Sheep from Norway and Web-Based Color Tools

Sometimes, the most difficult part of the painting process is picking the right colors. After all, nobody wants to spend money and time on a project only to end up with colors they don’t like all over their walls. For that matter, nobody wants to spend time and money on a project only to end up with colors that they “like” on their walls. We want to go through the work of that painting process and end up with results we love.

And so, many would-be home re-decorators find themselves bogged down in the very first step of the painting process: color selection. Because really, it’s all about color. If you put the right combination of colors together, the project turns out great. Use the wrong colors and it’s not going to matter whether or not you used the highest quality paints, the best brushes and roller covers made from the wool of spotless sheep raised in the pristine, picturesque landscapes of Norway (or wherever). All the fancy tools and quality paints in the world can’t save you from a bad color combo.

Color’s critical to every paint project and finding your inspiration isn’t always easy. As a result, many people start a project expecting to make big changes in their home. By the end of the project, however, they find that they’ve fallen back into old standards they’ve become comfortable with. They know those color schemes worked in their home and they know they’re safe. But we also all know that “safe” isn’t always fun.

Finding new colors, new combinations, exciting themes seems tricky, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, the internet is filled with great color tools that will help you visualize color combinations you may never have thought of before. These tools are designed for various purposes, but all of them can be used by the savvy home re-decorator to narrow down her colors, and, most importantly, to help her step outside of her standard color schemes.

Benjamin Moore’s Color Chooserpersonal_color_viewer

The first online tool I want to recommend to you is the Benjamin Moore Color Chooser. This is a standard tool designed specifically for selecting paint color combinations.

When you click the link, you’ll be taken to a page where you can create your own projects, store colors and do all kinds of other tasks. But the main thrust of the site is to allow you to pick from a variety of sample room photos and then fill in the walls, the trim, the ceilings with the Benjamin Moore Colors of your choice. You’ll be able to see how the colors interact with each other and you’ll get an idea about what certain color combos might look like in your home.

Spin the Color Wheel

spin_the_wheelAnother great tool is called Spin the Color Wheel. And while it sounds like a game show, you’re not going to win any prizes here (except maybe a cool color scheme for your bathroom).

Spin the Color Wheel is actually a tool that’s designed to help web-designers find perfect color schemes for, well, websites. And it’s actually kind of fun. (Even without the prizes. Or Pat Sajak. Or the crowd chanting “Spin. The. Wheel!”)

You just go to the site and click the “Spin the Color Wheel” button on the right. When you do so, you’ll be presented with 3 random color samples. If you don’t like any of them, you can “spin again”. If you like one or two of them, you can press a little “hold” button. This will lock this color down so it doesn’t change with subsequent spins of the wheel.

After going through it a couple times, I found 3 or 4 color schemes that I thought were pretty interesting (one of which is displayed in the picture above). Oh, they may need a little tweaking here and there, but still . . . I went from having no idea what colors to choose or what would look good together to having 3 or 4 places to start from.

The Color Wizard

color_wizardThe Color Wizard is another web-designer tool. But, just like the Color Wheel one we just talked about, the Color Wizard can help you narrow down paint colors and discover new themes.

This one works based on some RED, GREEN and BLUE sliders. You just drag the sliders from left to right and your color samples change. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, there’s an interesting twist to this site that makes it worth checking out: using a selection panel on the left of the color sample window, you can select different types of color schemes. You can select Complimentary Colors and the options you receive when you drag the sliders will represent complimentary colors on a color wheel. Or, you could select Analagous Colors and you’ll be presented with samples that are strictly analagous. It’s a great way to explore color, and, like the other tools I mentioned above, it’s a great way to jump start your creative mind and help you discover color schemes you may never have considered before.

All in All…

All in all, tools like these are great ways for nervous or newbie decorators to discover color schemes and open their eyes to the wide world of color. However, I’d recommend a couple cautions.

First, remember that the colors you see on your screen (especially when using the Benjamin Moore color chooser or any other paint-related color tool) are not necessarily accurate representations of the color in real life. Your monitor may show colors with a greener tint than they really have, or maybe a redder tone. In real life, when you see the chips you thought looked so good on the computer, you might find that they don’t look good at all.

But don’t despair! Use the color selection tools on the internet for a basis for color selection. If you saw a great tan, blue and green combination, but don’t like the color chips when you see them in real life, then find other chips that come close to the colors as you saw them on your monitor.

A second caution I’d urge is this: the web-designer tools are not going to present you with nice and tidy paint chip references. Instead, you’re going to get color names like “#FF7700” or the ever popular “#D1BEAD”. These are web colors and web-designers and other geeks know what they mean. If you go into a paint store with those numbers, you’re going to get a lot of blank stares. So, use those colors as starting points. Use them to figure out what colors you like to see together and then, when you go to the paint store, do your best to recreate what you found. Good luck, have fun . . . and most importantly, get painting!

The Little Old Man Who Blended In

Happy Old ManOK, years ago, I was working at the Lakewood RepcoLite and a lady came in with her husband. She pulled him–nearly dragged him–to the color chip rack and started holding up color chips to his face.

Well, this isn’t something we usually see and so I watched for a second, trying to figure out what was going on. One after another, she’d hold up a chip and then look at it, squint, turn her head from side to side and then toss the chip aside in disgust. Over and over.

I watched for a few seconds, still completely confused about what was happening, and then I walked over and asked if I could help.

Well, the little old man kind of put his head down like he was embarrassed, and his wife launched into a long explanation. And slowly, as I listened, things started to make sense. On a very limited scale–but still, at least I understood what was happening.

See, apparently, this poor little old man had just had his study at home remodelled and repainted. And unfortunately, the new paint blended in perfectly with . . . him. Yes. I’m not making any of this up. The paint blended in so well with the little old man that his wife told me she could never tell if he was sitting at his desk or not. He simply blended away into the wall color.

Well, I listened to her and then looked at the little old man. I think he was doing his best to blend in with the color behind him right then.

But the woman wasn’t done yet. She carried on with her story and concluded by telling me that she needed to find a color that accented him–a color that complimented and coordinated with her husband without blending in with him. And then, she dropped the big pressure bomb on me. She said, “That’s why I came to RepcoLite. Because I want the right color.”

Well, suddenly at that point, I was thrust into a much more complicated scenario than I’d previously realized. I had to find a color that would look great with a little old man. I had to stand in the store and hold color chips up to his little, wrinkled, humiliated face. Do you know how embarrassing that is? How awkward?  For both of us?

But regardless of all of that, I persevered. I asked questions I couldn’t believe I was asking. I asked him what color clothes he usually wears. I leaned in close and tried to determine his eye color. I wanted to ask if he was always this pale or if it was because he was just nervous. But before I could ask, his wife told me. “He’s not always this pale. He’s just nervous.” Then she hit his arm and told him to stop being nervous and start coloring up to his normal tone. “Or else,” she continued “we’re going to have the same problem as before–the color won’t be right.”

Well, we worked on it for a while and finally, I ended up just custom matching a color. We sent them on their way and I waited. I didn’t have long to wait. About a day or so later, I got a phone call from the woman. She was ecstatic. She told he that her husband was sitting at his desk right now–and that she could see him sitting there from the other room. All because the color of the wall behind him was perfect. It brought out the color of his eyes without blending too perfectly with his skin. She thanked me profusely and hung up happy.

And all that to answer some common questions folks have: namely, how do I get the right color? How do I know what is the right color? What can I bring in for a color match?

The answer to all of these questions is simple. You get the right color by coming to RepcoLite. You know what the right color is by talking with our color experts and letting them help you. And, in answer to “what can I bring in for a color match?” . . . well, I’d like to ask you to surprise us. We’ve matched cups of dirt, a handfull of leaves, flower petals, dining room chairs, magazine photos, sectionals from public restrooms, toilet seats and one embarassed little old man. See if you can come up with something crazier–we love the challenge and it always makes for a great story.

So You’re Keeping Your Couch: Decorating With “Leftovers”

couch_testLeftovers. We all usually have them when we do some new decorating in our homes. Typically, it’s a rare occurrence when someone gets to decorate a room without such limitations. What I mean is this: normally, there’s always something that’s going to “carry over” into your new decorating. Not often are you completely removing and replacing everything: carpet, bedding, wall hangings, furniture. Usually, some of these items remain and these things, in a sense, tie your hands. They limit your creativity. They limit you. Or do they?

In reality, (and against what seems like common sense), these limitations usually make it easier for you to come up with a decorating scheme. And the reason is simple: when you’ve got no limitations, no boundaries, then that means that everything, every color, is fair game. And many times, this utter freedom results in a paralysis. There are so many colors we could choose that many folks have no idea where to start. Nothing is off the table and so, as a result, we’ve got thousands of options that leave us spinning our wheels.

However, when you’ve got limitations–when you have furniture you need to work around, or carpeting–you find yourself with a starting point. Suddenly, there aren’t 3,000 colors available to you. Instead, you’re down to a few hundred at most. This makes choosing much, much easier.

Here’s an example to prove the point:

Imagine two scenarios. In the first one, let’s say that you have a blank slate. You are remodeling a bedroom and you’re replacing everything. No color is off limits. You can pick and choose any combination you want. So you walk into RepcoLite and immediately you’re confronted with a display of over 3000 colors. However, before you pick even one of those colors, remember something: the colors need to match the bedspread you haven’t purchased yet. Also, they need to work with the furniture you don’t own yet. And the carpet you haven’t even shopped for. Now, of course, you could start with the carpet and the furniture, but remember that these things are going to have to end up working well with paint colors you really like.

Now, even with this brief look at the complete room-remodel project, we can see that while it’d be fun to start from scratch, it would also be complicated. It’s not hard to see why some people get so frustrated and tense when they find themselves in this position: every decision impacts another and nobody wants to make any mistakes. So, often, what happens is a form of paralysis. A slow, tense process of decor and furniture and color and carpet selections.

OK, now imagine the second scenario: you’re remodeling a living room. But in this case, you absolutely HAVE to keep the hand-decorated, crazy throw pillows that your Great Aunt Mill hand-stitched for you. They have such sentimental value that while everything else can change, these pillows need to be incorporated in the new room.

Now, in this situation, you’re limited . . . but watch how this limitation helps you almost instantly narrow your color possibilities. When you bring the pillow to RepcoLite, we’ll look at it and we’ll start pulling colors that will work. Likely, we’ll present you with some options similar to these:

Rather than find yourself staring at a seemingly endless array of colors and color combinations (as you have in scenario 1), this time, you find yourself faced with a smaller palette of colors. You have purples, blues, tans, yellows, reds and greens to work with. And not just ANY purple or ANY green–no, the color options are very specific if they’re going to match your Aunt Mill’s pillow.

From here, it’s just a matter of sorting through the colors available and selecting the ideal scheme to coordinate in your home. No frustration . . . no painstaking hours spent staring at 1000’s of colors. Quick. Easy. Beautiful.

So, all that to say, don’t be depressed when you find yourself limited by furniture and carpet and even throw pillows from Aunt Mill that are going to remain in your newly redecorated room. Don’t worry that these “holdovers” are going to complicate your decorating and color selection process. They won’t. If anything, they’ll make it easier!