BM Pale Oak vs SW Drift of Mist: What’s the Difference?

BM Pale Oak vs SW Drift of Mist

When selecting a light, warm neutral paint color, it can be difficult to discern subtle differences between similar shades across brands. Two popular off-white beige paint colors are Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20 and Sherwin Williams Drift of Mist SW 9166. But what exactly sets these two apart?

In this article, we’ll thoroughly analyze Pale Oak and Drift of Mist. We’ll compare undertones, light reflectance, real life photos, and best room usages. Read on to determine which paint color is right for your home’s interior design needs.

Key Differences Between Pale Oak and Drift of Mist

Before diving into the details, here is an overview of the main differences between Pale Oak and Drift of Mist:

  • Undertones – Pale Oak has yellow-brown, Drift of Mist has tan beige
  • Light Reflectance – Pale Oak has an LRV of 68.64, Drift of Mist has an LRV of 69
  • Use – Pale Oak suits traditional homes, Drift of Mist fits casual spaces
  • Rooms – Pale Oak excels in cozy spaces, Drift of Mist brightens any room
  • Availability – Pale Oak comes in fewer finishes

Now let’s explore Pale Oak and Drift of Mist more thoroughly.

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak OC-20

Pale Oak OC-20 is a gorgeous, natural-looking light brown paint color by Benjamin Moore. This beautiful beige has broad appeal across styles from modern to traditional.

Here are some key facts about Pale Oak:

  • LRV: 68.64
  • Undertones: Yellow-brown
  • Finish: Flat, eggshell, pearl
  • Rooms: Living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms
  • Pairs Well With: Grays, blues, greens, browns

True to its name, Pale Oak has distinct yellow-brown undertones reminiscent of natural oak wood. This gives the paint color a very inviting and warm appearance.

Despite the oak-inspired base color, Pale Oak reads as quite light and refined. With a 68.64 light reflectance value, this soft neutral helps rooms feel bright and cheerful.

The warm oak undertones pair wonderfully with organic textures and natural materials like wood furniture and stone accents. Pale Oak helps spaces feel grounded and cozy. Use it alongside other warm neutrals like:

  • Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray
  • Benjamin Moore Palo Duro Canyon
  • Benjamin Moore Roasted Chestnut
  • Benjamin Moore Hale Navy
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This versatile beige looks gorgeous across interior styles from rustic farmhouse to urban loft. While suitable for any room, it really excels in these spaces:

  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Offices

Sherwin Williams Drift of Mist SW 9166

Sherwin Williams Drift of Mist is a beautiful warm off-white paint color with a natural beige look. This welcoming neutral suits a wide variety of design styles.

Here are some details about Drift of Mist:

  • LRV: 69
  • Undertones: Tan beige
  • Finish: Available in all paint sheens
  • Rooms: Bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms
  • Pairs Well With: Neutrals, blues, greens

Drift of Mist has distinctive tan-beige undertones, reminiscent of natural sands and weathered stone. This gives the white a soothing, earthy feel.

Despite the beige base color, Drift of Mist reads as quite light and airy. With a 69 light reflectance value, this gentle neutral adds brightness without feeling stark.

The beige undertones complement casual, laidback spaces beautifully. Drift of Mist helps rooms feel welcoming and calm. Use it alongside other organic neutrals like:

  • Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige
  • Sherwin Williams Repose Gray
  • Sherwin Williams Silver Strand
  • Sherwin Williams Rainwashed

This versatile off-white looks stunning across styles from coastal casual to bohemian chic. It works in any room but really shines in these spaces:

  • Bedrooms and nurseries
  • Living rooms and dens
  • Dining rooms
  • Offices and studies

Comparing Pale Oak vs Drift of Mist

Now that we’ve looked at Pale Oak and Drift of Mist independently, let’s compare them directly:

Light Reflectance

Pale Oak has an LRV of 68.64 compared to Drift of Mist’s slightly lower 69 LRV. This means Pale Oak will reflect a bit more light. However, they are quite close in illumination.


Here is where the main difference lies. Pale Oak has distinctive warm yellow-brown undertones. Drift of Mist has cooler tan-beige undertones.

Pale Oak’s oak-like warmth gives it a cozy, traditional feel. Drift of Mist’s beige adds an earthy casual vibe.


Due to its oak-inspired undertones, Pale Oak excels in cozier living spaces like bedrooms, dining rooms, and lounges.

Drift of Mist’s beige versatility allows it to brighten up any room in the house beautifully.


Pale Oak comes in 3 finishes – flat, eggshell, and pearl. Drift of Mist offers the full range from flat matte to high gloss enamel.

Pale Oak vs Drift of Mist Comparison Chart

Here is an overview of how Pale Oak and Drift of Mist compare:

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Paint Color Pale Oak OC-20 Drift of Mist SW 9166
LRV 68.64 69
Undertones Yellow brown Tan beige
Use Cozy living spaces Casual styles
Sheens 3 sheens All sheens
Style Traditional, transitional Casual, eclectic

Real Life Photos – Pale Oak vs Drift of Mist

Let’s look at real life spaces painted in Pale Oak and Drift of Mist to better see how they compare in actual environments.

Pale Oak OC-20

Pale Oak

Drift of Mist SW 9166

The photos demonstrate how Pale Oak typically reads as a warmer, more oak-toned neutral compared to the cooler beige of Drift of Mist. However, depending on lighting they can look quite similar.

Should I Choose Pale Oak or Drift of Mist?

So how do you decide between Pale Oak and Drift of Mist for your space? Here are some factors to help guide your decision:

Consider Pale Oak OC-20 if you want:

  • A light brown beige with distinct oak undertones
  • A cozy and welcoming traditional paint color
  • To complement wood furnishings and finishes
  • A versatile neutral suitable for any room

Consider Drift of Mist SW 9166 if you want:

  • A light off-white with earthy tan-beige undertones
  • A laidback casual backdrop for eclectic spaces
  • A soothing but bright neutral
  • A paint color suitable for bohemian decor

As always, get paint samples before fully committing to a color. View large swatches in your actual lighting and with your furnishings. This will give you the best sense of which paint color you prefer before finalizing a choice.

While Pale Oak suits traditional cozy spaces, Drift of Mist’s casual vibe gives it wider appeal across styles. Choose the one that best matches your interior design goals.

Ideal Room Pairings for Pale Oak and Drift of Mist

While Pale Oak and Drift of Mist work well throughout homes, here are some rooms that their specific characteristics are best suited to:

Pale Oak OC-20

This inviting paint color excels in cozy living spaces. Use Pale Oak in:

  • Living rooms and dens
  • Bedrooms and nurseries
  • Dining rooms
  • Offices and studies
  • Entryways and hallways

Drift of Mist SW 9166

This soothing off-white looks beautiful anywhere, but especially shines in these rooms:

  • Bedrooms and nurseries
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Dining rooms
  • Offices and studios

Both function nicely as all-over home neutrals. But the above applications tend to optimize each shade based on strengths.

Decorating Ideas and Color Pairings

On their own, Pale Oak and Drift of Mist create peaceful backdrops. When combined with other colors and materials, you can design stunning spaces:

Pale Oak OC-20 Ideas

  • Cozy living room with oak-beige walls and stone fireplace
  • Rustic dining room with exposed wood beams
  • Warm white shaker cabinets against wood countertops
  • Neutral paneled doors in an entryway
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Drift of Mist SW 9166 Ideas

  • Light tan bedroom with woven jute rug
  • Beach-inspired white kitchen with weathered blue cabinets
  • Off-white shiplap accent wall in a sunroom
  • Bohemian office with off-white walls and woven wall hangings

Color Pairings for Both

  • Light blues, grays, sages, wood tones
  • Natural materials like jute, linen, wood
  • Black and white photography prints
  • Metallic finishes like aged bronze

Keep walls in a neutral white like Pale Oak or Drift of Mist to let accent colors pop. Easily change accents seasonally for fresh looks.

Pale Oak vs Drift of Mist – Which is Best For You?

So which is better for your home – Benjamin Moore Pale Oak or Sherwin Williams Drift of Mist? The right choice depends on your goals:

Pick Pale Oak OC-20 if you want:

  • A light brown beige with distinct oak undertones
  • A welcoming backdrop for traditional cozy spaces
  • A versatile neutral that pairs well with wood
  • A softly elegant neutral for living areas

Choose Drift of Mist SW 9166 if you want:

  • A light off-white with earthy beige undertones
  • A laidback casual paint color
  • A soothing but bright neutral
  • Flexibility across casual design styles

Get large paint samples before deciding. While versatile Drift of Mist works across many styles, Pale Oak’s warmth gives it an advantage in traditionally styled homes seeking a welcoming soft backdrop.

Choose the light neutral paint color that best enhances your space’s lighting, furnishings, and interior design vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still trying to choose between Pale Oak and Drift of Mist? Here are some commonly asked questions:

Is Pale Oak considered warm or cool?

Pale Oak OC-20 is considered warm due to its noticeable oak-inspired yellow-brown undertones, which give it a cozy traditional feel.

What undertone does Drift of Mist have?

Drift of Mist SW 9166 is a warm paint color but leans more neutral than Pale Oak. It has distinctive tan beige undertones reminiscent of natural sand.

Can you use Pale Oak on ceilings?

Yes, Pale Oak can work well on ceilings thanks to its 68.64 LRV. The warmth is subtle enough to avoid making ceilings feel heavy or dingy.

What sheens is Drift of Mist available in?

Drift of Mist comes in Sherwin Williams’ full line of paint sheens from flat matte to high gloss enamel, making it easy to get any desired finish.

Which neutral would pair best with blue-gray walls?

Drift of Mist’s cooler tan beige undertone would complement light blue-gray walls nicely for a cohesive, beachy look.

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