color of paint?? love it
September 11, 2012
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Clawson Architects, LLC

What Color is That? How to select the perfect paint color.

What color is that?
This is the question I get asked most often.. "what color is that? Mostly it is in reference to a project published on the Internet?
This apparently is not an uncommon question. Customer service agents at Pottery Barn were also inundated with the same question every time they released a new catalog. So, they partnered with Benjamin Moore and now they offer official Benjamin Moore Color chips in the store and online. If you don’t see the small print, no problem, the Customer Service Representatives at Pottery Barn can tell you what color is behind that couch on page 54.
This is all well and good; however, I am sure many out there have then commenced to paint a room that color and it just did not turn out the way they thought it would. This is because color is amazing. It has the ability to change the one next to it just like your eyes change when you wear certain colors. It is affected by its surroundings especially the lighting. The light bulbs in the fixtures throughout the room, or even in the same fixture may not even be the same. The light at different times of the year and in different areas of the house will appear completely different as well.

When Clawson Architects photographs a space, we use a professional and he sets up all kinds of lights. I have even helped change the light bulbs in the fixtures and hang white sheets or blackout curtains in windows to diffuse the light to get an image that will communicate the design intent best. Then, because I use a double screen at work, depending on which monitor I have the image opened on, the color appears differently. The images also prints differently depending on which printer I send it to.

So when someone calls or writes to me and asks what color something is, the easy answer would be to just tell them a number. They won’t get even close to the same results, but they are begging me for the number.

So, if you see a color you like, I would like to recommend you do three things:

1. Try to capture the color with one of the Color App Catchers. I like Benjamin Moore’s. Or hold up a fan deck from any of the paint companies out there and try to pick one that is close to what you are seeing.
2. Buy small can of the paint and paint pieces of white poster board. Tape it up in different parts of the room and look at it at different times of day. It may take several tries but it will be worth it.
3. If you have control over the light bulbs in your fixtures, buy ones that are “daylight”. If the fixture has multiple bulbs, and one goes out change all of them at the same time.

There is so much hesitation over color. As an Architect and Interior Designer, I select colors for clients all the time. I use the process described above. It works. How do I know when I have found the right color? When your friends come in and say “What color is that?” Or in the case of the exterior, you will see people standing out in front of your house with a paint fan deck…the brave ones ring the bell and ask.
Mary René Clawson, AIA, LEED AP, CID
2 Likes    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:15AM
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This is the homewowner- I can tell you the color it is in this mudroom: It is 1485, Benjamin Moore in Brushed Aluminum in matte. All woodwork and moldings (all trim) are Benjamin Moore Atrium White in their Satin Impervo Line of Oil based paints- semi gloss. Ceiling is also Benjamin Moore Atrium White 50 percent mixed with 50 percent Benjamin Moore white flat. Good luck. Leave your emal and i will send you the paint colors for the whole house that is pictured on the Clawson website if you'd like.
12 Likes    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 9:20PM
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Love to have all the colors. Another question...I'm thinking of painting ALL my interior doors black...just a tad hesitant but they look amazing. Did you do all interior doors including inside all bedrooms? I also have 2 french door leading out to a deck...should i paint those black too? What was the black you used! Thanks so much! email is
    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 6:00AM
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Hello! Love your house! Will you please share paint colors for the foyer with me as well? It is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Home owner here: Here are the foyer paint colors: it is either 927 (which I think it is) or 0c-9 which we thought of doing. Try both but i think it is 927. Also, all the trim is Atrium white in satin impervo benjamin moore. I will send you an email with all the paint colors for the home as well.
    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Home owner here- The doors are not painted black. They are stained minwax stain 50 percent ebony mixed with 50 percent jocobean and covered with an oil based finish. Only some doors are stained. Bathroom doors are white and exterior doors are white on both sides.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:52PM
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Dear Elllsworth homeowner, Just wanted to say thank you so much for answering everyone's questions and that your home is absolutely beautiful!
    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 8:16PM
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Ellsworth. I love your home and if you have time, can you please forward that email to me also
    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 5:03PM
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Ellsworth11 - would really appreciate it if you could send me the paint colors for the whole house at
    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 6:07PM
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