Read all about Benjamin Moore Pale Oak, plus check out 21 real-life homes that use it!
Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore (# OC-20) is a light neutral that tends to look a bit warmer than 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.
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.
Pale Oak Benjamin Moore – Color Basics of An Underrated Color
With greiges being the new(er) 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!
Similar to white paint, greiges can appear as VERY different colors in different lighting situations. That makes it so important to paint large swatches on different walls of the area where you want to paint Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore so that you can see how the lighting changes affect it.
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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!
I personally think that Pale Oak is under-appreciated, and I think 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.
Before we dig in, if you are the type of person who never feels completely confident in choosing paint colors, then grab a free copy of “5 Massive Paint Picking Mistakes” to help you avoid the pitfalls! Click here or enter your email below. I’ll send the tips right away!⤵️
Here’s a sneak peek of this paint shade in action, as it looks inside real homes!
Undertones of Pale Oak Benjamin Moore
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.
There are just certain undertones that people tend to shy away from: green, pink, and purple to be exact. 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 not 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, its anything but pure neutral. That being said, in the right space – it’s one of my top greige choices!
Take this is 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.
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!⤵️
LRV of Pale Oak Benjamin Moore
Pale Oak has an LRV of just under 70 (69.89, if you want to get technical). I bet this is the point where you’re wondering “wait, what’s LRV?” Let’s fill in the gap.
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.
Knowing a paint’s LRV is very helpful when choosing paint colors (I WISH I had known about LRV when I first starting 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.
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. It sounds nice, though!
Pale Oak Benjamin Moore vs. Other Greige Paint Colors
Benjamin Moore’s description may not have been uber helpful in terms of describing the color or helping you to narrow down your paint colors (that’s what you’re here to do, right?). Do you know what IS helpful? Comparing Pale Oak to other popular greiges and seeing examples of it in real life. Let’s dive in.
Pale Oak Benjamin Moore vs Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray
Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams is a paint color that I did a complete analysis on – check it out! It’s a very popular Sherwin Williams gray that has very slight taupe undertones, giving it warmth but also a good balance between warm and cool undertones so that Agreeable Gray reads as very neutral.
Agreeable Gray’s LRV of 60, makes it just a little darker than Pale Oak’s 69.89. They are both warm taupe-leaning colors that can work well in many different rooms and lighting situations.
If you are looking for a paint color for a room with more natural light, then the darker Agreeable Gray may be the better fit. Rooms with less natural light? Consider Pale Oak.
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 gray in it than Pale Oak. 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.
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 keep 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.
21 Real Homes That Use 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 21 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!!!).
Want the cliff notes for choosing the perfect color every time? Grab a FREE copy of my guide to help you avoid the paint color picking mistakes most people make!
1.) The Perfect Gray-ish Off White | A Thoughtful Place
Here is an example of where Pale Oak really shines. This bedroom 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.) Plays Well With Dark Wood | Sita Montgomery Tours
Pale Oak’s warmth not only softens a room, but it pairs well with dark wood and other dark decor elements to both lighten a room and make it feel very comfortable at the same time. Not too light, not too dark…just right.
I love this example of a room with lots of natural light – it really shows off Pale Oak’s neutral versatility, as it reads as off-white here.
Soft…creamy…off-white. The lighting in this room is more artificial than natural which brings out the warm, greige side of Pale Oak. You can also see in the darker corner how the gray tones really show up in that type of light.
Ah, this image 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.
After looking at previous images, you may have started to think I was out of my mind to say that Pale Oak had the slightest of pink undertones.
This image shows it off well: a greige with just the teensiest blush of pink. It’s not overwhelming – unless you hate pink undertones.
7.) Our Paint Colors | Nick + Alicia
Can you tell that the walls are Pale Oak and the cabinets are white? Just barely? In a room with an abundance of bright, natural light, Pale Oak will display just the slightest of greige color that’s really only noticeable against white.
A beautiful example of Pale Oak in in an entryway.
9.) Cream Against Dark Accents | Claire Jefford
Pale Oak looks very light in areas with natural light. Here the combination of bright, natural light plus the dark door and other dark accents create the effect of Pale Oak appearing as a soft off-white.
Nice and neutral. Here Pale Oak reads as a light taupe, expertly fading into the background so that the decor can be the focus. This is a good shot for demonstrating how Pale Oak looks in shadows and variable light.
In this space, Pale Oak has just enough color to it to read as a soft off-white, which is perfect for making this small space feel large and airy. It shows warm here, almost with hints of pink with that overhead light turned on.
Pale Oak exhibits just the slightest of warm pale gray here. It’s just enough to color to provide some interest without taking center stage.
Can this really be the same color? While it’s not quite Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Pale Oak can display many “faces” depending on the amount of light in the space. Paint swatches – use them!
I love how subtle Pale Oak can be while at the same time how much this one color can warm up a space. I love how the paint picks up the warmer undertones from the wood floor in this image.
15.) Looking Very Taupe | Banyaitech
Pale Oak reads very differently in different lighting situations – it’s truly a color with many talents, and I love that you never get the same thing twice with it.
Here, it looks very taupe and much darker than in some of the other images I’ve shown you thus far. This tends to happen most commonly in North-facing rooms.
Here is another example of Benjamin Moore Pale Oak looking 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.
In this bright room, you might mistake Pale Oak for a soft, creamy white. It’s light and bright and still feels very serene and comfortable.
Stunning! Pale Oak could NOT have been a better choice in this room. It keeps the room light while masterfully making the various gray and brown accents stand out. Overall, a very chic-looking room. Trim color? White Dove.
Soft and creamy, Pale Oak brightens a dark space while keeping it simple and relaxed-feeling. If you look at the corners where the paint is a bit darker, you can see some of those purple undertones peeking out.
20. Neutral Bathroom | Decor Pad
A bit darker in this room with low natural light, but even then Pale Oak simply provides an ideal neutral backdrop for the rest of the decor.
This is how Pale Oak looks on the exterior! Pale but not blindingly bright. Check it out as the main color – or even explore using Pale Oak as a light trim to complement darker main colors.
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), but she chose Benjamin Moore Super White for the final trim shade.
Pale Oak could almost be mistaken for a shade of white given enough natural light flooding into a space, like seen here in this large, open and bright foyer.
Pale Oak is soothing in this lovely bedroom, where it almost plays like a warm greige.
Looking inviting and clean in this laundry room with just a little warm contrast against the bright white washer/dryer.
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.
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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