My thoughts on interior design and all things beautiful in the world.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Am I Having Trouble Recreating a Color From a Magazine?

The following is a question from a client. Here is the simple answer.


Q: I am trying to decide on a paint color. I found a picture of a room I really liked but I have had 4 different paint samples put on my wall. Why am I having such a hard time recreating this color in my room?


A: It all comes down to light. There is a scientific explanation on how we perceive color but to make things simple let’s just go with the fact that color is more than just a film of paint on a wall.. It is actually a series of complex interactions between light, air and surface that culminates in our impression of red, yellow or blue. The path of light starts with the sun and is made visible to us when light waves hit the atmosphere that surrounds the earth. Different hemispheric regions receive different degrees of light that produce different nuances of color. The light also changes according to the time of year. In the tropics, water vapor combines with salt particles in the air to scatter and diffuse the light. In bright light we see warm colors more easily. A vivid color that looked great in the clear strong light of Santa Fe might seem garish in Manhattan. A pale color that looked fabulous in Charleston might fall flat in Seattle. .


Trying to duplicate a color  with different lighting and especially from a one dimensional photo will not usually end very successfully. A better way to find a perfect color for your room is to understand that light is the essence of color. What kind of light do you have? Sometimes all you need to do is look out the window to figure out what colors flourish in your specific light. Take a cue from nature. Then, in every room you will suddenly be able to see the light and color choices will come much easier.

If you are wanting some help to create a great color pallet for your home you can call me for a one hour paint consultaton.  I will help you to determine what colors will look best in your space.

A specific set of colors with the lighting of the Pacific Northwest in mind can be found  from Devine Paint.  You can find these colors, samples & paint through Miller Paint Stores in Salem, & Portland as well as other locations around the state . 


Different areas of the world reflect light differently. Takes clues from nature as you look at the type of lighting you live in.



Bright clear light found in the deserts & areas close to the equator can handle the bright vivid colors of this mexican influeneced color pallet.

Softer light is found in areas of the Pacific Northwest.  Cloudy or rainey days bring less light so more muted colors look great in this kind of light. 


Clear coastal lighting in the more sunny states gives a nice crisp light. Clear colors look great in this type of light.


Lovely wood tones, & earthy fall or natural colors look beautiful in the Pacific Northwest.

For a much more in-depth study of color & light you may want to read a great book by Donald Kaufman & Taffy Dahl "Color and Light Luminous Atmospheres for Painted Rooms."

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