THE BEST WARM GRAY PAINT COLOR (OFF-WHITE)
Seriously, I can’t believe I haven’t done a review for this color! Not only is it one of MY favorite warm gray paint colors, but it’s also one of my READER’S faves! That’s it; two slaps with a wet noodl for me.
It can be hard to find a good neutral gray or greige in the off-white range, as they all love to flash creepy undertones of blue, purple, or green – and Classic Gray is NO exception. But, the key to picking a paint color you LOVE is to know what you’re dealing with BEFORE you slap it on the walls, which is why you have me (I’m not JUST good looks, you know…).
IS CLASSIC GRAY WARM OR COOL? GRAY, TAUPE, OR BEIGE?
Classic Gray is an off-white, warm gray with soft, muted, slightly feminine undertones. In some rooms, it leans into its warmth a bit more, but rarely looks legit beige. Between the three neutrals, Classic Gray favors warm gray, but can also pass as a shade of taupe.
WHAT’S THE LRV OF CLASSIC GRAY?
If you’re asking yourself, ‘what the heck is LRV?’ you need to read this, but here’s the gist: LRV refers to how light or dark a color is based on a scale of 0-100, and EVERY paint color has an LRV number. The closer the number is to 100, the lighter the color is. The closer it is to 0, the darker the color is. Done!
Classic Gray, darkened by 25%
Now that THAT’S out of the way, let’s return to Classic Gray. Classic Gray has an LRV of ALMOST 75, which in my crazy lil color world means it’s off-white. And while it might be CLOSE to my magic LRV number, it gives a soft, easy contrast with white trim while still lightening a room up.
However, Classic Grey could feel dingy and flat if you have a dark room. If you have a BRIGHT room, you can expect Classic Gray to wash out quite a bit, but it’s pretty darn gorgeous in a room with average light!
WHAT ARE CLASSIC GRAY’S UNDERTONES?
If you don’t like blue or green undertones, this could be right up your alley! Classic Gray has a very passive violet undertone (violet-pink).
Don’t be scared. While you might’ve focused on the one ‘v-word,’ you might’ve easily missed the other one – passive. Every gray and greige has undertones of blue, green, violet, or a mix. The key is to decide how much undertone you can live with and how sensitive you and your surroundings are to it. I don’t like a violet undertone at all, yet I find Classic Gray VERY liveable when it suits the products in a room (and I have it in our guest bedroom).
Take a look at this next photo. There’s a reason why I chose taupe/greige tiles for the vanity wall – they have the same undertone as Classic Gray, just on a darker level.
Classic Gray darkened by 25%. See more of this AMAZING before and after HERE
Now, once in a blue moon (or a pink one might be more the point), I’ve seen it pick up the TINIEST wink of pink. This has usually been in south-facing rooms, but even then, it’s vague and is more about me being anal.
WHAT WHITE TRIM COLOR GOES WITH CLASSIC GRAY?
- Benjamin Moore Oxford White or Chantilly Lace
- You can warm things up to Benjamin Moore White Dove, but that subtle warmth can play a bit more into the undertones that are hiding in Classic Gray
Shown above with Sherwin Williams Pure White cabinets
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Get your PEEL & STICK SAMPLE OF CLASSIC GRAY
CLASSIC GRAY IN A NORTH-FACING ROOM
Classic Gray holds itself pretty well in northern light. You’ll see it looking like a simple, soft, warm gray as the northern light can slightly encourage the ‘gray’ in the color, not the subtle warmth of it.
Regarding the photos above and below, an E-Design client hired me because while she LOVED Classic Gray in the evening light, she found it a bit too cold in the daylight and was looking for a warmer alternative. Here is Classic Gray in the evening with only interior lighting…
It’s fascinating how Classic Gray went from a soft, slightly warm gray to a warm greige, just with the lighting – I LOVE THIS STUFF! I’m also easily amused and a huge color nerd (true and true). Needless to say, I gave her some warmer greige options to consider so she’d love her room day AND nite!
Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages
CLASSIC GRAY IN A SOUTH-FACING ROOM OR WESTERN AFTERNOON LIGHT
South-facing light is warm and can slightly enhance the soft warmth tucked in Classic Gray; the same goes for afternoon western sunshine (which can go CONSIDERABLY gold).
IS CLASSIC GRAY A GOOD EXTERIOR PAINT COLOR?
Ermmmm, probably not. You can give it a go, but don’t be surprised if those violet-pink undertones come up a wink more. At this depth (unless you live in a shaded area), you can expect it to REALLY wash out in the sunshine.
However, if its undertones are awesome with your stone, brick, and roof, the front of your home doesn’t get absolutely PUMMELLED with sunshine, and you partner it with bright white trim, it can be pretty!
WHAT COLORS ARE SIMILAR TO CLASSIC GRAY?
When it comes to getting a perfect match, you won’t find one as there will ALWAYS be undertones, depth, and temperature shifts. For a similar approach, you can check out…
- Sherwin Williams Incredible White
- Sherwin Williams Egret White
- Sherwin Williams City Loft
- Benjamin Moore Silver Satin
COMPARING CLASSIC GRAY TO OTHER POPULAR WARM GRAYS & TAUPES
When finding your best paint color, NOTHING matters more than comparison. These are just a few neutrals I regularly compare Classic Gray with regularly…
CLASSIC GRAY VS BALBOA MIST
Classic Gray and Balboa Mist are similar in that they both have soft violet (violet-pink) undertones. However, Balboa Mist is a bit darker and a bit grayer. Because of this, its violet undertone can sometimes show up at the party a bit more.
CLASSIC GRAY VS PALE OAK
Classic Gray and Pale Oak are ALWAYS being compared as they’re both gentle, subtle approaches to the gray and taupe worlds. Pale Oak is warmer than Classic Gray, which means its violet-pink undertone can shift into PINK-violet much easier (where pink is the more dominant undertone). Its undertones can also show up a bit more than those in Classic Gray.
Stay tuned for a FULL blog post on Classic Gray’s best comparables!
IS CLASSIC GRAY A GOOD COLOR FOR KITCHEN CABINETS?
You must be careful with Classic Gray, as it often looks warmer than expected on cabinets (especially if alkyd or enamel are used). Also, because of its LRV/depth, it’s trickier to find a coordinating wall color. LONG STORY SHORT, it’s not a hard no; it’s a ‘be careful.’
PEOPLE ALSO ASK…
WILL CLASSIC GRAY LOOK DINGY?
This is open to perception. Compared to a cool or stormy gray, yes, Classic Gray can look a bit dingy, but this is because it has a nice warmth. In the case of Classic Gray, I don’t see ‘dingy’ as a bad thing at all.
IS CLASSIC GRAY TOO BEIGE?
If you’re worried about Classic Gray looking too beige, compare it to Benjamin Moore Maritime White, which IS a beige (a muted one). Yes, Classic Gray has warm tendencies, but the only times I’d expect to see beige are a) in the later afternoon golden sunshine (which can turn almost any color more golden) and b) if you partner it with finishes that NEED a cooler approach to gray.
WHAT CABINET COLOR GOES WITH CLASSIC GRAY WALLS?
I’m a big fan of the simplicity of Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace with Classic Gray. This bright white shows off the beauty of Classic Gray. If I go darker, Benjamin Moore Metropolis is the first place I look, although it can look STUNNING with shades of gray-blue too.
WHAT COLORS GO WITH CLASSIC GRAY?
If you’re making a color palette, explore…
- slightly darker shades of warm grays-violet
- mid-toned gray-blues and gray-greens
- the classic look of WHITE!
Not sure if Classic Gray is right for you? Then check these bad boys out…
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Written in 2019, updated in 2023