Friday, September 23, 2011

White, but not quite right...

Have you ever tried looking up advice online about picking paint colours? Let me tell you, there are a lot of tips out there! However, it's fairly well-accepted that this is one of the most difficult steps in decorating and you really have to be in the exact space with the exact chips/samples to make a final call.

This time, I thought I'd try out the new(ish) line of Sarah Richardson paint colours offered through Para. If you're a newbie to this sort of marketing, the plan is that the famous designer picks out their top colours from a paint line and they are sold sort of as a feature set. So, if you like a particular person's style, you can get their look by choosing their top colour picks from the line fairly easily. It can make the job of looking at a full range of tints much more approachable.

Here is a clip of SR talking about her line and the process of picking colours:

Did anyone else catch the Christie Mansion in the 
background for the Tommy Smythe comments here?

The truth is that most people get paint colours wrong and that includes even the real super-star designers. (I don't have the clip, but there are even scenes on TV where the illustrious Sarah Richardson realizes she's got a miss!)

Our goal was to pick out a creamy white for the office. Something like this: 

I may also mention that Benjamin Moore alone has 160+ shades of white, so it's not an easy colour to get right!

This is what I picked out:

  • Sunbeam
  • Paint Code
  • SR45
  • Sarah's Advice
  • Sunbeam is a toasty white that can be used to warm a cooler palette.

And this is how it turned out on my wall:

(The photos are quite dark, but you can hopefully see how golden yellow this turned out!)

Quite a bit more yellow than expected. 

What went wrong here? I mis-judged my own instinct to go with something that looked paler and muddier on the chip and took this one at the suggestion of the paint rep at Lowes - who did also admit that she herself had never worked with these colours. (Mistake #1! Never take product advice from someone who has never used what they're selling you!)

So, loyal reader, what can you do if the same thing happens to you? If you have a reasonably good understanding of how colours work, you can almost always have a gallon of paint re-tinted. What I did was request a small shot of brown tint to tone down the yellow and a few shots of white to pale the colour and reduce the saturation. The end result looks like this:

Even with daylight and overhead lighting, this room is still dark and the shade
 came out more "french vanilla" or yellow than creamy white.

I'm not 100% happy, but we'll see if we can work with it once furniture goes in. What do you think?

The lucky part is that the actual painting is the easy step and our hard work prepping the walls won't have to be repeated in order to adjust the final look of the room. 

DIY Rating: 6

It takes time and practice to master the art of choosing paint colours. 

Look for an experienced sales person at the store 
to help give some suggestions on good tints 
to offer their expertise in re-tinting your choice in case it doesn't work out!


  1. Loved this post. I'm in the process of choosing paint for our basement reno and will eventually need to repaint our white/cream walls upstairs. I love warm white walls, but as you've mentioned, they're so hard to get right. Thanks for sharing your insights on pitfalls to avoid.

  2. Welcome, LC! Good luck with your paint hunt.

    I had great luck with C2 paints on my last basement project - used Gossamer as the wall colour and Chalk White for trim/doors. I had the Gossamer lightened a few shades by adding shots of white to the gallon. You might want to try it out...

    Sadly, C2 is unavailable in Regina (my new home).


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