Read all about Benjamin Moore Classic Gray, plus see 20+ real homes that use it!
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 (this is where it gets the “OC” in its number).
Even though this paint is hugely popular, it isn’t automatically the right paint for your home.
And that is exactly the reason I am doing this deep dive into different paint colors. The nuances in various colors can be small but impactful, so it always helps to learn about their details and see these colors in real-life rooms.
What color is Classic Gray?
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” became a thing.
Shopping for gray 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.
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!
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…
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray is a versatile, sophisticated warm pale gray that’s cozy and soft with a hint of beige.
If you’re looking for a Sherwin Williams equivalent, there isn’t anything exactly the same. However, Origami White, Incredible White, and Aesthetic White have a similar vibe.
Ok, let’s investigate this color’s nuances as we examine Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray.
FAQs about BM Classic Gray
Classic Gray is a no-fail warm neutral color. It’s understandably a confusing color because it leans gray but is light enough to appear off-white in bright lighting.
This paint shade lives in two collections within the expansive Ben Moore suite of paint. It has a home in the off-white collection (which is what the “OC” means in it’s numeric title OC-23).
It also lives in the Benjamin Moore Classic Color Collection, giving it another numeric title of 1548.
Same shade, two different numbers (1548 and OC-23). You could say it looks like even Benjamin Moore may consider this shade BOTH a gray and an off-white.
Is Benjamin Moore Classic Gray warm or cool?
Thanks to some beige and purple undertones, this shade is a warm paint color.
Where should I use BM Classic Gray?
This light, neutral, versatile paint color can work nearly anywhere and with any decor! Consider using this shade for any room in your house, including:
Classic Gray works well in traditional, modern, farmhouse, southwestern, and contemporary style homes!
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray Undertones
There are a couple of terms to know when looking at paint shades: “mass tone,” which is the primary color you see when looking at paint (blue, white, brown, etc.), and “undertone,” which are those subtle differences that peek through to give variation between hues.
Gray paint colors often have undertones – usually blue, green, or purple. Instead of running from them, use them to their advantage with other shades in the room.
What are Benjamin Moore Classic Gray’s undertones?
Classic Gray has warm pink/purple and beige undertones. Since it’s such a light color, you may notice it reflecting nearby decor colors. Classic Gray’s undertones aren’t so strong that you’ll see them strongly – they just peek through here and there.
NOTE: NO paint colors will look the same at varying times of the day or in two different locations. Use paint swatches to show you how you can expect your lighting and decor to impact the appearance of your paint. Please don’t buy paint without first checking the shade using a paint swatch!
As far as sampling goes, I highly recommend these mess-free, re-usable, re-positionable peel and stick paint samples ⤵
If undertones make your head hurt, you’re not alone! Grab your free copy of 5 Biggest Paint Choice Mistakes Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
How Different Types of Lighting Affect BM Classic Gray
Paint is not a static entity. It’s more of a living, breathing, ever-changing feature in your home. And it’s impacted by both lighting and surrounding decor.
In a dark room, you might find Classic Gray looking a little drab and dull unless you have good artificial lighting. On the other end of the spectrum, it is light enough that it will likely wash out in bright natural lighting.
Classic Gray’s happy place is in medium light levels where you can really appreciate its saturation and warm undertones.
Here’s how you can expect Classic Gray to appear in different types of natural lighting.
- North-facing light – northern light is cool and has a blue tint which will cool down Classic Gray’s natural warmth and leave it reading neutral gray. You may see its purple undertones in the shadowy light.
- South-facing light – warm southern light will allow Classic Gray to show its warm side, and it appears more beige.
- East-facing light – with warm yellow light in the morning and passive natural light in the afternoon, Classic Gray will shift through the day from warm beige-tinted neutral to passive gray.
- West-facing light – with passive light in the morning and ultra-warm light in the evening, Classic Gray will shift slightly through the day from passive gray to warm neutral with pink/purple undertones in the evening.
Great Coordinating Colors for Classic Gray
BM Classic Gray looks terrific with many different colors, including warm dark grays, crisp whites, black, dark blue, pink, and red. You can even pair it with some greens and a few bright colors!
LRV of Benjamin Moore Classic Gray (OC-23)
First, here’s the “numerical” details, or the LRV.
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).
Classic Gray LRV = 74.78
With an LRV in the mid-70s, Classic Gray is a light gray that reflects a good amount of light back. It’s light enough to make rooms with low natural light feel open and airy, but it won’t necessarily make a dark room look light.
And it’s also light enough that it will likely wash out and appear off-white in brightly-lit rooms.
LRV…what? Don’t worry, I’ve got you! Grab a FREE copy of my new guide to avoid the paint color picking mistakes people make! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Classic Gray Compared to Other Colors
To understand the Classic Gray undertones and overall color profile a bit more, let’s look at Classic Gray next to several other popular colors.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray vs. Agreeable Gray
Let’s start by comparing Classic Gray to another very popular paint color: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. With an LRV of 60, this shade is a medium gray compared to Classic Gray’s light off-white tone.
Although both shades are true neutrals with minimal undertones, SW Agreeable Gray is more of a true gray that leans warmer.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray vs. Pale Oak
Pale Oak is another popular shade from Benjamin Moore. With an LRV of 69, it reads as a medium greige compared to Classic Gray’s pale classic gray. Both shades are warm, but Pale Oak will show more pink undertones next to Classic Gray’s purple undertones.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray vs. Edgecomb Gray
Edgecomb Gray is the last color comparison we will make with Classic Gray. With an LRV of 63.88, it is darker and richer than Classic Gray, with deeper beige undertones and a little pinker too. Classic Gray will look creamier next to Edgecomb Gray.
Feeling lost? I gotcha, boo! Grab a FREE copy of my new guide to avoid the paint color picking mistakes people make! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
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, the 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 Benjamin Moore 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 greige paint colour.
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 might 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.
More Colors to Consider
Do paint color possibilities have your head spinning? If you aren’t quite ready to commit to Classic Gray, check out these other popular paint colors and similar shades:
- Eider White (Sherwin Williams) – a warm off-white with greige undertones
- Creamy (Sherwin Williams) – a very warm, creamy off-white
- Paper White (Benjamin Moore) – a cool-leaning off-white with slight green undertones
- Benjamin Moore Silver Satin – a gray-tinted off-white
- Calm (Benjamin Moore) – a soft and airy off-white
- Sherwin Williams White Duck – a creamy off-white that leans greige
- City Loft (Sherwin Williams) – a creamy off-white with light gray undertones
- Snowbound (Benjamin Moore) – a slightly cool, yet very livable, white
- Benjamin Moore Gray Owl – a popular, neutral gray color
Feeling lost? I gotcha, boo! Grab a FREE copy of my new guide to avoid the paint color picking mistakes people make! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Real Life Homes Using Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
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 an actual sample on your own wall, but I think it can be beneficial to at least rule colors “in” to buy samples for, or “out” to just scratch completely.
And if you buy a sample, I highly reccommend Samplize because theirs are peel-and-stick, mess-free, re-usable and re-positionable. It makes testing colors MUCH simpler.
Classic Gray Kitchens
A quick note here: don’t forget to consider picking the right paint finish…it’s not only about getting the color right! We have an in-depth explanation of choosing sheens here.
For kitchens, eggshell or satin are popular finish choices for walls. For cabinets consider semi-gloss or high gloss for the most durable finish (and a gorgeous glow).
1. Perfect Sidekick Color
We admittedly don’t have a lot of open wall space in our kitchen, but the wall space that wasn’t covered with bright white cabinets or tile is painted Classic Gray, at 50%. I was concerned about the “full strength” shade showing a little too dark in this space that doesn’t get a ton of natural light during the day, so I asked the paint stockist to mix my color half-caff, if you will.
I love the way it turned out, and it’s a perfect bridge color between our kitchen, and the family room and dining rooms which are both currently painted in Ben Moore Pale Smoke. Dark enough to provide a bit of contrast with our white trim, but not strong or dark enough to be the main attraction.
2. Pulls Everything Together
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 by Angela Block, but it pairs perfectly with the wood tones in the floor, kitchen cabinets, and railing.
3. Kismet Kitchen Color
I’ve personally used Classic Gray in not just one kitchen, but two. This is the kitchen in my first home, which we held onto as a rental property. Classic Gray on the walls in this kitchen contrast just enough with the white cabinets, and look great with the navy blue lower cabinets, as well.
4. Gorgeous with a Pop of Color
Check out this stunning kitchen from Gowler Homes and notice how beautifully the Classic Gray pairs with the Benjamin Moore Blue Note cabinets and the pretty natural wood tones in the space. Notice that the color looks very light in this room with lots of bright natural light!
Dining Spaces using BM Classic Gray
5. Next Level Cozy
Who else is ready to pop into @the_lavendar_home‘s cute kitchen nook with a hot cup of tea (or a glass of wine)? Classic Gray makes this feel inviting and cheery! The gray tones give a nice gentle contrast to that crisp white trim.
6. Light and Warm Gray Paint Color
Pictures are showing over and over again that Classic Gray is the homeowner Katie Lamb’s neutral go-to. It can layer with whites, tans, and gray, making the perfect backdrop for whatever color palette you choose. Notice the subtle pink undertones?
7. Works with Almost Any Dining Decorating Style
And for that matter, works with almost any decorating style anywhere in your home. Classic Gray is one of my go-to colors because of its incredible versatility. Here in our rental home’s open concept living space, it looks great as a whole-house color (and one that’s awesome for re-sale, too).
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray Bathrooms
Don’t forget the finish! For bathrooms the perfect sheen is either an eggshell or satin. Why? We’ll tell you in this post about paint sheen.
8. Simply Classic + Clean
Although we are just sneaking a peek into this bathroom, this picture from @austinabode just goes to show that Classic Gray shines in a small room. Incredible!
9. Works in Little Light
Paint can make such a big impact. Classic Gray looks great in this bathroom from The Harper House to make this low-lit room look sophisticated.
Ben Moore’s Classic Gray Bedrooms
In general for bedrooms, and low-traffic areas, flat paint is fine. If you like something with a bit of shine (and more ease of cleaning) opt for eggshell or satin.
10. A Bedroom with Neutral Nuance
Neutral doesn’t have to be boring. Sure, I could be biased since this is my home, but I’m telling you this shade is stellar. The shade reads warm in here because it picks up yellows from the parquet wood floor, seagrass bed frame and decor elements.
11. Calming Color for a Good Night’s Sleep
Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray is seen here at @houseonbrisco, creating a calming bedroom. It reads a little darker next to the white bed frame and sets the right tone to fall asleep every night!
12. A Creamy Gray Paint
Do you want this bedroom from Life on Virginia Street as much as I do? Classic Gray adds that perfect soft backdrop to this room and complements the fun chandelier.
13. Great Gray in a Guest Bedroom
Just warm enough. That’s what I think of this shade. It is inviting, but not too yellow or beige.
Classic Gray in Entryways and Hallways
14. Leaning Beige Next to Brown Tones
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 accent of green plants in @juliakatehfx‘s entry is gorgeous!
15. A Complement to Anything
Excuse me while I swoon over everything in Decor Kate’s home. 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.
16. Makes for a Happy Hallway
Classic Gray looks great, and not too dark in hallways that have a good amount of natural light, like this one. Seeing tiny hints of green here? That’s a reflection of lots of trees and greenery coming in from outside the windows.
Classic Gray in Living Rooms:
17. Subtle Reflection
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 from @instudioandcompanyinteriors 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, sofa) to make your eye see a tint of that color on the walls too.
18. Perfect Backdrop for any Kind of Decor
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. Great design by Susan Alison Interiors.
19. Awesome in an Open-Concept Living Space
I truly love Classic Gray because it’s a shade that looks great anywhere and everywhere. If you have an open concept home (like ours below) and would like to use just one color throughout, Classic Gray may be your answer.
It’s a great solution something with a little more pigment than a shade of white, but don’t want something too dark or dramatic.
Other Sightings of Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
20. Beautifully Warm on Exteriors
Emily of @kindandabell chose Classic Gray for her main exterior paint color. She paired it with Benjamin Moore LaPaloma Gray as the trim color, which is several shades darker.
21. Uplifting Home Office Color
This is another example from Susan Alison Interiors, and it shows us again that 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!
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 top contender for a new paint color you’d like to use in your own home!
And if this is a color you’re seriously considering, remember paint-sampling is better than ending up paint-sorry! I highly recommend these peel and stick samples because they are inexpensive, re-usable and re-positionable…
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!
Ready to show those boring, beige walls who’s the boss at home? Grab my free guide to help you sidestep the mistakes that almost everyone makes when it comes to picking paint! You’ll be on your way to perfect paint promptly…pinky swear.