We are very slowly working our way toward our fifty shades, so today we have two new grays to share with you. Before I do, let me thank Karen Berg and Kim Cushing of Oui Redoux for stepping up and helping me out last week. On the Monday I had scheduled to write last week’s blog post, I came down with a nasty bug. I was already committed to an event in Colorado that I was leaving for on Wednesday. Tuesday was slammed (as the day before a travel day always seems to be) and had no excess time to squeeze another task into. I really did not know how quickly I was going to recover so I sent out an SOS. Kim and Karen, our central west coast CeCe Caldwell’s Paints distributor team, volunteered to cover me. My appreciation and thanks to both of you for your help.


I love shades and tints of gray. Gray is my second favorite color, behind green. I use it in my house as the neutral that grounds the home and allows me to have fun with pops of color. Today I am sharing a dark gray and a much lighter tint of it. As soon as I mixed the darker color with Pittsburgh Gray, Tahoe Taupe, and Vermont Slate, the name Birmingham Steel came to me. At one time, Birmingham, AL was the steel capital of the south. Much like Pittsburgh was to the northeastern and Chicago to the midwestern areas of the US.

(Gray or grey? Americans generally spell the color with an “A” and Europeans with an “E”… easily remembered by American A!)

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Today, most all of the steel production has left Birmingham. However, if you have the chance to spend some time in the area there are two things I suggest: A visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and a tour of some of the grand architecture you can find in the city. Commercial buildings, houses of worship and residential dwellings are waiting to take you back into history to a time when art and expert workmanship was incorporated into the buildings. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Alabama’s largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants in its living collections, is open daily, offering free admission to more than 350,000 yearly visitors. It is a great place to observe how nature mixes colors and textures.


The lighter gray took a while for me to find the correct name. I wanted something with southern roots and possibly a tie to the city of Birmingham. I was wondering around Internet images of towns and cities of the Old South. I stumbled across one and immediately saw the color I had mixed. This September 2011 picture by Chris Litherland is the one that grabbed my attention.

Chris Litherland French Quarter 2011

The river on the right side of the photo is what spoke to me. It was taken from the roof of the Marriott Hotel. Upon seeing the picture, I immediately knew the color was to be French Quarter Gray. I added Vintage White to the Birmingham Steel recipe to give the lightened tint a little more warmth than what Simply White or Dover White would have produced. I added 16 parts of the Vintage White; you can add more or less to make the perfect hue for your project.

Have you ever been to the French Quarter? I believe it is one of those iconic areas that everyone should visit. Are you brave enough to visit during Mardi Gras? I’ll tell you straight up, that I am not! Share your stories and pictures with us on Facebook.


Birmingham Steel is 4 parts Pittsburgh Gray : 3 parts Tahoe Taupe : 2 parts Vermont Slate

French Quarter Gray is 16 parts Vintage White : 4 parts Pittsburgh Gray : 3 parts Tahoe Taupe : 2 parts Vermont Slate