...because home doesn't happen overnight.

By far, the questions I get asked most frequently have to do with the paint colors in my home.  I wrote up a post devoted entirely to which paint colors are where here.  However, we painted our walls over 3 years ago and it seems the Bonsai/Magic Spell Valspar swatch and the Wet Dock Valspar swatch are hard to come by nowadays at Lowe’s.  Even so, my local Lowe’s still carries them.  Southwestern Ohio must be last on the list for a paint department upheaval!  Anyway, for the last few weeks, I’ve been picking up loads of paint swatches from all my local paint supply stores in search of Bonsai/Magic Spell/Wet Dock lookalikes. {I wasn’t able to get my hands on any Benjamin Moore swatches as the nearest BM supplier isn’t within my regular driving area.} I found some pretty convincing ‘fakes’ that I’d like to share with you today. Hopefully, they are in stock at your local stores!  {FYI – Due to the nature of this post, all images are original and unedited taken under natural light.  I always recommend grabbing swatches and taping them up on your walls at home with painter’s tape before committing to a color.}

  • BONSAI {Valspar/Lowe’s} – This color covers the majority of our walls including our kitchen, sunroom, dining area and family room.  It’s a light, airy gray that changes throughout the day depending on the lighting, going from light gray when drenched in sunlight to a green-gray in indirect natural light to a warm, taupey gray under artificial light.  I found three Bonsai lookalikes available at Lowe’s and Sherwin-Williams that would make it hard to tell them apart from The Real Slim Shady.  {I didn’t have much luck matching up Bonsai at Home Depot.}

Some great Bonsai alternatives:

1.  Frappé – a Valspar color available at Lowe’s.

2.  Jogging Path – a Sherwin-Williams color.

3.  Linen – a Valspar color part of the Signature Colors/Eddie Bauer Home Lakeside Cottage collection available at Lowe’s.

  • MAGIC SPELL {Valspar/Lowe’s} – This color is on the same paint swatch as Bonsai and is one shade darker than Bonsai.  Magic Spell lends a warmer, taupier feel.  It’s in our first floor powder room and looks amazing with white accents.  I was able to match up four Magic Spell-esque colors available from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart and Sherwin-Williams.

Some great Magic Spell alternatives…

1.  Gray Silt – a Valspar color available at Lowe’s.

2.  Olivewood – a Glidden color available at Walmart and Home Depot.  I noted the swatch number for each store above…be careful, they’re different!

3.  Ethereal Mood – a Sherwin-Williams color.

4.  Porch Gray – a Glidden color that’s part of the Better Homes and Gardens Editors’ Choice Paint Colors available at Walmart.  I didn’t see it at Home Depot even though Home Depot carries the Glidden line.

  • WET DOCK {Valspar/Lowe’s} – This color is still in the gray family but has a creamier tone to it than Bonsai.  I used it to paint two, wide horizontal stripes on our TV wall in the family room for subtle contrast with alternating Bonsai stripes.  I was able to find two Wet Dock stand-ins at Lowe’s and Walmart.

A few great Wet Dock alternatives…

1.  Bay Sands – a Valspar color available at Lowe’s.

2.  Geneva Swan Gray – a WM119 paint swatch color available at Walmart.

And that’s the extent of my paint swatch hunt.  I really think any of the colors mentioned above could be used pretty worry-free for a nice, neutral backdrop.  They are good Bonsai/Magic Spell/Wet Dock alternatives if you happen to live in one of those cities that’s already had their Lowe’s paint department revamped.  If anything, maybe they will save you some legwork.  Like I said, my local Lowe’s still has the original Bonsai swatch in stock.  In fact, I happened to grab ~20 of the Bonsai/Magic Spell swatches on my hue hunt so if you want the real deal shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to send you one as long as you provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope. First come, first serve!  Which brings me to another paint point…just because you grab a swatch from a certain store doesn’t mean you have to have it mixed up there. Feel free to take your desired color swatch to the paint department of your choice and have it color-matched.

What a gray post, right?  It definitely wasn’t anything pretty to look at but hopefully it was practical and useful.  I’m crossing my fingers that these alternatives are available at your local stores. Happy painting!

PS – If you have an idea for a blog post you’d like to see on House*Tweaking, please feel free to send me an email at danarmiller {at} hotmail {dot} com.  I find that many of my readers have similar questions, styles and interests so it’s sometimes helpful to address certain topics in the form of a post…for instance, suggestions for alternative Bonsai paint colors.

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I’ve been thinking about this colour for my office…but the rest of my house is more “warm neutral”–our main colour is SHerwin Williams Believable Buff. How much do you worry about coordinating colour for bedrooms/dens with the main living areas?


love your blog. a tip on taping samples to the wall. put white paper behind the sample. you will be amazed at how different it can look on white.


Thank you, Dana!!! You are AMAZING!!!!


Carole – I don’t think bedrooms must match main living areas but there should be a cohesive color scheme throughout the house. From just looking at google images of Believable Buff, it does look warmer than the Bonsai. Hmmm…


I would LOOOOOVE a swatch of bonsai! Emailing you :)


I just painted our house and the colors are: Mystic Green, Coventry Gray and Cashmere Gray. All from BM but color matched at Sherwin Williams.

Mystic Green is in a few rooms. In our small guest bath it looks more gray than green. In our dining room (that we use as a music room) it looks more seafoam gray. IN the living room it looks like a green with a hint of gray.

The Coventry Gray is in the office, our son’s room and our game room. The Cashmere gray is my favorite. It is in a small hallway where my desk is and in our laundry room. Since those rooms don’t get a lot of light it looks darker than it would have had we painted it in our bright living room. I feel it would have been super light and not noticeable next to our Decorator’s White (also by BM but made at SW) trim.

This was a huge change as 90 percent of my house has been a light blue lavender that I loved. I was worried about the changes but I love it. My house seems very soothing.


I have Frappe in my house, living room and kitchen. I love the color. I actually put 50% more white in the Frappe to lighten it up, since the natural light in my house isn’t the greatest! Love the grays!


Bonsai is still available at my Lowe’s here in the Bay Area (California). I bought a sample there and brought it to Home Depot to color match and they did a great job. It’s truly such a great color! It really makes my white baseboards and white kitchen cabinets pop. I really love your blog and am looking forward to seeing all the awesome things you do to your new “underdog.” : )

Great post, Dana — I’m always so grateful to bloggers who are willing to share their ‘secrets’. :) Happy Friday!


We recently had to find some touch up paint for our living room after we had some drywall work done. If you take a piece of paint slightly bigger than a quarter to Home Depot or Lowes, they can match it pretty closely. Of course this only works if you have a piece of paint to take, but I am amazed at how closely it matches.


Hi Dana, We painted the familiy room with valspar roman orange, what colors do you think would go well for the kitchen opposite to it ? We have stainless steel appliances, orange hardwood and grey solid surface countertop and no windows. I could not come up with a good color that will compliment the orangle family room and flow cohesively.


If anyone is looking for a Benjamin Moore match to Bonsai, try BM Northern Cliffs 1536…it’s almost identical. Good Luck!


I’ve checked everywhere for this paint color in your home but cant find it. what is the color of your front door? I’m dying to paint mine that color but dont want to do just black and yours would be perfect. thank you!!!!


i have read this blog for quite awhile, but never left a comment. (i guess i’m a stalker!)

i love the color scheme in your house, and really wanted to use bonsai.

we just bought a new house, and i went to lowes, but they didn’t have a swatch in bonsai.
i asked the paint guy and he could use the name and paint number to look it up in the computer and still mix it, so i just bought a $3 sample, to make sure i liked it. and i love it! it’s going in all of our living areas!


Oh! I have Been drooling over Bonsai since I saw it a couple years ago in your mudroom. I’d almost trade my firstborn for a swatch of it! (I’m betting you can find my email addy…)


We just moved into a new house (yesterday) and want to have every room painted the same color. Similar to another commenter, Lowe’s was out of Bonsai swatches, but they found it in the computer and mixed it. We also had them do Frappe at the same time. On the walls – the two colors look very, very different. Frappe is much lighter and has pale blue undertones whereas Bonsai is darker with more green/taupe undertones. They looked so similar in the can – but very different on the walls. I’ll send a pic. (I also had the color next to Frappe mixed – Woodlawn Snow – looks white on the walls.) I’m thinking of cutting Bonsai with 20% more white as our home may not have enough natural light and my husband is worried Bonsai will be too dark. Has anyone lightened Bonsai before?


Erin – Thanks for mentioning the nuances between Frappe and Bonsai! I ALWAYS suggest trying out a sample of whatever paint color you are pondering…either directly on the wall or on foam board {from craft stores} and moving it around the house, leaning it against walls…to see what the paint color will look like in your home, in different rooms, at different times of the day/night, in different kinds of light. Sorry, I don’t know of anyone that has cut the Bonsai. I can always send you a Bonsai paint swatch so you can maybe try the color above Bonsai – it’s a shade lighter. Just email me!


I just got back from my local Lowes! While Bonsai is now discontinued, they still have the formula in their system. I got a sample of it and found it a lot more “taupe” than gray. In fact, I would have described it as a warm olive taupe. It’s too bad because it looks like such a nice gray in your photos! Back on the hunt I go…


Hi Dana – went to our Benjamin Moore dealer today, they suggest the color “Thunder” as the closest match to Bonsai. It’s an AF color, so anyone can get the little sample jar to try it out. AF – 685.


Dana – Thanks for the BM lookalike!


I really like the Magic Spell color you have in your foyer. I was wondering what you would think of using it as a bedroom color? If you did paint your bedroom with it, what colors would you recommend for the bedding. I am decorator-challenged and have a hard time with this stuff!


Jennifer – I think Magic Spell would be a great bedroom color…cozy yet serene. I’d definitely do mostly white bedding with pops of accent color in pillows and accessories. Good luck!


Thanks for your advice. I appreciate it greatly!!!!


Our painter starts tomorrow.. pretty sure I am going with BM Revere Pewter. I was second guessing my choice and had the BM dealer custom mix Bonsai for me. Thought I would pass on the formula:
OY- 7.75 BR-2.063 BK-5.5 GY-1


Dana C. – Thanks for sharing the formula for Bonsai! We left all the leftover Bonsai paint with our previous home’s new owners.


You’re saving my life! Thank you–I’m in charge of picking final colors for my mother in law’s home. I wanted a nice grey, which is way out of the ballpark typically for her, but she liked what she saw with Bonsai and Magic Spell.

I need to get Magic Spell mixed up. Does anyone have the formula, like Dana C. posted for Bonsai?

The contractor the insurance company uses does his shopping at Home Depot, using Behr products, which are really highly rated by Consumer Reports. Can he use Behr, mixed to a Valspar color? Copyright infringement? Concerns about the base color of Valspar vs. Behr?

Thanks so much–I’m desperate to not blow the flood-mandated remodel of my wife’s family home!!!


found the color jogging path at my local Sherwin Williams store and put the sample on my living room wall. I have an open floor plan for living room and dining room and love the color to go with my tan carpet and oak furniture, but don’t have a lot of light in the room, just afraid it might look too dark all over the rooms. Any suggestions maybe for the relaxing look of it but maybe a little lighter color?


This was at LIFESAVER! I have been debating over blues and grays for most of my main living space. We have an open floor plan, so needed a color that would go with my current wood furniture and wood floors. I have all white mouldings and am adding a lot of white and blue accessories, more of a beachy, shabby chic design. All the grays I thought were perfect, ended up being blue or purple on the wall. I was at a loss! When I read that I should look at more taupey colors, I was skeptical :) I ended up taking some of the colors suggested and went to Lowes. They had some of the color swatches, but not Bonsai or Frappe. They were able to look up all the colors in their system. I ended up with Frappe and a few others and I LOVE frappe. It goes on light, but when it dries it is a bit darker. I wanted a medium or light medium gray. I think since I get different types of light in various parts of my main floor, it may look a bit different in some areas. But that is ok, maybe that will solve my problem of trying to decide if I should do more than one color! Oh, I also got Magic Spell. It is darker than Frappe for sure and has more taupe than gray in it, but it is a beautiful color. I will be keeping it in my paint folder, maybe I can find a use for it some day.


I’m a helpless man and need help!!

I know I’m late to the party, but I’m looking to repaint my kitchen walls. The cabinets are painted “Lincoln Cottage Black” by Valspar, the floor tiles are a light/medium tan/beige, and the back splash is mosaic glass 1″x1″ tile (that has smoky taupe, a silver/clear color, and a light smoky blue). I was thinking Valspar’s Bonsai or Magic Spell for the walls. The kitchen is not flooded with natural light either. The adjoining dining area is painted Dried Plantain by Sherwin Williams and has dark wood furniture and a blue/gray area rug. Thoughts/suggestions? I can take and send a photo if it would help. Thanks!


Yes, a photo would help!