Why is yellow so hard to choose? Because all colours get twice as bright when they get bigger [all over the walls] and it is well known in colour theory that yellow is the first colour the eye sees, it’s simply the brightest. Which is why it has to be toned down (or muddied) even more than the other colours, before it becomes a ‘designer’ yellow on the walls.
The reason why I’m calling it ‘designer yellow’ is because a professional colour consultant spends a lot of time ‘toning down’ colours that their clients choose in addition to helping the client pick colours that create flow in their home.
A pretty paint chip does not necessarily make a pretty wall colour and it’s also why one client said to me “I am ALWAYS surprised when I see the little 2″ x 2″ chip all over the walls, it’s never what I thought I would be”.
When I first did my colour training in San Francisco with the Daystudio, I came home and bought all the colourant so that I too could shift the colour on site [like I had been trained to do].
In the end though, the only colour I was able to change reliably [on-site] was YELLOW. For example, the way you actually get to ‘beige’ is by adding the ‘complement’ to the colour you are working with. So if you want pinky beige you start adding ‘green to red’ if you want a nice yellowy-beige, add ‘purple to yellow’.
My students spend 2 classes, right at the start, painting with colourant, toning down the colours, etc so that they can start to understand how colours are created.
Therefore, if you want to tone down a bright screaming ‘laundry room’ yellow, add some purple to it. Or better yet, take your gallon back to the paint store and ask that they ‘tone it down’ for you. So don’t worry, if you’ve picked the wrong yellow, you can always muddy it and add some orange if it’s too green. It’s going backwards that you cannot do without adding a lot of white paint to an existing colour–which I don’t recommend, cause who knows what you’ll end up with, at that point, it’s better to start with a fresh gallon of paint.
Remember the post I did on colour consulting in a house with a ‘screaming yellow’ bedroom? Well, this is what it looked like (I know I’m showing an exterior wall but you get the picture)
Image from flickr
You certainly don’t need a ‘light’ with this kind of yellow. When the yellow above gets toned down, it would then work on an exterior wall like the one below:
Image from flickr
There are painters and colour consultants that arrive on site with their colourant kit and ‘shift the colour’ on-the-spot if it’s not right.
It was working with my big samples that saved me (from having to learn how to mix paint colour at the job site). An 11″ x 14″ paint sample is a perfect size for you and your client to see that the perfect, toned down yellow you have just specified is exactly right.
While you’re here, subscribe to this feed so you don’t miss out!
Need help choosing the right neutral or colour? My How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s all in the Undertones ebook takes the hundreds of choices down to 9 neutral undertones along with list of all my other go-to best grays, broken down into 3 undertones, green, blue and purple. The beige undertones of pink, yellow, green, gold, orange and taupe along with the best greens and blues.
My bonus book of colours is worth the price of the ebook alone but you will also get my system of understanding undertones so you can stop making mistakes when sourcing tile, carpet, countertops, etc.
The only way to choose the right colour every time is to combine my system of understanding undertones with the most indispensable colour tool available. You can purchase your own set of my curated large colour board collections here.
If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.