Some paint colours catch on and end up with cult-like status. Usually, this happens when we’re talking about neutrals. The colours that fall into the gray or beige spectrum and have specific undertones that are easy to live with. Neutrals are hard for the average homeowner to fully understand because there are undertones that aren’t evident to the eye but they can have a dramatic impact (both positive and negative) on your space.
The list of favourites usually starts because designers love and recommend them, myself included. This one has an extra special place in my heart and I can recommend wholeheartedly – Benjamin Moore Pale Oak. This has been my number one, go-to neutral paint recommendation for quite a while.
Recently I was featured in HOUSE BEAUTIFUL as part of their roundup of designers who sing the praises of Pale Oak. I know, I was pretty honoured. Head over to read the article
Heathered Nest Blog shared my entryway and has more info on Pale oak- check it out.
Benjamin Moore- Pale Oak OC-20
-Pairs well with warm colours that have blue or green undertones.
Pale Oak is considered a light neutral. It might seem odd to classify neutrals as anything other than neutral but they do range from very light to deeply saturated so it’s important to consider this.
It’s also important to note that this is a taupe greige. If you’re not familiar with that it’s sort of exactly what it sounds like. A hybrid between gray and beige. It has warmth in it that’s brought to you courtesy of the beige. This is great for people who don’t want gray but are not loving just a beige or sand colour alone. It’s got the perfect blend of warm and cool and it will change depending on its surroundings and the time of day.
Like I mentioned, every neutral has an undertone and this one leans toward pink. Before you turn away thinking I don’t want a pink room just bear in mind that the word is undertone. The colour is still greige but in certain instances you’re going to notice that slight hint of pink arises. This becomes more problematic If your other fixed elements in the space don’t play nicely with that. That’s where you’ll be bothered by it.
Seeing the undertone is not a bad thing. You might love that if you’re trying to create an office or a girl’s bedroom. However, if this colour is going into your living room and you live in a home full of boys and men you might not be looking for a paint that reads pink. If you want to neutralize the undertone of Pale Oak don’t add more of the same but rather look at adding in a blues and greens to help pull out the gray in the greige.
WHY I LOVE THIS COLOUR
I have used this colour in every home I have lived in. Some with natural stained oak floors, some with dark espresso floors that I inherited with the home and now with the medium-toned wood floors. It can be versatile and work in so many homes. As I mentioned earlier- as long as you don’t have pink undertones. For example it would not pair well with Cherry wood or Mahogany.
In spite of the undertones this neutral does tend to work well with other colours and it’s generally a really easy colour to add to your home. It’s an elegant neutral that doesn’t read as gray and lends an element of warmth to your space.
WILL PALE OAK WORK IN YOUR SPACE?
If you’re looking for a neutral and you want to see the true greige colour as opposed to the undertones check your surroundings. Where is the colour going? If it’s in a kitchen or bathroom you’ll need to look closely at your fixed elements like the flooring, the countertops, the wood, etc. What’s the undertone in those? If they tend towards the green and blue tones then Pale Oak will work well because the blue and green colours will pull out the gray and you’ll get your lovely neutral that you’re after.
In your living spaces like bedrooms, living rooms, etc take a look at your fabrics. Same thing applies as above however if you have fabrics that lean towards the earthy orange, peach tones we’ve seen a lot of lately, you will definitely be drawing out the pink in this colour. It could also look very pretty and feminine but be sure you know what you’re going to end up with before you begin.
TRIM COLOURS TO USE WITH PALE OAK
Since we’re dealing with warm pink undertones you’ll want to use warm whites to accent this paint colour. Anything too stark is going to look off and create a contrast that isn’t pleasing to the eye.
WHITE DOVE OC-17 –
this is one of the warmest of the Benjamin Moore white collection. This white sits firmly in the middle of warms and cools so it’s a great choice for Pale Oak.
SIMPLY WHITE OC-117 –
this is another neutral that sits between warm and cool but it’s a tiny bit more stark than white dove. This would be a great choice is an area where you really want to accentuate the details of the room. A character home with high baseboards and heavy crown molding would be a great example.
SIMILAR COLOURS TO PALE OAK
In case you like Pale Oak but you want something a little different there are a few that you can turn to.
CLASSIC GRAY OC-23 –
this is visually the closest you’ll find to Pale Oak in my opinion. Classic Gray tends more towards the cooler end of the spectrum so if you love Pale Oak but want less warmth, Classic Gray could be the right one.
BALBOA MIST OC-27 –
this is another close look-alike but it has just a small amount of additional saturation making it slightly darker.
COLLINGWOOD – OC28
this is the darkest of the options so if your room receives a lot of light and you don’t want your colour to wash away, try this one.
One of the most appealing aspects of Pale Oak is that it works well with virtually every design style. From traditional to modern, if the other elements work well with the undertones in Pale Oak you can bring it into any environment. If you’re not sure about your own personal design style, I’ve got you covered. Take the What’s Your Design Style quiz on my website. You’ll get instant results and you’ll receive a complementary Moodboard where I share tips and tricks to make that style work in your space.
MY FINAL WORD
Always test your paint in your space before committing to the purchase. Lighting, both artificial and natural, play such an important role in how a paint is perceived. You really need to apply the paint and watch it change during the day and into the evening to see if you really love it.
I don’t think it’s necessary to start painting your walls in order to test the colours though. One of my favourite tools as a colour consultant are the Hello Paint wall stickers. They’re made with real paint from the large manufacturers. If you love Pale Oak go order a sample, attach it to the wall and see what you think. Don’t love it or changed your mind about.