In addition to the task of painting, just choosing the right color can be a large undertaking. Even if you have a specific color range in mind, it can be hard enough to pin point the exactly right color. This task becomes even more difficult when you don't even know what color you want. Bold or subtle? Neutral or dramatic? Trendy or timeless? This is when man (including myself) turn to magazines and blogs for color inspiration. Taking your color choice from a photograph, either print or digital, does have certain inherent dangers, however. Here are some Do's and Don'ts to help guide you to the perfect color.
DO make sure that there a least some similarities between the photographed room and your own space. Color is relative; that is, many factors determine how a color will look the room. These factors include the type and color of flooring; the amount, color, and placement of trim; the type and amount of lighting, including natural light; the color of furnishings, window treatments, and adjoining rooms; the size of the room; and the height of the walls. The more features that match between the inspiration room and your own room, the more likely the paint color will look the same in both spaces.
For example, look at the entirely different effect created by black paint in these two rooms: In the first room, even with the black walls, the overall feeling is still very bright because of light floors, sunlight streaming in from large windows on two sides, lots of white on furnishings, ceiling, and upper 1/4 of the walls.
The second room, however, feels much moodier because it is smaller with dark floors, less natural light and dark furnishings. It's a beautiful room; but if you were aiming for the high-contrast, bright, crisp and airy feeling of the first photo, you would be sadly disappointed.
DO carefully read the text and resource lists (in the back of most shelter magazines). They often list the paint names of some of the more heavily featured and interesting rooms. Some designers will even respond to e-mail and phone requests for paint colors. When my former boss designed a Southern Living show house, she instructed her assistants and office staff to politely and cheerfully respond to most source requests. Be aware, however, that many designers feel that their sources are important business assets and don't like to "give it away for free." In such a case, respect the designer's decision to keep his source secret.
DON'T assume the color in the photo is true to the actual swatch. The way a color photographs, depending on the lighting, etc. can give a very different impression than the color found in the fandeck. Furthermore, the printing process for magazines and the effect of monitors can make colors appear very different than they do in real life. Just think about items that you have purchased on-line that arrived looking very different than they did on the website. And that's even before thinking about the wide-spread use of photoshop to enhance or tone down colors for the sake of creating just the right image.
Two shots of the same room by two different photographers. The difference is subtle, but noticeable. In the first picture, the walls and blue/green accents are much greener, and the bed appears almost white. In the second photo, everything is warmer, and the bed looks cream. I don't know which is more accurate to the real room.
|This photo would NOT be a good candidate for computer matching--not enough wall area clear.|
|This photo is a much better candidate for computer matching with the large empty area of wall in right hand corner of photo.|
It may take a while to find your perfect paint from a photograph. Don't be discouraged, it can happen. I found my perfect office and stair hall color from a HB article (post here). In my case, the printed swatch and photo was true to the actual color. I still tested though. Good luck!