A barely-there neutral paint color, Benjamin Moore Pale Oak is quite popular for living rooms, kitchens and whole home colors.
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What color is Pale Oak?
Pale Oak is a greige paint color. Greige is the blend of grey and beige and some greige colors have more beige, while others have more gray. Pale Oak is a pretty equal blend of grey and beige, without leaning too far into one color.
Besides the fact that Pale Oak is a greige, something else that’s equally important is the fact that it’s a taupe color paint choice. Now, not all greige colors are taupe, and not all taupe colors are greige, so don’t go thinking the two are interchangeable.
Taupe can best be described as being warmer than gray, but cooler than gray. So you might think you’ve met your match with a taupe color if you don’t quite want to commit to beige, and you don’t like the cool flashes of gray, but not so fast!
While taupe is a good in between color, taupe has undertones, which brings me to my next point…
Does Benjamin Moore Pale Oak have a purple undertone?
Benjamin Moore Pale Oak is technically a taupe greige color with undertones that lean into the pink, but not purple. All taupes have either a pink or purple undertone or a combination of those two, just incase you thought you could escape it!
All neutral colors have undertones, so there’s no denying them when you want to work with a neutral color; you just have to learn how to work with them, rather than against them. I’ll explain how to work with Pale Oak below.
Click here to order a peel and stick paint sample of Pale Oak!
Pale Oak color palette
Here’s some colors I like pairing with Pale Oak. Think of these color pairings as fabric or accessory colors, not just paint colors. Pale Oak really looks pretty with greens, blues, but pairs gorgeously with blue greens, which is why I have a lot of them on this list.
When you pair pale oak or any neutral paint color for that matter with other neutral colors, they need to share the same undertone (white colors excluded). This is why the only other neutral on this list is a darker taupe.
(Colors listed in clockwise)
- Studio Blue Green–a dark blue green
- Quiet Moments–a pale blue green hue
- Cabernet–a saturated, but not too dark plum
- Stone Hearth–a darker taupe
- Wythe Blue– a pretty blue green hue
What is the LRV of Pale Oak?
The LRV of Pale Oak is almost 70. LRV means light reflectance value, which shows us how light or dark a color is with 100 being pure white and 0 being pure black.
Pale Oak vs Swiss Coffee
Swiss Coffee is significantly lighter than Pale Oak, with an LRV of 84. While Swiss Coffee’s LRV is very close to off white paint colors, it’s still technically considered a very light greige with green undertones.
You’ll chose Swiss Coffee over Pale Oak if you have fixed elements that lean more towards green than pink and also if your room doesn’t get a lot of natural light and you’d like something fairly pale on the walls.
Pale Oak vs Edgecomb Gray
At an LRV of 63, Edgecomb Gray is a decent bit darker than Pale Oak. Beyond that, Edgecomb Gray is very different than Pale Oak. Edgecomb Gray is a gray with green undertones, while Pale Oak is a taupe greige.
Choose Edgecomb Gray over Pale Oak if your fixed elements and furnishings have a green undertone.
Pale Oak vs. Balboa Mist
Pale Oak is just slightly lighter than Balboa Mist, but these colors are different in other areas. While Pale Oak is a taupe greige paint color with pink undertones, Balboa Mist is a greige paint color with purple undertones.
When compare these colors side by side you can easily see the pink undertone in Pale Oak and the purple in Balboa Mist is very prevalent.
I recommend going with Balboa Mist over Pale Oak if your fixed elements lean more towards the violet undertone. You’d be surprised how many rugs, fabrics, etc actually have a violet undertone. You’ve got to really watch this with a gray fabrics, as they can quickly lean violet.
Pale Oak vs. Classic Gray
Classic Gray is a smidge lighter than Pale Oak, but beyond that, the colors are very different. Classic Gray is also a greige, like Pale Oak, but it is a greige with a green undertone, and by now, you know when to choose a color like this!
Click here to order a peel and stick paint sample of Pale Oak or any other colors on this list!
Which trim color looks best with Pale Oak?
A true white trim color looks best with Pale Oak, but you also get away with pairing Pale Oak with some off white trim colors, as well.
In terms of specifics, I love how Oxford White and Chantilly Lace pair with Pale Oak. It’s crisp, clean and a beautiful contrast.
I absolutely do not recommend pairing Pale Oak with a color like Cloud Cover. It’s just not enough of a contrast and almost clashes. Make sure to test your whites with your colors! Don’t ever make a last minute trim color decision!
Which colors are similar to Pale Oak?
- Benjamin Moore Fossil, LRV of 72. Fossil has a good bit of a pink undertone and leans a bit yellow.
- Sherwin Williams Egret White, LRV of 70. Egret White has just a hair more of a pink undertone than Pale Oak.
Tips for deciding if Pale Oak is right for your space
Don’t agonize for hours and hours (or even days!) when you can pick the right paint color initially after following these three tips.
Understand the undertone of Pale Oak
This is the biggest piece you have to get right! Remember, Pale Oak is a taupe greige with pink undertones. A lot of times taupe has pink or purple undertones, but this color just leans towards pink.
Ideally, your fixed elements and furnishings (read, anything that would be too expensive to replace) should match, undertone-wise with your paint color for the most harmonious result.
You might be saying to yourself, what would I possibly have in my house that would lean towards pink? Outside of a little girls’ room, you would actually be surprised how many elements lean pink! Pale linen fabric leans pink many times, a good bit of carpet leans pink, a lot of cream fabrics lean pink, etc.
You might not be able to tell this until you hold the sample up against your fabric or paint color, which is exactly what you need to do when testing out this color.
If you really pay attention, when you see inspiration pictures of Pale Oak online, it looks the best when a major element in the room leans pink. In many of the inspiration photos I have seen online Pale Oak is paired with a pinky beige carpet or a linen fabric that leans pink.
Additionally, if you don’t have neutral elements in your room, refer to the color palette above. Pale Oak looks amazing with blues and greens!
Evaluate your light
As you read above, Pale Oak is pretty light. So here’s the thing with light paint colors–sometimes they lose their luster when you put them in a room that’s just overflowing with natural light.
If your room is drowning in light, you want to go darker to get the same affect. Otherwise, you’ll be left with what looks like an off white on your walls.
Test out Pale Oak against other similar hues
By now you know Pale Oak is a greige. In order to make the right color choice, you really need to test out multiple colors. You may find your home can’t support a taupe greige, but needs a cooler gray. Or perhaps you need a beige or even a gray with green undertones.
If after looking at your fixed elements you’re still drawing a blank, order colors in several shades to see what direction you need to go in. After that you land on the right undertone you can start looking at other colors in that color family.
Testing colors out together where you are literally putting them side by side is the best way to see undertones. I have reviewed over 100 colors on this blog and might have the color you’re searching for. Just use the search function.
In the meantime, if you aren’t set on Pale Oak, check out more of my favorite best greige paint colors for your home.