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How to Select the Perfect Paint Color: An Interview with Our Designers

We asked our on-staff design consultants how they help their customers find the perfect paint color. Whether they’re in store or visiting the clients’ home, our designers can get your paint color right every time. We heard from Sue, our senior designer, and she told us all about her favorite Benjamin Moore colors. We also asked Vicki what she does when her customers just can’t make up their mind. And Veronica gave us some questions she asks her customers to get the ball rolling. Continue reading to learn even more from our fantastic design team!

How do you start the color selection process?

Sue: Well, if it’s for myself, I decide on a particular look I am trying to achieve. And depending on the room I am working on, I have to consider furnishings in that room, or a certain style that I want to create. I am going to ask myself the same questions that I would ask the customer, which brings us to question two.

Vicki: I’ll ask the customer which room or rooms they’ll be painting then I’ll ask for inspiration, rooms they like.

Veronica: I always like to learn which room is being painted first, to understand it’s purpose. Then, I like to get to know the customer, their situation, the desired feel of the room or rooms being painted.

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What questions do you ask your customers?

Sue: After greeting my customer, I will ask them:

  • What project are you working on, what room, etc?
  • Are you doing a complete remodel, such as in a kitchen or bathroom?
  • What colors are in the rooms now? And what would you like to see in place of those?
  • Do you want a completely different look?
  • Are you getting new furnishings, and if not, what things are staying?
  • Do you already have a paint color in mind and want to see shades of that color?
  • Are you getting ready to sell your home?

Vicki: I want to know what is more permanent in the room (flooring, countertops, etc).

Veronica: I like to start by asking if they have any specific paint colors in mind. If not, I’ll ask if there are any colors they don’t like so we can eliminate those. Then I’ll ask how they primarily use the space and how many people use it (read: other opinions that play into the decision). These questions apply to selecting flooring finishes, wallpaper and fabrics, too.

What is your main priority when choosing paint color?

Benjamin moore First Light 2102-70 on walls in Danish style dining room
First Light 2102-70

Sue: The goal is to give the customer the colors they are going to be happy living with.

Vicki: I focus on how light is received in a room. Light has a big affect on how a color will look.

Veronica: For me, the first priority has to be the mood or the feeling the client desires (bright and airy, warm and cozy, lodge style or beachy). The next most important thing is how well this space will flow with the rest of the home. You always want to make sure each room has a natural feel when moving throughout the home.

What do you do when you can’t find that just-right color?

Sue: Sometimes the customer comes in with a definite color in mind. If they have samples they want to match (countertops, cabinets, furnishings, etc), I will pull the colors the customer is thinking they want. If I think the color is not going to work, I will pull other colors that I see will complement what they have and explain to them why they will work. In other words, how that color will enhance the room they are working on. I encourage customers to get samples as lighting makes such a difference. Some colors are totally changed depending on the light in a room.

Vicki: If we can’t find a paint color right off the bat, I’ll ask the customer for a major element like floor tile or bed comforter, something that will be going in the room, and then pick a neutral to go with that. Or I’ll suggest a color consultation.

Veronica: Rarely, we’ll come across a customer who can’t settle on a color. What I like to do is find inspiration pictures of their desired style or mood and see if anything really stands out to them. Usually this helps to give them more direction. If not, I’ll suggest taking several paint color swatches home then trying out samples of their favorites. Or we’ll schedule an in-home color consultation. This gives both of us a better chance to see how certain colors look within their home, with their specific lighting and decor.

What are your go-to Benjamin Moore colors?

Sue: I don’t know if there are any that work everywhere, other than maybe White Dove (OC-17) and Simply White (OC-117)! Standards like Revere Pewter (HC-172), which has been so popular for the last three years anyway. Shaker Beige (HC-4) is still a go-to beige. But the off-whites like Muslin (OC-12) , Clay Beige (OC-11), Ballet White (OC-9), Natural Cream (OC-14), Pale Oak (OC-20), Classic Gray (OC-23), Gray Owl (OC-52), Balboa Mist (OC-27), Collingwood (OC-28), just to name a few, I think are pretty safe colors. Off-whites and pale neutrals are safe bets when other colors don’t work.

Vicki: Revere Pewter (HC-172), if there’s lots of light, Edgecomb Gray (HC-173), Balboa Mist (1549), or most light grays tend to work in every home, especially now.

Veronica: If all else fails, Revere Pewter HC-172 is a great chameleon color. It just works in 99% of homes. I also find that Steam AF-15, Pale Oak OC-20, and Pashmina AF-100 look good in most homes. While I don’t think there is one specific color that “goes” with every home and style, I would say warm gray-beiges are a safe bet because they’re neutral and transitional.

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