I imagine you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule before, but did you know it can be applied to paint colours? Because, when you know the right 20% of paint colours, that’s all you need. Keep reading and I’ll even show you how to make your own paint colour board samples.
The Pareto Principle
It’s called ‘The Pareto Principle’ and it means that in anything a few (20%) are vital and many (80%) are trivial.
Or 20% of the people own 80% of the wealth or 20 percent of the defects cause 80% of the problems.
Project Managers know that 20% of the work (the first 10% and the last 10%) consume 80% of your time and resources.
You can apply the 80/20 rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world. And, you can apply this rule to the world of paint colour in homes.
Applying the 80/20 Rule to Paint Colours
Have you ever noticed that when you are looking for a paint colour, you’re typically looking for the perfect neutral? Yes, we choose whites (when the room has enough light) and chromatic colours too, for rooms like a bathroom, office, bedroom, or even an enclosed dining room, but neutrals are the paint colours at the top of the list of choices.
And here’s where the Pareto Principle comes into play with colour. When you know the right 20% of all neutral colours, you know the vital ones.
My nine useful neutral colours — pink beige, orange beige, yellow beige, gold beige, green beige, green grey, blue grey, violet grey and taupe — make up the 20% of useful neutral colours. Familiarize yourself with these and you can stop turning your brain into a pretzel by trying to choose a colour from the other 80%.
These neutrals are the reason why so many people attend my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops, because they are much harder to choose than any other colour.
Start by identifying all the neutral undertones.
See this pillow (below)?
If this was the starting point for your room, which neutrals would you eliminate right away?
Don’t scroll past this image yet. Just stay right here and look for a minute.
Okay, so we would eliminate the pinker pink beige because even though it relates well to the very strong pink beige colour in this pillow, you probably wouldn’t want to paint your walls this colour.
So that’s when you’d choose the lighter pink beige (below right).
And the yellow beige because there is no yellow beige in this pillow at all.
You can see that there’s violets and blue greys and perhaps even a taupe.
All these neutrals are found in my curated collection of 50 paint samples in Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams.
You can also get the VIP collection, which give you some more pale greige neutrals, the best yellows, pinks, greens and blues and the best darks.
Notice the colours on the left? Well, you can’t see them all that well in the above photo, but mostly they are used for kids room colours or (as I tell my students) those yellows, on pillars in a parkade to signify caution– too screaming bright.
The ones on the right? Way too many pink beige colours and cold blue grays, so there are a few greens, yellows, purples including blues to choose from.
The ones in the middle that I’m sitting in front of? Those are the Designer Classics and the Heritage Colours, these are the ones we use over and over.
Before I sold large paint samples on the site, I painted them myself and this is how I did it.
How to MakeYour Own Large Painted Sample Boards
Directly on my glass dining table:
First you need a poster board (above).
This one is already cut in half because I’m going to paint 4 colours on it but if you are painting one for your own testing purposes, better to at least paint the entire half of the board. The bigger the better.
Take some green painters tape and tape it all around. To save on tape I left the 4 outside edges—I’ll cut them off anyway.
I used to use little rollers, but they only last for maybe four times and then I have to throw them out so now I just use a paint brush.
They dry way quicker.
Wash out the paint and then shake it until you don’t see any more water, then it’s ready for the next colour.
Here’s the finished paint sample with the second coat still drying. I’ve taken the tape off (better to do it before it dries so it doesn’t start taking the paper with it!) and now I’m writing the colour names and number on the bottom of each.
And here they are the next day (below). They need to cure for two weeks before you stack them all up and stick them in my sample bag (otherwise they will surely stick together stored in your hot car).
But once they are cured, you can keep them in your car in any weather.
So, just relax about knowing every single colour already. 🙂 Because now you know you only need to the most useful neutral colours in your tool kit.
All you really need for colour confidence is my curated collection of best neutrals and whites, click here to find out how you can buy your very own set. I’ve already done the hard work for you!
I promise my large painted colour boards are way cheaper and easier than painting them all up individually!