Sherwin Williams Passive – a Paint Color Review

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Sherwin Williams Passive is the perfect soft gray paint color for your home. This gray is classic and cool making it a lovely choice for your home or furniture projects.  

Some say that gray interior paint is out, but I’m still seeing gray going strong in many homes. From remodels to new builds. A lot of designers might be moving away from grays, but a lot of homeowners are still using gray in their homes and for good reason. Sherwin Williams Passive is pretty much a perfect gray hue and lovely in a variety of spaces and projects.

A few years ago, we painted most of the walls in our home Sherwin Williams Passive.

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Sherwin Williams Passive

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Today I am breaking down all the details on the lovely Sherwin Williams Passive paint color if gray walls are your thing! I’ve used this color extensively, so I know the color and have decorated around it. Our foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, family room and kids and guest bath are all painted with Passive. All the trim in our home is painted Benjamin Moore White Dove in semi-gloss and it’s perfect! I break down all about the aspects of White Dove here to help you make better paint color decisions.

white bathroom with hexagon floor tile and gray walls.

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Sherwin Williams Passive Explained

Sherwin Williams Passive is a gray paint color, but there are a lot of gray paint colors out there! You may be thinking that all gray paint colors are the same. Not true! If you have ever gathered several gray paint samples from the hardware store and placed them side by side on your wall; you soon discover that not all gray paints are created equal. There’s a ton of different grays and it can be overwhelming.

Passive is a cool gray and while it is a great shade of gray there are other grays that are more popular such as Repose Gray, Agreeable Gray or BM Revere Pewter. I will break these down more below. While I find that gray is still being used in homes, I’m seeing more of a warmer gray trend going on now.

Passive has a soft blue undertone and looks great in many rooms and settings. Since Passive has more cool undertones you might want to look at other colors if you are looking to warm your space.

What Category is Sherwin Williams Passive?

SW Passive pretty much falls in the cool category because of its icy blueish undertones. It is a cool color but that can change. Say What?  Ok, let me explain.

Paint categories are normally cool, warm, or neutral and even though initially Passive is categorized as a cool color but a room with this shade can also feel warmer or even feel like a neutral. Passive will pick up the undertones of what is around the room and reflect those undertones making the room feel cool, warm, or neutral.

Sherwin Williams Passive

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Can You Mix Passive with Other Warm Undertones?

Should you mix cool and warm tones in your home design?  Absolutely! In fact, I recommend blending warm and cool colors by incorporating furniture, décor, paint colors and window treatments to create more interest to your space.

Our home has cool walls, warm floors, warmer trim color, and a mix of warm and cool décor. I like this because it adds visual interest to the spaces and keeps it from being flat or looking like everyone else’s home. It also gives a neutral feel to our entire space.

Sherwin Williams Passive

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Sherwin Williams Passive Statistics

Sherwin Williams Passive has a Light Reflective Value (LVR) of 60. LRVs range from 0-100, with 100 being pure white and 0 being absolute black. Design pros commonly use LVR to measure the amount of light reflected from a surface. Higher numbers reflect more light and lower numbers absorb light.

Passive is a light gray because of its LVR of 60. Looking at LVRs is very helpful to review when deciding on paint colors for your home.

Statistics:

  • R: 203 G:204 B:201 (RGB)
  • Hex Value: #cbcc9

The hexadecimal color code #cbccc9 is a light shade of green. In the RGB color model #cbccc9 is comprised of 79.61% red, 80% green and 78.82% blue. In the HSL color space #cbccc9 has a hue of 80° (degrees), 3% saturation and 79% lightness. This color has an approximate wavelength of 565.48 nm.Encycolorpedia.com

Sherwin Williams Passive

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What Undertones Does Sherwin Williams Passive Have? 

As stated earlier, SW Passive has blue undertones. Paints with blue undertones usually have a calming and airy feeling. Think beach house with that light, airy feel to it.

You can see from the photo below the walls are SW Passive, but the room blends the cool walls with warm décor and a warm white paint. The trim and below the chair rail are Benjamin Moore White Dove (explained here), floors are warm in tone as well as the chair and the brass color mirror. There is a definite blue undertone to the walls but blending it with warm décor adds dimension to the space.

Certain décor and lighting can make the walls look like a truer gray while other rooms can have a more blue tone based on décor and the lighting.

Sherwin Williams Passive

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Where can you use Sherwin Williams Passive?

Passive can be used in many areas throughout your home! And don’t just limit it to your walls; cabinets and furniture would be lovely in this shade of gray.

Passive would also be a lovely color at a beach house with all crisp white furniture and décor with touches of wood for warmth.

  • Kitchen Cabinets
  • Interior Walls
  • Nurseries
  • Exterior
  • Furniture
  • Beach House
  • Shiplap or board and batten
Sherwin Williams Passive

Interior Walls

Using Passive on your bedroom and bathroom walls will evoke a sense of calm and promote relaxation and sleep. Try it in a new nursery for a soft, calming space for your new little bundle.

Passive is great on walls if you have a lot of natural light coming into your space. Your walls will be the perfect backdrop for all your furniture and decor.  The paint on our walls is mostly Sherwin Williams Passive and our trim, doors and walls underneath the chair rails is Benjamin Moore White Dove. We have a lot of natural light that comes into our home so Passive has been an excellent choice.

Assess your natural light before you select any paint color and always test paint samples in each room before deciding.

Sherwin Williams Passive

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Exterior Walls

Using Passive on your home’s exterior is also a great choice, but there are a few things to keep in mind when painting exteriors.

Consider how your home is positioned and how the light hits it. All paint colors look lighter on exteriors because of the direct sunlight. There are no walls, doors, or roofs to shelter some of the sunlight; it’s just directly shining on the exterior walls.

Passive could make your exterior look washed out or even white on bright, sunny days. Make sure to try samples on your exterior walls at every angle and look at it in different times of day before making a final decision.

Source: Sherwin Williams

Should I Select Passive? 

Go for it: If you want a cool gray color that will accommodate warm-toned décor throughout your home OR if you want a calming, crisp feel to your walls. Passive is nice if you want to blend cool and warm.

Skip it: If you prefer a gray that makes your space feel warm

Instead: Check out Sherwin Williams Repose Gray SW 7015, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray SW 7029, Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray SW 7016 or Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172

Gray Paint Tones

All the hues above are gray, but much warmer and are lovely selections if you prefer a shade that feels warm and cozy. I like a little bit of a mix of cool and warm; this is why I selected Passive.

What Trim Color Goes with Passive Walls?

We have White Dove on all our trim and ceiling in our home. White Dove will work well with this light gray paint color adding a subtle warmth to the space.

There are other wonderful colors to use for your trim. Sherwin Williams Pure White or Benjamin Moore Simply White OC-117.

Selecting the right SHEEN/FINISH for your project is just as important as the color. Use a flat or eggshell finish (makes your walls easier to clean) and a semi-gloss or satin finish on the trim.

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Similar Colors to Sherwin Williams Passive

A lot of paint colors have a matching cousin, but Passive stands on its own. Passive holds its own as being a unique gray color and finding matching comparisons wasn’t as easy as other paint colors I’ve researched. There wasn’t a lot of comparable options out there, but there are two that are somewhat similar.

Benjamin Moore Equivalent to Passive

The closest Benjamin Moore equivalent to Passive would BM Stonington Gray. Now, these colors are similar, but they aren’t exact matches.

We painted BM Stonington Gray in our basement when we moved in several years ago and it’s also a lovely color. Since I have both shades in my home I can say they are very similar and with one shade being in the basement and Passive being on the upper two floors one would not know they weren’t the same shade. If you placed them side by side you would be able to tell.

Our Basement via: Redfin

The colors are very similar; however, Passive feels a little cooler to me.

If you prefer Benjamin Moore paints instead of Sherwin Williams, you can ask them to mix Passive, however you must keep in mind, the color systems are different, and the color may not be 100% accurate. If you paint using SW Passive, run out of paint and then stop by Benjamin Moore for a color match you will be sorely disappointed. The colors will NOT be the same. 

There is a common misconception that all paints are interchangeable with different brands. This is not the case since each paint brand uses their own color system when mixing paint. They might come out similar, but they will not be exact. 

I personally like both brands of paint and select my paint based on color not necessarily on the brand.

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Final Thoughts on Passive

Passive is on the Sherwin Williams top 50 Paint Color List and for good reason. It’s a gorgeous color and personally we have used it in our home and love it. It’s a beautiful cool shade that works well with warm tones and decor.  It is versatile, light, bright and an airy gray color that provides a fantastic backdrop for all décor.

Before you decide on any paint color I recommend trying Samplize peel and stick paint samples. These peel & stick paint samples are super affordable and allow you to test a paint color in all different areas of a room without the mess of a traditional paint sample! 

Order Samplize now and have them shipped directly to you.  No-fuss, no mess! Check them out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

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Sherwin Williams Passive

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