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Colour Books every Colour Lover should Own

By 02/26/2010January 27th, 201736 Comments

Okay, it’s only taken me almost 1 1/2 years to set up a merchant account on Amazon! When I tried to figure it out, they kept giving me a widget option and I wanted it on my sidebar as a picture to click to get to my bookstore (not a dang widget).

So, don’t ask me how I did it (because I had help) but it’s finally here; Colour me Happy’s Bookstore on Amazon!


And here are the books you absolutely should have if you are as obsessed with colour as I am:

The best book on colour I have ever read is All About Colour by Janice Lindsay. I have been buying books on colour for years but this one wraps it all up in one package!

If you are looking for pictures though, you won’t find them here. It’s like a fascinating colour textbook and I have already written 3 posts that have been completely inspired by this book; here, here and here.

This book by Leatrice Eiseman is the required textbook for my students in the Colour Theory course I teach at the Vancouver Community College. Leatrice breaks it down chapter by chapter with photos so it’s easy to read and also packed full of great colour information!

The first 3 books on colour that I bought 10 years ago were these three by Donald Kaufman. The first one (above) is Color; Natural Palettes for Painted Rooms. He is the one I quote in this post “A Light Colour will Never come to Life in a Dark Room”.

His books are extraordinary because he has the most incredible images in them along with the colours from his collection and each page outlines each one and how it plays with light and what is happening to the colour in the room he’s showing.

Image from Color; Natural Palettes for Painted Rooms

Here’s what he says about this combination; “Placing colors side by side heightens their contrast. The space’s predominant yellow was given an orange cast so that it would not appear green when placed next to the red”.

Fascinating, because if the yellow was more green, the red (being the complement to green), would pull the green out of the yellow and it wouldn’t look as good as this combination does!

Here’s the second one, and they are not listed in any particular order. They are all amazing and I don’t have a favourite. I’m showing colour in the examples but he also has plenty of gorgeous pale and luminous colours in them as well!

Here’s what he says about this combination:

Image from Color & Light; Luminous Atmospheres for Painted Rooms

“The stair hall just off the front door is a Fauvist fantasy, with each wall painted a different color—cornflower blue, chartreuse, coral. Teal was chosen for the upstairs hall because it worked well with the green reflections through the windows from the foliage outside and was bright enough to substitute for it in the winter months. A pink wall would have been grayed out by the green cast. Complementary colours subdue one another when mixed and, conversely, intensify one another on a wall as being mixed with the colour of the light hitting it.”

“You have to think of the color on a wall as being mixed with the color of the light hitting it. If you want a lot of different colors in one room, make sure they are all of equal intensity. Each of these distinct planes is equally saturated, and they don’t seem disorienting.”


Color Palettes

I was so crazy about his books and the way he distinguished colour, at the time I lived in a walk-up that had a hallway that looked very much like this one (below). Yup, you guessed it, I painted my hallway 7 colours, I can’t even remember anymore how I felt about it in the end but I was truly obsessed!


Image from Color Palettes by Donald Kaufman

Here’s what he says about this hallway (colours below):

“A long, narrow hallway is visually reshaped with a full spectrum of interlocking paint colors, differentiating each architectural plane of color. The colors selected represent the full spectrum, which helps the passage way feel realized as a complete space. One side is painted in warm, darker colors. The contrast ensures that the eye has complementary relief, and reaffirms that the hallway is not a typical room setting.”

See how I’ve written the numbers in each one? I bought his colour fan (they are individual cards in a package) so that I could see how different they were from the actual colour to the ones pictured in the book.

Image from Color Palettes by Donald Kaufman

“The contrast of blue trim emphasizes the warmth of the orange pine floors and offers a cool respite. Softer variations of the floor hues are carried onto walls and create a similar exchange with the window trim. Apricot walls in the living room (above) make the trim appear grayer;”

Image from Color Palettes by Donald Kaufman

“The dining room’s peach walls push the blue trim toward the green.” D. Kaufman

The following are some of my favourite books on Interior Design:

I saw John Saladino speak at a design conference where he was selling this book; Style by Saladino. I have never read a coffee table book (that wasn’t about colour) from cover to cover until I bought this one! It’s fabulous.

John Saladino

I wrote a great post here, where he talks about Monumental, Residential and Human scale. I hear Villa (his latest one) is just as great, it’s on my list to buy next!

I love this book Defining Luxury by Jeffrey Bilhuber where he says:

“Decorators can guide clients and their families to an elevated standard of living. At it’s best, the process is similar to discovering a brilliant museum, one you had never entered before or even knew existed. Once you pass through it’s doors, your world is forever changed. You may never revisit your old world again. If you do, you’ll never see it quite the same way.”

Jeffrey Bilhuber

Okay, I have one more book to share and it’s listed under Inspiring Books; the first one The Aladdin Factor is old, but it is the best book I’ve read on how to ask for what you want!

You can read story after story of miraculous events that transpired just because a person opened their mouth and asked!

“There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.” George Shinn.

Hope you enjoy my book selections. I have received many requests asking which colour books are the best ones to own; sorry it took me so long to post them!

Have a happy weekend my lovelies!

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

Barbara Barry’s Philosophy

Happiness is. . . Getting what you Want

Happiness is. . . Having the Career that you Love

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  • heather jenkinson says:

    Once again, a super generous post… You are brilliant.

  • Karena says:

    So thoughtful Maria. I need to read my Alladin Factor again, and some of these great color books!

  • Red Door Home says:

    Thanks for the book list. Good to know which ones are the best.

  • "Yeah, that works..!" says:

    This is wonderful – I feel like I'm getting secret insider info! Seriously, wonderful offering. Thanks!

  • Melissa Rakowski says:


    I have every one of the books in my library…except Aladdin Factor. Creative minds think alike! Love your taste!

  • Erika @ BluLabel Bungalow says:

    Thanks for the recommendations and congrats on the online bookstore, sweet!

  • Marlo says:

    I purchased All About Colour a while ago after reading about it in one of your posts and I love it!
    She talks about colour in a way I've never heard before.

    Time to buy more books; thanks for the recommendations.

  • Marija says:

    Holy cow could this be any more thorough?! You are amazing. I have a vague recollection of ordering Color Palettes though I can't say I've ever read. If I can't be at your color seminar, these books and this blog should help! Thank you! Have a good weekend. Marija

  • Blog Author(s) says:

    The Aladdin Factor is a fantastic book. I recently found the book,
    "You've Got To Read This Book" by Jack Canfield & Gay Hendricks. Very good read, indeed.

  • Debra Phillips says:

    great introduction maria to so many new books. will look up the aladdin factor, i so believe in the "power of just asking".
    when will YOUR book be available?

  • Boxwood Terrace says:

    So comprehensive! These sound like great books to collect. I'm really intriqued by the Donald Kaufman books you mentioned and his theories–especially the comments about the room with orange pine floors. My bedroom has the same type of floors and I'm struggling with paint colors for the walls (maybe it's time for carpeting!).

  • Jane says:

    Thanks for the book list. You are truly generous in sharing your tips with all of us.

  • VictoriaArt says:

    LOVE this entrance picture with the glass vases and books! So light and elegant…
    And your list: YES! I have a few from your list and always reference back to some of the images. There is so much beauty out there!
    Thank you for putting it together!

    Enjoy your weekend!


  • Details and Design says:

    Color Palettes is a classic. One of the best.

  • Jürgen says:

    You're very generous.
    Thank you very much for sharing with us us your bibliography.

  • Lisa says:

    Maria, this is so great! I have actually peeked through a couple of these very good choices but for the best colour advice ever I knock on your door! I always find the answer in just a few clicks…
    xo Lisa

  • thelennoxx says:

    fantastic, thanks for the book advices! I am a big color lover too, and always looking for great inspiring color and interior books. I recently came across your blog, and I am already obsessed!!

  • Laura Trevey says:

    I need to check some of these out… We are picking paint colors now for our addition!! So exciting!

  • The Zhush says:

    The Saladino book looks great. Also, have a long narrow hallway that could use some help, going back to take some notes about what you have to say about light and colors there. As always, so informative.

  • camdesign says:

    I will be making a list for my next design book shopping trip, wow how helpful are you…
    Thanks Carol Ann x

  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    Im lacking in the color book library! I have the Aladdin factor…that counts, right? hahaha How exciting that you added your books to amazon!

  • Rachel says:

    I love this quote, "You have to think of the color on a wall as being mixed with the color of the light hitting it" so incredibly true!

    great list Maria- can't wait to see what else you add to it 🙂

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    I forgot about the Aladdin factor. I love that book. You are so generous in your praise for others. I'm not even 'into' colour and I want to run out and but a couple of the books mentioned.

  • Collage Picture Frames says:

    Thanks for the great book list I always struggle when choosing colour for my walls so I'll definitely be checking a few of these out.


  • Typhanie says:

    I can't wait to add Defining Luxury by Jeffrey Bilhuber to my collection.

  • Kelly B. says:

    I love Donald Kaufman. I used his quote in my last newsletter-
    "A light color will never come to life in a dark room but a rich, deep color can make a dim, somber space feel warm and luminous – even though it receives no natural light."
    Donald Kaufman
    Exactly what you tell us Maria!
    Going to buy 'All About Color' soon. Thanks for all your suggestions.

  • Love Where You Live says:

    I bought Color Palettes years ago, which proved to be a great resource for us! I love painted trim and plan to do it in some house, one day! Thanks, -s

  • Linda at Lime in the Coconut! says:

    Thank you Maria… a great source of book inspiration…off to check many of them out.

  • Ashley says:

    Thanks for the book tips! I will definitely have to check those out. 🙂

  • Ellen says:

    wonderful collection…perhaps I will receive one of each as a gift…….smiles.

  • Patricia Torres says:

    This is a brilliant post… Loved the collection of books…

    and the pics are amazing.. I must try some new colours now!!

  • Danica says:

    Wow, so many books to buy in my future!

    By the way, I changed my blog's url.

  • Eliana Tomás says:

    thank you Maria for sharing such great list of books with us. i'll definitely follow your guidance, as i've been looking for something intense and very informative in colour. i think i'll start with "all about colour".

  • Lauren says:

    i just bought Defining Luxury on Friday and am loving it!

    Must go check out your others!! Also love the idea of your bookshop- how awesome!!!


  • Fran says:

    Thank you for all these references. I definitely plan to look into these more. Your blog is such an amazing resource….thank you again!

  • Madison Lane says:

    Thank you so much for the book reviews. There's nothing more aggravating than purchasing a book and realizing it's a dud. I am ready to start ordering.

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