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Benjamin Moore Pale Oak – why it’s a favorite


All about Pale Oak

Are you looking for a versatile, fresh, neutral paint color? There are hundreds of options and today we’re taking an in-depth look into one of the best, Benjamin Moore Pale Oak.

Benjamin Moore pale oak review

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Hey there! Are you in search of a good light neutral paint color for your home? The quest for the right color can be maddening but hopefully today’s post will help narrow it down for you just a bit.

Pale Oak from Benjamin Moore is one of those can’t-go-wrong colors that’s a favorite and we’re covering all there is to know about it. So grab a seat and get ready to learn everything concerning this popular color.

All about Pale Oak OC-20

What color is Pale Oak OC-20?

Pale Oak OC-20 (aka 858) is a lovely light greige paint color that’s one of Benjamin Moore’s best selling colors and is popular with designers, painters, and homeowners. It’s a mixture of red, blue, and yellow colorants and has a warm gray appearance.

It has just enough color to give some contrast against white trim, but not so much that it would darken any room. It’s also known as Athena 858 and is part of the Off-White Collection.

Benjamin Moore pale oak

What are the undertones of Pale Oak?

It’s a neutral but it has subtle undertones of gray, blue, and a hint of purple in certain lighting situations.

Is Benjamin Moore Pale Oak warm or cool?

It’s a warm gray. I know, you’re probably thinking that gray paint colors aren’t warm. But some grays are warmer than others and this is one of those.

Is Pale Oak more beige or gray?

Pale Oak is in between beige and gray and falls in the greige paint color category. It’s not too beige, and not too gray. See the top 15 greige paint colors here ==> 15 Best Greige Paint Colors

It can appear warmer or cooler depending the light source in the space. And it’s always best to test the color in your room to know exactly how it will look.

What is the LRV of Pale Oak

Pale Oak has a light reflective value of 68.64. It’s classified as an off-white, so you can be sure that it’s a light color. But it has enough color that it will contrast against white trim.

pale oak benjamin moore LRV

What whites and off whites go with Pale Oak?

The best trim colors for Pale Oak are those that aren’t too creamy or too gray. Any of these classics are good choices:

  • Super White – a crisp white that’s ready-mixed and covers well.
  • White Dove – a warm, barely off-white
  • Chantilly Lace – a clean white that will give a stark contrast
  • Simply White – a soft and warm off white
  • Swiss Coffee – a warm off-white that will have a subtle contrast against Pale Oak
  • Revere Pewter – use this color if you want a darker contrasting trim color.
Pale Oak Coordinating Trim Colors (1)

You can grab a free downloadable and printable copy of the color charts at the bottom of this post.

Where are the best places to use Pale Oak?

Pale Oak looks great on these surfaces:

  • walls
  • trim
  • cabinets
  • exterior trim or siding

Rooms that look nice with Pale Oak walls are bedrooms, kitchens, nurseries, laundry rooms, hallways, and bathrooms.

As far as lighting goes, it will probably look best in rooms that face west with warm afternoon sunlight since technically it’s a gray. But it can work in any setting since it’s not too cool.

Colors that go well with Pale Oak

Even though Pale Oak is a warm gray, it’s still in the gray or greige family and on the cooler side of the color spectrum. So colors with cool undertones will look the best with it.

Blues, grays, and gray-greens are good coordinating colors for Pale Oak.

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak Color Palettes

Here’s a Pale Oak color palette I curated with soft muted blues, light neutrals, and a black for accents. You can download a free copy of this and all of my color palettes and printable art if you sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of this post.

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak Paint Color Palette

If you prefer a palette with pale, soft colors then you’ll love this one. There are soft gray-greens, blues, neutrals, and a muted pink with cool undertones. Perfect for a cottage look or nursery.

pale oak neutral and blues color palette

And just for fun because I’m such a paint color geek, I created a few more coordinating color palettes I with Pale Oak. This is what I’ve done for my real-life clients for the past 25+ years and it’s something I could do all day long, every day.

You can grab your copy of these color palettes with all the names when you sign up for my newsletter below.

A pop of magenta is the perfect accent with Pale Oak and navy blue.

pale oak color palette

For a calm and relaxing palette, consider using blue-grays and dark blues.

pale oak benjamin moore coordinating colors

And for a more earthy palette, use a dark green and taupe as accent colors.

benjamin moore pale oak color palette
Pale Oak Curated Sample Collection

Coordinating Color Samples

Want more coordinating colors? See this group of colors in a curated collection of peel and stick samples here: Pale Oak Coordinating Colors

My favorite paint brush for the past 20 years is also a favorite of nearly 11,000 amazon reviewers. Grab this affordable and comfortable-to-hold brush here -> MY FAVORITE PAINT BRUSH

Lighter and darker shades of Benjamin Moore Pale Oak

If Pale Oak isn’t light or dark enough your space, or if you want a monochromatic color scheme, then there are several other good colors with the same undertones. Here are the best ones to consider if you need something a little lighter or darker.

pale oak lighter and darker

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak compared to similar colors

There are many other colors that are similar to Pale Oak if it’s just not the right one for your room. Here are several other popular and similar paint color comparisons. Some are lighter, some are darker, some have different undertones.

Pale Oak vs Balboa Mist OC-27

Balboa Mist OC-27 aka 1549 is a very similar color. It’s slightly lighter with a light reflective value of 65.53 vs the 68.64 of Pale Oak. It’s also cooler than Pale Oak and has a hint more gray to it.

Pale OakBalboa Mist
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralwarm gray, neutral
benjamin moore pale oak vs Balboa Mist

If Pale Oak is too light or warm, then Balboa Mist might be a good choice for you.

Pale Oak vs Light Pewter

Light Pewter 1464 has a light reflective value of 67.52 and is ever-so-slightly darker and cooler than Pale Oak.

Pale OakLight Pewter
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralwarm gray, neutral
benjamin moore pale oak vs Light Pewter

There’s not much difference in these two popular colors but if Pale Oak is the tiniest bit too warm, then try Light Pewter.

Pale Oak vs Revere Pewter

Revere Pewter HC-172 is one of the most popular neutral paint colors ever. It’s similar to Pale Oak as far as being neutral and taking on different undertones depending on the lighting, etc.

Pale OakRevere Pewter
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralwarm gray

benjamin moore pale oak vs Revere Pewter

But it’s definitely darker with a LRV of 55. If you want the same look as Pale Oak but a bit stronger then this might be the one for you.

Pale Oak vs Swiss Coffee OC-45

Swiss Coffee OC-45 has an of LRV 81.91 and is a couple of shades lighter than Pale Oak. It’s a warm off-white with similar undertones, but is slightly warmer.

Pale OakSwiss Coffee
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralneutral, slightly warm
benjamin moore pale oak vs Swiss Coffee

If you don’t want a stark white but are looking for something lighter than Pale Oak, then give this one a test drive. It’s a subtle almost white that won’t make your room look too sterile.

Pale Oak vs Classic Gray

Classic Gray 1548 (or OC-23) is also part of the Off-White collection from Benjamin Moore. It has an LRV of 74 and is a little lighter and cooler than Pale Oak.

Pale OakClassic Gray
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralslightly warm gray
benjamin moore pale oak vs Classic Gray

If you need a color with a hint less warmth then this might be the one for you.

Pale Oak vs Edgecomb Gray HC-173

Edgecomb Gray HC-173 is from the Historical Collection from Benjamin Moore and is a best-selling color. Also known as Alaskan Skies 972 and Baby Fawn OC-15, it has an LRV of 63.09.

Pale OakEdgecomb Gray
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralwarm gray
benjamin moore pale oak vs Edgecomb Gray

It’s slightly darker than Pale Oak which has an LRV of 68.04, and it has a tiny bit more yellow undertones. It’s a good alternative to Pale Oak if you’re looking for more warmth and color.

Pale Oak vs Silver Satin

Silver Satin 856, also known as OC-26, is very similar to Pale Oak but is lighter and cooler. It has an LRV of 74.9 and more gray undertones than Pale Oak.

Pale OakSilver Satin
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralslightly warm, neutral
benjamin moore pale oak vs Silver Satin

Silver Satin might be a good choice if you’re painting a room that gets a lot of warm afternoon sunlight and Pale Oak looks to warm for you.

Pale Oak vs Agreeable Gray

Agreeable Gray SW7029 is one of the most popular neutrals from Sherwin Williams. Like Pale Oak, it’s light and neutral enough for any room. But it’s the darker and cooler of the two colors.

Pale OakSW Agreeable Gray
Undertoneswarm gray, neutralwarm gray to neutral
benjamin moore pale oak vs Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

It has an LRV of 60 vs the 68.64 of Pale Oak, and has more gray than Pale Oak.

Rooms painted with Pale Oak

The best way to know how a paint color looks in space is to see it in real rooms, right? You can take a peek at a few spaces below and get an idea of how it will appear in a room setting.

But honestly the best way to know is to test the color in your own home.

I use and recommend Samplize Peel and Stick paint samples because of their accuracy and simplicity. They have two coats of real paint and are mess-free.

You can learn all about them and get a sample of Pale Oak here -> Pale Oak Peel and Stick Paint Sample

Pale Oak Living Room

Neutral paint colors are ideal for living rooms because you can change out your throw pillows and accents without worrying if they’ll clash with the wall color.

Pale Oak will give you a light, neutral backdrop for your furnishings. The living room below is light and refreshing but not too stark.

pale oak living room cloud white trim

Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Pale Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Do you want a light kitchen but not stark white? Consider using Pale Oak on your cabinets.

It looks beautiful with the brass hardware and light wood floors in the kitchen below.

Kitchen with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak cabinets and brass hardware

Kitchen by Andrea McQueen Designs, photo credit Claire Roberts

Pale Oak Bedroom

Use Pale Oak on bedroom walls to create a soft and restful retreat.

It contrasts nicely with the white trim in the bedroom below and is the perfect backdrop for all the accent colors.

pale oak benjamin moore bedroom

Courtney at A Thoughtful Place

For a more formal look, add molding and pair it with black and dark gray.

pale oak Benjamin Moore bedroom


In summary, Pale Oak is a wonderful paint color choice if you’re looking for one with a bit of color but not too warm or too cool.

It’s ideal for any room, and can also be used on cabinets and trim. It’s one of those go-to colors that designers use over and over, so you know it’s a safe choice.

Try a sample

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  1. This is the best paint color review I have
    ever read…and I think I have read
    thousands of them! I love your description
    of each color and the way you offer lighter
    and darker versions with descriptions of
    the alternatives. Thanks so much! I have
    subscribed to your email and look forward
    to reading your reviews.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments, Adrienne. I’m glad you found it helpful. I try to think of all the questions anyone would have about a color and answer them. Have a great weekend! ~ Angie

  2. Amazing review of Pale Oak. I love all of the minor adjustments and suggestions you make. They are so thoughtful and spot on its like you’re inside my brain! You are talented and I can’t wait to get the color palette! Thank you so much! Liz

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