Forget about the name!

By Noel Costumbrado

I start every consultation informing clients to forget about the name of colors but it’s proven to be easier said than done. I can remember working with a client and we had picked out the perfect color for their bedroom; a soft blue hue to enhance their surrounding accessories, bed linens, and it fit in the rest of their custom color palette. While writing up their spec sheets, I can remember reading the name of the color, Green Tint 2139-60 by Benjamin Moore, and the look of doubt flushed over their faces. I reassured them that the color would translate just as we had already seen and discussed, yet the color name had thrown them off completely. They had forgot about the linear process we had gone through to get to that color and disregarded the understanding of color complements and relationships.

Green Tint 2139-60 reads more as a blue when paired with Van Deusen Blue HC-156 (both colors from Benjamin Moore).

Green Tint 2139-60 reads more as a blue when paired with Van Deusen Blue HC-156 (both colors from Benjamin Moore).

Paint companies are out to sell you one thing and one thing only: paint. What many people may not realize is that they don’t make money providing you with thousands of color swatches, but one of the ways they do make money is enticing you to buy a specific color because of the name. Now, there is nothing wrong with this marketing tactic, and in fact, it is very clever. I’m not saying that the names of the colors are bad, but if you are letting the name of the color make the decision for you, you have essentially done exactly what the paint company expected you to do (which is purchasing their product based on a name like “Princess Pink”  for your daughter’s bedroom and not actually understanding how that color will relate to all of the other colors in that space.)

We need to consider how “Princess Pink” will look in relationship to the flooring, trim, furniture, etc. Let me ask you this – have you ever painted a room with a color you just LOVED in the store, only to find out 2 coats later that it looks terrible with everything else you have? You return back to the paint store for another go at the perfect pink color for your little princess, and before you know it, you’ve bought 6 gallons of paint that you really didn’t need – BUMMER! Metamerism is a term used to define the phenomenon of how the perception of a color is changed with the surrounding light sources. When we realize that color is light reflected back at us, we can start understanding how color is manipulated two ways: by surrounding colors and what kind of light exists around.

Sometimes, a name can throw an entire project off course, but my job as a color consultant is to help clients see what they saw in the beginning. Go with what looks and feels right, and trust the process!

My design advice: Before purchasing paint, pick out the colors you like out at the store and bring the swatches home. Hold one swatch at a time vertically (you ALWAYS want to view the swatch the same way the color will be applied for the most accurate read) and see how it relates to the other items in the space. By process of elimination, you will be on the right track to purchasing the perfect color for your space.

For more information, please feel free to contact me at

Let’s discover your colors, together.

Have you had a similar situation with color? Share your story!


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