This simple paint tip with SW Repose Gray can save you a lot of time, money, and effort when it comes to painting a room or space in your house.

If you can’t get the color you want? No worries. Here’s an amazing tip to reduce a paint like SW Repose Gray.

repose gray



I’m not even kidding with this one.

I am currently in the middle of a kitchen remodel with my refrigerator in the center of the dining room and paint on the floor and repainted kitchen cabinets and a new drywalled ceiling and a beautiful chandelier sitting in the living room waiting to hang out with the kitchen island.

And in the middle of all this hot mess.



I had heard about it before.  Vaguely.  I mean, I knew it was possible.  It was floating around somewhere in my brain where I keep things I heard about and kind of pay attention to and think one day I’ll try.  Mostly things like that stay in my brain—back in the recesses where I keep the metric system and the definition of the word gerund.

But last week, I brought the idea out, dusted it off…


Hello SW Repose Gray and your reconfigured formula.

I see you.

repose gray kitchen remodel


Here’s what the kitchen looked like a couple of weeks ago.

Isn’t she beautiful? 🙂

After this picture was taken, I recycled some upper kitchen cabinets from another part of the remodel and used some other recycled cabinets for the bar area and had them built-in to look super custom for almost-free and added molding around the cabinets and an upper shelving unit built.

And then?

Everything was sprayed with SW Extra White (perfect white if you want a classic, neutral white for moldings or cabinets).

That left the kitchen island.  The one in the picture above.  The one that’s turquoise.  Now—don’t get me wrong.  I love this color.  It’s super pretty.  It’s actually close to the color I used for the front cover of my book.

But I was going in a different direction with this space.

So now?

kitchen during with repose gray on the island


That same kitchen looks like this.

You can see the recycled upper cabinets.

All framed out with new molding and crown.

kitchen remodel how to with repose gray on the kitchen island


Here’s the bar—all built in and ready for molding and marble countertop and bar stools.

You can see the shelving unit on the left-hand side of the picture where the end is built-in to make the cabinets make sense.

I’m going to write a post about all the money we saved reusing and repurposing so many things in the remodel.

But today I’m talking paint.

repose gray kitchen island


Which leads me to this island.

I wasn’t sure which direction to go.

I wanted to go gray.  SW Mindful Gray to be exact.

But I was worried it was going to be too dark.  I wanted the color of SW Mindful Gray, but a little lighter. I was worried that the gray might read too bold against all the white and bright of the room.


repose gray at 50 percent


The BEST Painting Tip EVER With Repose Gray 

Did you know you can get any paint color re-made with a portion of its formula? You can customize any paint to be exactly what you want. You can lighten it and adjust the color right there at the paint store. All you have to do is ask to change your paint.


Change the paint. And it makes such a difference.

How do you lighten a paint color?

You can go into the paint store and ask them for 30% of the formula or 40% of the formula or 70% of the formula and they will mix it right there for you.

And all of a sudden you are in charge of that paint.

You can mix it the way you want.

How can you tone down a paint color?

Here’s color of SW Mindful Gray with 50% of the formula and 70% of the formula.  The difference is so subtle, but so amazing.  When I went into the paint store, I was a little nervous.  I’d never asked for anything like this before.  But it was SO EASY.  I just explained to them what I wanted and they acted like it was no big deal and mixed up samples for me to try. They were super helpful when I explained to them what I was looking for and how I wanted to lighten the paint color—ever so slightly.

I almost did cartwheels in the store. SW Mindful Gray at 50 percent is incredible

And I LOVE SW Repose Gray 75 percent.



How to lighten a paint color by a couple of shades:

Here are my best tips:

  1. Make sure to ask for a % of the formula. For example, 75% of the formula means 75% SW Mindful Gray and 25% white.  30% of the formula would mean 30% SW Mindful Gray and 70% white and so on.
  2. I think this only works in a paint store.  I asked at the home improvement store to see if they would mix samples with a % of the formula and they told me they couldn’t do it. But you might ask just to see.
  3. Get your lightened paint mixed in samples, so you can adjust the dark or light of the color as needed.
  4. The formula is written on the sample and you can just take the container back and show it to the paint store when you get larger amounts mixed.
painting brush


It’s such a simple tip and SUCH A GAME CHANGER. 

Just changing the paint color even slightly can produce the exact results that you were looking for. It’s like customizing your fabrics or your textiles in a room. Changing up the paint will help your room feel like a room that’s exactly yours. I love my kitchen island and I love my new SW Repose Gray.


I’ve been changing my paint formulas all over town. And now I want to know. Have you ever tried this before?

Did it work for you?

And if you have any other budget kitchen remodeling tips, I’d love to hear them, too.

My kitchen will thank you. 🙂

PS Here are a few ideas for fun painted projects.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

You Might Also Like


  1. Image for Dee Dee

    I tried this once at my local SW store. The sales person looked at me like I had two heads and then kindly pointed out that two colors up on paint deck card would be 50% of the original color. I gave up and went a different route. I've been to scared to try again. Glad it worked for you!

  2. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    I am LOVING the progress so far!!! Can't wait to follow along and see the transformation! Blessings to you and Happy Monday....

  3. Image for Janet Squire Janet Squire

    Awesome!!!! Thanks for the tip - I knew you could mix white to lighten up, but never thought that the paint store would be so scientific about it....great post! I use Ben Moore exclusively for non-furniture items and have a fantastic family run branch by me that I have a good relationship with...they are SO nice and will try to produce anything I ask for. I take other brand paints to them to reproduce and they are always solid with their outcome. Your kitchen looks great, but must comment in the photo the island has more of a tan tone to it......but I like it!

  4. Image for Sarah B. Sarah B.

    I have successfully done this at Home Depot several times! Whenever I need paint I almost always find the color I want, no matter the brand, and color match it with Behr paint. I've only ever done the 50% formula but they have never questioned it, and acted like it's a totally normal thing!

  5. Image for Moriah Cameron Moriah Cameron

    I busted out laughing when you said gerund. Where do you come up with the funniest of sayings? Love reading your blog. Makes me laugh. And sometimes cry. And you offer much inspiration and encouragement. Thank you. The guy at my Benjamin Moore store is creepy. So creepy that he called me from his personal cell to tell me my paint was ready and when I went in to pick it up, he told me I could keep calling him on ghat number. Uh, no. So now I'm a Sherwin Williams gal. But have found it depends on who you get when you come in. If I go on Sunday later in the afternoon, I get the guy who wants to tell you all about his favorite hobbies and family and anything else he can ramble about so that his day goes by faster. I have a life so once again, uh, no thanks. But when I go in looking lost and confused - which is more often than I'd like to admit - typically a manager is the one brave enough to ask, "Can I help you?" And that's when the magic begins. That's when they come up with these solutions - like a percentage of a color. Or a good referral for a painter who is not creepy, freaky, or pricey. I have used a percentage in two rooms and SW computer system stores ones purchases so I don't even have to remember the can when I come back. Whew. You have a beautiful home ❤️

  6. Image for Joan Joan

    I did something like this several years ago when painting this walls a color called mushroom. White for the ceilings seemed too harsh so I had the store mix 25 percent per cent for them and it was perfect.

  7. Image for Lynn Lynn

    I did this at Home Depot when I wanted a sage color for my living room but lighter. They were the ones who told me I could do it with a less percentage of color. Made my heart sing. Have done it several times since too. Your kitchen is looking awesome!!!

  8. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, my goodness!! Love your idea! And the island doesn't yell, "look at me---I'm the island standing alone out here in the kitchen sea!!" Can't wait til you get it finished! We just painted our cabinets white...and will get new countertops and an island finished in a few weeks! Can't wait!!

  9. Image for Karen Karen

    Yes, it makes a huge difference! My husband/artist/super hanyman has used this technique for years. We only had 15(!) color samples on our kitchen wall before we, meaning I, chose the wall & cabinet colors. :-)

  10. Image for Linda Linda

    This is a great hint! I think I am blessed to have a cooperative Home Depot...try to not go at a busy time for your sake and theirs. And a wonderful BM store. They have every paint I ever bought from them going back 20 years when they matched that tiny color in a flower on my wallpaper.

  11. Image for Marcy Marcy

    I always paint my ceilings 25% of the wall color. It's scary when they first paint the ceiling, cause it looks so dark. But once they paint the walls, the ceilings look light -- BUT not white. Love the look.

    1. Image for Judith Judith

      My daughter had their living room ceiling painted in flat and then satin on the walls in the same color. Looks totally different.

  12. Image for Linda Linda

    I just finished reading the most wonderful book. Yes it is your book. It’s amazing just like you. I will be ordering several more for Christmas gifts. THank you so much for sharing and reminding us that we are all “truly and wonderfully made.”

  13. Image for Peg Peg

    This is great!! I can't wait to see it finished in all it's glory!!! Truth be told, I SO wish I had made the trip to your open house in September so I could have seen it before you moved!! Love you!! xoxo

  14. Image for Robbyn Mendleski Robbyn Mendleski

    Home Depot can mix a custom blend for you. I used a Glidden color in the main area of my home and liked the color BUT wanted a slightly darker hue for my Guest Room. They mixed it for me no problem and I love it. I'm thinking of painting all the doors with the slightly darker (same) color.

  15. Image for Tammy Tammy

    As much as I love white and gray, I did love the aqua/turquoise color island. My eye was so drawn to it. LOL Kitchen remodel is looking great!

  16. Image for Lenore Lenore

    I used to work for a painting contractor and they called this a LET DOWN of the paint and it seemed a common term in all the stores. (Letting down (lightening) the color by adding white to it.) When I wanted white, I always ordered straight white which is not a color but the base white they use before adding any color. At the time it was the whitest white you could get. I was never more surprised than when I worked for them to see that white can have so many options. A let down is a good thing to do because if you like the darker color, the let down will always go with it because it's just a lighter version of it and no worries about finding a color to go with it. Love the kitchen!

  17. Image for Lynne Lynne

    I heard about this over 20 years ago from my hairdresser! She was a really hardworking and creative young woman who, along with her sister, renovated a 2-family home with the upstairs for her sister, and she lived in the lower. Her home was just beautiful - the true meaning of "girl power". We are having our family room, kitchen and foyer painted, and I am thinking of doing a 70% - it is presently a soft yellow and I want to keep it in that color range but a bit lighter. I can't wait to see your final kitchen results. You have great vision.

  18. Image for Nancy Nancy

    I saw someone else post this too...but my mother-in-law always paints the ceilings and sometimes adjoining rooms a percentage of the main color. Sometimes she even does the woodwork tinted like 5% of the color so it reads as white but has the same undertone. Nancy

  19. Image for We We

    I have done this many times in my house, but here's a little helpful hint- be sure to write down which room has which formulation. I have a color I love and used different strengths in different rooms. Well now, it's time for me to touch-up paint and do you think I can remember which I used where? No, and you're right, the difference is subtle, until you paint a patch with the wrong formulation! So I've been putting off touching it up but I'm going to have to bite the bullet and take my best guess. I will definitely write the room name on the can henceforth!

    1. Image for Tracy Tracy

      I totally agree with you! I started writing the paint brand/name down on the backside of my light switch plates in each room. Since you take them off anyways to paint around, it was the safest way for me to remember the color. I let the new homeowners of our last house know, too.

  20. Image for Celeste at Penultimate Home Celeste at Penultimate Home

    SW is the best when it comes to customer service. I once showed them two colors from their line; one was too gray and the other too blue. I said I wanted something in between. They mixed up a custom color I love and have used in two homes. Depending on the light and time of day it changes from blue to gray. I will always keep that formula. I have also had BM "Cottonballs" mixed with SW paint because the BM store is too far away. I love that I can get exactly what I want. Plus they keep a database of the colors I've used so if I forget what the name of the living room color is, they can check and mix it up again. Sorry I sound like a commercial, but I really do love SW.

  21. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    Liking your kitchen. Not a surprise. WHere are you finding the cabinets to recycle? Does the fairy leave them while you sleep? I need to find some. Thanks for the info on paint. Need all the help I can get with PAINT. Must be "News of Paint Day" . Kerrianne you have to read this about finding old paint colors.

  22. Image for mdn mdn

    (In homage to them), my Aunt Sally and Uncle Charlie Mills owned Public Paint & Wallpaper in Rushville, IN. In days gone by, it's recalled that they routinely used this technique helping their patrons get the just-right-for-them Glidden custom color! This was well before the advent of computerized mixing. (Alas, both the store and they now are gone. Miss those folk so much!)

  23. Image for Deb Deb

    I've done this a number of times at my local PPG store. The colors have come out exactly the way I wanted them. The staff is always happy to do this for me.

  24. Image for Jackie Jackie

    KariAnne, I’m so excited to watch the kitchen unfold and to hear all about the cabinet story! Love the paint colors! Beautiful home! So happy for you!

  25. Image for Monica Monica

    So why didn't you write this hint about 4 months ago when we were painting samples everywhere trying to decide on colors???????😂😂. We did eventually find a color we liked (ACTUALLY....agreed on🙄) and all our painting is done now. Well, we still have our master bathroom to your tip will certainly come in handy then!!!! Thank you!!! Your kitchen is coming along nicely......I don't envy you the mess.....but the outcome will make you forget all the turmoil you went through !!!!! Can't wait to see the grand finale!!!!

  26. Image for Mary Ann Owens Mary Ann Owens

    Home Depot will do any percentage that you want. I did a whole house with them and did many percentage mixes.

  27. Image for Terri Terri

    I've heard of this, but it sounded so intimidating! Thanks for the explanation. Since you're talking about paint today, just wanted to thank you for your post several years ago about the best grays. This helped me so much in my coastal home and after trying so many colors over the years, we found the perfect gray!

  28. Image for Airyckah Lane Airyckah Lane

    Yup! I did it bc I found the perfect shade gray I wanted for our entry but it last tone clashed with the perfect shade mustard I was painting the front door and they looked at me like I was crazy when I wanted it lighter... took 4 workers before someone was like “watch me do this, it’s easy.. you just change this number” I was like “I can do the math if it’s going to be this difficult for you all”.... This was a hardware store though so now it makes sense lol

  29. Image for JC at the uncommon pearl JC at the uncommon pearl

    Great tip! Yes, I have done this reduction of color at SW for rooms in my last house. I love how it softens everything. Just be careful to keep a lig of what % goes in what room/cabinet. Otherwise it's a guessing game. ☺Your kitchen is looking beautiful!

  30. Image for Mary Crozier Mary Crozier

    I love your kitchen color selections! And yes, I did know about having a % of your paint color. I first discovered this when we were painting the exterior to our historical home. We consulted with a person who specialized in historical colors. When we stripped everything down to the first coat, the colors we discovered were very comparable to her recommendations. Our home has unique reliefs around the windows and a "belly band" in the middle (first time I had heard that description). All the relief/trim on the house is painted at 50% less color, as the full formula was too yellow. Also, I have had experience with painting kitchen cabinets with both regular paint and lacquer. Even though lacquer is more expensive and more challenging to paint (need special equipment and it stinks), the lacquer paint lasts so much longer. Just another kitchen painting tip to add to your arsenal.

  31. Image for Linda Linda

    I've been busy and not reading all your recent updates (sorry) Today I had some "me" time and opened this installment. Let me just say, my heart did a happy dance, when I read about your kitchen project! We did a similar update, back in 2008 - to our 1985 kitchen. Too see the same cabinets, with different moldings, or even pulled apart and two made into one, as well as adding painted cabinets was a huge accomplishment for us. Its so easy to go to the kitchen designer and say, I want a new kitchen. I think its much more fun to use your brain, and rethink what exists. Before our project, we met with two people, one who was of the same mind as we were and another who said rip it out, get what you can for it (solid cherry cabinets) and start all over. Guess who won the bid? I love what you have done thus far and bet the end result will be stunning!

  32. Image for Janet Janet

    Great tip, thanks! I love the way your kitchen is looking. By the way, I have been using mindful gray on wall at my house. Absolutely love it!

  33. Image for Michele (Finch Rest) Michele (Finch Rest)

    My eldest daughter got her design degree at a very expensive private art school.....and she told me this years ago - so yes, I knew about it and have tried it. And it is a great thing. Sherwin-Williams is where we buy our paint and our local guys are awesome. They always know what they're doing and are courteous and helpful. SO GLAD you did this - cuz it is golden, er I mean a truly Mindfully Awesome Grey! : - )

  34. Image for Sarah Sarah

    SW is the bomb - they actually suggested this to me when I was (slightly) whining about a exterior house color we loved, but was too dark. We were thrilled with the idea AND the results!

  35. Image for Jae Jae

    Both my Home Depot and my Sherwin Williams have mixed percentage tones for me when i wanted aomething a little bolder or quieter than the next color on the card. But i have noticed that the nuances in the original color can also be affected by the change, so the blue that turns grey or green may be different..... Your kitchen is looking incredible!

  36. Image for lC lC

    Your kitchen is looking amazing! Love that shade of gray on the island! And, YES. I've done the % remix. As a matter of fact, almost every room in our open floor plan is painted SW Repose Gray 75% strength (this is one lighter on the same strip as Mindful Gray!) Full strength was just a hair dark in our late afternoon light, but it was the perfect shade of gray otherwise, so I opted to have HD mix it at 75% strength, and I LOVE IT!! BTW, I used SW Mindful Gray above the chair rail in the dining room for a little more intense color and then went with SW Eider White (1 shade up on the strip with Repose Gray) for what had been a very dark living room. I have lived with these colors over a year and truly love them! Can't wait to see the rest of your transformation!!

  37. Image for Jill Jill

    Love hearing your stories about this move and the emotions that go along with it. Moving into your childhood home, then making huge remodeling decisions brings both stress and excitement which you seem to be handling very well. We also moved and remodeled about a year ago and your stories help to look back on the journey. I predict you're going to love your new home filled with all the love and experiences which will provide the icing on the cake! Thank you for sharing your journey, your stories, humor, creativity, and design style -- lovin' it all!! Can't wait for the next steps...

  38. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    Yep, Dunn & Edwards did this for me recently when I was helping a friend paint (I would have done Behr, if it had been my home). The D&E employee was the one who suggested it to me. :-) Love how the kitchen is coming along! Uppers are VERY pretty!

  39. Image for Winnie Winnie

    My favorite paint trick is to always get a second label, When they print the one for the can, I always ask for a second label then put it on a 3x5 card where I can make notes of the location it was used, etc. It has saved me more than once. When we moved, I left the cards for the new homeowner and they were really happy to not to try to have to match paints.

  40. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    Looking so good Karianne! Excited to see the finished product and I know you will be too! I remember all those kitchen remodels.

  41. Image for Michelle Michelle

    SW is the bomb! people still say, 'the bomb?' Anyway, they are the greatest. I love, love, love the % idea and how it turned out on your island! I once walked into SW with a beautiful ceramic rooster my sister had given me and proceeded to fill them in about my wallpaper dilemma in the kitchen of the house we'd just bought and how I loved the house all except for the kitchen because the previous owners had glued wallpaper to wood on the walls and how I didn't have time and couldn't afford to tear the wood down and replace it with dry wall nor the ugly green 70s countertops because I was throwing a baby shower in a couple of weeks for my nephew and his wife and how I'd be so grateful if they had any ideas on how I might paint everything and match three of the colors in the rooster.... and, then I took a breath, bracing myself for the inevitable 'I'm sorry, ma'am ...' Nope. Without hesitation, they told me exactly what I'd need, how long it might take and exactly how to do it, all while matching those three colors I'd asked for in that beautiful ceramic rooster. Perfectly. Ever since then, they have been my paint aficionado heros, the Supermen of Paint Solutions.

  42. Image for Teresa Teresa

    Could all of you girls come to my house and help me select paint colors. :) I am starting with my kitchen and trying to tie our granite countertop (copper browns, light browns, grays and black) to the rock fireplace (browns and grays) to pull our rooms together. I want to paint my island a darker color and the walls a lighter color. Now I am thinking about the % tip too. At the moment plan to get samples of SW Baked Cookie (9098), Soft Fawn (9097) and Beige Intenso. (9096). Hopefully samples will shed some light on my decision. Good to hear so many of you get samples.

  43. Image for Cath Cath

    I can add a little bit more magic to that hack. Take a picture of the paint formula label with your phone including the bar code. When you go back to the paint counter, they can scan that bar code with their scanner and enter it right into the computer from there. No more carrying goopy paint lids around, I would double check with the store you use but my local Home Depot can do this, so I would imagine any other place that’s uses a scanner can too.

  44. Image for Tammy B Tammy B

    I was told this tip from a commercial/residential painter. Adding a little black to a white paint. SW Rep told me a lot of contractors do this. This is an article I found on why it is done. This has been done for a long time for several reasons. The first was back when oil was used a lot. Adding that touch of black to a white oil kept it from yellowing quite so bad. Then there was a hide issue. A lot of white paints back in the day were also pastel bases, or tintable whites. Adding the touch of black helped them hide better. Take a look at Pratt & Lambert's Designer White Bases. These are meant to be used as a straight white or to be tinted into. As a straight white they don't cover well at all. Add a little pigment and they are fine. A lot of companies have what is called a One Coat White. This basically already has the touch of black in it.

  45. Image for Tracy Tracy

    Your kitchen looks amazing! We, er I mean my husband, is just finishing up our newly remodeled kitchen. He's got the tiled backsplash, range hood fan and cabinet left to do. I've never heard of your tip! It would have saved me buying SEVEN paint samples and not liking any of them! I picked a two tone grey cabinet scheme. Darker grey on the island and lighter gray on the uppers and perimeter cabinets. I didn't want super white walls but just enough gray to bring it all together. Wish I had known (sniffle, sniffle). My tip when painting is probably old news but the results are amazing! Tape off your seams or trim. Run a ultra thin "schmear" of clear paintable caulking along the edge of that painters tape. It dries in minutes. Then, you simply go ahead and paint and go right over that caulked seamed as normal. Pulling off the tape reveals the most crisp, sharp and straight line that you'll ever see! Bleed through very rarely happens. Our last realtor asked us for the professional painter's name who painted our home. She couldn't believe we did it ourselves and how that caulking tip made such a huge difference.

  46. Image for Jillian Jillian

    Ask me anything paint...hubby owns a commercial painting company. When we put in a new kitchen a few years ago I couldn't find the right color so I mixed my own from ones we had here and then SW matched it for us. Am very happy with it! Love seeing the process of your remodel fun to watch. You are doing a great job, girl with great vision.

  47. Image for barbara t whitaker barbara t whitaker

    Had this happen to me at Lowes. The paint salesman (lexington, ky) was trying to match my homemade gray (I mixed in 30% white) and he made it happen. Great way to reuse paint if it's not what you want. Just keep an extra printout of the formula for matching. Sorry you left KY, but happy your home.

  48. Image for Katie Mansfield Katie Mansfield

    The new kitchen looks like it's going to be amazing. I haven't asked a paint store to do this but I have lightened up my own paint with white. I love the upper cabinets. They look wonderful.

  49. Image for mycoupon mycoupon

    After research just a few of the blog posts in your website now, and I really like your approach of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site checklist and shall be checking again soon. Pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.

Comments are closed.