Sherwin Williams Passive – a Paint Color Review


Sherwin Williams Passive SW 7064 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.

Affiliate links are provided below. Please see my full disclosure.

Sherwin Williams Passive paint color on the walls in the living room with white sofa, gray chair and blue and white pillows.

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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 Entryway, living room, dining room, kitchen, family room, hallway bath 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 to help you make better paint color decisions.

white bathroom with hexagon floor tile and gray walls and blue and white stripe towel hanging on the wall

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Sherwin Williams Passive Explained

SW Passive is one of Sherwin Williams’ top 50 paint colors. It is also part of their Living Well Collection

A Collection of colors and paints carefully chosen to invite a sense of comfort, style and well-being into your home.

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.

Sherwin Williams Passive Paint swatch

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.

Entryway of house with staircase and living room with couch, rug and dresser.

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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.

Cane Chair next to window in the dining room with a gold round mirror hanging on the above wall.

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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.

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.


  • R: 203 G:204 B:201 (RGB)
  • Hex Value: #cbcc9
Wood table and cane chairs in the dining room facing a window with artwork on the wall and a vase of greenery center on the table.

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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.

Chair sitting in the corner next to a window and white painted brick fireplace.

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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
Window in bathroom with blue and white stripe towel hanging on the wall.

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 painted on the wall in the living room with rug, chair and white sofa in front of a window.

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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.

Sherwin Williams passive painted on home exterior

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.

White bathroom cabinet with hexagon floor tile and towel on countertop

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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.

Entryway of house with Sherwin Williams Paint

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.

Basement with gray walls, couch, photo gallery and television hanging on the wall.
Basement with gray walls with ping pong table

Our Basement via: Redfin

Sherwin williams Passive and Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray Paint Swatch

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.

Sherwin Williams Passive on the kitchen walls with a round table with chairs

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Sherwin Williams Passive vs. Sherwin Williams Light French Gray

Before we painted the rest of the house SW Passive Gray we painted my husband’s office Sherwin Williams Light French Gray as you can see below.

Home office with desk, rug, bookcase and pictures on the wall

Light French Gray has an LRV of 53 compared to Passive LVR of 60. Light French Gray can have a slightly purple- blue undertone. How it leans depends on your lighting; in cool light it can lean purple-blue. In warmer light it softens up some without going to purple-pink. It does however seem that Light French Gray leans a more true grey.

Light French Gray is a cool toned gray – but not ice cool. It’s not quite as cool as Passive as its undertones are more brown/greige, but overall the color is a bit darker than Passive.

Office desk with bookcase in the background and plant and books propped on desk.

Sherwin Williams Passive vs. Sherwin Williams Nebulous White

In my offie studio the walls are Sherwin Williams Nebulous White. Nebulous White has an LVR of 74 compared to SW Passive of 60. It is much lighter and is nice because it gives just a touch of gray tone. It’s not overbearing if you are looking for something that is almost white but with a touch of gray.

SW Nebulous has white-blue undertones and has slightly warmer undertones. It can have a “baby-blue” type look and feel based on your lighting situation and room decor you pair it with. I paired Nebulous White with a lot of white to balance the risk of too much blue. Since it’s paired with the warmer white of Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17 it helps keep the space from becoming overly cool.

Office with bookcase and desk overlooking a window.

Final Thoughts on Sherwin Williams 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.

Sherwin Williams Passive

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  1. Hello Joy! I purchased BM ceiling paint specifically and had it tinted White Dove. The sheen is very flat. Hope that helps.

  2. Hello rose! The front door is Mopboard Black by Benjamin Moore. Hope that helps!

  3. Wonderful and informative review of SW Passive! What a beautiful home! I have been looking at this cool gray as the main color in our home as well. We have lots of natural light and white trim, doors and cabinetry. I’ve been trying to decide on a few good companion colors for bedrooms, baths, and office walls. I love SW Sea Salt for bathrooms. Do you think this would work well with Passive? Also, what do you think of using SW Upward or maybe SW Sleepy Blue as a bedroom color? Also looking at BM Beach Glass (husband really likes this color) for the office. I’m trying for a soothing, calm palette of colors in gray, blues and with an occasional hint of green that smoothly flows from room to room. I would welcome any thoughts you have on these colors or any other suggestions you might have. Thanks so much!

  4. Quick question- can you provide details on your flooring? I love the look of it – not too light, not too dark and not too orangy! Just perfect and beautiful. Thanks for all the really great info. The gray color comparisons are helpful and the beautiful room shots of Passive are very inspirational.

  5. Hello Becky! Thank you for reaching out! The floors are Minwax Dark Walnut on White Oak unfinished floors and finished in place.Hope that helps.

  6. We also have Passive in a lot of spaces in our home and love it! Can you share your rug in the family room (first photo), when I click on the link below the photo it looks a lot darker and different than the one pictured.

  7. Hey Amy! Thank you so much for providing such great descriptions of each paint color!

    Are the paints you used in your house all at full strength or are they cut 75%/50%/25%?

  8. Hello Meredith! Thank you for reaching out! Yes, all the paint was mixed at full strength of 100%. Hope that helps.

  9. What would be a good color for kitchen cabinets with Passive as the wall color?

  10. Hello, you could try BM White Dove, BM Simply White, SW Pure White. You could also try a sage green like SW Green Onyx or even a blue such as SW Distance

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