Jennifer Camille

Cold Grey or Warm Vanilla: What’s the Difference?

What should you ask for when it comes to the delivery of your space?

Cold Grey Shell, Warm Vanilla Shell…what’s the difference anyway and are there more shades and temperatures?

Let’s start from the beginning…shell space is defined as the space constructed to meet future needs. It is space enclosed by an exterior building shell, but otherwise unfinished inside. It’s important to note, however, that there are different levels of finishing on these “shell spaces”. Cold Grey Shell and Warm Vanilla are the 2 most popular types of “shell condition” delivery for unoccupied spaces.

When it comes to cold grey shells you have to look at the two main descriptor words:

Cold typically refers to the lack of HVAC installation in the space, therefore preventing the space to be heated (or cooled). In this instance, the HVAC would need to be installed prior to occupying the space.

Grey typically refers to the lack of “finishing” on the walls and ceiling. The parts of a room that one might consider essential aren’t usually finished – there may not be drywall and paint on the walls, a drop ceiling grid and tiles on the ceiling, no lighting, flooring, etc. Grey is typically the color of the floor and exterior walls due to untreated nature of them.

The same goes for warm vanilla…you have to look at the two main descriptive words:

Warm is considered to mean that the space does have HVAC installed and may or may not be functional – the space can be heated and/or cooled without having to install a new HVAC system.

Vanilla typically refers to the status of the exterior walls. The exterior walls have most likely been finished with dryway and the ceiling usually has the drop-grid and tiles installed or a drywall ceiling, with lighting already installed. Most of the time the HVAC is already distributed and oftentimes some plumbing or other fixtures have already been done.

So what’s right for you? That all depends on your use, what you need your space to look like and how much money you have available for buildout. While MOST tenants are looking for a warm vanilla shell, some tenants have very specific requirements for HVAC, plumbing and other finishes and a cold grey shell would be better suited for them. A warm vanilla shell is quicker to move into and lowers a tenants expenses for buildout, however a cold grey shell allows a tenant to make more customizations on the buildout even if it costs them more money out of pocket.

If you have more questions regarding cold grey shells vs warm vanilla shells or any other shade and temperature shells feel free to reach out to us, and if you’re looking for a new space for your business our trusted advisors are available to assist you in your search and answer your questions along the way! Reach out to us at and we can match you up with an advisor who specializes in your segment.