June 28, 2010

Paint Colors: In Photos vs ‘Real Life’

I’ve gotten lots of emails asking for paint colors used in various rooms/ specific projects.  And I’ve been so terrible about answering them.  (I’m sorry!!)  My first excuse is that when I don’t remember them off of the top of my head, I put off going down to where our paint is stored or opening a client’s file and finding the name of color.  It ends up being one of those things that just gets pushed to the end of the list of things I mean to do…

{Justin’s nursery}
One of the rooms I never mentioned a paint color for was Justin’s nursery.  I didn’t do this on purpose (and never purposely withhold paint colors or sources) but the truth is that we used every last drop of the paint on the walls, ditched the empty gallon, and I don’t remember the name of color!!!!  It was a crazy time for us and that’s really all I can say.  If I got out the deck & went & matched it, I could figure it out, but my #2 reason/excuse for not being so dilligent about supplying paint colors (and the reason it gets pushed very low on the list of things ‘to do’) is because paint color look different in different spaces.  Light changes everything and although it will probably look close, it might not match exactly so the “perfect navy blue” in my house might be very different from the perfect navy in your house.
I learned this lesson first-hand when I used this color as inspiration for my family room:

{Design by Ruthie Sommers, photo by Don Freeman for House Beautiful}
When I got out the paint chip (Blue Seafoam by Benjamin Moore) it was so much more intense than it looked in the photos and I knew that it would look way darker on my walls than it did in the Ruthie Sommers house.  Here’s a sample:
It was not what I wanted and I was shocked at how dark the swatch was.  I went a couple of shades lighter with a tad more yellow (in another brand- Freshaire Choice Color: “Midwest Springs”) and got a very similar-looking color for my walls & exactly what I wanted:
{Our family room}
And here’s the Ruthie Sommers room again for reference:

The paint swatches look very different when compared next to one another in person, but the wall colors in the photos of the rooms look really similar.  Photography, lighting, time of day, etc. all come into play when selecting a paint color and that’s one of the reasons exact paint colors aren’t very important to me when trying to duplicate the look of a room.  Knowing paint colors is useful for points of reference, but in the end, the color chosen on a wall needs to be specifically chosen for that room.    (I.e., knowing a paint color will get you close/ in the ballpark, but in the end go with what works best in your space.)  I can take a photo in a room of my house- morning, noon and night – and the color will look different in each photo.

I never mind getting questions about colors so of course keep them coming but if I don’t answer you, please know that I’ve put it on my list of colors to check!!  Hope you had a great weekend & yay for summer!!!

xoxo, Lauren

Update-  Just to clarify:  I should mention that I don’t do “trial & error” painting & you can train yourself to properly visualize the colors before they go up on the walls.  (Clearly trial and error would not work for clients, and it’s years of experience and knowing how colors will look once they are actually painted on a wall as opposed to how they look on a sample that will get you the right color choices…  Because I knew how the Blue Seafoam sample would look if actually painted on my wall, I knew right away it wasn’t the color for me.  What was shocking to me was how it translated in the photo…  As a much lighter color. 🙂  Hope that makes sense!     Check out Colour Me Happy for expert color advice & prefessional training!

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