Classic Gray, by Benjamin Moore (AKA OC-23 or 1548) is a crowd (and internet) favorite paint color. In fact, this gray paint color is so popular it is included in not just one, but two Benjamin Moore Color Collections: the Classic Color Collection and the Off White Color Collection.
But just because a paint is popular, that doesn’t automatically make it the right paint for your home.
That is exactly the reason I am doing this deep dive into different paint colors. The nuances can be small but impactful, so it always helps to see these colors in real-life rooms.
So if you’ve been thinking about painting your bedroom or bathroom with Ben Moore Classic Gray, but that little 1″x 1″ paint swatch hasn’t been enough for you to make the painting leap, this post will hopefully get you a step closer to your answer!
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Do you know how you hear a phrase and sometimes wonder how on Earth that came to being? Well, if you’ve ever shopped for gray paint, then you understand completely how “it’s a gray area” or “shades of gray” came to being. Shopping for grey is a challenge, to say the least! But it’s not an insurmountable or even unenjoyable task. We just have to take it step by step.
And step one? To use another popular, although definitely more puzzling phrase, we’ll start by going straight “to the horse’s mouth” for an explanation of the color…
Here’s what Ben Moore has to say about their popular paint shade OC-23:
First, here’s the “numerical” details, or the LRV.
Classic Gray LRV = 74.78
LRV = Light Reflectance Value: Rated 0-100 with 0 being pure black, and 100 being pure white. Lighter paint shades REFLECT more light from them and therefore have a HIGHER LRV, and vice versa for darker shades). Below see Classic Gray (74.78) side by side with pure white (100):
Benjamin Moore provides two explanations on their site of the color, really leaning into how it fits into their collections more than the color itself.
“This color is part of the Classic Color Collection. Surround yourself with your color favorites. These timeless, elegant, Classic Colors guarantee beautiful, usable color all the time, every time. A collection of 1,680 inspired hues that consumers and professionals have enjoyed for years, the colors in this palette are as timeless as they are forward.”
“This color is part of the Off-White Color collection. Inherently sophisticated and endlessly versatile, the Off-White collection offers subtle nuances of whites that suit tranquil, serene environments as well as creates color-enhancing accents for dynamic spaces. A compilation of 152 white and off-white colors.”
Those explanations may not be the words that spur you into buying the color, but helpfully with a little more information, you will know if Classic Gray is the direction you want to go in your home.
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Benjamin Moore Classic Gray Color Comparison:
To understand the Classic Gray undertones and overall color profile a bit more let’s look at Classic Gray next to several other popular Benjamin Moore colors…
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray vs. Pure White:
You can definitely see why Classic Gray OC-23 is in the Off White Collection, as it sits close to Pure White OC-64. However, you can see why it has an LRV of 74.78 versus the 80.88 LRV of Pure White.
Pure White reads to a much more classic white (and lighter) and really shows the darker gray with more brown undertones of Classic Gray. I am really starting to understand more and more why Benjamin Moore named this color Classic Gray. The more you compare it, the more it shows how classic it is!
Gray Owl vs. Classic Gray:
Pulling from more of our paint series posts, you can see that Classic Gray is a lighter shade than Gray Owl.
Compared to Gray Owl, Classic Gray is a much warmer tone, also tending toward a beige-y brown tone.
Classic Gray vs. Stonington Gray:
Another popular Benjamin Moore paint is Stonington Gray (HC-170). Stonington Gray is likely even more popular than the others noted here, but I think can be overused, especially in spaces without a lot of natural light where it can feel quite dark.
Classic Gray might be the right choice over Stonington Gray if you are looking for a less moody feel. Remember, shades always look darker on the wall once you get a few coats on them!
Classic Gray vs. Revere Pewter:
Is there a paint color even more popular than Stonington Gray? Probably that go-to “greige” Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter (HC-172). I think it is important to compare Classic Gray to the home decorator’s favorite of Revere Pewter.
They both tend to lean to those brown undertones (hence giving Revere Pewter that greige winning title).
If you are looking to have a little less saturated feel or even a little less traditional feel, Classic Gray might give you that sense over Revere Pewter. Remember to check out those LRV’s before painting.
Not only will it make you feel like a fancy interior designer throwing around your acronyms, but it will also let you know how dark (or light) you are going.
Revere Pewter has an LRV of 55, compared to Classic Gray’s at 74.78. That is about a quarter darker and will make a bigger impact in a room.
And a quick reminder not to leave here empty-handed!
OK, let’s get back into some more of the colors that are in that gray family…
A Few More Color Comparisons to Benjamin Moore Classic Gray Paint:
Don’t forget to use all of your tools in the toolbox when picking your paint color. Benjamin Moore has great resources on their site to help you compare different paint colors.
When you look up Classic Gray, it gives you different shades to compare it to:
From left to right: Balboa Mist, Cumulus Cloud, La Paloma Gray, River Reflections, Equestrian Gray, Dash of Pepper
You can see that Classic Gray tends to be on the lighter side of the gray family. The more saturated you go on this virtual paint chip, you more you notice that the darker colors get browner. Looking toward the saturated level can really help you understand the more subtle undertones of a lighter shade, where it can be harder to pick out if it’s leaning warmer or cooler.
Classic Gray definitely leans warmer with its brown undertones, whereas Balboa Mist and La Paloma Gray read a little cooler in comparison. Dash of Pepper is aptly named, as it mixes those brown and black tones to create a dark, saturated griege shade.
Cumulus Cloud seems to be right in line with Classic Gray but just reads darker with an LRV of 53.19. If you are looking to go darker than Classic Gray, Cumulus Cloud may be a paint sample you want to grab a pot of to put on your wall. Make sure when picking any paint color to get a sample, paint it on a few locations around the room, and check it out throughout the day as the light changes.
Now that we’ve taken a close-up look at the swatches and made some comparisons, let’s take a look at where the rubber meets the road. Or in this case, where the paintbrush meets the wall.
We’ll check out how Classic Gray looks in some real spaces under lots of different lighting situations and with lots of other “things” in the rooms (furniture, countertops, etc) that the paint can play on.
Remember that photos on a computer screen are in no way a substitute for seeing a real sample on your own wall, but I think it can be really helpful to at least rule colors “in” to buy samples for, or “out” to just scratch completely.
And before we dive into the real room examples of Classic Gray, if you’re interested in checking out the other colors I’ve covered in this paint exploration series, here are some of those articles:
Classic Gray Kitchens and Dining Rooms:
This gives a great idea of how Classic Gray can look in an open-concept kitchen/dining area with tons of natural light. Classic Gray definitely tends to be on the lighter side in this big space but it pairs perfectly with the wood tones in the floor, kitchen cabinets, and railing.
Who else is ready to pop into this cozy kitchen nook with a hot cup of tea (or a glass of wine)? Classic Gray makes this feel inviting and cheery! The grey tones give a nice gentle contrast to that crisp white trim.
Check out this stunning kitchen and how beautifully the Classic Gray pairs with Benjamin Moore Blue Note on the cabinets and the pretty natural wood tones in the space. Notice that the color looks very light in this room with lots of gorgeous natural light!
Pictures are showing over and over again that Classic Gray is the homeowner’s neutral go-to. It can layer with whites, tans, and gray, making the perfect backdrop for whatever color palette you choose.
Who’s ready for dinner here? I am! You can see that the dining room area looks a little lighter with all the natural light versus the living room in the front.
Check out the before and after for this kitchen renovation. Classic Gray is able to give some separation of the dining room and kitchen without darkening the space too much, as it appears in the before shot.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray Bathrooms:
Although we are just sneaking a peek into this bathroom, this picture just goes to show that Classic Gray shines in a small room.
Her caption is on the money! Paint can make such a big impact. Classic Gray looks great in this windowless bathroom.
Here, Benjamin Moore Classic Gray is used to paint a vanity, showing that this paint color is good for furniture painting as well.
Classic Gray Bedrooms:
The light bouncing around this bedroom is gorgeous. The way the mirrored furniture picks up the paint color is hard to beat!
Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray is seen here creating a calming bedroom. It reads a little darker next to the white bed frame and sets the right tone to fall asleep to every night!
After your eyes take in all the incredible beauty of this bedroom, check out the comparison of Classic Gray on the paneling versus Simply White on the walls. It’s a perfect combination! Plus, it keeps the whole room light and airy feeling.
Tiffany has used a lot of Classic Gray in her gorgeous home. Here, it is seen on the walls, and paired with the lighter Chantilly Lace on the shiplapped fireplace feature.
Classic Gray in Hallways/Entry Ways:
You had me at hats and plants! This is another example of how great Classic Gray pairs with wood tones and all shades of brown. Plus, the green of the plants is gorgeous!
Excuse me while I swoon over everything going on here. Ok, now that I’m done, let’s look at Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray in this inviting yet stately entryway. The more pictures I look at with Classic Gray, the more I’m convinced this is THE color for a light, bright, inviting home.
Mic drop, right? Classic Gray reads light and bright in a sun-filled hallway and coupled with a delightful wallpaper in the adjacent room.
Classic Gray in Living Rooms:
Wow, it’s amazing what different lighting and the objects you place in a room can do to affect how the paint looks on the walls. This room actually reads a little blue to me! Sometimes walls can reflect just enough color of an item in the room (I’m looking at you blue sofa) to make your eye see a tint of that color on the walls too.
This is proof that Classic Gray works well with both gray and brown – and that they can actually have a place together in the same room.
Don’t leave empty-handed! Grab your cheat sheet before you head to the paint store!
Once again, Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray optimizes cozy in a room. I love seeing it against a white trim to see the contrast and the gray tones brought out.
Who’s ready to kick their feet up and relax in this calming living room? Pairing Classic Gray with darker elements kicks up the moody undertones.
Check out how Classic Gray looks paired with lots of coastal blues in this beachy living room.
Other Living Spaces Painted with Benjamin Moore Classic Gray:
Classic Gray definitely makes this a bright spot. The more light a space has, the more white Classic Gray will read.
Classic Gray and dogs. Enough said.
Classic Gray Exteriors:
Yes, Classic Gray can be used on exteriors! The brick got lime-washed with Classic Gray to create a warm and bright home!
Emily choses Classic Gray to use on this lovely exterior as the main color, with Benjamin Moore LaPaloma Gray as the trim color, which is several shades darker.
Other Classic Gray Paint Sightings:
Say hello to the playroom that is basically an ode to Classic Gray! This is a homeowner who is clearly embracing the Classic Gray lifestyle, and it’s totally working for her! Check out all the spaces she features in this post that use this shade (and they are all stunning, right?!)
This is another case where Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray can look a little blue when it is paired with blue accents. It helps create a very calm home office where I bet productivity is high!
This whole house mood board shows Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray sandwiched in the middle of the darker colors on the top. This mood board leans more traditional with saturated colors. Classic Gray gives a good place for the eye to rest.
And that brings us to the end of this color study! I hope that this has given you a bit more of a glimpse into whether or not Classic Gray is a color that you’d like to use in your own home!
Pin this Classic Gray paint exploration til later! And if you use this shade, leave a comment or better yet a photo on the pin! That helps others decide if this is a paint shade they want to try as well!
Pssst…before you go, I sure would love to hang out with you again really soon! And before you’re on your way, make sure you grab your free copy of the 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Picking Paint, so you can avoid the heartache (and hole in your wallet) when your paint choices don’t quite work out! Click here, and I’ll send your free copy right now!