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Vancouver Colour Consultant: 11 Tools Every Colour Consultant Should Have in Their Car

By 01/11/2012January 28th, 201717 Comments

This morning as I was re-loading my car with samples from a consultation I realized that a blog post outlining what every colour consultant should have in their car would be very helpful. So here is my list:

1. Measuring Tape


It’s rare that I conduct a consultation without pulling it out at least once.

And everyone has this measurement with you at all times. Open your hand and measure the distance between your thumb and pinkie finger (below). My hand is 7 1/2 inches so if a light fixture is 15 inches, I can hold up both hands to immediately guess if it’s right. If you are in a furniture store and want to know what the measurement of a small table is (for example), you can get an approximation  by just using your hands.

2. Architectural Fan Deck from Your Local Paint Store

It shocks me how many designers who specify colour for walls don’t realize you can get bigger samples than just a little fan deck. Although you should know that paint stores don’t have architectural kits at the store level – you’ll need to contact your local representative who will usually drop one off at your home.

3. 50 Must-Have Colour Samples from Colour Me Happy

It took me 10 years to develop a system for understanding undertones and there was a core group of colours that I kept coming back to over and over again. If you are someone in the business of specifying colour, without these you are visually impaired. Period.

If your colour consultant shows up without a good selection of large samples (they don’t have to be mine by the way). Be afraid.

Click here to buy.

4. Stack of White Subway Tiles

White subway tiles basically come in white and off-white. But each one comes shiny or flat which gives you four different whites. And I love beveled subway tile too, so I carry those as well. I also have two boards, one with all the rest of the colours and the other with glass tile. As you know, I think subway tile is classic and timeless so it’s all I carry in my car.


Whichever tile is your “signature style” have them in your car. Every decision that you can help your clients make that moves their project forward adds huge value to the consultation.

5. Ring of Laminate/Formica Countertop Samples.


Hey, not everyone is installing stone countertops everywhere, so having a set of samples to choose from works really well if your client did not collect enough on their own for the consultation. It should come as no surprise to you that I don’t specify ones that look like this as I am not a fan of granite countertops.

6. Quartz Samples

And that brings me to quartz countertops. I carry Cambria, Silestone and Caesarstone samples in my office but it’s the Caesarstone samples that end up in my car because it’s a small little box (approx. 4″ x 12″) and the samples look like this:


When I have a slew of fabrics books, carpet samples, etc, that I need to load the car with in the morning, it’s the small box of stone that makes the cut (unless a client has requested another set of course).

7. Blind Samples


You never know when someone needs a new set of blinds. Great if you have them with you, even just to specify the right colour.

8. Fabric Book(s)


My clients often ask me for direction on which colour sofa they should buy. So I always have a few basic upholstery books in my car for this very reason. It’s way easier than just pulling colours from the sky.

9. Carpet Samples


Carpet is a huge colour decision to make because the darker you go (for kids and pets) the more obvious the colour or undertone becomes. In the above bedroom you can see that the carpet has a pink undertone. Which of course works well with blue as I wrote in this post.

There is no such thing as “neutral” carpet unless it’s basically white or cream.

10. Wood Flooring Stain Samples

Which colour hardwood flooring to choose is a huge question many of my clients have. I have a small deck in my car especially for this reason.

11. ipad or iphone.

Many of my designer friends have saved photos of lighting, architectural elements to show like molding and panelling, fireplaces styles, etc. It’s so easy to scroll along and show your clients exactly what you are specifying.

Another really useful way to organize samples in the car is to buy a trunk organizer. For years I used boxes you’d find from an office supply store but they break down in the heat so I was so happy when I discovered them (sorry I could not find what I actually have).

So there’s my list and I’m sure you have a list of your own. What do you carry in your car?

Related posts:

Insider Secrets to Specifying and Testing Paint Colour

How to Sell Interior Design

What would you Do? Advice for Designers/Consultants

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • I have all but two of them – carpet samples and subway tile – in my car. Thanks for the tip to make sure I have those two missing items with me!

  • Donna Frasca says:

    Wow that’s a lot of stuff to bring! Do you have a big car or SUV? I just bring my Benjamin Moore paint decks, paper, gel pen, camera and a water bottle. If I’m doing Interior Decorating services than I’ll bring some of the items you’ve mentioned above. Love hearing the inside scoop!

  • That is a lot of stuff to bring. Since I’m just consulting for windows I bring a tape measure, fabric books, hardware samples and a camera. Now I know my hand is 7″, thanks for that tip !

  • What a great list! Looks like you’d need a U-haul for all that stuff. My trunk is full of paint strips. I have a full supply from the Sherwin-Williams fan deck. Whatever colors we select during the consultation, I pull those strips to leave with the client so they will have more than just a name and number on a piece of paper when I leave.

  • Mary says:

    Maria, when I click “source” on the livingroom picture – a photo of the previous brown blind comes up. I would love to know the blue paint colour on the walls.
    Just ordered your ebook, but my Bennie Moore paint store is out of currant color decks and mine is out of date… so I am waiting, hopefully this week!! Can you tell me the paint colour?? thanks,
    Mary in Cincinnati.

  • I carry a bag with my BIG paint samples, fandecks, and blue painter’s tape (for taping up samples on the wall), the big professional paint satchels, measuring tape, granite/quartz samples, nails/hammer/gorilla hooks/picture-hanging paraphenalia, notebook/pen, furniture sliders, camera, and few choice catalogs. I also have 3-ring binders filled with magazine tear-outs – 1 for color ideas, 1 for living rooms, 1 for kitchens/baths, and 1 for bedrooms. However, when I pull those out for clients to look through, they are typically overwhelmed – so they are more helpful for me to leaf through and give them examples of what I am talking about.

  • Great post, Marie! As my mother told me, whatever you’re doing, “Always be prepared!”.

  • Great post, Maria. I have most of these things at my home studio, but haven’t thought to organize them and always have them with me in my car. I love the idea of measuring your hand width in case you don’t have a tape measure with you!

  • Denise says:

    I guess you can’t be an interior designer if you don’t drive. It would be very difficult to carry all this stuff around if you’re taking buses or taxis.

  • Doris Davis says:

    I only do color consulting and painting and feel like I bring everything but the kitchen sink!! I have several architectural decks and understand having more for the client because they even ask me design questions.

  • Excellent advice! I am a fan of check lists just to be sure I have everything with me so the day will run smoothly. Loved the idea about the hand measurement- WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? 🙂

  • Thank you Maria. So often a colour consult will expand into other areas and on occasion have been caught without having what I need. I will buff up my kit so I will not be without again. Thanks for the post.

  • Joan says:

    Ah ha! You are a systems thinker. Love it. Think once, repeat many times. Inputs, outputs. Being organized and having what you need readily available allows creativity to flow…you don’t get stopped by ‘where is that thing?’ Great post. Thanks for sharing your 10 years’ experience (again). Ehugs…

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    While I don’t have to stock my car to visit clients (yet),
    I LOVED the hand measuring idea! There you go… there IS always a way to do something with your own hands!!
    Proud of you Maria!! Also liked the “trunk organizer.” Wish I could have you over to my house–but I’m on the “other side” of the continent in NC. Maybe someone will ask you to come this way and it will be worth it for 2 clients!

  • Priscilla Sparrow says:

    Maria, not to be mean but, I think you should change your picture. The white t-shirt is not flattering. You are a beautiful lady and need a little color in your shirt.

  • Amen sister on not being a fan of granite! I’m right there with you. Whenever I have a client ask for granite I have a little inside cringe of wishing people would branch out from a by gone trend set mostly by real estate agents. … Thanks for the tip on measuring my hand for those quick estimating size situations. 🙂

  • Julie says:

    I’m not a designer, but I wanted to pass on a related tip. I often use my feet to measure something larger, like a room, sofa, countertop, etc. I know that with shoes on, my feet are very close to one ‘foot’. It is super quick to measure a room this way if you don’t have a tape measure nearby.

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