Not So Silver Sage

More often than not, our projects go exactly as planned.  Or we can tweak it until it does.  Other times, it is a total failure before it really even starts.  Dead in the water.  Well, this is one of those times.  We’ve still got plenty of work in the family room, kitchen, and office before we can paint, but I thought I’d get a head start by testing my favorite sample.  You know, the one I had mentally painted the whole area with?  My ringer, as it were.  All along, I’d thought Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage would be perfect.

After using many RH colors at our first house, I grew to love their pretty, but muted colors.  Silver Sage is a nice greenish blue with enough gray to keep it calm.  Then, I made a startling discovery.  Okay, not startling, but a discovery none the less.  RH’s Silver Sage and Behr’s Silver Sage were nearly identical.

So I figured I’d give it a shot.  I bought a sample of Behr paint, planning to test it on the walls and use it for another project.  Because I have the patience of a two-year old, I walked in the door, set my stuff down, grabbed a paint brush, and make two swatches.  One in the family room, another behind the fridge in my office.  And I waited for it to dry.  And that’s when I made another startling discovery.  Truly, this one surprised me.  The color looked great in my sunny, south-facing office.

Just as I had imagined.  But in the dark, north facing family room, it looked baby blue.

Eeeek.  When Ben came home from work, I first asked what he thought of the color in the office.  He said he liked it.  So I told him to look at the family room swatch, to which he replied, “It’s so bright it hurts my eyes.”  Yes, it was that bad.  And here’s the kicker, he didn’t believe they were the same color.

Based on this side by side (with the same editing) I don’t think anyone would.  Which is sad, because now I’ve got to find a new sample that will look good in the bright office and dim family room.

After pouring over my Glidden, Dutch Boy, Martha Stewart, and Ben Moore swatch books, I’ve narrowed my selection to four colors.  So here are my new options, all from Ben Moore.  1.  Beach Glass, which looks even brighter thank Silver Sage.  2.  Duxbury Gray, considerably darker with more green.  3.  Iced Marble and Greyhound, more blue and less green.  4.  Heather Gray, seemingly a darker and more green/gray version of Silver Sage.  And my current front-runner, despite the darker hue.  I’ve also considered using Silver Sage, but toning it down in the family room with a gray wash over.  But that seems far more complicated and touching up any areas down the road will be impossible.  Oh, decisions.

I’ve picked out colors I didn’t like before, but not such a muted one.  Something I was so sure of before.  What would you do?  Do you have a favorite muted green/blue?    What was the worst color you chose?

76 thoughts on “Not So Silver Sage

  1. I had this exact thing happen to me except that I’d already purchased 5 gallons!!! We used a color from our old house, started painting one room in our new house and thought it looked funny but just plowed on. It was awful!! In our old house, obviously completely different light, it was this creamy beige/yellow/tan color. In our new house it looked like I had wallpapered with someone’s skin–all peachy and orangey and awful. And I’d already opened an started using that 5 gallons.

    About 20 paint samples later we have a color that we love that looks just like it looked in our old house. Nightmare!!

    1. Hey Kim,

      Gah, that’s so not fun. And we’re dealing with peachy-orange paint in this house, so I know what you mean. Glad you found one that worked though!


  2. I read an article suggesting to prime an area of the wall and then paint your test colors because the current paint color can also make a difference in how your samples look. Just wanted to pass along. : )

    And Ben Moore is my fav paint too. Good luck!

  3. I am an Interior Designer in Richmond VA and we actually tried using the RH Silver Sage for a client’s dining room and it turned out terribly. We ended up using Benjamin Moore Sea Salt and it turned out great! also trying the color on a primed white wall will make a difference! Hope this helps!

  4. We used BM 1563 “Quiet Moments” in our master, which has a very high, peaked white ceiling. The curtains are usually drawn in the room, but I like the color in natural or electric light and at all times of day. It’s a lovely soothing color – a little grayish, mostly blue, but definitely not bright.

    1. I second BM’s “Quiet Moments”!! LOVE that color. It’s such a good neutral/bluey/greeny/grayish. 😉 We have it in our main hall, dinning room and kitchen.

    1. Hey Nora!

      I’ve checked that one out, too. A little too blue for what I’m looking for. But very pretty.


  5. I was startled by how much more complicated picking paint colors became when we moved from our dark little house in the woods to one that gets a ton of natural light. The light just changes so much more over the course of the day here! I used to be so casual about picking paint colors; now I obsess over them and paint swatches on the wall for weeks before I can decide.

    1. Hi Gretchen,

      Isn’t it crazy? And annoying?!? You’d think paint would be simple, but there are so many colors and lighting can change everything.


  6. OMG that happened to us once. The (first) time we painted our family room the color was horrendous! We were going for a muted, costal green color, however it ended up something similar to nuclear power plant green! I was NOT the bisnezz!! Needless to say that was a hard Learned lesson to paint swatches, live with it for a few days, THEN paint the entire room! Great post!

    1. Hey Shavonda!

      Yep, been there. I think green, blue, and pink are the most difficult to pick out if you’re looking for something soft and muted. On the chip they might be perfect, but crazy bright on the walls.


  7. Been there. Done that. Hahaha. So frustrating…but I mean…kinda fun, too. Hahaha. As Chris says, “Any excuse to paint!” I really love Valspar’s Notre Dame. I think we might use it in our laundry room. 🙂

    1. Hey Julia,

      Ha, it does make it easier to paint over it, right? Ugly color = fire under butt. 🙂 Gotta check out Notre Dame, too now. 🙂


  8. we have RH silver sage in several rooms in our house. i have noticed it looks different in different lights (especially rainy days), but thankfully they are all lovely shades. i’m so surprised by your result. i always thought it was a can’t-go-wrong color choice. wow. maybe it is an optical illusion up next to the wall color currently on your wall. i’d love for you to give it another chance, but not if it looks all lightbright like your swatch. keep us posted! (i know you will!! 😉 )

    1. Hi Shootingallens!

      Exactly! We had Sea Green in the guest bedroom and I loved it. So I thought Silver Sage would be perfect. Guess not. Before I completely decide on that, I think I will prime and area, then paint over to be sure. 🙂 I’ll definitely keep you posted.


  9. If you’re keeping the same color for flow purposes, I’d suggest using two slightly different colors. That’s what I did with my kitchen and living room, and it’s worked out great! Since the kitchen is darker I went with a slightly more saturated aqua/sky blue, and in our very much windowed living room I went one shade lighter and I think maybe one tiny step more green. The kitchen color is saturated enough to deal with bright overhead lighting, and the living room is muted enough to be pleasantly sky like and not like a boy’s nursery hiccuped on our walls. It’s basically your final suggestion, but, since they’re actual paint colors, touch ups aren’t a problem.

  10. Wow that is crazy different! I painted our basement (which has some natural light) a lovely tan color (can’t remember the name), but was having a heck of a time with our open main level floor plan (tons of natural light). We left it builder white for seven years b/c I couldn’t settle on a color. Finally DH suggested we paint the main level the same as the basement. So, I got that gallon out and painted a bit on the walls and it looked just horrible! Nasty, dirty, muddy tan/stone color that was awful upstairs. My DH didn’t believe me until I painted more on the wall right in front of him. Lighting differences sure make things a challenge sometimes. I love the greenish color we added to our bathroom. It is called Fisherman’s Net by Olympic at Lowe’s. I even love the name. I don’t really know if it is blueish at all though. Good luck finding a color! Can’t wait to see what you end up with.

    1. Hi Stephanie!

      Aw, sorry! I think it’s so annoying when that happens. Something you think is a sure thing because you loved it somewhere, then terrible. I’ll check out Fisherman’s Net next time I’m at Lowe’s. 🙂


    1. Hi Kate!

      For now, no because the rooms all flow together. But when we remodel the kitchen, I think we could because we plan to extend the cabinet to the ceiling. That would give a nice break point. We’ll see what I find.


  11. We went through this with our living room. I could take 50 shades of Grey to another level in home decor. Just trying to match a shade to go along with the camel coloured couch was nuts. We said to hell with this, painted everything white and said let’s sit on it for a year (when we first moved in). It’s been 2 years and we love the white now better than if we had done the grey. I hate it when you love a colour like the blues above and the light changes every single thing about it.

    1. Hi Alex!

      Ahh, yes. The grey debate. If you change your mind, I really love Wood Smoke by Glidden.


  12. The worst I picked was a beautiful light sage green for my living room. It looked perfect on the swatch but after I painted MY ENTIRE LIVING ROOM, I stood back and realized it looked MINT green (ugh). Not the look I was going for…but I was so tired I did not have the energy to change it.

    My favorite color was FOG (don’t remember the brand). I wanted a light, beachy blue and this color, although grey, read as the beachy blue-grey I was going for.

    As far as your choices, I like the Heather Grey. Have you considered doing something like a 50% in the living room and the full color in the office?

    1. Hi Chris!

      Oh man! I’ve done the same thing. I was thinking about a 50% tint, but I don’t know if that will look just like the Silver Sage. I’m not in a rush, so we’ll see what I find between now and then. 🙂


  13. We just painted out family room First Star (a light gray) by Sherwin Williams. The swatch on the wall looked slightly lavender, but we moved forward with it anyway (lucky for me I was correct that it was just the original wall color mucking it up). The room faces south, but our yard is soo shady we don’t get much for light in the room. As a result, the walls are almost a kaleidoscope throughout the day. It’s the gray I love during the evening, which is when I’m home, and blueish during the day. Even each wall looks slightly different from the adjacent because of how the light shines on it. I know this would bother some people, but it was a blank canvas for us, so now it’s fun to watch it changing. Should be even more interesting to watch as the trees start losing their leaves and we start getting more daylight through.

    1. Hey Megan,

      I’ll have to check out Sherwin Williams because I don’t have any of their samples. I actually like when colors look different in various light, as long as it doesn’t look baby blue. 😉


      1. Sherwin Williams Sea Salt… they sell a lot of Sea Salt, I was told. my new color is Benj. Moore Grecian Green HC507. it’s a mild grey/green really pretty. 2 bedrooms. 1 gets a lot of light, the other does not. worked equally well. we bought a bad ‘taupe’ one time. terrible. took it back to store, removed 2 cups of taupe and had them add two cups of gray. worked out great! check the ‘recipe’ when you like a color. find out how much burgundy or blue or purple tones are in it. it will give you a clue as to what color might shine thru.

    2. Megan, you are just the person I want to talk to. I might paint First Star in a room exactly like what you described. Does it look blue in the daytime? Is there such a thing as a true gray???

  14. May I suggest a tip? I’m a graphic designer and the background color can make the accent color a different shade, just like it did in picture two. I design wedding stationary and when the brides pick a dark beige with a bright orange, it changes the color of the orange.

    Try painting a white patch in the office as the background color vs the darker beige color. Then you’ll truly see the color of the swatch. 🙂

    1. Hi Autumn,

      I think I’ll do that. I held a piece of white trim up to it and it still wasn’t good, but to be completely fair I think I’ll have to prime a whole wall first. 🙂


  15. I can sooo relate to painting woes. I just re-did my daughters bedroom and while we were going for very light grey, her walls ended up looking like either a light cornflower blue or light lilac depending on the time of day. I was so disappointed I cried. Literally.
    We went ahead and put the 2nd coat on, thinking it would help. I also painted her trim a crisp white. Those two things did help it appear more grey but its still not what I wanted/what the paint chip looked like(and yes…we even did the swatches on the wall thing too).
    Sometimes ya win, sometimes not so much:)

  16. We used Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams. Lovely blue-green! I highly recommend it! It is muted and beautiful in any light. : )

    1. Hi Marketa!

      That’s the second recommendation for Sea Salt. Looks like I’ve got to get my butt to Sherwin Williams to check it out. 🙂


    1. Hey Sara!

      I looked at that one, but it was crazy bright in here, too! I seriously can’t win with this room. 🙂


    2. And you already know how many greys I went through. With the lighting in my house try had to look almost tan in the can to be grey on my walls: fashion grey, perfect taupe and wheat bread (all behr) are in three areas o my house

  17. We have Amazon Gray by Behr (lightened 50%) in our northern living room and we have Benjamin Moore Templeton Gray in our northern family room. We get compliments on the Templeton Gray all the time…not sure how you feel about dark, moody colors, but we like them. 🙂

  18. We just had this problem. Our main living areas are in RH Silver Sage (actually BM Gray Wisp, which is very similar), and we love it! Actually I got the idea from your blog!! Anyway, I tried that swatch in the bedroom, and it was too blue. We wanted more of a warm gray in that room, so we picked BM Seattle Fog and it is lovely.

    In the bathroom, I tried some BM Gray Wisp on the wall, and it looked like a bright teal! So I tried BM Seattle Fog in there, and that looked like taupe! I finally tried Sherwin William’s Sea Salt, and finally got what I wanted. To the naked eye Sea Salt in that room looks like the same or very similar color to what Gray Wisp looks like in the rest of the house, but it is a shade or two lighter.

    So that’s three votes for Sea Salt!

  19. I hate when this happens! I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen in love with a color in one room and absolutely hated it in another. My living room can look like five different colors depending on how the sun is shining. You should invent a line of paint colors that isn’t effected by sunlight or any other variables!

  20. Funny – Many have had the same problem with Silver Sage. When we bought our house our hall bath was painted with Silver Sage. It had just been painted, and so I saw no reason to change it, but I order Silver Sage towels from RH to go with it (those puppies are expensive). Turns out, they don’t seem to match the walls at all!

  21. I learned not to eliminate any colour based on the swatch. For every room I’d start with one sample, then head greener/bluer/pinker until I found one that looked like my favourite swatch when it was on the walls. Our reddish wood floors had an amazing effect.

    Why don’t you paint the office silver sage and then find a colour that looks like silver sage on the walls in the family room?

  22. I actually recently painted my bathroom with Behr’s Silver Sage and I love it! In there it looks like the name says…silvery sage! No blue whatsoever comes through in there. But I know that light does change the colour and bring out different tints in the paint.
    I worked in the paint department at Home Depot and learned to take the customer outside with the swatch to see how it looked against an Ultra Pure White swatch, and it amazed me (and the customers) how often the colours would change.

    Hope you find the right colour soon!

  23. We used Olympic’s Alpine Shadow (color matched it to Behr paint though) in our Master Bedroom and I really like it. It may be a bit too light for your taste but I painted a ton of swatches too before finally settling on this one and I really love it. It’s light but not too girly so my husband likes it too!

  24. Hey! I painted my living room BM Beach Glass and I LOVE it! We get a lot of light in that room though so the color changes during the day and looks great at night when the curtains are drawn. It took me so long to pick the color, everything kept changing once I put it on the wall, so annoying!! Hope your next try works out better!

  25. Hi everyone!
    I could really really use some help- I love RH silver sage but am struggling with finding 2 coordinating colors. We have a complete open floor plan but am looking to use RH SS in mostly of the area including the entryway and kitchen. I was hoping to find a complimentary shade darker for the dining room where there is more light and a shade lighter for the living room where there is less light. I have samples of BM arctic grey, beach glass and Iced marble but they were matches from lowes and are off I think. Many advice would be great!

    1. Hi Leila!

      If you want to stay in the blue family, you could try RH’s lighter and darker colors in the set; Pale Silver and Sea Green. Or try samples of a 50% tint and 150% or 200% colorant of Silver Sage. I have a fan deck that I use to get the colors color matched, which has typically worked really well. Hope that helps!


  26. I have most of the swatches mentioned at our house. I’m about to paint our little bathroom for the third time in a week but I want to finally find the right color! Soooooo frustrating!

  27. I loved the RH Silver Sage we had in one of our guest bedrooms so decided to try it in our open concept living area. As soon as the sun went down, the color made you feel like you were in the hospital. It was positively aweful. Paint an entire wall, sleep on it for a few days and then decide if it works.

  28. I have the EXACT SAME PROBLEM! Every single grayish blue we put on our walls ended up BABY BLUE in our living room due to the bluish light (and maybe lack thereof!). What did you end up choosing?


    1. Hey Jessica!

      I went a completely different route, but I believe it was Heather Gray from Benjamin Moore that I really liked. It’s on the dark side, but they should be able to do a 50% tint to get the color, but lighter. Let me know if you use it and what you think. 🙂


  29. I imagine this question has been settled, and I would love to know how things ultimately worked out!

    It’s also a huge comfort to know that I’m not the only one who has gone through this (much to my husband’s chagrin). We lived in our new house with all builder beige for two years so I could be sure of how the light changed throughout the day and the seasons. I painted large foam boards, and then large swatches of the finalists, so I really thought I had it!

    I’d picked Revere Pewter as our main house color in the common areas, as the house has an open concept plan. Fail-safe—it’s all over Pinterest, I’d seen it in a ton of houses and loved it, a designer favorite.

    YUCK. YUCK YUCK YUCK. Because the ceilings are still that builder beige and the house doesn’t get a ton of natural light, it washed out into this ugly khaki taupey color. I had a friend who happens to be a designer visiting last week and she didn’t believe me when I told her the paint color. We had to hold up actual chips about 10 times before she finally believed me. (The annoying thing is that, since we painted, I’ve been to at least 7 or 8 houses where I’ve loved the color, thought I found the perfect one, and asked the owners what it was. Revere Pewter. SMH)


    All of that to say that I found the most gorgeous color by accident: Sherwin-Williams Comfort Gray. I didn’t realize it was popular on Pinterest or anything, but it was the most beautiful color in our kitchen. It was so pretty that I put it at 75% in our master bedroom. It’s supposedly gray, but in our house it turns into a watery aqua with greens. Natural light makes it glow. Sea Salt looked completely washed out and awful in our master bed and bath, but Comfort Gray was gorgeous and I used Oyster Bay in the master bath. Only later did I realize they were from the same strip. LOL

    Now I may be using Sea Salt at 50% for our common area color. I’m getting a sample of Silver Sage to try it out since I hear they’re very similar, though I may have to dilute that one as well to keep from getting too dark. I’m dying to know what you finally chose just to see how it worked out! LOL

    1. Hey Amy!

      I really hate when a ‘sure pick’ doesn’t work out. In our last house, we used colors similar to Silver Sage and loved it. Here, they’re bright baby blue. Instead, I took a completely different route and chose a light beige and a warm gray. Couldn’t get my light blues to work. 😦 But, if you’re looking for a nice dark blue/green, Benjamin Moore’s Heather Gray was my second choice.

      Best of luck on your paint selections! Glad they’re starting to play nicely. 🙂


  30. You MUST prime a one or two foot square area, then paint it with two coats, and then wait two days before you decide if that’s the right paint. I’ve learned through trial and error that this is the ONLY way to do it!

  31. I have used silver sage on many jobs great color in the right places, I do not like it in totally sunny rooms it is too stark , but prefer a room that is in the middle of the sun line I find the contrasting hues to be very soothing. We used this color so much that I had it replicated in Ben Moore to cover better, (never cared for Behr paint) it took awhile to get the formula right but we nailed it in the end ! Jay is right about priming we tint the primer as well , and two coats it is very important. The other thing (just FYI) that is unknown ,paint manufactures also change their formulas take Putnam Ivory ben Moore . I did a job and a year later the same customer wanted it in the next room . I went bought the paint , painted the room and it was totally different and the customer very unhappy went back to ben Moore dealer then they told me they changed the base to a medium . Last night time can be you r down fall depending on lighting it can take a great daytime color and destroy it completely. smart move to go to different color scheme. Good luck with it

  32. We have a manufactured home that sits on a terrace approximately 400 ft from and 150 ft above the ocean. We installed white laminate glass doors in each room so as to maximize the natural light from the french doors that look out to the water. RH silver sage is the paint on almost every wall and it is incredible how the tone changes from room to room depending on the light and wall orientation.We have never seen anything like it and visitors can’t believe that it is the same color paint. I understand that Benjamin Moore manufactures the Restoration Hardware paint. Does anyone know if that is in fact the case?

  33. I’m kind of freaking out because after agonizing over paint color for way too long (soo many samples!) I FINALLY chose Silver Sage and and had my entire condo painted. (I usually do it myself, but wanted this done really well… just bought the condo)… and OHMYGOSH… the living room is MINT GREEN. Ugh! I found this thread because I googled “Silver Sage looks minty green!” and this came up! Glad I’m not the only one who is having this problem! At least I’m not alone! lol! I’m going to live with it for a little while and then repaint the living room. It’s actually pretty in most of the rest of the house.

  34. Had this happen to me too, use a nice pale gray, looked great, than hung up the curtains and the room changed to lavender, burgundy curtains. Funny how some small things make a big difference.

  35. A better way to test paint is to get a large piece of foam board and paint two coats. Then you can move that to the different rooms and walls and see how the color changes. You can’t get a good sense of color on just one wall. Case in point, I am testing out Gray Cashmere in our living room….looks gray on two of the walls, but almost baby blue on the other two. Also make sure to test at different times of day in different lights.

  36. I have a new color to add to this list which is right in the family of Silver Sage and it is Sherwin Williams “Silvermist”. It is soft and soothing and has the gray, blue, green look, however the blue/green color isn’t as bright and the gray comes through more to tone things down. It also changes color somewhat according to the light, but is more subtle with the changes. This color is one of the HGTV colors.

  37. I laugh, because I was opening up a hallway last year and tried to pick a paint, which would flow through all of the spaces and my photos were just like yours. It was inconceivable that light would change the color that much. I came to the conclusion that I either had to go a lighter shade in the darker space or add lighting or bigger windows on the other side of the house. I added lighting and went a shade lighter, but I remember the moment when I realized that it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks on me, it was the lighting changing the color so dramatically that I couldn’t paint it the way I wanted.

  38. I used to work for RH. The main showroom was painted Silver Sage and I would point out to customers the variations of color depending on the proximity to the lights. I always recommended to customers that they purchase one of the sample sizes and paint poster board, leaving a white border around the perimiter (easily done with painter’s tape). Once the color is dry, remove the painter’s tape and make painter’s tape “doughnuts” and stick the poster board on the wall. (The boarder keeps the eye from being confused by the existing wall color. ) Look at the color of the board in all kinds of light…day, afternoon, night, sunny, cluody, etc. MOVE the board around the room…opposite a window, next to a window…even seasons will have an effect on the color, especially if there are many trees outside a window. Look at it from different perspectives in the room… sitting in the seating arrangements, walking through…. see how this works? : )
    By using poster board and moving it around the room and NOT painting a patch on the wall, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to live with color without making an expensive commitment of time or money and you’re more likely to fall in love with your room. ❤

  39. There was a portion of a class I took in college on “color theory”. The demonstration I recall was very much like this post. All color is relative in the sense that an identical color can look entirely different depending on what other colors and light source — artificial vs. natural — surround it. To complicate matters, computer/tablet displays make use of the RGB color spectrum whereas printed materials are in CMYK (think of the color inks in a printer). To render what you see on a display in print requires a “translation” and to do that with any accuracy you need a professionally color calibrated computer and printer. For all the interior decorating inspiration that can be found online, viewing paint colors — even on paint manufacturing websites! — isn’t one of the better uses of the Internet. Colors rarely look the same in real life as they do on online.

  40. I love RH Silver Sage. I have it in a few rooms in our house with white trims and it looks beautiful. What trick I use before painting a color on a wall is I buy a pack of poster boards and paint them with color samples that I like. I tape them in the room I want to paint and look at the color in daylight and evening light. When I find a color that works in both light settings, then I paint a few strips on the wall and look at it that way too. It has worked for me every time. I do know that poster board is not the same as painting on white walls or white primer but its close.

  41. I just found out that RH no longer makes silver sage or the Right White paint. I’m sad since most of my house is done in this color and I love it especially with white trim and lots of light . Has anyone found A close match to Silver Sage ??

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