THE BEST WARM GRAY PAINT COLOR (OFF-WHITE)
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…).
So, let’s find out why Classic Gray is one of Benjamin Moore paints most POPULAR gray paint colors…
IS CLASSIC GRAY WARM OR COOL? GRAY, GREIGE, OR BEIGE?
Classic Gray is an off-white, warm gray with soft, muted, feather-like undertones. However, depending on the exposure of the room and surrounding finishes, Classic Gray can also be read as a light shade of taupe, which is warmer than gray. It’s not greige, as greige caters to a green undertone – which Classic Gray does NOT.
As for beige, don’t worry about it – Classic Gray is not beige-inclined. If it looks THAT warm, that’s about your lighting situation or how you’re sampling your paint colors – perhaps it’s being sampled next to a cooler color that makes it look so much warmer in comparison.
By the way, Classic Gray is known by the numbers OC-23 and 1548 – they’re the same color, as it’s available in two different fan decks.
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 (light reflectance value) 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.
However, Classic Gray could feel dingy and flat in a dark room (check out other light colors for dark rooms here). 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 subtle warm gray could be right up your alley! With a very passive violet-pink hue, Classic Gray’s undertones suit a wide range of interior finishes, more so than grays with blue or green hues.
Seriously, don’t let those undertones scare you. While you might’ve focused on the one ‘P-word,’ you might’ve easily missed the other one – passive. Every gray, taupe, 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, 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 subway tiles for the vanity wall in this bathroom remodel – they have the same undertone as Classic Gray, just on a darker level.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray darkened by 25%
Now, once in a blue moon (or a pink one might be more the point), I’ve seen it lean considerably more into 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 Chantilly Lace, ideally in a durable satin finish. Chantilly Lace offers a fresh look, although overall, because Classic Gray has some brown in it, it’s not a traditionally ‘fresh and clean’ take on gray – it’s more soft and pretty.
- 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, making them look a touch more taupe in comparison
Shown above with Sherwin Williams Pure White kitchen cabinets
CAN YOU USE CLASSIC GRAY ON THE WALLS, CABINETS, & TRIMS
Color-drenching is a popular look right now, especially in darker shades. As for doing it with Classic Gray, while it can suit a wide variety of surfaces, sometimes you don’t appreciate a color when it doesn’t have something to play with or CONTRAST with. Sure, it has a great depth of color with its higher LRV so that it CAN go on multiple surfaces; you just shift the sheens to see some subtle variation. HOWEVER…
It’s too much of a good thing if you ask me.
LONG STORY SHORT: yes, you can use it on all surfaces; I just wouldn’t.
In this next space, you’ll see Classic Gray on the walls with Agreeable Gray on the cabinets and trims (you’ll read more about Agreeable Gray shortly). Even this small shift in depth/color adds some interest to a space…
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Get your PEEL & STICK SAMPLE OF CLASSIC GRAY
CLASSIC GRAY IN A NORTH-FACING ROOM
Northern exposure is a cool, grayish light, in which Classic Gray holds itself pretty well, as long as there’s ENOUGH light coming in the windows. It looks like a simple, soft, warm gray as the northern light can slightly encourage the gray rather than the subtle warmth.
Regarding the photos above and below, an E-Design client hired me to help with her living room update 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 living room day AND nite!
WARM GRAYS IN HALLWAYS
As for hallways, while some are bright and can be treated according to their exposure, others are typically dark. Warm grays like Classic Gray can struggle in low-light spaces unless the interior lighting is greatly improved. If there isn’t enough light, colors like this can look dingy and drab, although coordinating them with the right white can help (a brighter one, which we’ll look at shortly). If I put Classic Gray in a hallway, I’ll likely install light bulbs with Kelvins at approximately 3000K to keep some warmth but brighten things up a stitch.
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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 BM Classic Gray; the same goes for afternoon western sunshine (which can go CONSIDERABLY gold).
If your room is super bright, Classic Gray will wash out. However, if your room gets moderate southern light, Classic Gray can look like a soft, warm gray that favors taupe (so it looks warmer than traditional shades of gray).
IS CLASSIC GRAY A GOOD EXTERIOR PAINT COLOR?
Ermmmm, probably not. You can give it a go, but don’t be surprised if its undertones come up a wink more and, at times, look even WARMER than expected. At this depth (unless you live in a shaded area), you can expect it to wash out in the sunshine.
However, Classic Gray’s undertones are awesome with your stone, brick, and roof, the front of your home doesn’t get absolutely PUMMELLED with sunshine, and if 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. However, sampling and comparing paint colors is the BEST way to find your perfect shade…
CLASSIC GRAY VS SHERWIN WILLIAMS INCREDIBLE WHITE
If choosing between these two off-whites, I almost always choose Classic Gray. Incredible White sounds similar, being a warm gray with violet-pink hues, but its undertones can show up at the party a bit more. Incredible White is also a touch cooler than Classic Gray, although it has a comparable depth.
CLASSIC GRAY VS SHERWIN WILLIAMS EGRET WHITE
I LOVE suggesting these two shades to my Online Paint Color clients. When a room calls for a subtle, muted warmth with NO green hues, these are my go-to’s. Egret White has an LRV of 70, so it’s on the high end of the light range and is a bit darker than Classic Gray. Classic Gray can also look a bit warmer than Egret White, with sliiiightly more noticeable undertones at times.
If your room is well-lit, a color like Egret White will hold up a bit better to intense light than Classic Gray, however, any lightish color will wash out.
CLASSIC GRAY VS BENJAMIN MOORE PALE OAK
These two warm shades are often compared and sampled for the same project; however, there’s a reasonable difference between them.
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, 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.
As for depth, Pale Oak has an LRV of almost 69, putting it on the slightly higher end of the light range, making it darker than Classic Gray. This can be great if you have fussy finishes requiring more commitment to this undertone (without going over the top). While both have their place, Classic Gray is the more popular shade.
CLASSIC GRAY VS BENJAMIN MOORE 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.
IS CLASSIC GRAY A GOOD COLOR FOR KITCHEN CABINETS?
You must be careful, 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.’
Instead, I suggest sampling Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. It’s currently a HOT color on cabinets – for good reason, too. Read all about it HERE.
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray – GET YOUR PEEL & STICK SAMPLE HERE
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 this case, I don’t see ‘dingy’ as a bad thing at all, unless it’s in a low-light space, in which MANY colors will look more drab and dirty.
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 ACCENT OR CABINET COLORS GO 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 for a darker color, for the cabinets, island, or even an accent wall, Benjamin Moore Metropolis is the first place I look, although it can look STUNNING with shades of gray-blue, as well as MANY darker shades of green.
WHAT COLORS GO WITH CLASSIC GRAY?
If you’re making a color palette, explore…
- slightly darker shades of warm grays-violet
- some warm grays with green undertones, like Revere Pewter, can be an interesting complement, as well as grays that pick up a touch of blue, like Stonington Gray
- the classic look of WHITE!
Not sure which paint color is best for you and YOUR home?
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Written in 2019, updated in 2023