Read all about Benjamin Moore Pale Oak, plus check out 19 real-life homes that use it!
With greiges being the new(er) popular kid on the block, there has been an explosion of neutral paint color options. As if choosing a neutral paint color wasn’t ALREADY hard enough!
Like white paint, greiges can appear as VERY different colors in different lighting situations. That makes it so important to paint large swatches on other walls of the space where you want to paint Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore to see how the lighting changes affect it.
Tip: As a self-proclaimed “frugalista,” I recommend buying a few paint samples of your top choices and using them to paint your swatches. It’s so much cheaper than buying gallons of paint!
This post about Pale Oak is part of my in-depth series about popular paint colors. I hope these paint reviews will make visualizing how a color may look on YOUR walls – and the overall process of narrowing down and choosing paint – easier.
Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak
Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore (# OC-20) is a light neutral that tends to look a bit warmer than other typical greiges (grey-beige). In bright, natural light, it will look like a warm off-white. However, in rooms with less natural light, Pale Oak reads as a soft light greige.
I personally think that Pale Oak is underrated and under-appreciated. And I feel confident that once you learn more about this beautiful greige and see it in action, you’ll think so too!
Here are the ins and outs of Pale Oak to help you narrow down your greige choices and, ultimately, make the perfect paint color choice for YOUR space.
FAQs about BM Pale Oak
What is the Sherwin Williams equivalent of Pale Oak?
Since each paint color recipe is unique, there are no direct color equivalents between brands. However, if you’re searching for a Sherwin Williams off-white that leans greige and has slight pink/purple undertones, I would recommend Egret White.
Is Benjamin Moore Pale Oak a warm color?
Pale Oak is a lovely greige that sits between beige and gray. It has slight pink/purple undertones, making it lean a little warm.
Where should I use BM Pale Oak?
This classic light color can look stunning in ANY room of the house. Just be careful about the undertones because they can occasionally be a surprise when it comes to Pale Oak.
Consider Benjamin Moore Pale Oak for your:
Pale Oak can be ideal for many traditional, transitional, and contemporary homes.
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!⤵️
Benjamin Moore Pale Oak Undertones
Ok, let’s do a quick lesson on the difference between “mass tones” vs. “undertones.”
“Mass tone” refers to the primary color you see when looking at the paint. Green, yellow, red, and blue are all examples of mass tones.
But every color has tons of variations, or shades, which are the result of undertones. Undertones are slight differences in paint colors that come from blending together the unique combination of colors needed to create the mass tone.
What are Benjamin Moore Pale Oak’s undertones?
Although a terrific color, Pale Oak isn’t one of the more popular Benjamin Moore greiges. Why?
It’s the undertones. Pale Oak can sometimes exhibit slight purple-pink undertones, putting it in the taupe category.
There are just certain undertones that people tend to shy away from. Green, pink, and purple are at the top of the list. While Pale Oak’s purple-pink undertone isn’t overt, it’s definitely noticeable from time to time, depending on the lighting. If purple undertones are your thing, then this color may be an absolutely perfect fit for you.
What if purple undertones aren’t your thing? Pale Oak is still worth checking out in your space – but have a backup just in case.
I mention these undertones because, at first brush, Pale Oak portrays itself as a soft, warm neutral greige (especially in a north-facing room).
However, you may soon start to notice that given its complex nature, it’s anything but pure neutral. That being said, in the right space – it’s one of my top greige choices!
Take this as a not-so-gentle reminder to buy a SAMPLE and paint yourself a nice big splotch of Pale Oak before you fully commit to it and spend $$$ on it only to decide you hate it.
As far as sampling goes, I highly recommend these mess-free, re-usable, re-positionable peel and stick paint samples ⤵
How Different Types of Lighting Affect BM Pale Oak
In both light and darker rooms, Pale Oak is a beautiful, bright neutral color that tends to take a backseat in favor of letting the nearby decor stand out.
However, it can be a bit of a shape-shifter, so here’s a general idea of how lighting exposure can impact how Pale Oak will appear in your home.
- North-facing light – northern light is cool and gray-ish, which will tone down the warmth of this shade and draw out the gray base. It will often read soft, warm neutral greige in this light.
- South-facing light – warm light from the south will draw out the warm undertones. Depending on how much exposure you have, you may see Pale Oak exhibit a hint of pink/purple.
- East-facing light – an east-facing room has warm light in the morning and shadowy afternoon light. Pale Oak will shift with the shifting light, appearing warmer in the morning and more neutral in the afternoon.
- West-facing light – west-facing light is passive in the morning but warm in the afternoon. Pale Oak will display a similar shift in its appearance (in the opposite order). The warm, red-tinted light of the afternoon sun will draw out those pink undertones the most.
Great Coordinating Colors for Pale Oak
Since Pale Oak is a warm greige, it will look terrific with warm dark neutrals, dark blues, warm whites, and dark reds.
Note: Pale Oak looks best as part of a contrasting color scheme rather than a monochrome color scheme.
LRV of Benjamin Moore Pale Oak (OC-20)
LRV stands for the “Light Reflectance Value.” The way LRV works is that paint is given a numerical value (between 0 and 100) based on how light or how dark it appears. The higher the number, the more light that color reflects and the brighter it appears, and vice versa.
Knowing a paint’s LRV is very helpful when choosing paint colors (I WISH I had known about LRV when I first started picking out paint colors!) because you want to find an LRV range that works for your room and stay within that range to make coordinating colors easier.
The LRV of BM Pale Oak = 69.89
Sitting at nearly 70 on the LRV scale, Ben Moore Pale Oak is in the light range. It’s light enough to wash out in lots of natural light, but it has enough saturation to contrast with white paint in the proper light exposure.
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!⤵️
Pale Oak Benjamin Moore vs. Other Greige Paint Colors
Benjamin Moore describes Pale Oak as “reminiscent of the majestic white oak, this beautiful neutral is graceful and elegant, conveying a sense of style and quiet restraint.”
Hmmm, helpful? I’m not so sure, but it sounds nice, though!
While Benjamin Moore’s description may not have been uber helpful in helping you to narrow down your paint colors, I am going to do something that’s much more helpful. Let’s compare Pale Oak to other popular greiges so we can see for ourselves how those undertones come into play.
And another quick reminder here, it’s always better to sample than be sorry!
Pale Oak vs. Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
Edgecomb Gray has long been more popular than Pale Oak, and I have a feeling the reason for that is that Edgecomb Gray has a little more beige in it than Pale Oak does.
Grays have been extremely popular for a few years, but now greiges are starting to take center stage, so Pale Oak may be getting ready for its time in the spotlight.
Let’s talk LRV: Edgecomb’s LRV of 63.88 is a tad lower than Pale Oak’s, making Edgecomb a bit darker than Pale Oak.
If you’re searching for a slightly darker neutral with more beige, lean toward Edgecomb Gray. However, if you want a neutral that’s light and behaves like an off-white, Pale Oak might be a perfect choice.
Benjamin Moore Pale Oak vs. Balboa Mist
These two colors are very similar and belong in the taupe family, thanks to their pink/purple undertones. With an LRV of 67.37, Balboa Mist is slightly darker and cooler than Pale Oak.
Pale Oak can sometimes look slightly peachy, thanks to having a little more pink, and it’s definitely warmer than Balboa Mist.
Benjamin Moore Pale Oak vs. Classic Gray
Both of these colors are gorgeous in the right setting! Classic Gray is a warm gray that’s a little lighter than Pale Oak. Coming in at 74 on the LRV scale, it acts more like an off-white than a true greige.
Pale Oak vs Benjamin Moore Collingwood
Collingwood is a beautiful gray. Unlike Pale Oak which can read anywhere from off-white to greige, depending on the lighting, Collingwood reads as a soft, light gray in all light levels.
A truly neutral gray, Collingwood’s LRV of 62 makes it a bit darker than Pale Oak and the darkest color we will discuss in this post.
Similar to Pale Oak, Collingwood has the slightest of purple undertones, but it’s really just enough to make Collingwood a nice warm gray and keep it from reading blue or green. I feel like Pale Oak’s purple/pink undertone comes through just the teeniest bit more, but see for yourself in these examples below.
More Colors to Consider
Does all this talk about undertones, LRV, and the like make your eyes cross in toward each other? If you find your head spinning and don’t know that Pale Oak is “the one” yet, here are a variety of similar yet popular colors you may love even more:
- Drift of Mist (Sherwin Williams) – a warm-leaning light beige
- On The Rocks (Benjamin Moore) – a mid-toned greige with slight green undertones
- Worldly Gray (Sherwin Williams) – a mid-toned warm-leaning greige
- Silver Satin (Benjamin Moore) – a gray-tinted off-white
- Silver Drop (Behr) – a pale gray with a hint of beige
- Calm (Benjamin Moore) – a balanced light greige
- Shoreline (Benjamin Moore) – a light gray-leaning greige
- Ballet White (Benjamin Moore) – a light, neutral off-white paint color
- Natural Cream (Benjamin Moore) – a lovely off-white with greige undertones
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!⤵️
19 Real Life Homes Using Pale Oak Benjamin Moore
Now it’s time for what you’ve REALLY been waiting for, right? I’ve yabbered enough about undertones and LRV. Now it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes of this Pale Oak analysis!
Here are real-life homes that will give you a taste of what Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore might look like on your own walls (remember…swatch it!!!).
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.
BM Pale Oak 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.
1. The Perfect Gray-ish Off White
Here is an example of where Pale Oak really shines. This bedroom from A Thoughtful Place Blog is just dark enough to let Pale Oak show off its greige tones, but there’s also just enough natural light that keeps Pale Oak very light and bright.
If that trim wasn’t painted such a bright white, you just might be inclined to mistake Pale Oak as a “simple” off-white.
2. Can Read as Off-White
I love this example from @lindseymeehandesigns of a room with lots of natural light – it really shows off Pale Oak’s neutral versatility, as it reads as a perfect neutral off-white here.
3. Beautiful Paint Color for a Cozy, Inviting Bedroom Retreat
@Syd_Kozina creates a gorgeous, calming, and restful retreat with faux beams, a geometric accent wall, and Pale Oak paint. It’s a bit boho, a bit traditional – and perfectly inviting.
4. From Off White to Greige
Ah, this image from With Love Mercedes gives a two-for-one experience. The areas where natural light hits are very pale and read as off-white. However, the area up near the tall ceiling reads slightly darker, showing off the greige tendencies of Pale Oak.
Pale Oak Kitchens and Dining Rooms
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).
5. Works with Bold Accents
Bella Tucker has another great example of Pale Oak in the kitchen. It’s pale enough to work with a variety of colors and accents without blinking an eye. Gorgeous!
6. A Tad Taupe-y
In @jennifersusanstyle‘s open-concept home, Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak paint color is a great choice for the walls to highlight her neutral palette.
It’s just far enough from white to give the bright whites some pop, without making your eyes feel jarred by the contrast. And you can see clearly how the bright trim color really stands out against the wall paint.
7. Pale Oak Dining Room
This traditional dining room’s look is very refined, thanks, in part to Billi of @thedelashmuttdwelling‘s great paint choice. Pale Oak is a very versatile color.
If your home has a good amount of natural light throughout, it’s one of those paint shades that *could* work well in every room. Remember the flip side though! In homes with little natural light, this color will go much darker.
8. Delectable Dining Room Shade
Paige from @decorandmoredesigns used Pale Oak masterfully to complete this dining room. It looks warm next to the cool, gray velvet upholstered chairs.
But even with the warmth on the walls, it’s not showing yellow or any other unexpected undertones. It’s staying neutral, through and through.
Entryways in Pale Oak Paint
9. A Lovely Greige with No Overbearing Undertones
In this space from @meghanyostdotcom, Pale Oak has just enough color to it to read as a soft greige, which is perfect for making this small space feel large and airy.
It reads warm, with just the faintest hints of pink in contrast with the pastel door.
10. Almost White in Bright Natural Light
Pale Oak could almost be mistaken for a shade of white given enough natural light flooding into a room like seen here in this large, open, and bright foyer designed by Pamela Lynn Interiors (photo credit: @jason_hartog_photography).
You see its greige base up near the ceiling where the light only passively shines on it.
11. Welcoming Paint Color
A beautiful example of Pale Oak in in an entryway from @home.of.holly.
Living Room Using Benjamin Moore Pale Oak
12. Gives Some Definition and Depth to a Neutral Palette
Here is another (beautiful) example from @jennifersusanstyle, where our paint-shade-du-jour is looking a bit taupe-y (is that a word? It is now!).
It’s just dark enough and has just enough brown undertone in it to perfectly highlight both the white bookshelves as well as the bricks and the wood accents.
13. Lovely in a Living Room with Ample Natural Light
Pale Oak is a comforting color in this living room shared by Billi of @thedelashmuttdwelling. If you don’t love the all-white wall palette, but instead want something with a little punch (but not anything crazy vibrant or bold), this shade may fit the bill.
Ben Moore’s Pale Oak in 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.
14. Looks Great on Textured Planking
This bathroom could easily feel very masculine or stark based on the paint color chosen. Russells on the Lake used Pale Oak to soften it with a little warmth so that it’s just beautiful. Great choice!
Pale Oak Painted Exteriors
15. Pale but Not Blindingly Bright
Here’s another shot of the same home with Pale Oak on the exterior. In the previous shot, the homeowner had yet to complete the trim paint (it was just primed). The house is gorgeous for sure, and so is that show-stopping double rainbow!
16. Pale Oak + Urbane Bronze Exterior
Homeowner Lisa changed the look of her home’s exterior dramatically by switching out the old paint palette with a new one to include Pale Oak + Urbane Bronze as the trim shade. Scroll through the before and afters to see the incredible change.
Other Pale Oak Sightings
17. Terrific on Trim
When Ashley was painting her beautiful Airbnb property, @breezycrestfarmhouse, she used Pale Oak throughout the home.
Here, it’s used on the gorgeous high, hallway board and batten molding detail. It’s such an inviting neutral tone. Not too cool, not too warm. It’s just right.
Here’s a close-up of the same style of trim at another spot in Ashley’s Airbnb…
18. Marvelous on Molding
Check out the incredible before and after in this beautiful cottage renovation from Chloe Marie Interiors.
To lighten and brighten the wood paneling, she chose Chantilly Lace for the walls, and the darker Pale Oak for the trim color. And the two work so well together here, don’t they?
19. Hallway Hero
Amber of @paintbrushesandlaces made such an incredible impact with paint in this hallway. Swipe to see the before/after. She went with a light/bright white for the shiplap walls (Bakery Box from Behr), and darker on the trim using our neutral superstar…OC-20!
There you go! I hope this post helped you see just how incredible (and underappreciated) Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore really is. If you’re searching for a perfect light greige for your home, give Pale Oak a chance to see if it makes the cut.
Seriously considering this shade? Make sure to sample first! I highly recommend these re-usable, re-positionable peel and stick samples👇
More Colors to Try
If you are still not sure whether Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore is the perfect shade for you, that’s okay! I have several other colors you can consider. Each of these posts breaks down everything you need to know about the shade, plus gives several examples of how it looks in real homes!
- Chantilly Lace (Benjamin Moore)
- Light Pewter (Benjamin Moore)
- Gray Owl (Benjamin Moore)
- Classic Gray (Benjamin Moore)
- Stonington Gray (Benjamin Moore)
- Sea Salt (Sherwin Williams)
- White Dove (Benjamin Moore)
- Repose Gray (Sherwin Williams)
- Agreeable Gray (Sherwin Williams)
- Simply White (Benjamin Moore)
- Revere Pewter (Benjamin Moore)
- Alabaster (Sherwin Williams)
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