What’s in a color?

Colors go in and out of style, sometimes remarkably quickly, but their effect on your perception of a room stays the same.  I probably see more homes in a year than most people see in a lifetime, and I’ll give you my take on the colors that are this year’s top designer choices.

White.  Way way back in the day, everything got painted Navajo White.  I don’t know what the go-to color was before Navajo.  Maybe we were still painting on the walls of caves then.

Next was Bone White:  no color says “1980s apartment”, right out of the can, like Bone White.  But here’s a plug for the good old days:  look at a Navajo sample card in good natural light.  You’ll see a variety of warm, interesting undertones that give an understated appeal.  Which is probably why it’s passé these days.  If you see white now–and it seems to be the only color SoCal designers use–it’s generally a pure, bright white that you could cut yourself on.

Yellow?  It’s so 2006, at least in these parts.  Kelly Moore has a yellow called Soy Bean, and for years that or some variation of it was yuge, probably because it’s warm but stays in the background, with enough gray to calm it but not too much.  As I used to tell my clients, “it’s happy, but not too happy”.  Today, if you, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, were to paint the interior of your home Soy Bean, the happy new owners would immediately…

Repaint it some shade of gray.  That’s pretty much all I see in top-end new construction these days.  As the infographic says, gray “expands the space”, so useful when selling a cramped 17,000 sq.ft. Atherton home.  How can people live like this?! 

Sellers, resist the impulse to paint your bathroom blue.  I get it:  blue = water.  Besides, blue is everyone’s favorite color, right?  But the buyers I’ve worked with have a strong reaction to blue when it’s on walls.

How about those “deep jewel tones” the infographic mentions?  Intense colors produce intense emotions, and not always positive emotions.  Sellers, let “neutral” be your watchword.  Contrast wall colors are still hip, according to the stager I use, but keep them subtle.

People who know tell me that Benjamin Moore has the best colors, but your painter may prefer Kelly-Moore, a regional manufacturer with strong contractor penetration in this area.  Can you match K-M paint to a BM color?  Not exactly, and maybe not even close, depending on who’s doing the matching and the chemistry of each brand.  K-M offers tours of its San Carlos plant and it’s a surprisingly interesting operation, far more interesting than watching paint dry, and you may even walk away with a very nice heavy cotton pullover with the company’s logo, but to get an invite I suspect you need to either buy lots of paint or influence paint selection.

A reader reminds that Dunn-Edwards makes quality paints worth considering, and the Yelp reviews bear her out.  They in turn remind me that D-E offers the free services of a color consultant, an invaluable help on any project large or small.

copyright © John Fyten 2017



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