar product as you’ve shown above. Just another project on a never ending list. ;-)

    Envy the bookcases flanking the fireplace! Something I’ve always wanted, and something that will need to be custom because of the wall measurements.

    I’ve never worked w/ pallets myself, but have seen lots of neat things done with them. I’ll be interested to continue following this project.

    • Tania says

      Ha…I am in OR too, and I just can’t jump on the gray walls bandwagon. I like it to feel warm but light in my home…the gray is just too cold ..when you never see sunshine. Now if I lived in Alabama, yeah…I would have gray walls!

      • Kirsti says

        I live in Washington, I have used grey, and it is pretty. But ou definitely need the right one. I have used Martha Stewart (bought at home depot) in zinc. It is darker and also has some warmth to it believe it or not! It’s gorgeous! So you just need to find the perfect color, a light ashy grey doesn’t look as good in the grey weather we have!

  4. says

    That’s a great color. I just repaininted out downstairs with Benjamin Moore’s ‘Stonington Gray’ (another great gray color) and I’m in love. I will be posted photos on my blog tomorrow!

    I worked with pallets and I’ve found that it depends on the quality of the pallet. I worked with both a ‘perfect’ one as well as one that had some splits and it was trickier to work with. I had to do a lot of sanding and use a lot of wood filler and it still wasn’t perfect, but that might be the look you are going for!


  5. Laura Forman says

    It was so great to meet you yesterday out at our Pike Road campus!! :) I felt like I was talking to an old friend. I do hope that you guys get the opportunity to join us more often!! And I will continue to pray for you guys as you are on the journey of adoption!!

  6. Nicole K says

    I just built a faux pallet wall, we bought white wood and distressed and stained it. I used the video from Young House Love for distressing and it came out great. No one knows the difference and it was much easier to get on the wall because we could pick out boards without the bows and cupping. They sell 1×6 boards that we used and had the same look you have in your inspiration photo. I just stained mine with ebony and walnut (watered down), similar to another Young House Love’s tutorial. Good luck! I love the living room, I want it as well!

  7. Allison says

    Hi Layla, you should look at Ben Moore Balboa Mist (OC-27). I painted my whole house that color and love it. It looks very similar to the 50% Gray Owl.

  8. jaime says


    Check out Funky Junk Interiors dot net. Donna has a great deal of information on using pallet wood.

    I think the room is going to look amazing given your magic touch!


    • Holly says

      I think Funky Junk Interiors is truly the queen of pallet design. There is also a pallet designer here in Dallas that sells all sorts of pallet furniture (Lake Highlands Pallet Creations)…I am sure you could call them and ask tons of questions:)
      Love the grey..had never thought about it but feel like I need to paint a room now!!!!

  9. Gracie says

    I’ve used pallets before for a project and it turned out really cute. I ended up just sawing the wood off though. It was really hard prying them apart. I sanded mine first and was impressed at how great the wood looked after that. Then I dry brushed my paint on followed by staining the wood after that and it turned out great. Good Luck! I can’t wait to see the after pictures.

  10. says

    Working with pallets isn’t too bad, once you get them apart. The work is in the dismantling. It’s a bugger!! Worth it in the end to have the free, rustic wood; but taking them apart will take far longer than you’d imagine.
    Good luck!! Can’t wait to hear all about it, and see the finished room :)

  11. Angie w says

    I’ve been wanting to find a place for grey paint and I love this shade! That may be the one I use.

  12. says

    Hi Layla!
    We have used pallets in products we make for our shop. I would recommend getting as ‘clean’ of pallets as possible. There is lots of information out there but some have been treated with chemicals and you want to stay away from those.
    We use our saw and cut the ‘planks’ off between where they are pieced together at the sides…it makes the pieces a bit shorter but we found we broke/split the boards trying to pull nails out.

  13. Jennifer says

    We tried to work with pallets but it was nearly impossible to get those old nails out. We bought a saw to cut through them. But I must say we bailed and bought new wood!

  14. Kristen says

    We used this color as-is for the stairwell and upstairs hallway! It’s perfect. I had painted those walls Moonshine and I was like this is slightly off…A bit too green. Repainted it Gray Owl (of course my husband couldn’t see the difference) but i LOVE it! It is 100% the right color :) The perfect light gray.

  15. Megan M says

    This grey owl color looks like just what I am craving to do in our space! Two years ago we painted 70% of our townhouse a tan/coffee color (Stone House by BM) and it has bothered me ever since. It’s so dark and I need light&bright in my life! I’m happy to report I used Sea Salt in my kitchen after you guys have used it and I LOVE it! You and Kevin are great paint pickers-ha! :) Can’t wait to see the finished room!

  16. says

    Love Gray Owl! I used it in our entryway, family room and kitchen area which was beige when we moved in. So excited to see the room come together and what you think of the airstone, we were just looking at that for our fireplace a few weeks ago.

  17. Cate says

    Finally!! This is the first time I’ve ever seen my favourite BM shade mentioned in any of the design blogs I read. I LOVE this colour and we’ve taken it with us through two different houses, painted many rooms in it and still love it. It’s the most versatile, easy neutral out there. Have fun painting!

  18. Cindy W says

    Every pallet manufacturer makes them slightly differently, often using different wood species so the stain may look really different on the different pieces which could be really interesting or just not look good at all. The dimensions of each board may also be slightly different from the next. I work in a lumberyard and all the pallets I’ve seen are rough, not surfaced but I didn’t have a problem just sanding them down a little to paint to make a sign. Using lumber from pallets is definitely going to give you a more rustic feel than anything you would purchase.
    Love your blog:)

  19. Monica Converse says

    That gray looks nice, but I have to tell you! We live in the Finger Lakes of New York and we have gray skies from October until May…pretty much that gray. And the roads are gray from salt, oh, our siding is gray and the lake is pretty gray. I personally like warmer colors, but I think you have a whole lotta HAPPY gray going on there!

  20. Sherri says

    I’ve never worked with pallets but we did do a project with old fence boards when we replaced our fence. They looked really rough and I thought we’d have to sand them AND they were dirty. We took them to the car wash with a pile of quarters and rinsed them with the high power washer!! The boards came out perfectly, and they’re adorning the side and back of an old pie safe I had that was in need of some TLC!

  21. says

    Oooh, love that color. I love the lightened version, but I always go toward the lighter shades. Would love to hear what you learn about working with pallets.

  22. says

    That gray is lovely! Love me some gray. Yum.

    Last year, I built adirondack chairs out of pallets. By far, the most time consuming part was disassembling the pallets and sanding them (I needed them to be super smooth so they could be sat on without splinter-buns). I would work with them again–if you have the option to be picky about your pallets (Craiglist, anyone?) you can find great hard wood pallets and save lots of dough. I did stain the pallets, and they did absorb a bit more stain than your usual hardwoods, but not that much more. If it helps, here’s a link to the blogpost I wrote about the chairs (if nothing else, you may find the unstained to stained pictures helpful, because I used different types of wood).
    Hope it helps! Eager to see the progress in Keith’s house!

  23. Beth Nolen says

    My daughter lives on old pike rd….and her husbnad own the ben moore store in montgomery. New Look Decorating. what church did Kevin sing at?

  24. Beth Nolen says

    Ask my son in law Brian , at New Look, about pallets. He has done some awesome stuff with them and knows a lot about stains.

  25. Gina J. says

    I painted our bedroom BM Sea Haze (2137-50), which is the next shade darker than Gray Owl, and we love it. I’m kind of stuck with the rest of the design, though. I haven’t done much beyond paint. I think I need to snap a pic and send it in for a “Pick My Presto!” By the way, we so enjoyed worshiping at Centerpoint in Prattville on Sunday. Pastor John Schmidt gave such a powerful message…it was just what I needed to hear. I looked for you…would have been very cool to meet you in person….but I see you went to the other location. We attended the “Unplugged” service, as that is the service our friends typically attend. We are now safely back in Wisconsin…and temps in the 20’s. Ugh! Would have loved another week of that Alabama sunshine!

  26. says

    So, I’m writing because someone I care for shared your post with me. Long story short (as short as possible), I started Chucked Wood last year after mounting medical bills said I had no hope… I disagreed :) I build custom furniture with reclaimed pallets. My advice; grab the ones that are stamped with “HT”. It stands for heat treated and means that the pallet had been kiln dried rather than pumped full if insecticides and fungicides. Leave everything else alone. Yuck! Let me know if I can help further. This is a new-found passion for me so I’m happy to share when and where I can. Here’s to life!

  27. says

    We are 50% complete a palette wall in our bathroom and while it is a bit of a to do to get the palettes apart- I LOVE IT!!!! Love. It is worth the pain. I thought I could pry them apart, but I think it is necessary to use a reciprocating saw with a metal blade to cut through the nails. It goes much quicker. I sprayed them down with a mild cleaner- let them dry and then painted and stained the boards. I used liquid nails and a nail gun to tack them in place- but ultimately I wasn’t very careful about hitting studs because the adhesive will hold them. They don’t lay perfectly even, but I love the beachy, textured feel of the wall! Good Luck! I look forward to the big reveal :-)

    • LisaT says

      My 15 yr old son helped a friend pry apart pallets to build a fort a couple of years ago. It is hard work, but worth it. Now my son makes shelves from pallets and stains them with the tea and vinegar/steel wool mix. It’s gorgeous! We just try to get pallets with HT stamped on them. That means heat treated. Some say that’s safer than the chemically treated ones. Can’t wait to see what you do at fireaman Keith’s house and yours, too!

  28. Sharon Doss says

    I love gray owl. My whole house is painted this color except my foyer, den and kitchen. It’s a great color.

  29. says

    Hi Layla,
    I’ve worked with pallets. The worst part is taking them apart. You should look for pallets with an HT on them. This means they were heat treated and not treated with chemicals. It’s best to wash the pallets with soap and water just in case they had anything toxic on them. Donna, at Funky Junk Interiors has a great post on working safely with pallet wood. :)

  30. Melissa says

    I have used pallet wood. I went to the local fireplace/stove store. They get in large sized crates when the pellet stoves are shipped. The wood is large sized: 2″x10″x5′ The wood was a type of pine, like good framing lumber. We had to remove the nails that held the crate together, but it was easy. (And it was free!)

  31. Pam says

    My son recycled wood from pallets for a project and I will warn you….pallets are very well constructed with lots of nails! It was a labor intensive endeavor to get them de-constructed. But he recruited a few friends and they made an afternoon of it. I was amazed with the bucket of nails that resulted. Be prepared for some broken wood, so plan for extra. But you will be amazed at some of the good quality wood to be “found”.

  32. Chris Sherman says

    I would think twice about repurposing pallets. They are treated with toxic chemicals- fungicides, pesticides, etc. They are so toxic that there are new guidelines being put into place about how pallets can be treated because people burn them and repurpose them. Just a word to the wise!

    • Layla says

      Good to know, Chris! We’ve actually got another (non-toxic) solution up our sleeves as of today, and we look forward to blogging about it as soon as we’ve got it up on the wall! :-D

  33. says

    We used pallets in the babies nursery. I highly suggest cutting the nails with either a sawsall with a metal blade or an angle grinder. It is much faster and easier than prying the pallets apart. We then did a light powerwash on them and a really light sanding. I LOVE the final look. Good Luck!

  34. Christina says

    How do you achieve the 50% lightening on the paint? What do you ask for at a paint store? I don’t know a lot about paint. I really like the lighter gray color you have shown.

    • Layla says

      Hi Christina! Just ask the person at the paint desk to lighten it by 50% and they should be able to hook you up with the lighter version, lickety split! :-D

  35. says

    We are painting our kitchen that color. Funny thing, in Canada it’s called “snowball” in English and “gris hibou” in French. Not sure why they switched up the English but it’s a beautiful color and looking forward to having it in my kitchen.

  36. heidig says

    My husband just did a fireplace reno for our living room. We used barn board above the mantel – looks like the picture of Keith’s pallet board. My suggestion would be to paint the wall beneath the barn board (pallet board) the same color as the stain you’re using. It’s helpful because the uneven boards leave slight gaps, hence the need to paint beneath them.

  37. says

    Sooo, when I saw the title of your post I got all excited thinking that you and Kevin might be choosing the same paint colour that I recently chose for our main living spaces. Then… THEN when I started reading I almost fainted when I saw the before and after picture from my silly blog. ;)

    Lovely to be mentioned on your super awesome site. Yay!

    P.S. I think you’ll love the 50% lighter version. It’s got hints of blue in it at certain times of day which will go nicely with the blues and greens that you were thinking of using on your main floor. :)

  38. says

    Oh I am so excited to see Gray Owl as a paint odor you love too Layla. I just picked out tht color for my niece and her husbands converted barn house they are renting. We painted the whole downstairs and upstairs with it. I wish I would have known or thought of doing the 50% lighter idea. The upstairs is light and bright and the downstairs more subtle lighting so it could have been a twitch lighter.
    It is gorgeous though and they love it. Love all the colors you find
    for your hone and others. Love gray lake too. Hugs.

  39. says

    I worked will pallets, but my project did not require staining, so I have no idea there. There is a wide range of pallets out there. For my art project, three were super easy to work with and two made me want to stab my eyes out because they were brittle. Hopefully yours will work well!

    I love Southern Accents. They are awesome. I purchased my mantle from them not too long ago!
    I can’t wait to get it installed!! I am looking forward to seeing this project. I always love your taste :)

  40. Julie says

    Check out web site younghouselife there is a tutorial on what they did with pallets. Might be helpful. Good luck.

  41. Lydia says


    We have a pile of pallet wood in the back yard and, while we love the look and free-ness, we have found that getting them apart is very difficult and that often the lengths are much shorter than we need them to be. We love the rough look of barn and pallet wood though, so I came up with an interesting low-cost solution: old fence boards! They are already weathered and very inexpensive to replace with new ones in an existing fence and come around 5″ wide and 6′ long. We just cut off the dog ear at the top and voila! we have a perfectly weathered rustic board for around $1! We always make sure we seal our fence boards with poly or paint, though; the chemicals they use to make them weather-proof probably don’t add to indoor air quality.

    Your blog is always an inspiration to us,


  42. Lauren says

    I love your inspiration mood board for Keith’s room. For that coffee table, check out or their Facebook page (for even more pics). The company was created by a man named Brian Preston who creates opportunities for and employs homeless men who are craftsmen by trade. Really neat story and really cool beautiful pieces of handcrafted tables all from reclaimed materials. They are located not too far from you, in the West Georgia area.

  43. says

    I have Gray Owl in my bedroom, and I’m still crazy in love with it after two years. I’m upstairs so I get plenty of light, and it really bounces it around without being too bright, and makes the white trim look good. It definitely changes with the light but not too much to affect my white balance. ;) So depending on how much light the room gets naturally, going 50% one way or the other is probably a good bet!

  44. Andrea W. says

    I am needing to repaint our kitchen/living room/dining room/play area. It is a space that will be hard to change colors in, so it is all one color currently. Yes it is all one big room with one dividing wall that doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling. It is currenly a light gray with plush gray carpet. Our cabinets are a honey oak. Do you think gray owl would work or go 50% darker? Would love some feedback!

  45. says

    I made this for my little sis’s bridal shower from a pallet…

    And I loved doing it, although I will say it was TOUGH to get that darn pallet apart. Haha everyone says things like “then I simply disassembled the pallet” and I was all like “CMON YOU beepity beeping thing!”

    BUT ANYWAY – I think pallets can make cool accents. The end.

  46. says

    I LOVE Gray Owl! We used it in our open concept family room and kitchen to replace a golden-yellow the previous owners had used. It makes the room so bright and cheery! It looks great with virtually any wood tone as well as cool and warm colors. I was afraid it’d be too dark at full strength but it’s very light and airy and all around a beautiful gray.

  47. Brooke says

    Our house was also bought as a foreclosure, and we used pallets ALL OVER. We have our entire bedroom floor made out of pallet wood. We had a lot of luck running the pallet wood through a planer (or a sander if that’s what you have) to clean the wood up first. Then miter the edges to make a clean cut. We love working with pallet wood and plan on using even more if it in other areas of our house (we have a ton of it because we go pallet hunting all the time and happen to live in an old industrial city [Buffalo, NY] that also loves pallets).

  48. Felicity says

    Our next door neighbor set us up with some pallets from the local Volvo dealer, and they are such high quality….there is actually a difference from one “brand” to another!

  49. Jackie says

    Hi Layla,

    I just recently discovered your fabulous site through the world of Pinterest and I’ve spent the past week or so reading every blog entry from the beginning til now. It’s been so much fun catching up and for the first time in my life, I actually feel excited and inspired to decorate my home. I’m moving in September so I’ll just be spending the next few months gathering ideas and getting my townhome ready to rent. This leads me to a question about paint. Do you paint all your rooms in the same finish? I’m really just at a complete loss when it comes to choosing between finishes. Currently, the kitchen and bathrooms are eggshell and the rest of the house is flat paint which is a nightmare to keep clean.

    Also, I’m considering taking the online photography classes and was wondering if the classes taught will also help with action shots? My daughter races mountain bikes so I’m really looking to learn how to improve my photos using manual mode. Thanks so much!

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