In a world of white paint colors, Benjamin Moore Classic Gray (OC-23) is a soft gray color that reads white in rooms where white paint colors just don’t look right. It is a light warm gray with subtle green undertones that you will never see and a flash of purple in cooler light. Sometimes it can read so warm that it’s almost beige, and other times it can read a light warm gray.
This is the first of our “All About Paint Colors” series, where we share everything we have learned in the trenches about paint colors.
Classic Gray LRV
Simply White has an LRV of 74.8 which makes it very light greige, or darker off-white. LRV is short for Light Reflectance Value, which is a measurement of how light (LRV=100) or dark (LRV=0) a color is.
When should I use Classic Gray?
Use instead of white when your room is too dark, or you have lots of greenery outside. It is a great solution to update interiors with earthy Tuscan finishes.
This is a great color for every exposure – North, South, East or West. It is so light, it will usually look white. In dark North facing rooms it could flash slight gray, and it holds its own in East and West facing rooms, any time of day. It looks like a glorious soft white in South facing rooms.
The challenge with white paint colors that seems counterintuitive is that you need to have lots of light to be able to carry off a white color. A dark room will have a lot of shadows that make whites look dingy. Another challenge is that whites reflect everything; grass, your neighbor’s paint color, pink flowers, even an evergreen tree. Bright whites reflect every color that surrounds them. Classic Gray will neutralize all the surrounding colors.
One more thing… we do not recommend that you try to paint match Classic Gray or any other Benjamin Moore paints with Sherwin-Williams, Behr or any other manufacturer. Paint color formulas are difficult to duplicate, and whites are especially hard to get right. Read more about paint matching here.
The stairway below shows Classic Gray with Simply White trim. We love the way it highlights the beautiful brass Buddha statue. This color goes well with warm metals such as brass and nickel.
Best trim and Ceiling Colors
Clean whites such as Chantilly Lace (BM OC-65) Oxford White (BM 869) and Extra White (SW 7006) look clean and crisp with Classic Gray. Off-whites such as Simply White (BM OC-117) and Cloud White (OC-130) also look lovely with with this color. Stay away from darker off-whites such as White Dove or cream colors such as Swiss Coffee because there won’t be enough contrast and the combination will look like a mistake.
In a bathroom, or a room with a lofted ceiling you can paint the ceiling Classic Gray just like the walls, as in the bedroom below. This bedroom was a challenge to paint because of the Eastern exposure and the green and blue houses across the street. In the summer the green trees make this room feel like a treehouse, but it can make white walls look green. We tried SW Incredible White (a favorite color), and it looked really pink. East facing exposures are hard, and Classic Gray makes them easy.
Classic Gray for Exteriors
Classic Gray is a fantastic color for an all-white exterior palette, and will look brighter outside than you expect.
It is also one of our dirty little secrets for exterior trim color. When you pick colors for exteriors, its always good to remember that the sunshine makes paint colors look 5x lighter than inside. In our Colorado bright sunshine it seems as if its 10 times brighter! We love to use this color as an exterior trim color because its not too bright to use with brick, not too yellow like a creamy color. Its just right! It can also look lovely as a white for an exterior paint color. We specified Classic Gray for trim in the gorgeous home below. The homeowner (and the painters) were skeptical, but it turned out amazing!
Classic Gray is a beautiful paint color that reads white. Use it anywhere, but pair it with bright and off-whites such as Chantilly Lace and Simply White. As always, don’t forget to test your paint colors! Learn all about paint testing here.
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We love your comments! Please note that the blog is meant as general advice, and it is not possible to give out specific answers to your paint questions. If you want more specific advice, please consider purchasing a color consultation. Thank you for your understanding.