Livable Color? Paint Colors for Real People

Sure, we love to browse the beautiful and most colorful homes in the design magazines. And, yes, they are an inspiration but what about color for real people?

From neon to blah, there is no shortage of colors to choose from in the typical paint deck. But how many actually belong on a wall? Keeping in mind that only 10% of the 2000+ colors are ever actually mixed that means that there are really only 200 colors that even make the grade. Now of these 200 colors which ones are truly “livable”?  Here are my non negotiable rules for livable color…

Livable color is always slightly duller than what you may think.

Knowing and understanding how light and space changes the personality of a color is the key.  First, remember that most paint samples are NOT paint, but ink representations of a color! So, the sunny yellow or the baby blue you selected, while pretty in a 2″ x 2″ sample will be entirely too bright when applied to a wall. And, add to that, the larger the space (wall) The brighter the color will appear.

Want this?

Want this?

green yellow
But got this?


Your lighting will also alter the final appearance. For example If I’m looking for a soft, warm yellow for my living room but I have north-facing or shaded windows, the perfect soft yellow in the sample I selected  will turn an awful shade of green! Why? because north facing or shaded light is blue so mixed with the yellow wall and there you go yellow with a sickly cast of green. Of course there are ways to counteract this and get the beautiful shade of yellow you were craving.

It’s hard to believe, but did you know that the best blues and greens actually have no blue or green tint in them? Looking for that “just right shade” of sophisticated blue? Here’s a hint. Don’t look in the blue section! Look in the grays. Select one with a blue undertone and when painted on the wall you will have a luscious blue that doesn’t look like a baby nursery. best blues

Livable color should always enhance the artwork and furnishings in your home,

NOT be the first thing people notice when they walk in the room. Livable color does not take over a room but flows and harmonizes. A true livable room should never be described by the wall color only.

Rob Stuart DesignRob Stuart Interiors

Livable color has nuance and complexity that transitions beautifully between daylight and night.

Most paint manufacturers use a simple formula to create color that includes 1 or 2 tints plus black or white. These colors will always fall flat and appear one-dimensional. Successful colors use at least 4-6 tints in the formula (and up to 12) to create a beautiful complexity that is unmatched in beauty. Complex colors will also help to bridge other colors in the room into a cohesive palette. Benjamin Moore Color Stories is the perfect collection of colors that are sophisticated and highly nuanced. Looking for the perfect color try these!Ben Moore Color Stories Last but not least, remember there are warm AND cool versions of every color such as warm blue, cool blue and warm yellow cool yellow. Never mix the two in the same room! But then that’s probably going to have to be another post! Have a question about your home? Post it in comments and we’ll answer you right away! If you’re struggling with color choices, we’re here to help! Maybe you just have  simple question to get you on the right track or you want us to do a complete color palette for your home. Let us know. Contact us here. ColorIQ Instructor-01

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