21 January 2008

Some more thoughts on color

Last night, after I finished writing up the paint color schedule for the house I was in yesterday afternoon, I sent an e-mail to the ICI Paints rep in New Jersey.

But first, an aside: When I specify paint colors, I use a fan deck to find the colors I want to use. Fan decks and the color cards you find in a home center always have between four and 10 colors on a page, and there are subtle differences between the colors in a row. This is confusing for most people, because unless you do this really often, your brain can't differentiate subtle differences in hue, tone, saturation, etc. when small blocks of color are set up in a vertical row. So I use a fan deck to run through a range of colors and narrow down the choices I'm going to present to someone. Then, I order either 3 x 5 cards (in the case of ICI) or 8-1/2 x 11 sheets (in the case of Sherwin-Williams) of solid color. With the color selections on an individual sheet, it is a lot easier to see them. A loose sheet or card can be taped to the wall for a sneak preview too.

Anyhow, I wrote an e-mail to the rep from ICI last night and by nine this morning I had an e-mail back from him telling me that all of the 3 x 5 color cards I ordered would be in my hands tomorrow. That's what I call service. ICI Paints is gaining all kinds of points with me over their excellent treatment of my requests for fast turnaround samples, I'll say that for them.

I hear all the time from people that the paint they bought and put on the wall looksdifferent from the chip they saw on a rack at Home Depot. There are a couple of reasons for this and I think the biggest reason is that they weren't looking at their selected color in isolation, they were looking at it in a range. The second reason is that their lighting at home is very different from the uniformly awful lighting inside of a Home Depot. Since all color is reflected light anyhow, the quality of the light being reflected plays a huge role in how a color ends up looking in a home. All color chips that I know of are printed. They are printed in ink and are designed to represent a color with an eggshell finish. They do a pretty good job of accommodating the differences between printer's ink on a card and actual paint pigments on a wall, so even though the colors are an approximation, they are usually a damn good one.

I think a lot of the problem comes from people selecting sheens that alter how a color looks. A lot of people have the moronic idea that you can't scrub flat paint and that therefore it's bad. To which I usually resond: "When is the last time you scrubbed a wall?" And besides, modern flat paints are a lot more resilient than their predecossors were. But flat paint makes wall glow. Flat paint makes wall colors look rich and saturated. Semi glosses and satins reflect back too much light and come across as cold to me. Not to mention distracting. I hate seeing reflected glare on a wall. Ugh. I'll say it again, never paint a wall anything but flat. Paint trim with a satin sheen. They are a recipe for a great paint job.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment with a client in the morning and she wants to talk about paint color of course, and she walso wante me to recommend a glass tile mosaic tile for her kitchen. Woo-hoo! I'll have something new to blog about tomorrow.


  1. What a lot of work you did here. I enjoyed this post very much! laura.

  2. Ahh thanks. This is digging deep in my archives. I was was a novice blogger then. I'm glad you found it.


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