Not a day goes by without receiving an email from someone who’s seen photos of my work, inquiring about a specific paint color used on one of my completed projects. Although I am flattered at their interest, I know for sure that seeing a paint color in another space, on a computer screen, or in print, and then trying it in your space is in fact, the worst way to choose a paint color.
Could you get “ok” results? You could get lucky. But I’m sure most times, people are surprised at how the color looks when it goes up.
Why is this? There are a number of reasons.
First, when you see a paint color in a magazine or on a computer screen, it looks different than the color looks in person. Also, in a photo, it’s very hard to see what the color actually looks like because of the angle that the photo is taken, and the lighting used for the photos. Also, no real strategy is being used when selecting a random paint color. The reason you are drawn to the paint color that you are seeing in a professionally designed finished space is that the paint color you are seeing is being used in context with numerous other elements in the room in a purposeful way.
Most people believe that choosing paint colors is something they should be able to do easily. This process certainly looks easy, but in reality, this process involves a lot more than just trying to find a color that you like.
As designers, we look at natural lighting, the direction a room might be facing, how large the room is, undertones, color intensity, and numerous other things that are going in in the room and adjacent spaces, before deciding on a paint color. Other colors that you are using in the room might slightly alter the way a paint color looks. Knowing how to compensate for this is important.
The real magic happens when color is chosen carefully as part of a plan, marrying colors, undertones, and intensity throughout the space. Designers can often do this quickly because they have many years of experience and an eye trained to see the slightest intricacies of color. Just like anything else that looks easy at first glance choosing the perfect paint color is a lot more complicated than it looks.
So next time you find yourself with 6 different paint test spots on the wall and you are ready to head back to the paint store for more samples, or trying to figure out what color your friend painted her walls, call in the help of a designer who can help you select the perfect paint colors for your project.