Wednesday, January 13, 2021

New Wall Color Review: Benjamin Moore's Soft Chamois

 Earlier this year I began the arduous process of choosing a wall color for our main room.  We have an open concept home, so the kitchen, stairwell, living area, dining area, and small hallway are all essentially the same space and need to be the same color.  On top of that, we get some eastern light, some southern light, lots of northern light, and plenty of western light, because when my mom designed this house, one of her top three requirements was "lots of light!" (The other two requirements were lots of electrical outlets and a closet in every room....can you tell that we had lived in old homes for a long time?) I was extremely tired of our Benjamin Moore "Golden Straw" walls; and besides that, after 15 years, they were looking pretty shabby!

{this section under the front windows was downright grimy!}

(All photos are unedited to try to show true colors.)

I finally decided on a color that I was sure was perfect: Benjamin Moore's Classic Gray.  It seemed perfect--a warm gray that would surely blend well with the piano, the kitchen countertop, the china cabinet.....

When I sampled it, I was immediately horrified.  Classic Gray read very, very blue--possibly the influence of the northern light.

I tried it all over the place.  I tried it against a white backdrop to be sure I wasn't reading it wrong. I tried it on every wall. It looked terrible against our oak-colored banister and awful near our brown leather furniture. 

(Here's a tip! If you know you'll paint soon, but maybe not immediately, sample your paints on various walls behind your large paintings. Then you can re-hang the paintings and hide the samples!)

I had to admit that it would never work. 

Earlier this year I'd bought a sample pot of "Soft Chamois," and for some reason I decided to go try that next to the Classic Gray.  I'm not sure why I had written off Soft Chamois; I think I thought it was "too white" earlier this year.  I went to the garage and dug it up, and I loved it.  So I painted a whole skinny wall with it.  I still loved it!

After spending a couple of days looking at that small wall, I was convinced.  I bought four gallons of paint and got to work.

And the end result is: I love it!

When I had read about Soft Chamois online, I had read that it was "cream" and had a yellow undertone, which I felt I could live with. I really didn't want a pink undertone, so I was okay with this.  But as I began painting, I saw a different undertone announcing itself. 


I worried over this a bit, but kept painting--after all, I'd purchased four gallons of paint. And once the walls were painted, and the furniture in place, and artwork back up, the green settled down. 

The color is a chameleon. In some lights, it is gray.  In other lights, it's creamy.  Sometimes, especially at night, it does seem greenish.  (We did switch out our lightbulbs, too....)  At times, it looks grey. It changes throughout the day. I actually kind of love this.  I think I'm sort of a chameleon, too. :) 

One description of this color that I read was that it's a "milky beige." I know Benjamin Moore classifies it as an off-white.  It has no yellow undertone, no blue undertone, and no pink undertone. I love that it feels so fresh and clean.  I love that it's neutral without being white, and I love that it looks great with all wood tones--it looks good with my pine floors, the oak railing, and the mid-tone piano and china cabinet.  It looks great with the leather furniture that my husband just loves.  It doesn't look great with my kitchen countertops, but it's livable for now, and since those may be replaced next year and the cabinets re-painted, I consider this a minor issue!  It fades into the background nicely so that our paintings--the one thing I actually "collect"--are the visual focus. 

This year I've gotten rid of most of the overly-warm tones that bothered me in our main room. The brown rug? Gone (the day Bosco died I rolled it up and threw it out; I'd held onto it because he loved it).  The yellow chair? Slipcovered.  The peachy piano bench? Slipcovered!  I painted our dark dining room table and chairs a creamy white, painted our dark wood side table the same white, painted our black front door "Yarmouth Blue."  The Golden Straw walls?  Covered now in a calmer neutral!  I even slipcovered the large brown leather sofa in white!

Here are two photos with the two colors:

Soft Chamois in the foreground, and Golden Straw still in the hallway:

And here, a side-by-side comparison!  I just love how "quiet" our walls are now. That gold was a little noisy.

Much better!  

And let me just say: painting this area of our house was so much work, I can't believe I pulled it off (without drama or major messes) in two weeks before Thanksgiving, while still homeschooling. It was extremely time-consuming! Let me tell you, though: I don't plan to do that again!  Next time I paint this bear of a "room", I'm going to make sure my children are adults first! 

Next on the painting list: kitchen cabinets.  But not until summer. :) 


  1. It's so pretty, Polly! I really love all of it. The color looks amazing.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad that I took my time to pick the color, but even more so, I am so glad it's DONE!!!

  2. I understand exactly what you are saying about paint colors! I will choose a paint color, paint a few areas and then give it a week to observe how the color"lives" during all hours with all lighting. You must" feel" the room and its color.
    I like your choice, and I am always entertained by the names of paints.

    1. Aren't paint color names funny?!

      You are right that the colors definitely need to be lived with...they evoke such feelings! And it's hard to tell what the feeling would be from a small chip or sample!