A paint colour by itself is neither warm or cool, clean or dirty. Because the ONLY way to describe colour is by comparing it to another. If you’re trying to help a client with a paint colour (or choose one yourself) you need context. Let me explain.
Colour Needs Context
The best explanation of context that I’ve ever heard was this one:
Take a plain old stick.
In the forest, it is actually a stick.
In mathematics, however, it’s a number 1.
And in the alphabet, it’s a lowercase letter l.
Therefore, colour needs context. That’s why you cannot call a colour cool or warm unless you are comparing it to another colour. Why? Because you can always find a warmer colour and you can always find a cooler colour, it just depends which direction you are going on the colour wheel.
Here’s an excellent example:
Benjamin Moore Harbor Haze Paint Colour
This blue is actually quite grayed on the chip, which is what it has to be because otherwise blue gets very baby blue on the wall. Remember colour painted on the wall is usually twice as bright as your 2×2 paint chip. Whenever I have a client that wants a pale blue, I always have to show it in context.
If I just show them the blue colour I think is right, many times they will say – but that’s baby blue!
Read more: Help! My light gray walls look baby blue
So that’s then I show them what baby blue really is. And then they can actually see the difference and they understand that the blue colour I’ve selected is the correct one.
Comparing Paint Colours
The same goes for greens. If I just pull out a fresh green colour like Benjamin Moore Van Alen Green, which is in my VIP Collection, they will say – “but that’s mint green!!” So then I show them a true mint green. When you compare that to Van Alen Green, then they get it. Because they can see the difference.
How about greys? There are a million of them! Some greys are warm and sophisticated and some are as cold as an icy winter’s day. So, if I am standing in a bathroom (for example) and looking at tiles that I can see have some warm taupe-y gray tones in it like this colour:
Read more: What everyone should know about taupe
I often get the “it’s too gray” response. Until I go to my gray deck and pull out a cold blue gray like this one:
Always compare your white paint colour with the whitest white.
Make sure you compare especially when you are choosing white paint colours! Take the white you are considering and compare it with the whitest, white in the deck – say Benjamin Moore OC-65 Chantilly Lace or Decorator White, or Ultra White.
Now you can see what you are doing since you have the truest white to compare it with. The gradations of white in my System for Specifying Colour are also super helpful for nailing down the right white.
Read more: 4 Reasons Your White Walls Look Bad
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