Color Choice is Difficult – Know When to Delegate It!

color choice from Benjamin Moore Color Fan Deck

Color Choice is Difficult – Know When to Delegate It!

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Over the past few weeks, some of my clients have really struggled to pick a paint color.   These people were decisive professionals in their business lives, yet when sifting through hundreds of colors in dozens of paint charts, they froze.   So many colors are SO similar.  And color choice seems so “permanent”.  After all, you’re paying someone to put the new color up, and then you’ll have to live with it – or pay again to fix it.  (It’s also why – for those of you who don’t have an interior designer helping with this all-important task, we offer complimentary color consulting.  In some cases, it’s almost a humanitarian service!)  So I thought I might revisit this subject and share a few thoughts that might help with this big decision.

“Know thyself”

How good are you with color, and with decisions in general?  Some colleagues of mine and I were sitting around and talking a while back, and we hashed out a little formula for the different kinds of clients we encounter.  Most people fall into one of four categories:

Those who have a clear sense of personal style and know it are the first type.  These are the easiest clients.  They need little more than to see our color charts and possibly some slight reassurance that their color choice will work, and they’re off.  Those who have a definite sense of style but don’t know it are also fairly easy.   They know what they like and tend to make harmonious choices, although they couldn’t tell you why.   They may not trust their own instincts, but we can see that they are impeccably dressed and that their house is well put together.  So a little guidance and encouragement are usually all that is needed.

Now we come to those who don’t have a personal sense of style, yet they know it.

These are almost as easy as the first group and we love them even more.  Think about it  –  they hired us because we came highly recommended.  They don’t want to make design decisions because they don’t trust their own sense of style (or lack thereof), especially when it comes to color choice.  So we give them our best guidance, and they trust us.   Now who wouldn’t love that?

Finally, we come to the client who doesn’t have an informed sense of style, yet doesn’t realize it.  These situations are at best challenging and at worst grueling.  They may pick a color decisively, but we can see that it will clash with their granite or flooring.  Do we tell them?  Are they easily offended?  (Tough call, in some cases.)  We tactfully give our design feedback, but it may not be well-received.

Sometimes the homeowner is chasing after the “one” perfect color choice.

However, there are usually several possible colors that would work in any given situation, and picking any one of the color choice “finalists” would give a pleasing result.  Last year I had a client take two months to select a paint color.  Two months!!  That was grueling.  I lost track of the number of samples we put up for her.  Ultimately I felt like I lost my mind, my money and the client.  A valuable lesson.  (Limiting choices and being less indulgent, ironically, would’ve helped.)  So help us to help you.  If color or design is not your thing, admit it and let a professional guide you.  We want your house to be fabulous just as much as you do.  After all, you are our best form of advertising.

Knowing whether you have the style and decisiveness to select a color, or whether this choice is best left to others, is actually the first (and least discussed) step in choosing color.  A good interior designer or color consultant will always work within the parameters of your own taste, and all color choices are subject to your final approval, of course.  You can read more about how a color consultant can save your project here.  This is one of those things that often just needs to be delegated.  Trust me,  it’lll make your design process much more productive and enjoyable!


PS:  For those of you who love color and design and (ahem) “have taste”, Lisa recommends the excellent blog written by Vancouver-based color cunsultant Maria Killam.  (Lisa got her color consultant training from Maria.)  She says you could spend days reading her archives.   Have fun!  -Peter

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