So, it’s time to pick out a new color. Whether you are doing a remodel, a refresh, or a new project altogether, it’s the age-old quandary… how do I pick out a color? This undoubtedly launches the typing into the Google search engine “How do I pick out a color?” “What colors go together?”.
I am not an Interior Designer; I am not even a designer by some standards, but I am a color expert. How do I call myself that? I have worked around colors for the past seven plus years. I have experience with different textures, substrates and I match paint. I think once you are exposed to the element that you are using, you start to build an understanding of how it performs, its limitations, and the result. There is absolute truth to “getting your hands dirty”. I see it time and time again when someone walks into the store, they are frustrated with the OVERLOAD of information out there. There are SO MANY blogs and Designers out there that have their own opinion about what looks best, what colors go together, and what “should” be done. I am not saying these blogs don’t have valid and true information on them, they absolutely do- there are just a few things to keep in mind.
Undertones & Mass Tones
You absolutely MUST decide what undertone you want to go with before picking out colors. Mass tones are easy because it is their color that is obvious. So your mass tone will be the true color you’re looking for and your undertone will be harder to
determine. Does your space lean towards warm or cool tones? The easiest way to do this is to come on in, pick out the colors you like and look at the darkest color on the color chip. Looking at the darkest color will typically give you the undertone of all the colors on the strip. Another way to check undertones is to lay the color chip on a blank white piece of paper. Your eye likes to see white on at least three sides to truly focus on the colors on the color chip (and when you paint that color sample).
Warm colors typically have yellow, red, and orange undertones that bring an energetic and cozy vibe whereas cool colors typically have blue, purple, and green undertones that bring a “fresher” and more calming vibe.
Now, once you have that color that you think you want, get a sample and paint it in your space. DO NOT paint it on the wall you are going to paint as the color on the wall will skew the color. You need to paint a white piece of paper or poster board and hold that up in different areas of the room. Take care to go to the least-lit places in the room and the best-lit places in the room. Also, make sure you hold it up to the permanent fixtures in the room. These would be light fixtures or furniture that is going to be in that room with the new color. All these things will affect what undertones come out in the color, the feel of the color in that room, and the overall flow.
Light Reflectance Value
Now….one that confuses people. LRV or Light reflectance value. Don’t let the words weigh you down, we were all taught this at a very young age. It simply is how much light the color is going to reflect. We all know not to wear black outside when it is super-hot because it will absorb light… meaning it has little to no light reflectance value. Whereas we wear white when we want to stay cooler on a warm day… why? Because it has a high light reflectance value and therefore reflects all that light.
So… do you need to lose a lot of sleep about what LRV your new color will have? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Light reflectance can be important in a dimly lit room or a room that doesn’t have a lot of natural light. However, it is not the end all be all, as those issues can be addressed by changing out to LED lights, adding more lamps, and adding sheen to your paint. Sheen is going to add light reflectance value to your color. So, if you want that darker color and you lack a lot of light in your room… GO FOR IT, just add a little sheen. Don’t use a flat, use an eggshell or pearl. There are other factors that need to be discussed when you choose a sheen but that’s for a different blog.
Lastly……all the feels.
A designer, friend, family member, or a blog writer can all tell you about their opinion on colors and what color would “look best” in your room, on your exterior, etc. Here’s the reality though (and one I state to my clients every time) They do not live there… you do! Do not focus on the “trends” because trends end and then you’re stuck with something you either must redo with the next trend or live with even though you don’t particularly like it. Do not focus on what a magazine says or what your sister thinks you should do. Take into consideration pointers from designers, people that work with color, and that family member that knows you and your taste.
However, the final decision needs to be one that YOU are happy with. Pick something that makes you happy when you look at it. If you want the room to be bright pink with gold trim because you have been dreaming about it all your life… DO IT. Colors like music can evoke a wide variety of emotions and feelings. If you paint the room a color that everyone suggested but you weren’t sure about… you may end up having it. So, every time you go into that room you aren’t happy with what you see. This is something that we want to avoid. We want you to go into that room or pull up to your house and smile.