Sometimes when I am at Vienna Paint, a Benjamin Moore dealer in Vienna, VA, customers come in and ask about the different Benjamin Moore color collections.  Benjamin Moore knows it is in the color business, that their customers buy paint to obtain color, and therefore they have a wide selection of colors from which to choose.  It’s one reason so many designers (including myself) favor Benjamin Moore colors, in addition to the fact that the paint is of great quality.

color Wheel

The questions I’m asked include:

What are the collections?

Which colors can be mixed in which paint?

Do you have large chips in all the colors?

Do you have paint samples?

So here’s a bit specifically about the Benjamin Moore color collections:

  •  Color Preview has colors as true value strips, in groups of seven, one color being the parent of the next one above it.  It has some of the highest chroma colors (brightest), and some of the lowest chroma (most grayed).  This collection color deck also includes the Historical Colors (the 18th and 19th century colors);  America’s Colors, taken from the landscape;  and the OC, or off-white color, collection.  It also includes the colors which used to be ready-mixed, or RM, but now have PM labels on them in the stores.
  • The Classic Collection has many of the in-between colors, not as bright as the brightest in Color Preview, and not as grayed as the lower chroma colors in Color Preview.  It too has the Historical Colors (the 18th and 19th century colors);  and the colors which used to be ready-mixed, or RM, but now have PM labels on them in the stores.  Each strip is a blended strip.  It may have direct value relationship, or there may be a “second cousin”, or related color, mixed into the strips.  It has many colors, and smaller chips of them, but is a very popular collection.
  • The Affinity Collection came out when Aura paint was developed, as the first of the low V.O.C. (volatile organic compound) paints.  Because at first, this was the only group of colors using the waterborne colorants, these colors are sometimes thought to be only available in Aura paint, Benjamin Moore’s top of the line paint.  But now that all the other paint has been reformulated, these colors are available in each of Benjamin Moore’s formulations.   They do all look terrific in Aura, but may be painted in Regal Select, Ben, Natura, Advance, or the Waterborne Ceiling Paint, along with every other color above.                           The Affinity collection is unique in that every color goes with every other color in this color deck.  I have literally done a “magic trick” with this deck – pick three colors, any three, from the back of the deck, without knowing which colors you have selected, and they always work together.  They may or may not be your colors, but they will work together.           And at Vienna Paint in Vienna, VA, this is the only collection with the large 24″ X 24″ chips.  (Some Benjamin Moore stores may have some other best selling colors in the large size.)
  • The Color Stories (trademarked) Collection was created to make the most of the unique characteristics of Aura paint, and can be used only with Aura paint.  Each color has more colorant than the other collections, and is designed to have more color shift, or changeability, under varying lighting conditions than other collections.  I’ll discuss more about this collection in a future post.
  • The Williamsburg Collection is the newest group of Benjamin Moore colors.  These are the 17th century colors, but discovered by new technology, so they are the true colors, free of varnish, dirt, and chemical changes.  They are also lead free, which the original 17th century paints were not.  There is a clarity to these colors which is fresh and very much today.          In the 17th century, paint cost more than wallpaper, so they wanted you to know if they were using paint.  Colors can be very high chroma.  When they needed to reduce the reflectivity of these pigments in the 17th century, they used lamp-black:  the soot from lanterns.  So some of the neutrals are more grayed than in other collections, even though lamp black is not the agent used to lower the chroma today.    Within this collection are colors taken from fabric and porcelain as well as building exteriors and interiors.  Select one or more, and on the Benjamin Moore website, you can find out the story behind where each of these colors were found.          These colors can be ordered in Aura, Aura Bath & Spa, Regal Select, and Advance (but not Natura or Ben).  I believe you now can also order these colors in the Waterborne Ceiling paint.

All of the colors above can be ordered in sample pints, for sampling them in actual paint.  Most will be in a generic unnamed Benjamin Moore paint for samples.  The Color Stories will be sampled in Aura pints.

The availability of large chips will vary from Benjamin Moore dealer to dealer.  At Vienna Paint, all of the Affinity collection are available in the larger chips at all locations, and the Gainesville store has some other popular colors in large chips as well.

There are also some additional decks available, using a selection of Benjamin Moore colors.   You can find all these decks here:

  • Candice Olson:  Designer Picks – This is Candice’s preferred collection of Benjamin Moore colors, and it is available to order from the Benjamin Moore website,, if not available locally.
  • Designer Picks, Inspired by Brian Gluckstein – This wonderful deck has larger samples of a wide variety of Classic and Preview colors, along with a nice selection of whites.  If I could only carry one deck, this would be in the running to be that one.
  • Now the Historical Colors are also available in a separate deck, at the Benjamin Moore site.
  • Benjamin Moore Favorites – Traditions Collection – This new deck includes QR codes to suggested combinations of colors, on each sample.
  • Perfect Pairings, Timeless Colors – this deck could be used for interior or exteriors, but is very helpful for envisioning exterior color combinations.