Ben Moore Color of the Year 2019 – Metropolitan Gray? Which Gray?

Ben Moore Metropolitan gray AF-690 COTY 2019 Color of the year

Metropolitan Gray paint dollop COTY Ben Moore Color of the year 2019

Color me bored. Benjamin Moore has announced their 2019 Color of the Year – which is gray. Metropolitan AF-690, to be specific. I’m on the record as being sort of anti-gray, here too. I’m not really anti-gray, but I’m so bored with it. It can be very beautiful, but not everywhere. There are signs in the industry that more colorful interiors are beginning to make a comeback – bring ’em on!

Meanwhile, we’re here to discuss Metropolitan. It’s pretty and certainly a soothing color.

Ben Moore Metropolitan Gray Color of the year 2019 COTY living room
Benjamin Moore Metropolitan AF-690


Metropolitan gray AF-690 Ben Moore 2019 Color of the Year COTY
Benjamin Moore Metropolitan AF-690
Metropolitan Gray bedroom Ben Moore 2019 Color of the Year COTY
Benjamin Moore Metropolitan AF-690

From Benjamin Moore – here are their thoughts on why Metropolitan and their entire “soothing” color palette for 2019.

Color Trends 2019 Ben Moore 2018 Color of the Year COTY

So, when it first started going around Facebook that Metropolitan was the Color of the Year, one of my design colleagues commented that it’s a nice soothing green/gray. Which gave me a start – because I was thinking it was a lavender/gray. The reason is because I had a client a couple of years ago whose walls were painted in a very soft lavender/gray, which I thought was Metropolitan. Then, I realized, that Ben Moore color is Metro Gray, 1459. Are you following all that? So, not only are there lots of grays, they sometimes have basically the SAME NAME!


Ben Moore Metro Gray 1459 swatch


1459 Ben Moore Metro gray dollop

So, this is Metro gray (not to be confused with Metropolitan) – which IS a lavender/gray. I though this was a good lesson in why it’s important to be attuned to the actual shade of gray you’re dealing with. As with whites and beiges, there are a million shades of gray – not just 50. Okay, it’s probably closer to 50, but you get my point. And, one of my bones of contention about the overuse of gray and beige is that most people don’t realize the vast differences  – and make furnishing and fabric choices that don’t actually go with the paint color. Gray isn’t just gray.

Now, when you look at the swatches above and the first photo below, the lavender swing of Metro Gray doesn’t jump out.

Ben Moore Metro Gray 1459 Dining Room

But, in certain lights – we get the color below. This was my client with the Metro Gray walls. Now, the photo isn’t good and is showing more pink/purple than the color actually is, but it shows how skewed it can get.

Linda Merrill design roman shades Metro Gray 1459


I made this graphic (which you can Pin if you’d like!) which compares the two colors. When put right next to each other and even on top of each other – the green and lavender tones truly pull each other forward.

Metropolitan v Metro Gray 2018 Color of the Year Ben Moore

It’s important to note that paint colors should never be selected via computer screen or magazine page. You may get inspired by how a color looks in a photo, but always buy paint samples and paint them on your walls to see how they will look in your actual space.

I highly recommend the Color Muse device for color matching. It literally works on anything.

So, what were your thoughts on the 2019 Color of the Year?

Do you follow colors of the year? Here are some of mine thoughts:

Pantone 2016 Color of the Year – Serenity and Rose Quartz

Pantone 2018 Color of the Year – Ultra Violet

Benjamin Moore 2019 Color of the Year – Metropolitan Gray

Sherwin Williams 2022 Color of the Year – Evergreen Fog

Benjamin Moore 2023 Color of the Year – Raspberry Blush


If you’re looking to freshen up all the gray, check out: How to Brighten Up Those Gray Rooms

You might also enjoy:

The problem with picking paint colors and technology

What’s Your Color Personality?


26 thoughts on “Ben Moore Color of the Year 2019 – Metropolitan Gray? Which Gray?”

  1. Come on! Grey ;like anything else can be overdone bout the reason for its enduring popularity never changes – compatibility – adaptability when there are thousands of colors to choose from this one color brings it together. Its not just one gray not even from one paint color! So much makes it different one being just light! Give us break. I love color, but there has to be continuity and something that can bring it all together even to serve as the background for all that other color to pop. It accentuates. It soothes. I like it. both of them. all of them

    • Thanks for your comment Sharon! I think when done well, gray is lovely, but as I’ve said many times, it’s just not right for all circumstances. And, it is a trend that will go away at some point. Of course, people will always use it, but not always as the “go to” that it is now.

  2. We just remodeled our entire 3500 sq. ft vacation home in Honolulu and used the Metropolitan AF-690 upstairs in our Great room (about 500 sq. ft). It came out GORGEOUS!! We choose a taupe/grayish porcelain tile for flooring, and used Decorator’s white with the crown moulding/baseboards. We have huge picture windows in the front/back of the great room, to take advantage of the views and capture the light. It’s astounding how the color shifts throughout the day! Everyone that walks through the door, immediately has a reaction of LOVING the wall color! In the morning, it’s a soft gray, then it changes with hints of soft green in the day. Oddly, if you put your head next to the wall and look straight on, it looks a soft white! Our builder says nobody yet has picked this color (found it through the Benjamin Moore store since we always do all our interiors and exteriors in their paints) and has asked permission to have a professional photographer shoot the results. There are times it’s rainy and dark in Hawaii, and still the AF-690 is gorgeous; it has a luxurious “feel.” We are building a guest unit on the same property and I’m seriously thinking of using AF-690 in that unit again; definitely NOT an “ugh” color! Best decision we made on the entire project! (BTW; we used Revere Pewter HC-172 downstairs for the rec/media room and that was beautiful as well but darker and only one dimensional).

    • Hi Serena – your vacation home sounds fantastic. As I’ve said, when done well, in the right spot, gray can be gorgeous! Thanks for sharing! If you have the pics online anywhere, I’d love to see them!

  3. Hi, how did you get the pale Metropolitan color? Is it 50% lighter? Thank you for this enjoyable blog post!!

    I’m one of those young people that loves gray. It’s not going anywhere. :-)

    • Hi Janet – I think I went 50% lighter, but that was done on my computer – NOT actual paint. As I say in the post, always look at real paint in real rooms. Also, gray is very popular now, but like all things, it will go out at some point. Green and red of the 90’s was huge and stuck around for a really long time, but now it looks super dated. By 2025/2030 I predict gray will be totally dated looking and we’ll be onto to the next great thing!

  4. Hi! I live in a part of the country that rarely sees sun. I’m in the middle of painting and I just got a sample of metropolitan. It’s amazing how different this color looks depending on the light. When placed near a window facing south, it looks periwinkle. Definitely purple looking. I put some in my kitchen against a wall with no light and it’s 10 shades darker, about the shade of a wet sidewalk. My 3 year old daughter loves metropolitan gray next to the window! She calls it purple and wants it everywhere!

    • Hi Ros – So, are you finding Metropolitan Gray to be slightly lavender or Metro Gray? It’s so interesting how different types of light affect paint colors! Thanks for your comment and Happy New Year!

  5. Hi Linda-

    Thanks for the illustrations that show the differences in undertones prevalent in these two gray tones. How confusing for the consumer or painter who might think Metro is just short for Metropolitan —and buy the wrong paint!

    And re: grey walls? Not ever for me, but I know people hate making color choices so grey seems safe.

    • Hi Leslie – as I said, I also had them confused, so it’s not a great idea on Benjamin Moore’s part to have two paints in the same color family have nearly the same name. I wonder how often they’ve been mixed up and people wonder why things seem so off?

  6. So true that gray is never really JUST gray and you CAN’T just put any gray things together and expect them to magically work because they are supposed to be neutral. I think gray is fine, it just isn’t always the answer or the only answer. I am a bit sick of it because it seems every stager and new builder seems to think it is the only option.

    • Hi Janet – yes, gray and white marble are the new “have to’s” for builders and stagers. I suppose it’s fresher than granite and beige walls that were the have-to’s last decade. But why does everything have to be so cookie-cutter???

  7. I don’t really have any feelings about it- kind of “meh”. It’s a decent back drop that many colors will work with. The dilemma is telling the sheep that they need to add OTHER colors besides gray everything. You know I’m over it. I was never into it.

  8. I actually love gray, and never fully embraced the beige/tan/taupe/chocolate milk thing that’s been happening since I was a teenager, and still happens as cheap ceramic and granite horizontal surfaces continue to dominate the builder and contractor landscapes. It seems like a whole classic color category was neglected for 30 years, and then beaten to death for 5. The richness of colonial green grays, the sophistication of true French greige greys, and the modern silvery grays with enigmatic undertones are all favorites of mine.

    I don’t usually order gray walls, but gray millwork, gray (leaning) marble counters and tile, etc – love those – it’s a rare space that can hold all of one color without looking tired and dated, it’s not grays fault.

    • “It seems like a whole classic color category was neglected for 30 years, and then beaten to death for 5.” – I think this is SO TRUE! And I much prefer gray to beiges/tans, etc.

  9. We painted parts of our new house gray…and that was eight years ago! It is still a wonderful background color and has been very versatile. However, I am a color person… have mixed in brights and a lot of orange! My entire back hallway is a copper orange, but it works well as it leads to a two tone gray kitchen. Have to keep mixin’ it up!!

  10. I do like gray walls. In a family where there is real life and there are lots of colorful toys and things “going on” – homemade art hung on wall, backpacks hanging nearby, etc, I think a gray wall is good balance to settle everything down. If that makes sense. I am glad though that color is coming back – sometimes you look at gray rooms so long, you begin to think your rods and cones are all messed up.

    • I agree with the backdrop concept, in theory. But, ugh, so dull. I’d actually rather see a harmoniously designed gray space (which can be incredibly beautiful) over discordant colors with a receding background. To each her own!

  11. I completely share your opinions on grey. The “color of the year” choice is very disappointing. For quite a few years now, we are told that this trend is nearly over and color is back. (For me it never went anywhere.) Yet every “decorator” store I drop into has nothing but the ubiquitous grey and white. For some odd reason, the younger crowd does not seem to want to let go of it! Here in Birmingham, the higher end design we see does embrace color, but these retail level offerings are all tailored to this younger consumer. I have to wonder if this drab dreary trend is more a reflection of the times we live in, and is a subliminal expression of their pessimistic outlook on the future.

    • Hi Ellen – that’s an interesting theory and it’s certainly true that decorating preferences can reflect the times we’re living in. Look at the 80’s decorating – very OTT, blinged out, or super full English Countryside. I also think the advent of Pinterest and Instagram has a lot to do with it. There are hugely popular Instagrammers who post nothing but white or gray spaces, very clean, very pale. Some only post their own homes from different angles – yet they are enormously popular.

  12. Totally agree with your thoughts! Ugh. I’m so sick of gray!! As designers, we’ve been seeing gray from the very beginning of the trend to now, which I thought was ending soon. But unfortunately, Benjamin Moore is extending it’s life yet again. I can’t explain my utter annoyance when a client comes in looking for the “most popular” gray paint to freshen up their room. Especially when they have nothing else in that room that’s gray. And they also want it to work with their current furnishings as well as the furnishings they are planning to purchase in 6 months (which they haven’t picked out yet). Trying to explain to them that the room color should be pulled out of their furnishings so it makes sense. It shouldn’t just come out of no where. They just don’t get it and probably never will, lol. Ok rant over :)

    • That is the worst! It’s like folks who want a light, airy space, but then have a honking charcoal gray, or worse – chocolate brown – sectional that can’t be replaced. Ugh! Thanks Lori for commenting!


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