Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Paint Sleuthing

When Miss Marple  wasn't solving fictional crimes, she probably lowered her stress levels by dithering over paint. I can see her now, flipping through shelter magazines, pausing when she sees a lovely off-white room. "What is the color?" she asks herself.

Me, I enjoy researching paint. Even if I have no intention of using the color, if I like it, I want to know its name. My obsession began when I was a small girl; I became captivated by a magazine photo of an apple green bedroom--the walls were green, and the trim was about 4 shades darker. Pink accents completed the look. My mother drove me to the paint store, and after I showed the owner the photo, he mixed the paint without hesitation. It was perfect, just like the photo. My father painted the room, and my mom bought a pink bedspread and throw rugs at the Dollar Store.

Today, it's just not that easy to match a color to an inspiration photo. Many designers are tight-lipped about paints, and if you pester them, they'll say, "The color was mixed." End of story, right?
Well, maybe before the Internet gave paint sleuthing a voice and a community. Visit Gardenweb, Houzz, or Pinterest, and you will get a crash course in paint sleuthing.

Shall we take a little tour?

Exhibit 1
A light-filled, pale bluish room. Can you guess the color?

It's Tidewater by Sherwin Williams (SW 6477), a name that summons images of a blue Virginia sky.

Exhibit 2
A neutral bedroom--Hmmm, I know this color. Elephant  Tusk? Latte?
No, no, no. It's Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige AC-2 / Flat.

Exhibit 3
Green-painted planked walls. It appears as if the room doesn't receive direct sunlight (but who knows?).
The color is BM Celery from the Historic Colors

Exhibit 4
A modern nursery. Instead of traditional pink or blue walls, the room
has been painted a warm gray. Pink accents suggest that Parker is a little girl.

The color is Winter Gates by Benjamin Moore.

Exhibit 5
A white kitchen with high ceilings, interesting trim, and ample light.
The color was inspired by Benjamin Moore's Mayonnaise, and it was matched to
another brand of non-toxic paint.

Exhibit 6
A white room gets a splash of color with a coral-colored cabinet. That's a lot of words
starting with C, but I'll add one more: China. It may have gotten lost in a white cabinet.
The color is Dark Salmon by Benjamin Moore

Exhibit 7
A soothing aqua bedroom. White draperies, bedding, ceiling, floor, and furniture.
Would this color behave the same in a room with patterns and dark furniture? In a room with only one window?

The color is Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.

Exhibit 8
Here's another color that you'll probably recognize.
The wall color is Silver Sage by Restoration Hardware, and the trim is BM's White Dove.

Exhibit 9
What a pretty space, evoking images of warm spring days, buttercups, and forget-me-nots.
The wall color is Mushroom Cap by Benjamin Moore , and the ceiling/trim is BM White Dove.

Exhibit 10
We're looking at two photos, one color. Miss Marple herself might have been puzzled, as the shade seems to be deceptive.

In the first photo, we see a deep blue-green bathroom. A little research turned up the color:
Benjamin Moore Warm Spring #682.

The cheery green in the back of the cabinet is the same color, according to notes on Houzz.

The green paint inside the cabinet is Warm Springs (BM). Could the difference (which is considerable) be due to the lighting? Error? Computer glitch? Or a true chameleon?
What's your opinion? 
Do you have a go-to color?

Shared at Metamorphosis Monday


  1. That's so cute about your obsession of paint colors when you were little, Michael Lee. It was so interesting to see all your pics, especially the last two...what a difference! I personally can't believe that it's the same color. I have to admit that I'm swayed by the names of paint colors.

    1. :-) Those names are alluring! So happy to visit with you today, Kitty. xxoo

  2. I always thought a fun job would be "Naming Paint Colors". Happy Wednesday! Linda @bushelandapickle.com

    1. Wouldn't that be the best job ever? Happy Wednesday to you, too, Linda!

  3. Hiya Michael, "Warm Springs" brings to mind a bathroom I painted back in the 1990's in the paint color "Terra Cotta". It was baffling because on the wall opposite the window the paint looked almost coral to hot pink and it was so bright it wanted to knock your socks off, and on the other 3 walls it was the perfect rich terra cotta tone.

    1. I loved hearing your story! Back in the early 2000s, I looked a salmon/coral color for a dining room, but I couldn't pull the trigger.

  4. I like to go paint sleuthing, too! The first thing I do when I get a new magazine is flip to the resource guide and look for "paint." I used to chalk that up to "sucking" at color. Then I took a color test and realized that I am, in fact, able to see all the crazy fine gradations in colors. Fascinating how lighting changes the look of a color. I love the Dark Salmon, makes we want to paint something with that!
    Paula ~ Mise en scène

    1. Me, too! I get so frustrated when the notes just give the brand and not the color.

  5. I love the beach style bathroom!

    1. It is beautiful--I can almost hear the seabirds and surf.

  6. I love the BM mayonnaise. I had it on the woodwork inour previous Georgian house, and I had all of the woodwork painted mayonnaise in our new downsize! A wonderful white!

    1. I'm SO glad you told me about Mayonnaise. I'm putting it on my list. Thanks!

  7. Each color is stunning.

    BM Celery from the Historic Colors Oh I am in love with this.
    I need to find something to paint now.
    Linda C in Seattle

  8. Last spring I set to work on a guest bedroom. In April it was cold, gloomy, sometimes rainy and frequently snowy and slushy. I picked out a beautiful shade of coral. I was so happy once it was painted - tropical coral and bright white trim. I loved it. Fast forward 2 months. The lovely coral in the summer sun made the hair on my body stand up. It was that zingy in the summer sun. The paint came out and it now a lovely BM shade of blue. I am not a paint sleuth but I do have to be careful when painting a room. I tend to be strongly influenced by the season.

    1. You're so right...I always forget about the effect of seasons on paint colors. You reminded me of the time I visited an Irish country house, and every room was painted a warm, bright color--yellow in the drawing room, coral in the dining room. It was warm and bright that day--and I passed briefly through the rooms--but I wonder about the year-round effect of bright paint in a sun-challenged climate. I seem to live in one). I love this comment. It's evocative, strong, and lovely. Thanks for writing it.

  9. Love the palladium blue, but it looks spa green to me. Go figure. While I love the corral, and would love to visit it, I lean toward softer colors.

  10. .....and there are folks or should I say cheaters like myself when I can't decide on an interior paint colour I choose my favourite fabric colour in a room; take a sample of it to the paint store and have them colour match it. Then prior to mixing I often have them tweak the 'cut' or 'colorants' to my liking. Works 95% of the time! ☺ -Brenda-