Color is personal, color is complex, color is relative.

But the question still remains, "What does this color look like?"

Here are some things to consider:

  • You cannot determine what the finished color will look like from a small paint chip

WHY: because the picture is too small and was likely printed, not painted. It just not big enough to realistically grasp what it will look like on a large scale (ie, in the whole room). 

  • You cannot determine what the finished color will look like from a swatch painted on the wall

WHY: because color is reflective to its surroundings, it plays off of what it is around. Consider this: your dining room is gold. You want to change it to gray. You paint a 4x4 section of the new gray shade on the wall. Your eye sees this gray in relativity to the gold that is surrounding it. It confuses your interpretation of the color. You are officially more confused than you were before you painted the swatch. Think about how this would look different if you started with a red dining room and painted a gold swatch on the wall. Are you starting to get the picture? Painted wall swatches = total frustration. 


If you are a real color guru, someone who has studied all the scientific aspects of color theory, you aren't going to like what I am going to say. However, as someone who has worked with color in people's homes for 10 years, I am going to tell you what you need to know in order to help you understand color better so that you can make a decision - and be happy with it!  

My system is a simple classification theory that is easy to comprehend and for any homeowner. It is not complex, it is not scientific, it is not 100% fool-proof (because your eye sees something different than your best friend's eye or your spouse's eye and that is incalculable) it is, however, simple, realistic and understandable. I have calculated 4 scores.


The LIGHTNESS SCALE represents how light or dark the color is. For interior color, #1 is the lightest color group and #10 is the darkest color group. For exterior color, #1 is the lightest color group and #5 is the darkest color group.


The UNDERTONE is a well-known comparison color that is likey to be detectable in the shade/cast-off, regardless of lightness or darkness.

The EXPOSURE is the consideration to make due to the directional orientation of the room (faces North, South, East or West). This has everything to do with the sun and shadows and makes a tremendous difference in color interpretation. Download a compass app and check your room orientation by standing in the room facing the exterior walls and use the compass to point to that wall in front of you. This is the direction your room is facing.

HEAT is categorized by a consideration of warm or cool feel. 

Keep in mind that the biggest factor in color interpretation factor is LIGHTING. The more light that is present, the lighter/brighter a color will appear to be. The undertone that is cast is also dependent on colors that surround this color.

Post to comments with any questions!