Help for the Color Impaired

Category: Hardware & Appliances

I love color. And now that we are (FINALLY) getting to the stage where we can make aesthetic choices after two years of structural work, I want to be bolder when it comes to incorporating it into new rooms. However, I am frequently overwhelmed by color choices. All those little paint chips. All of those choices. Argh.

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Which is why I was in awe when we dropped by a Restoration Hardware store this weekend and I saw that they've added paint color shades to their already fab collection. Yowsa!

I'm always on the lookout for "vintage" looking shades of paint and they have it in spades! (I always think of vintage colors as having a kind of "ashy" undertone to them...there must be an official name for that somewhere.)

They hadn't gotten their paint chips in yet, but I am sooooo ready to do some more painting! Whoo! Hooo!

Then, I noticed that assistance with color coordination seems to be the prevailing trend for retailers this season. Behold, Pottery Barn's online Design Studio: Color Palette shopping feature.

Kind of like "Garanimals" for renovators. (Remember those? The kids clothing line where if you matched the "monkey tag" with another "monkey tag", you could be reasonably sure of not getting heckled in the fourth grade lunch line?)

Now, if they started coming out with a "Garanimals" CLOTHING line for adults, my life would be complete and I could leave decision overload behind me.

Sigh :)

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Debbie Travis (do you get "facelift" in the states???) has a similar (to garanimals... lol) line here, where first you pick the "mood" of the room you want to create, then you choose the colour from within that group. it's brilliant, really... well, except that you can only get her paint line at canadian tire!

Garanimals would make life soooo much easier. I am not sure if it helped us or handicapped us.

"You cannot match a giraffe to a panda bear. It doesn’t work in nature and it doesn’t work with Garanimals." I can understand that. This is what I need in my life - it would make my wife's life so much easier. As it is, she has to approve my clothes choices before I leave the house in the morning. Whaddiya mean I can't wear blue with blue? They're both... blue, right?

I remember you had a post about a year ago that generated quite a bit of commenting that had to do with matching colors on a computer monitor with how paint would actually appear (generated light vs. reflected). Did anyone ever come up with a color picker program/paint vendor that worked?

When I lived in the BIG City and our offer on Casa de Revivalized had been accepted, I spent oh-so-many hours fantasizing about decor and reading Houseblogs. During that process, I checked out the paint selection at Restoration Hardware. It wasn't on their website, but they had it in-store. I liked the colors, they were gorgeous and very very subtle. It was very garanimals - you could buy the Silver Sage paint, then the Silver Sage curtains, then matching Silver Sage chenille throw and jacquard pillows. A lovely color, by the way, but I kinda got an inkling that we were going to be a Silver Sage nation if Restoration Hardware had anything to do with it. Anyway, my point is that their colors didn't work for me. In a way, they were like the Martha Stewart collection. J'adore Martha, I get so much inspiration from her, it is shocking how ahead of the curve she always is, and I admire her paint collection. But the colors don't work for me. I want bright, deep, vibrant, bold colors -- and even the darkest colors in both collections are very sedate. So...there you go. I've been mulling on a post about how to choose paint color, maybe I'll get around to it sooner than later.

I have been searching for that classic 40's minty green forever but it just never turns out quite right. You know that green that only seemed to pop into vogue in the 40's? Clothes, dishes and especially kitchens. But I really botched trying to match a 50's really botched and painted my bedroom. It turned out a horrid pea green, instead of the light and airy chartreuse that matches my little Asian statuettes. Hurts the eyes. I need to repaint but I'm just sick and tired of decorating. Never thought I would say the words...

I think the "ashy" undertones were the result of all the ash and soot from the coal burning stoves. Anytime I pull out a piece of trim or cut into a wall the soot just pours out.

The elusive Minty-Green paint! Our kitchen is now a nice, but "not what we had planned" lime green. As you said, we'd love to repaint, but given all the other work to do, not to mention our serious tiredness of painting, it will have to wait.

The really unfortunate thing is, we were trying to save a little $$$ and matching it at Lowe's instead of just buying it at Restoration Hardware. Blast!

Green - Check out MS's Vintage Green (or Kitchen Green, I forget) in her Sherwin Williams line. Its that old mint green kitchen color. Not fond of the SW paint itself, but the colors rock.

dena, I know what you mean. We have the elusive minty green, kind of, in our circa 1941 bathroom. Unfortunately it's tile, and unfortunately it's not really minty green. It's kind of stuck in a very uncomfortable shade between minty green and jade, and ... ugh.

JM--am I imagining things or is this your first post to this blog in about a month? It's been good to hear from Aaron, but good to hear from you too!

I second Tim Jarrett, Good to hear from J. Have fum with the paint and the resto hardware paint is great to paint with too!! After an attempt to color match at Lowe's (awful, plus a wasted 2 gallons) went and bought it there. Very nice to work with. Plus sad to say but the cans are nice to look at which somehow makes it more motivating to get started.

Debbie Travis has paint?!?!?! I am seriously contemplating running across the Detroit/Windsor border to find a Canadian Tire!

I think BM Sherwood Green and the lighter Kittery Point Green match green jadelite perfectly. I used this in my kitchen.

Aaron & Jeanie, did you save any of your old bathroom hex tiles? Just uncovered the same floor in our bathroom and will need extra tiles to repair if it ends up restorable. Picture should be linked in my name here? Lauren

Have to say, I really like the Devine Color palettes. I don't know that I buy their marketing about deeper, truer colors but I definitely like the aesthetics of their collection.

What I'm really jonesing for lately though is wallpaper. Have you all seen the English Arts and Crafts patterns at Yum, yum, yum. The colors are just amazing.

Our family calls that elusive minty green "grandma green" as my sister's grandmother in law (who was "adopted" by our family) was extremely fond of that color and consequently when we had to close down her house (which was a beautiful 1910 farmhouse) when she died, every other item from her kitchen was painted that color.

By the way, I was told once that there IS such a thing as Garanimals for adults - I worked with a woman who said the only way she could get dressed and appear in public was to use this matching system. She EXACTLY described it as Garanimals (although I doubt that is what it was really called).

In the world of inks (which is similar to paint), colors are described by hue, tint, tone, and shade. Hue refers to the "color" pigments (i.e. red, blue, yellow), and the last three refer to the amount of black and/or white. A tint is a pure hue with white added, a shade is a pure hue with black added. And a tone is a pure hue with both white and black added (i.e., gray). The "ashy" colors you like are tones -- more white than black, but some black to take down the brightness of the hue.

As for color pickers that work -- anyone in the printing industry can tell you that it's impossible to make an accurate color matching program without spending a few hundred dollars on hardware to calibrate your monitor. The problem isn't the program, it's that computer monitors are not, and can not be, standardized without additional hardware.

The best thing to do is to realize this and use any color picker that doesn't crash your computer to come up with general ideas and combinations to try. Then go to the paint store and get a small amount of paint and test it on location. Extremely experienced designers might get it right on the first try, but even the professionals will "audition" several colors in order to choose the best one. It really is the only way to ensure you'll choose the best color.



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