3 Color Secrets Revealed

Are you color impaired? Palette impoverished? Designer and color expert Mark McCauley, ASID, and color consultant Barbara Jacobs show you the road to color satisfaction.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionDesigner Baylor Anne Bone used a variety of beiges—on carpet, walls, furnishings—in this stunning open-plan home.

All About

Puzzled About Paint

Dear HGTV.com,
Help! I am so lost about paint colors—especially the beiges—that I'm not ready to show a picture yet. I decided it would be better to buy a full chart to have at home. You guessed it! I can't decide which brand! What paint charts do the pros on the shows pull out of their pockets?
—Puzzled About Paint

Dear Puzzled About Paint,
You are so right; it can be very confusing. There are many fine paint brands available for you. Pros on the HGTV shows use a variety of paint products, and regional companies also make high-quality paint. Each paint company’s palette has a "flavor." Some have more muted and deeper colors; others just have more colors; some have exceptional lights. It depends on what you are looking for.

You can check with paint stores, Consumer Reports or your painter about the strengths of the various brands. You can also learn from reading the paint can label. Amid the chemical descriptions, you will see things like "latex, acrylic, urethane-reinforced acrylic," etc. The addition of acrylic is a plus. Some paints are 100 percent acrylic. This usually means that they are more durable and easier to clean. In some cases they might cover better. However, you will always have to use the right primer, as needed, and follow basic painting practice for a good paint job.

When you look at a chart to decide about the "beiges," try to see the color behind the beige. Do you want the color "undertone" to be red/pink, purple/lavender, blue, green, yellow, orange, etc. All beiges will fall into one of those categories and they are either warm, cool, clear or grayish. One clue to this is to look at the deepest color on the fan deck strip of colors. When you put them side by side, you may be able to tell which are more red, which more yellow, and so forth. If it’s hard for you to distinguish (which would be understandable), ask at the paint store to look up the actual formula for you, and then you will know proportions of red, yellow, white, gray, etc. in a particular color. So, the secret to understanding beiges? Look at the color behind the color!
—Color consultant Barbara Jacobs, Integral Color and Design

The secret to choosing a room color>