I admire the people who can walk into a paint store or big box store and choose a paint color in a few short minutes. For me, it has never been that easy. I have to take dozens of sample colors home, pin them to the wall and consider how it will look as the light changes through the day or as the seasons change. Most experts recommend you buy a small amount of the color you have selected to try out on a small section of the wall and to better help you visualize it. I have always been too cheap to go this route and too anxious to get the project started.
Color trends change every year. The Pantone color for 2017 is Violet Verbena. I would call it a greyish purple. Most of us do not change paint colors every year to stay on top of the trends. While this shade may work for your project, it is more important to find colors that make you happy and that you won’t grow tired of quickly.
Personally, I have found that I like ugly colors. I call them ugly colors because they are not an easily named color like, light blue or sunny yellow. They are neutrals that may have a lot of pigment but don’t seem to belong on a single point on a color wheel. Most of the time they are greyed out shades or beiges.
I have found these colors allow me to change other items in the room to create a whole new look without changing the paint scheme. This way, you can have accessories or decorations that change with each season. The paint on the wall will work equally well with bright reds and greens over the holidays, pastels for spring etc.
I decided to look at technology to help selecting my next paint color. Here are the tools that I have found and my opinion of their usefullness.
Color Snap is an online tool that allows you to experiment with color using a photograph of your own space or exterior or using pre-defined spaces included with the tool. The tool is also available as an app for iphone, android or tablet devices.
I used the online version of the tool. It was simple to upload a picture but the tool was rather slow. In all fairness, I thought it may be the computer or browser so I tested with another device before moving to the next tool.
It behaved better with the Chrome browser.
The tool has a “snap it” button which allows you to select a color palette and apply it to any image. There are collections listed to make selected colors easier. There is a HGTV, West Elm, and Pottery Barn collections. There are even next year forecast colors and the top 50 colors for inspiration. The tools also lists HOA color archives. There were none listed for NC.
It was easy to change colors with a single click to the sample interiors provided with the tool. For any shade selected, the tool also provided suggestions of colors to use with the selected color to complement the palette. While that may be entertaining, it doesn’t help me make a color decision for my own room.
It was easy to upload an actual picture of the exterior that I am considering painting. The app has multiple tools to use to apply the paint to your virtual world. One is a magic wand that is supposed to fill in the area but it only filled in a small section and sometimes an adjacent section from what was intended. There is also a brush to allow you to color in the area and a tool to let you select an area to fill in with color. Each of these requires a lot of patience and precision to use. I decided to see if there was a better, easier and quicker tool to use.
If you provide your email when using the tool, then Sherwin Williams sends you an email coupon for $10 off your purchase of $50 or more.
Behr color smart is a similar tool that allows you to view colors and palettes. It also includes pre-loaded interior or exterior spaces and the ability to upload your own photo.
The tool set includes a bucket for covering large areas, a brush for detail, and eraser to remove color and masking tape to tape off sections. I uploaded the same image for an apple to apple comparison.
The bucket did seem to cover more of the intended area but obscured some of the underlying trim and textural detail. The brush tool requires dexterity to fill in the picture similar to the other tool. There was a handy tool to undo all of the paint to start over. The page become unresponsive before I could save my project. It did restart and it remember the project but I decided to move on.
This tool allows you to quickly upload your image and select colors. Palette suggestions were not provided. The tool preserved underlying detail in the image for trim or texture which was a big improvement over the other tools. The response time for the tool to apply paint was rather long and was rather frustrating. It seems like this tool allows more precision but the long wait proved too much for me to continue.
The room visualizer promised to bring your makeover to life in only a few clicks. Unfortunately it was the very same tool as Olympic Paint.
This tool had trouble with uploading my picture. Finally gave up and moved on.
Next, I tried the Benjamin Moore app. This app requires you to define or outline your surfaces. A surface would be any area you would want to paint a different color. You can define up to 5 surfaces for a project. There is a video to show you how to use the tool. The video makes it look real easy.
If you only have a wall in an interior space it probably is very easy. I was using an exterior photo and a more complex color scheme with two colors plus trim color. There is a magic brush and a magic selection tool but both didn’t have enough magic to make the process less tedious.
Better Homes & Gardens
Design a Room promises to do more than paint the room by adding furnishings. There was a form with street address and opt in options to complete before getting to the tool. Unfortunately, I needed to upgrade my flash player and this check occurred after completing the other forms. The related links on the page, included Color-a-Room which I clicked on in the hope of finally finding a tool to make this easy. This page also disappointed as it only had links to videos and painting guides. A disappointing experience for which I unsubscribed after getting the inevitable email afterwards.
Paint my Place
This itunes app is not affiliated with a retailer. While it is a free download, it only received a 2.6 rating so I was not feeling optimistic about trying it.
Project Color from Home Depot was another tool that promises to let you find, match or see the color for your next project. It is an Android app so I was not able to test it. The reviews were only 3.1 overall so I don’t expect it to be very different then the results above.
My Paint Colors is the next tool I tested. After uploading my exterior picture, the tool prompted me to set the scale by adding a line for a door or wall and suggests the actual size of what you have drawn. Next, the tool asks you to define the foreground. Next you define the surface outline for the project. Here I selected to outline the entire exterior of the home. If you picture is not head on, you also have a tool to set the perspective.
Defining your surfaces was easier with this tool compared to the others. There was also a magnifier in the corner of the screen to show a larger view of the area you were selecting to provide more precision.
I also liked that you could define larger shapes and then erase part of the shape. This allowed for defining a whole wall and then erasing the doors and windows. After defining the surfaces, you can group surfaces together that will get the same paint in the final visualize phase.
Defining areas like balconies and the wall area behind them can be rather tedious but if you only have to do it once for your own home, the effort may be worth it to be able to quickly visualize new colors or groupings.
Once you get to the visualization point, the tool allows you to select paint from Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, PPG and Dunn Edwards paint brands.
Overall most of these tools were not better or easier to use then photoshop or a similar graphics package. I expected to find a tool that made it easy to define the area before applying the paint. I predict this capability will be improved in the future.
Also, keep in mind that any tool using your device or monitor to display color can look very different in person. The brightness of your screen as well as the lighting in the room can change the way the color appears. For this reason, these tools are more useful for eliminating paint schemes.
I found the last tool, from CertaPro, the best one of the ones I tried. While it can be tedious to expertly define all your projects surfaces, even an approximate definition will allow you to visualize a paint scheme on your home or for your project. I did find that even quickly and somewhat sloppily defining my surfaces and then applying paint colors allowed me to better visualize what the end result would look like.
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