This post is for anyone in the business of specifying colour. And the question is: “Should you pay for a room to be re-painted if the colour you recommended either looked terrible when the room was done or the client simply didn’t like it?” This was the question posed by the wonderful bloggers at The Skirted Roundtable this week. Having completed hundreds of colour consultations in my design career, I thought I would share with you, how I handle the colour testing/re-painting conversation:
First some background; the first course I took on colour was at the Daystudio in San Francisco taught by Joanne Day. She is a colour expert (in the business 35 years) who, upon choosing colours for her clients, paints 5 ft x 5 ft colour samples on boards, takes them to the clients home and asks them to live with it for a few days, view the colour in the morning light, noon and in the evening to make sure that they love the colour (obviously her rate covers the time to do this). As Joanne said “Sometimes a client hates the way it looks in the morning but if this is a room they spend most of their evenings in, and they love it at that time of day, then it is the right colour”.
That was at the beginning of my colour and design career and since then I have always included this paragraph in my colour specifications to my clients which is headlined;
Recommendations for Perfect Colour;
“Maria Killam Colour & Design strongly recommends testing each colour chosen for each individual room with a 5 ft by 5 ft painted sample. Lighting, exposure of the room, your own personal likes and dislikes will heavily dictate what happens to the colour once it is painted in the room. Should you decide not to test each paint colour in every room of your house (as this can be just as expensive as re-painting just one room), be prepared to paint one or two rooms over again as I cannot predict with 100% accuracy that the colour will be perfect every time.”
It is our job as designers to guide our client with the correct colour suggestions however, there is no way a colour consultant can or should take responsibility for a paint colour gone wrong because it is impossible for anyone to predict in advance whether the client will even like the paint colour once they see it painted on the walls not to mention the way the colour changes in the room with the different lights of the day as well. Which is why colour should always be tested first.
The other part of our job as designers, is managing our clients expectations on the wonderful nuances and frustrations of colour (some houses, especially rooms without direct sunlight, or filtered light, can be the most challenging) I had one client who painted one wall in her kitchen 11 times before she hired me (she had painters in her house for 2 months). Colour that goes wrong is very upsetting because it creates a feeling besides the fact that suddenly it doesn’t work with your furniture, etc. Therefore, if your client is committed to having colour in their house (which is more and more, the way people are decorating now) they need to be prepared to practice due diligence with colour testing.
Some designers (once they have palettes picked out for an entire house) do not let the client see the colour until it’s complete (going back to the colour must be seen in context post I just wrote a few days ago) and if you are decorating a house from top to bottom, sometimes this is a good strategy. Especially when the painter is in house and the colour is going up, because a lot of people have a hard time visualizing, that’s why they have hired us in the first place. I read somewhere that Jamie Drake once said “I don’t have problems with colour, I pick the colour, and it’s perfect every time” certainly easier to do when you actually are specifying every detail in an entire house. One of the best comments on the post I wrote about ‘hiring a designer’ was “Hire a professional for everything you can’t do professionally yourself”, it’s just the smart thing to do.
However, if you have strictly been hired to pick a colour palette that flows through the house for the client, testing is especially crucial at this stage, with colour being selected to work with existing finishes in the home.
To make sure the undertones in your home coordinate, get some large samples!
If you would like to learn to choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.
Insider Secrets to Testing & Selecting Paint Colours
5 Questions to consider when selecting a new colour for your kitchen
The right way to create flow using colour
Effect of Natural Light Exposures on Colour