What's on YOUR mind? How an Interior Designer approaches Paint Color Selection

Interior Designer Austin TX Robin Colton Studio Paint Sample

Q : I walked into the house you were showing on the tour and loved the gray color on the walls!  What is that paint color and how do I know if it's right for my home?  

A to the Q : The question-of-the-day on the Interiors Tour was 'What is the color on the walls?'  The answer - Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl.  But here's where the lively discussions began!  Nearly everyone who asked the question, replied "This can't be Gray Owl!  I have used / have a swatch / have sampled Gray Owl and this is not what it looked like."  Although each person's experience with Gray Owl was different, the consensus was that the color looks great in this home!    

Selecting the right paint color for your space is a process that takes time and a number of steps to achieve.  

There are many factors that can affect paint color:

  • Natural light : the direction the light is coming from (northern exposure and eastern exposure each provide a very different quality of light),
  • Artificial light : will you have incandescent, fluorescent, or LED lighting?  Or a mixture of some or all of these?  The color temperature of each bulb affects how color is perceived.
  • Surroundings : what furnishings, artwork, draperies, rugs, and hard finishes are there in the space?  Each of these factors will have an influence on the wall color.    

Think about the light and surroundings in your own space before determining if a color you see in another space is the right one for you.  When working with my clients, I utilize the following sampling process that does take some time and money, but is well worth the investment in the end.

Selecting paint color from a fan deck with a tiny sample surrounded by other colors on the card is one of the hardest things any paint company has ever asked us to do!  Even the colors above and below the color you are looking at are affecting the color. 

Paint colors should be selected in the space they will be utilized.  Look at the color swatches next to the fabrics and finishes intended for the space, and ideally (although not always possible) utilizing the light that will be in the finished space.

  • Start by finding a few (2-3) options for each space.
  • Purchase large color sample boards from the paint store (Benjamin Moore has great 18" square samples for many of their colors).  
  • If the large color samples are not available, ask the paint store to mix the smallest quantity for you (in the intended sheen) for each of the options you have selected.
  • Paint the colors on a board such as poster board, or some spare drywall pieces.  Painting on the wall may seem like a great shortcut, however as soon as you put 3 big splashes of color on the wall next to each other, each of the samples is affected by the other colors, and are therefore not rendering true.  Another reason to sample on a board is that you can carry the color from room to room, as well as from wall to wall.  The color will look different on a wall with a window than a wall opposite a window than on the ceiling.
  • Seeing the color in multiple locations, and at different times of day (with natural light during the day, and artificial light in the evening) will allow you to really study the color and decide which is right for you.    

Last, but MOST IMPORTANT!  Always select and sample color from the brand you will be purchasing.  I could go on about the devastating effects of color matching from one brand to another - but I will spare you all.  Suffice it to say, there are so many intricacies to color that I will tell you I have experienced 100% failure when color matching has been attempted.  Save yourself time and money by making your selections and sampling from the brand you intend to use.

If you are still feeling unsure about the process and selecting the right colors for your space, please give us a call and we would be more than happy to provide a color consultation for just the one room you are ready to paint, or your entire home or commercial space. 

   
What's on YOUR mind?  Let us know (tweet me @RobinColton or email me) and we will answer one question each month!