All Light Is Not Created Equal

If you keep up with me on any of the social networks, you know I’m in the midst of my own renovation. And you know my struggle with selecting my own finishes. So, treating myself like a client, I said, “Self, you know you need to get those paint colors on the wall. And not just in one spot, you need to see it in a few different places.” 

You see, all light is not created equal. Shadows, time of day, reflections off other surfaces, all affect paint color. You need to see it in the middle of the wall, in a corner, next to trim, etc, to know if it’s going to work for you. And still then there’s no guarantees.Well, the winner for my master is Benjamin Moore Collingwood. It was not even a front runner for me while I was looking at paper chips. Just goes to show, test your paint on your wall or paint a large poster board to hold up. And remember that a paint color in a magazine or on a computer monitor is not going to look like that on your wall. It might be a place to start, but let’s face it, RGB is not equal to CMYK either.

Another factor to consider when selecting paint color is Light Reflectance Value, or LRV. This is the percentage of light reflected back into the room. Zero is true black and 100% is true white. Every manmade color is somewhere in between. We often hear complaints of “this room is always so dark. I want to add some light.” Well, if your red walls are an 8%LRV, you can add all the lamps in the world and your room is still going to be dark. And even dark yellow is going to have a high LRV.

Although there are many technical and theory based factors in selecting paint color, there is no magic formula. Some people are better at it than others. If you remember Dana, I call her the “color guru”; she has the gift. What you can do is increase your odds of selecting the right color the first time. First of all: do not pick a chip in the paint store and go ahead and buy all your paint without at least looking at the paper chip in your house. Paint stores make it easy these days; you can purchase inexpensive testers from most of them so you can try them first. Second of all, call in the professionals if need be. Designers and color consultants are educated in color theory and can come to your house and offer suggestions.

I’m always telling my clients “It’s just paint”. Once again, I guess I need to talk to myself like that and finish selecting my colors! How about you? If you’re a designer, do you have a tough time selecting for yourself? Or anyone out there have any good paint nightmare stories they’d like to share?