Monday, February 10, 2020

Interior Painting Tip: Paint Color Chips and Strips Can Deceive You

Have you ever looked at a small paint chip or color strip to choose a color for an interior painting project? Tough, isn't it! And if you made your color decision from one of these small samples, it's no surprise that the color you wound up with didn't turn out to be the color you wanted, or the color you thought you'd chosen. 

Nobody, including those of us who work with color all the time, can make an informed color decision from a tiny sample. 

Chips and Strips Are Deceiving

Here are some reasons why samples from chips or strips are deceiving: 

Color's Cumulative Effect  

Studying a paint chip, even one of the somewhat larger ones some manufacturers now provide, won't give you an accurate idea of how the color will look on a large surface. Think of the effect of red paint on a wall vs. red trim on an accent cushion. 

Once applied to a wall, dark colors will look darker and bright colors will look even brighter. Not only that, the impression a color makes on one wall will intensify once it's applied to all the walls. 
    Two Types of Color Strips

    Color Strips: Competition and Distortion  

    When the color you're considering is on a strip in a fan deck, you get an even more distorted impression because:
    •  Each sample is so small.
    •  Adjacent colors affect each other.
    • The white strip between each color makes you think that the color isn’t as bright or intense as it really is.

    No Standardization

    There are three types of color strips:
    • a progression of one color from light to dark. 
    • different colors from one hue family.
    • unrelated colors. 
    Pay attention to the organization of the strip you’re looking at. While paint strips can help you make an initial decision and are useful for basic comparisons, these small samples make it impossible to figure out what each color really looks like. However, I do find that when I'm trying to work with a particular hue, the strips with a progression of colors are helpful. 

    Other Issues


    Paint color changes with the orientation in which it's applied. As a result, your wall color will look different if you apply it to the ceiling. Choosing a ceiling color can be especially challenging because you can't put a tiny chip or paint strip on the ceiling and tell how it will look. Ceiling color will also be affected by the colors of the walls, flooring, and furniture, among other factors, but you won't be able to see the effect of this phenomenon working from a small sample. 


    The lighting at the paint store likely is quite different from the lighting in the space you're planning to paint, and that means the color will look different there. The color will also be affected by many other factors, including the time of day and whether you're viewing it in natural or artificial light. Small samples can't show the true effect of lighting.  

    The Solution: Larger Color Samples 

    Larger samples are the best way to make a more educated guess about the impression a color will make - before you invest in the paint. 

    Some people paint samples directly on the wall side by side and try to compare them. This approach doesn't work well because the existing wall color and the neighboring samples will distort what you see. 

    A better approach is to create your own oversize samples, using inexpensive, lightweight foam core sample boards. Buy some that are at least 2 x 3 feet in size, and apply at least two coats of paint. Your local paint store will sell you sample pots of the colors you're considering, with just the right amount of paint. Always cover 100% of the board so that there are no white borders to distort your perception of the color, and use a different board for each color. 

    Advantages of larger samples

    • The true color impression is more apparent than on a chip.
    • You avoid the color competition and distortion caused by looking at a color on a strip or on the wall next to others you're considering.
    • You can move the sample around the room and even affix it to the ceiling with removable tape to view it in different orientations.
    • You can move the sample to view it adjacent to large pieces of furniture, window treatments, and accessories.
    • You can easily evaluate how the color works with colors used in adjacent spaces.
    • Sample boards avoid the need to prime or use additional coats of paint to cover test areas on the wall. 
    When you're choosing paint colors, large individual samples are best. Study the samples on every wall at different times during the day and at night under natural and artificial lighting.

    If You Need Help

    As a #Certified Color Strategist, I use my advanced training and the latest in digital color technology to inform and streamline the process of helping you choose paint colors that work. If you'd like to talk about your project and schedule an appointment, call me at 828-692-4355. If you live outside my service area, you can also arrange an online consultation. 

    Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    Going to the Paint Store? Read This First.

    Making unnecessary extra trips to the paint store can be frustrating, not to mention time-consuming and expensive. Next time you have a project, make sure you're ready to get the best advice and color inspiration by doing a little homework first. 

    What's the Purpose of Your Visit?

    Have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish so that you ask the right questions and bring all the pertinent materials and information with you. 

    Outline the Basics of Your Project 

    Use this list to describe your project to the counter person so they can focus on the key issues.

    • Interior or exterior.
    • New construction, remodel, repaint or repair project.
    • Is the existing paint or stain oil base or latex? 
      • Bring or photograph the old paint or stain cans, if you have them. The label will also enable you to identify the existing color, including the formula if it was a custom mix.
      • If you're not sure if the existing paint is oil or latex, wet a rag with denatured alcohol. Rub a small circle with the cloth for about twenty seconds. If you remove a fair amount of paint, it's likely a latex product. If it's oil, the alcohol will just clean the surface.
    • What surfaces are being painted? Ceiling, walls, cabinets, trim.
    • What is the condition of the surfaces?  Good, flaking, peeling, chalking, moldy, smoke stains, water damage stains, previously wallpapered, pre-primed, etc. Condition will help determine what preparation is needed.
    • Your budget. Do you want to use the very best products, very good products, or good enough products? Manufacturers offer a range of products for all budgets.
    • Other considerations or questions, including referrals to paint and color professionals, if you're not doing the work yourself.

    Color Selection/Matching Tips

    • Planing a color change? If yes, will it be minor or significant? Do you need help finding the right colors? Discuss the number of coats needed for coverage, and if priming is recommended.
    • Do you have tinted windows that filter natural light? You'll need to factor in the effect when choosing interior colors. 
    • What type of light bulbs are you using? (LED, halogen, incandescent, etc.) 
      • the color temperature of today's bulbs varies greatly from warm to cool and will affect paint colors. 
      • The paint colors you like in the store will appear very different on the walls in your home, depending on your light bulbs. 
      • Some stores have a lightbox to show you how a color will look under different lighting conditions. Ask at the counter and be sure to study your samples in both natural and artificial light.
    • Use your phone to bring pictures of your project.
    • Bring samples of key elements such as flooring, countertop, fabrics, etc. to give you a starting point for choosing colors and save you money by reducing the number of paint samples you buy. 
    • Matching an existing stain: Bring a sample of the item to be matched, along with a generous piece of the actual wood that will be used.
    • Matching existing paint: 
      • When you have the can of original paint, bring it with you. 
      • When you don't have the paint can, remove a light switch and with a razor blade cut a facepiece of the painted drywall behind it, which will be the original color. The larger the piece, the more accurate the match. 
      • The really good paint stores keep records of their customers and the paint colors they used. 

    Success Is Up To You

    If you gather the right information before you leave the house, you'll get better guidance at the paint store, you'll make fewer frustrating trips, and you'll save time and money while getting better results. 

    Wednesday, January 1, 2020

    Choosing Paint Colors On Line: Be Aware of the Pitfalls

    Many people are surprised and upset when they choose a paint color after seeing it online, only to find that it doesn't look the way they expected when they paint their house with it. What happened? Why does it look different? Here are some of the major reasons:

    Digital Color vs. Color in the Real World

    The many thousands of colors we can see exist in a three-dimensional color space known as the Human Gamut of Color, as charted in the diagram on the right. 

    However, the capabilities of the digital color display on your phone, computer or television are limited to colors that can be created by red, green and blue light, a much smaller color space known as RGB. The result is that these devices can't show many colors accurately, especially in the green, blue and purple hue families. 

    The colors used in printing come from cyan, yellow and magenta ink (plus a key color), an even smaller color space known as CMYK. 

    When you understand this, the reason for difference between the color you loved on line and hated on your wall, or the color you chose online for your printing project that didn't meet expectations, is much more understandable. 

    The Human Factor

    As if the color space problem wasn't challenging enough, there are other issues. Color isn't a fixed property of a surface, it's a sensation and a unique personal experience. I say experience because color is created by light waves from the visible spectrum that come in through our eyes and get processed by our brain, and because we're unique beings, each of us sees color differently.


    Because the sensation of color is created by light waves, it changes with the light in each space. Just think of how different a color looks in daylight vs. artificial light, or in the morning vs. the late afternoon. Color is a moving target. 

    So How DO You Choose Paint Colors?

    We all love going online for paint color inspiration. Just be aware of the limitations of the colors you see in a digital space and think of them as approximations only. Remember that color is totally defined by its context, and the same color can be expected to look different as its environment changes. 

    As an architectural paint color consultant, I know there’s a better way to choose paint colors successfully. It starts with identifying the color properties of the fixed elements in your home, inside or outside, and using them as your starting point for finding paint colors. The reason is that if you ignore them and use the color you think is the answer after seeing it online, it likely could be an expensive mistake. Liking a color should be one of many considerations, not the only one. 

    I Can Help

    With my advanced training as a #Camp Chroma #Certified Color Strategist II, and using the latest in color technology, I can identify the essential color properties of everything from granite to roof tiles. I then use that color DNA as well as the color DNA of every single paint color you’d like to consider, to know instantly if they’ll be harmonious in your room or on the outside of your house. I also give you large samples of these colors to look at in your space. No guesses about a color’s “undertones”. There’s no such thing in architectural paint out of the can, by the way. And no expensive, time-consuming and frustrating trips to the paint store. 

    The other thing I can do, which most color consultants don’t offer, is to guide you in strategic color placement. I believe that finding the right colors is just half the equation. You also need to know where to put the colors so that you feature the best and minimize the impact of bad design, functional details, or other issues like a large open space, asymmetrical ceilings, low ceilings or skimpy trim. 

    If you need expert help, call me at 828-692-4355 and tell me what problems you're having. I'll work with you to find pleasing solutions to your most challenging color dilemmas. 

    Tuesday, November 5, 2019

    Exterior Painting in Hendersonville, NC: Flattering the Brick

    The front of the house after
    The brick we typically see has shades of red, orange, yellow, or brown, but this house was different. Its brick had shades of dark purple, dusky lavender, and mauve. It was a star player in the front of the house because it was a prominent feature on both sides, and it also was used for a large retaining wall.

    The existing blue paint on the siding and trim not only didn’t enhance the brick, the colors worked against it. 

     It was time to give the house a fresh, updated look, and coordinating the new paint colors with the brick became one of my top priorities.

    The House Before

    The New Color Plan

    To develop the new plan I used my spectrophotometer to identify the hue families of the major colors in the brick so I could analyze them and be confident the new paint colors for the siding and trim would work. I also considered the roof colors, which fortunately were very similar to the colors in the brick.

    In addition to new colors, I took a different approach to accenting:
    • The garage doors weren't accented this time. Instead, they were painted in the body color to make them less prominent and less of a distraction as visitors approach the front door. 
    • To add more curb appeal, the shutters were painted a special accent color, matched to the beautiful eggplant color in the brick. 
    • The new front door color was different from the trim and shutter colors. It was inspired by the red Japanese nearby, making it a dramatic and elegant focal point. 
    • The unpainted lattice below the sunroom wasn't accented. It was painted in the wall color to make that side of the house look more unified and simple. 

    Paint Schedule

    Although most of the colors are from Sherwin Williams, the paint we used is from the premium grade Aura line by Benjamin Moore.

    Walls, Lattice and Porch Skirting Board:              Dorian Gray SW 7017 
    Aura Exterior Matte

    Fascia, Eaves, Window and Door Casings:           Mindful Gray SW 7016
    Aura Exterior Low Sheen

    Porch and Sunroom Ceilings:                                  Repose Gray SW 7015
    Aura Exterior Matte

    Porch Floor and Stairs:                                              Gauntlet Gray SW7019

    Front Door:                                                                  Townsend Harbor Brown HC-64
    Aura Exterior Satin                                                     Benjamin Moore 

    Shutters:                                                                       Darkroom SW 7083
    Aura Exterior Satin

    The House After

    Here's what the homeowners said when Roger was done:

    We had a great experience with both Roger and Sandy of Sterling Property Services. With new exterior paint, our home looks fresh and has a more modern and pleasing aesthetic than it ever has. We had some challenges to work around-coordinated brick and siding colors as well as protecting the original materials-so we wanted to make sure to use an expert. Now our house is much brighter and more streamlined. Roger's attention to detail and expertise were just amazing. It is so gratifying to see a true craftsman at work. We feel good that our siding is in great shape for years to come, and it looks beautiful!!"

    If you'd like to update the interior or exterior of your house with a fresh approach to color, I'd love to help you too. Call me at 828-692-4355 and we'll make an appointment for a consultation. If you decide you'd like to have us do the painting, my services are free of charge. Otherwise, I charge $250 for a two-hour consultation and large color samples (travel charges may apply in some areas) to help you make your final choices. If you'd like my help but don't live in my service area, I also offer on-line color consultations. 

    Tuesday, October 1, 2019

    Prevent Ladder Damage to Your House

    Roger sees ladder damage all the time: black scrape marks on siding caused by leaning or dragging a ladder, dirt or other contaminants transferred to the siding by a ladder, or even worse, chipped paint on gutters, or even dented gutters. The culprit might be window washers, gutter installers or cleaners, amateur painters or pressure-washers, or it might even be you.

    Repairing the Damage

    Pressure-washing doesn’t help, nor does a cleaner like Jomax. Sometimes a magic eraser can reduce the scrape marks, but usually repainting is needed. And if metal gutters are damaged, they may have to be sanded and spot primed before repainting. Don't ignore seemingly minor damage to metal gutters because chipped paint eventually will cause rust. 

    Prevention is the best medicine

    If you’re having work done, be sure to have a conversation when you're getting the estimate about the need to make sure all ladders are clean and wrapped and equipped with a stabilizer when appropriate. Be sure to be there during the work so you can double-check to be certain the ladders are properly prepared. If you're doing the work yourself, get a pair of ladder booties and keep them clean.

    Friday, August 9, 2019

    Every Detail Mattered: An Exterior Transformation in Tryon

    This was a project Roger and I were eager to do. From the moment Roger first saw the house when he did the estimate, to my first look at the pictures he took that day, we both knew that our craftsmanship, color expertise, and attention to detail, along with using top quality materials, could make a significant difference. Not only could we add to the value of the home, we could also give our clients a place they could enjoy and be proud of.

    Front of the House After

    First Impressions

    As you can see below, not only did the existing colors not flatter the house, the different elements of painted siding, brick, vinyl windows, and the raw foundation looked unrelated instead of as a unified whole. The front of the house also looked lop-sided because the right side was one story while the left side was two stories. The existing paint was in very bad condition and nearly everything required significant prep. While Roger began to tackle all of that, I met with the homeowners to discuss the new colors.

    Here's how the house looked on the day of the estimate:

    Front Side Before

    Front Door and Storm Door Before
    Red, White and Blue

    Right Front Window Before
    Note the Small Scale Trim

    Downspout and Chimney Flashing Before

    Garage Side Before
    The Lower Half Looks Unfinished

    Patio Area Before
    Vinyl and Paint Colors Don't Work
    Patio Door Before

    Back of the House Before
    Unpainted Lattice

    Color Considerations

    The first thing I explained to the homeowners was that the colors of the fixed elements, including the yellow-red brick and the brown roof, had to guide us, as it was crucial that the new colors coordinate with them. There also was the new flagstone patio by the kitchen door to be considered and the stark white vinyl windows and storm doors. Then there were utilitarian items like the downspouts and other details that were in full view. My goal was to camouflage them when possible, or at least diminish their impact.

    After we walked around and talked, we started looking at large color samples on every side of the house with their different lighting conditions. Eventually, the winning siding color was Benjamin Moore Alexandria Beige HC-77. We used premium quality Aura Exterior Paint throughout.

    How Color Selection and Strategic Placement Addressed The Issues 

    • To make the house look unified and less lop-sided, I suggested that the new siding color be similar in value to the brick, and that the foundation be painted in the body color. Because the lot is shaded, a darker color would have looked gloomy, but Alexandria Beige worked well with the brick, roof, and patio.
    • The white downspout and the chimney flashing on the front side needed to disappear, so we matched the brick and painted them in Georgian Brick HC-50.
    • To add interest, the fascia was painted in Fairview Taupe HC-85.
    • The trim around the vinyl windows was very skimpy and plain. To make the trim look larger and reduce the contrast between the siding color and the vinyl, we used a lighter color than the siding, Stone Heath #984, and Roger painted not only the existing trim, but the fixed metal edge of the window. 
    • The front door and the storm door were painted in Aura matched to Sherwin Williams Sealskin SW7675.
    • The patio door and storm door were painted in Alexandria Beige.

    The Results: 

    Front side looking left
    Front Door After

    Front Window After

    Downspout and Roof Flashing After

    Garage Side Almost Finished

    Back After
    Patio Area After

    Patio Door After

    Our clients were thrilled by the way the house looked when we were done, and we were almost as happy as they were. 

    If your house needs a makeover, call Sandy at (828) 692-4355 to schedule an estimate. We can achieve the same kind of results for you!

    Monday, April 22, 2019

    How to Find a True Paint Color Expert

    There are a lot of self-proclaimed paint color experts these days, many of whom have little or no scientifically based color training. Some have even created their own approach and managed to market (and monetize) it with workshops, videos, color sample boards, blog posts and more. What most have in common is that the best they can offer you is their personal opinions about color, but unfortunately opinions aren't the same as true color knowledge.

    So What's Wrong with Opinions? 

    What's wrong with having only opinions to offer is that color is a personal experience because of our unique vision and brain. So when one of these "experts" on Pinterest or Houzz or in a blog gives an opinion about a color, all they're telling you is what the color looked like To Them in some unknown setting, with no objective data to support their claims. Since color is light waves that are defined by context and by the observer, their opinion doesn't help you. You have no idea whether or not they have good color acuity, or under what circumstances they formed their opinion. This reliance on unsubstantiated opinion in the absence of any scientific standard also explains the confusing and often conflicting claims you see about a color's "undertones".

    I can tell right away that someone doesn't know color when I see the use of the term "undertone". There is no such thing because architectural paint is opaque. Straight out of the can it doesn't have undertones. Instead, every color except pure black, pure gray and pure white belongs to a hue family. True color experts know this and know how to scientifically identify these hue families and use Hue along with other objective information, including Value, Chroma and Light Reflectance Value to specify color.

    Sandy LeRoy, Camp Chroma
    Certified Color Strategist II 

    Bottom Line

    When you want to work with someone who really knows their stuff, ask if they use objective, i.e. scientific and measurable color data values in their work. Better still, ask if they're a Certified Color Strategist through Lori Sawaya's excellent training in Camp Chroma at The Land of Color. They're truly knowledgeable people you can count on, and I'm proud to be one of them.

    Thursday, March 28, 2019

    Our Laundry Room Make-over

    The "new" laundry room 
    There was no question that our little laundry room was looking tired. It had worked hard ever since we moved here nearly fifteen years ago, serving as laundry central, cat central and as the place for flower arranging, etc. The original Formica counter top had gotten nasty and the white laminate shaker style cabinets didn't really suit the rest of the house which has cherry wood kitchen cabinets and cherry stained doors and trim throughout. The laundry cabinets were good quality and in great condition, but their color and style were just wrong. We weren't about to change them, but it was long past time for a makeover to make them feel less out of place.

    I admit that sometimes I wish Roger could drop everything and work on our latest project because having the house torn up for long periods of time is no fun, but that's not the way it goes with us. Painting for our clients always takes precedence! And even though the laundry room is a small space, there was a lot of time-consuming work involved, so the transformation wasn't going to be a quick fix.

    Roger had to paint the ceiling and walls, the interior of two double storage closets with wire shelving units and three banks of cabinets. There was a lot of packing up and dismantling to be done before he could even start painting. Everything seemed to move at a snail's pace to an impatient sort like me, but Roger knows the right way to do things and that takes time. Because the cabinets were to be done in oil enamel, we also had to allow plenty of drying time once they were painted before the shelves, doors and drawers could be re-installed.

    Here's what the cabinets looked like when we started. The new counter top had just been installed and Roger had taken the first two sets of doors to the workshop.

    Sink side cabinets before
    Washer/dryer side cabinets before

    Getting Started

    The first step was to replace the Formica counter top with quartz, and we were lucky to find a remnant of Cambria "Clyde" which worked well with the limestone floor, the only fixed element in the room that I had to consider. The counter top was the only thing we changed. Everything else was updated with paint.

    As Roger removed the cabinet doors and drawers he labeled where they came from to save time putting them back correctly. He also removed the shelving units in the closets and took down the light fixture, drapery hardware, etc. Once the room was cleared it was time for cosmetic repairs. After covering up, taping and masking off, Roger fixed some bad drywall tape and nail pops in the ceiling and filled the holes in the walls as I didn't necessarily want to put the accessories back in their former places.

    The Painting Phase

    Then it was on to painting. The ceiling and walls went quickly. As you might expect, the cabinets took a lot more work. Each shelf and cabinet door had to be primed because we were putting paint over laminate and then painted two more times on both sides, plus they had to dry properly between coats. After it was all done there was more waiting.

    Here's what we used (all paint by Benjamin Moore):

    Ceiling:  Shaker Beige HC-45 - Ceiling Paint
    Walls and Closet Interiors: Shaker Beige HC-45 - Aura Interior Matte
    Cabinets: Rushing River #1574 - Satin Impervo oil enamel

    Some Details

    I wanted to coordinate the folding table to the left of the dryer, so Roger painted the legs in Rushing River. He also primed and painted the cabinet shelf supports in Rushing River to give the interiors a finished look. We recycled the old chrome and ceramic cabinet knobs and the black light fixture by spraying them in an oil rubbed bronze. Roger painted the metal dryer vent in Shaker Beige to camouflage it. Paying attention to these details really helped.

    The (Almost) Finished Product

    It seemed to take forever, but we're finally back in the laundry room, operating as usual and really enjoying it. The beautiful look of Satin Impervo, a better color, not to mention Roger's expert craftsmanship, transformed those glaring white cabinets. Even though the Shaker style remains, in the new color they now look more as if they belong with the rest of the house.

    Roger isn't quite done yet. He still has to refinish three sets of double doors: one set of entry doors and two sets for the closets. Then it's on to our next project.

    The white plastic shelf supports 
    have disappeared.

    Cabinets after on the sink side.
    Cabinets after on the washer/dryer side.
    Dryer vent painted the wall color.

    If your cabinets look tired and you're ready to give them a new lease on life, call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule an estimate with Roger. I highly recommend him!