Custom Mixing a Warm Gray Color

Gray is made by mixing complementary colors, and there is more than one way to get there. September 5, 2010

I have a client who wants a gray/graphite stained kitchen on maple. As we were discussing her kitchen she pointed down at the lead of my pencil and mentioned that what she wanted. I made her a sample on maple and now she says she wants it to look warmer. Does anyone have any clue as to how you make a gray look warm?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
It sounds like what you have is blue/grey. If you want to warm up a blue/grey, add small amounts of orange UTC, making samples as you go. You have to seal the stain to get a true read on the color.

From contributor G:
Orange, red, burnt umber, red oxide, and yellow are all warm colors. Depending on how blue your color is, you may need one or more of them. It would be best to get a color to match to - ask her for a representative sample. A pencil lead is kind of small.

From contributor R:
You make grey by mixing complementary colors. Every primary color has a grey so there are an almost infinite number of grey’s possible. Of the primary and secondary colors red, orange and yellow are warm colors blue, green and purple are cool colors. Most blacks (and white also) are blue-ish so the complement of blue is orange which will give you a grey and warm up the color as well. Red and yellow will also warm up the grey but give you a different grey (red will give you a purple grey and yellow will give you a green grey).

From contributor B:
I think your choice of top coat could make the difference. A traditional Nitro lacquer would warm it up, but many of the waterborne's would make it bluer. Maybe experiment with tinting the clear.

From contributor S:
What about just using graphite powder to make your color and coating in one? I have used it on smaller projects that needed that exact look and I had no problems with it but never used it on full scale kitchen. I'd guess it would look very interesting.