This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in September 2014.
There’s something rewarding about choosing a color scheme based on physical inspiration. It’s just so easy … the watermelon pink shirt in your closet (been there), the vivid orange of a fall pumpkin (done that), or the charcoal hue of a black sand beach (cabinet painting hint!). Technology’s a wonderful thing when it comes to selecting paint colors, so if you’re dabbling with the idea of putting that special color into your home in a big way, do it right.
Tip 1: Use Paint-Match Apps
I’m not here to promote the smartphone apps from a few of the big paint brands on the market, but I’ve tested both the Behr and Sherwin Williams apps and I like them and think you will find them helpful too. These tools make it easier to determine how colors in real life match back to product paint colors, and for example, it might be enough to make you realize that the pink in that beautiful dahlia might translate nicely to that old chair that you’re looking to refinish.
With these apps, because you’re using digital photographs, the big thing to remember is that it’s easy to have imperfect lighting or different screen brightness settings, so be sure to pick up the real life paint chip in-store to see how the color looks in different lighting scenarios. If it’s easier for you, you could also have the store mix have individual sample paint pots for real-life color comparison in your own home (mini pots run just a few dollars versus the cost of a larger volume).
Tip 2: Bring an Example In-store
Another easy way to color match is to bring an object in your preferred color to the paint store and allow the associates to match it using the in-store Spectrophotometer. This tool reads the color of the object scanned, and then automatically calculates the color formula necessary for duplicating it as paint. This technology has been making it easier and easier for homeowners to coordinate their home, and it keeps getting more accurate, which is great for designers and do-it yourselfers alike.
While it’s an easy and accurate way to match color, don’t expect to be able to match metallics, and don’t rely on getting a good formula read from a glossy photograph for a perfect color match. The machine has trouble with the reflectiveness of some finishes, yielding an imperfect match. Always allow a dab of paint to dry in-store beside your inspiration swatch for comparison (the associates should be prepared to re-mix, or make recommendations to adjust the color if it’s not perfect – “Needs more red.”)
Tip 3: Remember Your Choices
Finally, when you have perfected your home’s paint palette, make it easy to remember what paint colors you’ve chosen by applying your own swatches to a wallet-sized card, popsicle stick, or small dowel. Stick it on your key chain or in your purse, and next time you find that perfect fabric or home decor item, you’ll know immediately if it will work with the other colors in your home.
For more inspiration, check out which color palettes work great in high-traffic homes!