What's the Difference Between Sherwin-Williams-Mindful-Gray-and-Dorian-Gray? Which one is better?

Mindful Gray and Dorian Gray – When you see these two colors next to each other on strip #244 in the Sherwin-Williams Color Snap fandeck, they look almost identical.

So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when I was asked to explain the difference between the two. The dilemma stemmed from the fact that Dorian Gray has an LRV 39 and Mindful Gray has an LRV of 48.

Was Dorian Gray too dark for an exterior? Would Mindful Gray be a better choice for an exterior color scheme because it had a lighter LRV of 39? Will a higher LRV make a home look brighter and more cheerful?

Color Value Profiles Mindful Gray and Dorian Gray

It’s true that Mindful Gray is lighter and brighter than Dorian Gray but not by much. The difference if you subtract the LRVs (48 – 39) is only nine. That’s not a big enough difference to worry about when the colors are being applied exterior because that nominal difference will be a wash outdoors in the sunlight.


If it were interior instead of exterior, then the slight difference in luminance a.k.a. LRV might be something to consider. Let me explain a little more about what I mean.

This is where having both LRV and Value included in a Colorography comes in handy.

Because LRV a.k.a. luminance is a quantity. It tells you how light a color literally *is*. Value is a perception. It tells you how bright/light that luminance *looks*, how it’s perceived by the human eye.

That’s why I illustrate Value with an eyeball icon and LRV with a sunshine icon in the Colorography charts.

Compare LRV of Mindful Gray 7016 and Dorian Gray 7017 from Sherwin Williams

Mindful has an LRV of 48, Dorian Gray LRV 39 – HOWEVER – perceptually they both have a Value of seven. They’re different in terms of luminance, how much light they reflect and conversely how much they absorb but they look similar in terms of lightness and brightness.

In other words, once the colors are up in a space or on an exterior, I think it would be hard to tell one is lighter than the other.

The fact that Mindful Gray is slightly higher in LRV might make a difference interior in terms of overall atmosphere, the lightness and brightness of the space, but it wouldn’t be a whole lot. With that said, sometimes when you’re short on natural daylight in a room every little bit of reflectance counts so Mindful Gray with a brighter LRV might be the way to go.

Compare Hue Families not Undertones of Mindful Gray 7016 and Dorian Gray 7017 from Sherwin Williams

In terms of hue family, the colors are not the same. They’re close but Mindful Gray “lives” over closer to the yellow-red hue family. Dorian Gray is more in the middle of the yellow hue family.

This is important to note for two reasons:

  1. Near neutrals like Mindful Gray that belong to this hue family neighborhood can sometimes shift depending on the light and look a bit purple-blue-ish or blue-purple-ish.
  2. Don’t use Mindful Gray and Dorian Gray together in the same proximity or in adjoining rooms because you think since they’re on the same strip they’ll automatically “go together”. Nope, that’s not how it works in general with strips of paint chips and it especially isn’t a good idea with these two colors because of their lightness and hue family.

If you’ve tried Mindful Gray and it shifted purple or blue in your space, Dorian Gray is worth a try because it might be “just far enough” over into the yellow hue family to not shift wonky. In addition, its extra bump down in luminance, being a smidge darker than Mindful Gray, could help it stand up to the light and not be as susceptible to dramatic hue shifts.

If you know how to categorize paint color by hue family, it’s magical because you know exactly what to look for. Hue, Value, Chroma and LRV are the key color data values you need to tame color and manage the light.

Learn how to tame color using Hue Families. Enroll in Camp Chroma today.
The most magical thing is anybody can learn how to do it. Enroll in Camp Chroma and train to be a Color Strategist so you too can use color data values like those that you see here in this blog post to get the color design results you want.