Athena vs Pale Oak: What’s the Difference?

Athena vs Pale Oak

When selecting the perfect warm neutral paint color, two top options from Benjamin Moore are Athena 858 and Pale Oak OC-20. At first glance, these two light tans can appear very similar. But looking closer, there are noticeable differences in their undertones and aesthetics.

In this article, we’ll do an in-depth comparison of Benjamin Moore Athena vs Pale Oak. We’ll analyze undertones, LRV’s, real-world photos, and ideal room applications. By the end, you’ll understand how these two tans differ and which warm neutral is the best choice for your space.

Key Differences Between Athena and Pale Oak

Before examining all the details, here is an overview of how Athena and Pale Oak differ:

  • Undertones: Athena is a yellow-beige, Pale Oak is a yellow-brown.
  • Use: Athena works well accenting, Pale Oak great whole-home.
  • Rooms: Athena suits bathrooms and kitchens, Pale Oak excels in living rooms.

Now let’s explore Athena vs Pale Oak more closely!

Benjamin Moore Athena 858

Athena 858

Athena 858 is a gorgeous light yellow paint color with a hint of beige. Its soft warmth and brightness has appeal across styles.

Here are some details about Athena:

  • LRV: 68.64
  • Undertones: Yellow-beige
  • Sheen: Available in all finishes
  • Rooms: Bathrooms, kitchens, accent walls
  • Pairs With: Greens, blues, tans

Athena is a pale golden paint color with the subtlest hint of beige. This barely noticeable beige influence injects a sense of welcoming softness.

With an LRV of 68.64, Athena reflects a lot of light while still providing enough color to add cozy contrast. The creamy yellow tones give it a cheerful vibe.

See also  Navajo White vs Swiss Coffee: What’s the Difference?

Some pleasing color combinations with Athena include:

  • Benjamin Moore White Dove
  • Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
  • Benjamin Moore October Mist
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

While suitable for any room, this glowy yellow neutral excels when used strategically as an accent in:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Dining Rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Doors and trim

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20

Pale Oak OC-20 is a gorgeous light tan paint color with subtle yellow undertones. Its versatility and brightness has made it hugely popular.

Here are some details about Pale Oak:

  • LRV: 68.64
  • Undertones: Yellow-brown
  • Sheen: Available in all finishes
  • Rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms, offices
  • Pairs With: Greens, blues, tans

Pale Oak is a pale golden yellow-brown tan without strong undertones. The yellowness gives it cheery brightness without appearing dramatic or overbearing.

With an LRV of 68.64, Pale Oak reflects a lot of light while still providing enough color to avoid feeling washed out. The hints of yellow maintain an uplifting, laidback feel.

Some popular color combinations with Pale Oak include:

  • Benjamin Moore Simply White
  • Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
  • Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

While suitable anywhere, this sunshiney neutral excels when used as the main wall color in:

  • Living Rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Offices
  • Dining Rooms
  • Hallways

Comparing Athena vs Pale Oak

Now that we’ve explored Athena and Pale Oak individually, let’s directly compare the two Benjamin Moore paint colors:


Here is the main difference. Athena is a yellow-beige while Pale Oak is a yellow-brown.

Athena’s hint of beige gives it a touch more softness and warmth. Pale Oak’s brownness feels more laidback and casual.


Athena’s soft glow makes it shine subtly accenting bathrooms and kitchens. Pale Oak’s versatility excels whole-home, especially in living areas.

Paint Finishes

Both Athena and Pale Oak come in any sheen from matte to high-gloss. They provide beautiful, warm paint finishes.

Athena vs Pale Oak Comparison Chart

Here is an overview of their major differences:

Paint Color Athena 858 Pale Oak OC-20
LRV 68.64 68.64
Undertones Yellow-beige Yellow-brown
Use Accent color Whole-home color
Sheens All finishes All finishes

Rooms Painted in Athena and Pale Oak

To better envision Athena vs Pale Oak, let’s look at real rooms painted in the two Benjamin Moore colors:

See also  Natural Choice vs White Duck: What’s the Difference?

Athena 858

Athena 858

Pale Oak OC-20

Pale Oak

The images demonstrate how Athena takes on a subtly warmer, more elegant appearance than casual Pale Oak. But lighting can make them seem somewhat similar.

Should You Choose Athena or Pale Oak?

So which warm neutral paint color is better for your space – soft Athena or laidback Pale Oak? Here are some tips for deciding:

Pick Athena 858 if you want:

  • A light yellow paint with a hint of beige
  • Subtle warmth perfect for accent walls
  • An elegant neutral that feels gracefully welcoming
  • A sophisticated look for focal areas

Choose Pale Oak OC-20 if you want:

  • A light tan with yellow undertones
  • A casual and inviting whole-home color
  • Bright cheerfulness for living spaces
  • Excellent versatility across many rooms

If still uncertain between the two, get samples and paint large swatches on your walls. View throughout different lighting to get a true sense of how they compare in your space before deciding.

Either Benjamin Moore paint color you choose will add beautiful, welcoming warmth. But their differences mean one likely better suits your goals and style.

Ideal Room Applications

Here are some rooms that typically suit Athena and Pale Oak best:

Athena 858

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Dining Rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Doors/Trim

Pale Oak OC-20

  • Living Rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Offices
  • Dining Rooms
  • Hallways

While both can work anywhere in a home, the above applications tend to maximize their individual strengths.

Design Ideas and Color Pairings

On their own, Athena and Pale Oak create welcoming backdrops. Pair them with other paint colors and materials for gorgeous spaces:

Athena Color Pairings

  • Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace (trim/ceilings)
  • Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal (accent wall)
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (furniture)
  • Brushed gold fixtures

Pale Oak Color Pairings

  • Benjamin Moore White Dove (trim/cabinets)
  • Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray (accent wall)
  • Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter (furniture)
  • Medium wood tones

Athena vs Pale Oak – Which Color is Best for You?

When choosing between Athena and Pale Oak, keep your goals and preferences in mind:

Pick Athena 858 if you want:

  • A light yellow paint with a hint of beige warmth
  • Subtle sophistication accenting baths and kitchens
  • A touch more depth than a pale white or cream
  • Elegant, graceful warmth
See also  Chantilly Lace vs Super White: What’s the Difference?

Choose Pale Oak OC-20 if you want:

  • A laidback light tan with yellow undertones
  • An inviting neutral suitable for whole-home use
  • Bright cheerfulness for living and bedroom spaces
  • Extreme versatility across many different rooms

While they share similarities, the minor differences mean one likely better suits your space. Get color swatches before deciding between elegant Athena and casual Pale Oak.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still trying to choose between Athena vs Pale Oak? Here are answers to some common questions:

Does Athena have any gray undertones?

No, Athena does not have any distinct gray undertones. It is a solidly warm paint color, with yellow-beige tones without any hints of gray.

What colors complement Pale Oak walls?

Pale Oak pairs beautifully with light blues, grays, tans, and cream colors. Crisp whites like Chantilly Lace also help highlight its laidback sunny warmth.

Can you use Pale Oak in bathrooms?

Definitely! While Athena is more popular for bathrooms, laidback Pale Oak can also give warmth to a bathroom without going too dark. It works well with white subway tiles.

Is Athena suitable for a nursery?

Yes, Athena’s subtly elegant beige-yellow hue can work wonderfully in a nursery or child’s room. Especially paired with light blues and creams, it creates a cheerful, welcoming space.


When comparing Benjamin Moore’s Athena vs Pale Oak paint colors, the main differences come down to undertones and aesthetics:

  • Athena is a yellow-beige that works well accenting with subtly elegant warmth.
  • Pale Oak is a yellow-brown suitable whole-home with laidback, casual brightness.

While they share some similarities, the contrasts in undertone and formality help one likely better suit your goals. Consider your space when deciding between graceful Athena and cheerful Pale Oak. With large samples, you’ll choose your perfect warm neutral with confidence!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.