Benjamin Moore & Sherwin Williams: Top 6 Off-White Paint Colours
I get asked about off-whites ALL the time, the most common question being, ‘I was thinking of using this off-white paint colour. Are there any sneaky undertones I should know about?’ You bet there are!
Splashes of blue, touches of purple, hints of green, or even PINK – off-whites are DARN hard to choose. And whatever happened to the ease of builder beige anyway? I’m just joking; NOBODY wants builder beige to come back.
Before we get into the guts n’ the glory, let’s talk about off-whites and why they are such a bugger to choose. And if this is your first time to my blog – the Ginger likes to hear herself talk (or type). Consider yourself warned.
OFF-WHITE PAINT COLORS
Regarding LRV, it can be tricky to know where the cut-off is between white, off-white, and light. Are you not familiar with LRV? You should read this blog post; it will become your best friend (or I will, one or the other). And while 60-70 is the magic LRV range for almost any room, when it comes to off-white, its LRV range sits between 73-82 (approx). In this range, you’ll find off-whites that are light and bright but will still show some contrast with standard white trim.
Off-white colour = higher LRV = more light reflection. This means that if the light that’s shining on your wall happens to have a ‘colour’ to it, your walls can pick up on that. For example…
- if you have a TON of green outside your window (grass/trees), your off-white walls might pick up a hint of green
- if your porch floor is painted red, your off-white walls might look a tad pink as the red is reflected on your walls AND the high LRV of your walls reflects it back
And then there’s exposure (north/south/east/west facing), which ALL have their own colour quirks. Add all these things together, along with the needs of your furnishings and your personal tastes – let’s just say that off-whites are tricky.
See ALL of this beautiful bathroom here
And THAT’S why we’re having our lil chat today, as I’ve pulled together some of my fave off-whites and some comments on a few more of today’s most POPULAR off-whites. These colors are relatively neutral, but that doesn’t mean they’re fool-proof (as there are no fool-proof neutrals). It all depends on your home, exposure, furnishings, interior finishings, and, of COURSE, personal tastes, but they’ll at least get you started!
1. BENJAMIN MOORE CLASSIC GRAY OC-23
Classic Gray is a warm gray in the off-white range. It’s on the edge of the off-white range, winking at the light depths. This means you’ll see a good degree of contrast if you choose a reasonably white color for your trim.
Any gray (even warm ones) will have blue, purple, green, or a mix of those undertones, and Classic Gray is no exception (read more about that here). Classic Gray favors a very (very) mild purple undertone. This undertone doesn’t always show up to the party, but it’s quite passive when it does. It can also flash slightly warm violet (violet-pink) vs. cool violet (violet-blue), but I’ve never seen it lean totally pink (whereas the comparable Pale Oak can); it’s just a slightly warmer violet.
And, as usual, I’m being anal. You might look at this colour and think, ‘Good Lord, what IS she talking about – this color is NEUTRAL?’ – it’s that subtle. I just don’t want you to be surprised once it’s on your walls!
WHY IS CLASSIC GRAY SUCH A POPULAR WARM GRAY PAINT COLOUR?
- Classic Gray has an LRV of almost 75, so it’s in the off-white range, but really has a bit more body than most
- in some lights, Classic Gray can look quite taupe and can easily be considered one (taupe being warmer than gray)
- while Classic Gray FAVORS gray, it never looks icy cold like traditional gray paint colors
- with its subtle warmth, Classic Gray is MORE likely to last longer than some of the other gray paint colors
Sherwin Williams Pure White cabinets, Classic Gray walls
WHAT PAINT COLOURS ARE SIMILAR TO CLASSIC GRAY?
If Classic Gray doesn’t hit the spot, check out Benjamin Moore Gray Mist. It’s an off-white (heavy off-white) that’s a greige, so rather than having the subtle purple of Classic Gray, it has a wink more warmth with a touch of green, cream/yellow.
You might also like the approach of Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist, which is similar to Classic Gray but has a bit more depth and body to it.
2. SHERWIN WILLIAMS WHITE DUCK SW 7010
I LOVE White Duck, as it’s the perfect blend of cream with a tan/gray base to calm it down. If you like cream walls but don’t like yellow, White Duck could be the hybrid you’re looking for.
Having used this colour in my brother’s house (not shown above, pictures are coming soon), I’ve seen firsthand how it shifts from a beige-greige blend (but never definitively gray or beige) into a really subdued, neutralized cream—mad love. I’ve also seen firsthand how lucky he is to have me in his life. True story.
WHY IS WHITE DUCK SUCH A POPULAR OFF-WHITE PAINT COLOUR?
- White Duck has an LRV of 74, so it really is on the border of off-white and light, offering CONTRAST with trim without visual WEIGHT
- it’s great if you’re looking for a warm, but not OBVIOUSLY beige, gray, or creamy neutral
- like Aesthetic White (coming shortly), it’s one of the few options with no obvious undertone to wrestle with
- in the above photo, White Duck is shown with Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray cabinets – a super wicked combo
- it’s a great choice for a north, east, west or south-facing room
WHICH PAINT COLOURS ARE SIMILAR TO WHITE DUCK?
If White Duck is close but no cigar, several other colors have a similar approach, but with a few tweaks…
- Sherwin Williams Shoji White
- the ever-gorgeous Benjamin Moore Ballet White
- Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White
Often, these subtle shifts make one color perfect over another.
3. BENJAMIN MOORE SILVER SATIN OC-26
Silver Satin is the grayest of the bunch, a soft, slightly warm gray. And while it’s not my PERSONAL fave, due to its non-committal warmth, it has a decent following. HOWEVER, it also has a sneaky undertone to consider…
Remember, every gray will have an undertone, and Silver Satin favors a very slight purple hue. If you like the general look of Silver Satin, but want your walls LIGHTER, Benjamin Moore Calm has a similar approach (and I get nervous about it for the same reason – not warm enough and a bit…too…purple.)
SILVER SATIN’S LRV & A LITTLE MORE
- Silver Satin has an LRV of 76, so it’s sitting pretty in the off-white range
- because it’s a warm gray, Silver Satin will come up a bit warmer in a south-facing room, but gray out more in northern light
- Silver Satin looks pretty with Sherwin Williams Pure White or Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace on trim work
Dunn Edward’s Faded Gray is very similar to Silver Satin
WHAT PAINT COLOURS ARE SIMILAR TO SILVER SATIN?
A good comparison/alternative would be Sherwin Williams Toque White, which is just a touch warmer. I also like Eider White, which you’ll learn about shortly. However, I prefer the subtle approach of Silver Satin to BOTH of those paint colors.
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4. SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY SW 7012
Creamy is definitely one of my favorite warm off-white paint colors that’s NOT beige or gray! However, if you’re looking for a legit shade of cream, it’s not that either!
I’ve had many clients say they love cream, but don’t love yellow. So…(awkward moment) cream IS yellow; it’s just yellow with a neutral base added to it, and that’s JUST what you get when you choose Creamy. The neutral base calms it down, so it’s more of a neutral/cream and less of a colour/yellow.
WHY IS CREAMY ONE OF THE MORE POPULAR CREAM/OFF-WHITE PAINT COLOURS?
- Creamy has an LRV Of 81, which is an UBER fab off-white depth, on the lighter side of it, creating a lower contrast look with white trim
- it looks good with Sherwin Williams Pure White or Benjamin Moore Cloud White trim (more whites HERE)
- Creamy has enough warmth to be OBVIOUS without being obnoxiously yellow, especially compared to more standard cream paint colors
- it’s beautiful on walls, but don’t be tempted to put it on trim or cabinets unless your kitchen really calls for it!
WHICH PAINT COLOURS ARE SIMILAR TO CREAMY?
If you’d like something with a wee wink more colour, look at Benjamin Moore Timid White which is just slightly less neutral/more creamy yellow (also check out Benjamin Moore White Down). If you want a lighter shade, more in the WHITE range, check out Sherwin Williams Alabaster or Dover White.
5. SHERWIN WILLIAMS AESTHETIC WHITE 7035
Aesthetic White is a soft, light beige in the off-white range, but it’s not just any old beige…
Many popular beige paint colors have a slightly golden, yellow-orange undertone to them. Aesthetic White DOES have some warmth, but it’s nicely subdued by a wink o’ gray.
The above photo shows the Aesthetic at its warmest. The photo below shows it at its grayest…
WHY IS AESTHETIC WHITE A POPULAR BEIGE PAINT COLOUR?
- Aesthetic White has an LRV of 73, so it’s another on-the-border colour, but I still find that it gives a fab off-white look with no obvious green/purple/blue/colour in it
- it looks beautiful with Sherwin Williams Pure White on trim work
- It’s nice for a north-facing room for a neutral, but not particularly warm NOR cold look
- with the way trends are leaning, Aesthetic White is set to be a VERY popular paint colour
Here’s a good shot showing Aesthetic White with a few other off-whites (and Sherwin Williams Pure White)…
6. SHERWIN WILLIAMS MODERATE WHITE 6140
With trends leaning warmer, expect more of this beautiful beige coming your way! Moderate White is an off-white beige with a gentle orange undertone, popular in homes with abundant beige finishes, including carpet, tiles, and countertops.
WHY WILL MODERATE WHITE BE POPULAR IN THE COMING DAYS?
- Trends are leaning warmer, away from gray, and closer to the beige end.
- Moderate White has muted undertones that suit a WIDE range of interior finishes.
- It’s a MODERN take on the heavy rich beiges from the early 2000s.
- Another beauty is Benjamin Moore Maritime White, found HERE.
LET ME PICK YOUR PAINT COLORS FOR YOU!
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First published in 2019, awesomely updated in 2023