Sherwin Williams Passive – A Soft Gray

About Sherwin William Passive

Here we are again, another day another gray paint color to explore. If picking the perfect shade of gray paint overwhelms you, trust us when we say that you are not alone. It’s almost as difficult as selecting a white color! Choosing from hundreds of options without any idea of undertones or lighting can be a recipe for disaster but it doesn’t have to be that way! Sherwin Williams Passive is a cool toned gray paint color that is versatile and calming making it a wonderful option for interiors. It can be used as a wall color for virtually any room in your home to create a beautiful and inviting space.

SW Passive is a soft and neutral, cool gray that is in Sherwin Williams’ Top 50 Paint Colors collection. Sherwin Williams describes Passive as “a light gray, this neutral hue exhibits some depth with its cool blue undertones.” 

Let’s evaluate the qualities of this paint color and observe if it will be a good fit for your home’s color palette.

How Light or How Dark is Sherwin Williams Passive?

It’s important to get a good sense of how light or dark a color is before we even put it on the walls. Passive is a light gray. The cool-toned gray reflects enough light to give it a softness that makes it a favored paint color.

What is the LRV?

The Light Reflectance Value or LRV of Sherwin Williams Passive is 60.

LRV is a useful tool for determining how light or dark a paint color is (100 being the whitest white and 0 being the darkest black). Keep in mind that “light” refers to Light Reflective Value, meaning the amount of light reflected. The more reflective the color, the brighter it will appear. This light gray has an LRV of 60. Compared to another popular light gray paint color, Benjamin Moore Classic Gray, which has an LRV of about 74, Passive has a slightly lower LRV because it has a bit more depth of color because it reflects less light, about 14 points worth.

Is Passive a Warm or Cool Color?

I think it’s pretty clear that Passive is a cool gray paint color. It’s important to understand how undertones affect how paint colors look on the wall, especially in gray shades. Sherwin Williams Passive looks cool and feels cool to an extent. You have to be really careful with cool gray paint colors because they can easily feel icy and cold. Cool grays can appear blue or even purple depending on undertones and lighting. Don’t let that possibility scare you away from Passive. I believe in the blend of cool and warm tones in a home. If you match this cool color with warm flooring and decor it can work really well. 

If you aren’t okay with the blue undertones that Passive has you can try other popular gray paint colors that have warmer tones like Repose Gray or Classic Gray.

What Undertones Does Passive Have?

Every gray paint color has undertones even the “true gray” paint colors. Some are more subtle and some are more obvious. Sherwin Williams Passive is a cool color with blue undertones. When you select Passive as a gray paint color and really want it to appear gray, light exposure has to be taken into consideration. Lots of natural light is ideal for Passive to look its best. The ideal lighting situation for Passive is southern exposure because the light is warmer and the exposure lasts throughout the day. North-facing light can cast cooler, blue hues in a space making a room cool even with a warm paint color. Starting with a cool paint color can almost guarantee the color to appear washed out or at the very least highlight the blue undertones. Knowing what direction your light is coming from is really helpful when selecting a room’s paint color.

This is where I tell you how important it is to sample any paint color before you commit to painting your walls. It’s a really great idea to stick paint samples of your desired color in the space you’re thinking about painting and check in on it at varying times throughout the day to get a true, accurate idea of what the color is going to look like in your space. If you buying paint pot samples, consider using large posterboard for samples to give yourself the most accurate idea of the color. 

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I also want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers convenient peel-and-stick paint samples that are affordable, easier, and better for the environment than traditional paint pots. They are mess-free, display colors just like a wall, are reusable so you can try them out all over the room, and arrive to your doorstep in just a few days! 

Sherwin Williams Passive in Real Spaces

We’ve discussed all of the attributes of the gray paint color, Passive, but how does it look in real spaces? It’s super important to see colors in real spaces. How does it look in a kitchen? How does the color look in a space with a lot of windows? What about a Passive gray living room? That information is valuable! Let’s dive in and see what Passive looks like in real spaces!

The image above showcases SW Passive at its best in my opinion. Paired with white trim the light gray paint color really pops. It’s soft and inviting but it’s not at all boring. It creates a cool, clean backdrop for the warm floors, furniture, and accents in this space.

Here’s another example of SW 7064 paired with crisp white trim and warm accents. These elements create a trifecta with this paint color. The warm wood floors, accents, and artificial lighting all work together to bring warmth to this space that has cool-colored walls. The coolness isn’t overwhelming here even though there is not an abundance of natural light.

Again, Sherwin Williams Passive works beautifully with white trim and warm flooring. The color looks stormier here than in the first two images – you can see the blue undertones coming through here but the gray still feels inviting and not cold at all.

Another example of Passive feeling a bit stormier. The paint color on the farthest wall is SW Passive. The wood tones in this space are deeper which contributes to the overall cold feeling of this space. While the paint color feels cooler here and its blue undertones are more evident – the color is still really nice.

Going back to the brighter version of Passive. Here you have tons of natural light flowing in, warm wood flooring, white trim, and additional warm accents that brighten up the space. Passive looks brighter here but the blue undertones are still evident. This is a great example of how you need to be careful with directional lighting because even with an abundance of natural light, some light casts a bluer hue.

This example is another where Passive “gray” looks a little more like Passive “blue” – while still a really nice color especially in this modern space, it may not be the gray you are hoping for if it’s a neutral color that you want.

What are some Complementary Colors to Sherwin Williams Passive?

SW Passive is a cool color that is considered a neutral gray. It pairs well with paint colors that invite some warmth to the space. Coordinating colors such as warm white and beige as well as moody greens like Pewter Green. Additionally, a white trim color goes nicely with Passive Gray. Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace is my all-time favorite trim color.

Where to Use Sherwin Williams Passive?

SW Passive is a perfect paint color for interiors. I would consider it a nice “all over” paint color as long as you have awareness of directional lighting. Bad directional lighting can be counteracted with the right light bulbs so if you do have south-facing windows please know that all hope is not lost! Here are some ideas for spaces in your home that could easily wear Sherwin Williams Passive.

  • Accent walls
  • Bedrooms
  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Bathroom
  • Entryway

Additionally pairing Passive with other accents like board and batten or other wood accent walls is a really nice touch.

What are Some Alternative Gray Colors to Passive? 

Sherwin Williams Passive vs Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray

A similar color to SW Passive is Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray. While not an exact match, it is a fair comparison. Stonington Gray has a tiny bit of green undertones which almost gives it an element of greige, almost. Both colors are really calming and produce relaxing vibes with a light and airy feel. Passive and Stonington Gray have similar LRVs (Stonington Gray is nearly 60 at 59.36). Overall, I think Passive ends up being just slightly icier because of its cool undertones while Stonington Gray edges Passive out in the warmth category.

Sherwin Williams Passive vs Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

​Another very popular gray paint color from Sherwin Williams is Agreeable Gray. Like Passive, it’s in the Top 50 Paint Colors Collection. While both colors have the same LRV of 60, these colors are shades away from each other. Agreeable Gray is warm and even just barely touches the greige category. If Passive is the right depth but the wrong color and you want something warmer you may want to sample Agreeable Gray.

Sherwin Williams Passive vs Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Repose Gray is a designer’s favorite gray paint color and it really isn’t that close to Passive when you consider all the options for gray paint colors however, it is a really popular gray paint color so I thought it would be worth it to compare it here. When compared to Repose Gray, Passive’s coolness is really evident. Repose Gray is clearly a much warmer gray paint color. Repose Gray is also more of a medium-tone gray while Passive is easily in the light gray category. Repose Gray has an LRV of 55 while Passive is at 60. I think you’ll find that while both colors are soft and refined, Passive provides a coolness that Repose Gray won’t.

Other Gray Paint Colors I’ve Reviewed

Final Thoughts on Sherwin Williams Passive

Three cheers for Sherwin Williams Passive. Its spot on the Top 50 list is well deserved because it’s calming and versatile. It makes a beautiful and soft backdrop for a variety of spaces. Its undertones can allow the color to pull more blue than you might like so it’s important to sample the color. I highly recommend trying Samplize. These peel-and-stick paint samples are easy to use and are a convenient way to try a paint color out in our home before making a full commitment!

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