Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Color Match

Any orange would not do. If is was too bright, it would overpower the tiles and make them look drab. If it was too dark it would make the room feel heavy and gloomy. But too light and it would come out looking like peach, right?

What were we to do? Exactly this kind of questioning accompanied our thinking as F and I tried to come up with a solution to a new living room, while keeping existing flooring.

The house came with groovy tiling. At first we just about hated it but finances kept us from ripping it up like we did for the kitchen. After all, the endless spending had to stop somewhere. We decided to embrace the pattern and color choices instead. However, getting a suitable color to go with it proved to be a challenge.

The sofa and wood furniture were easy: go with brown fabric and dark wood. On the other hand, the wall was the battlefield. I didn't want all white which is such a plain solution that would look horrible with the tiles, as I had seen when I visited the house with the real estate agent. F and I agreed that an orange wall or area could be the solution, but then we ran into all those questions about which color of orange.

Additionally frustrating are color memory and sample factors. Memory alone does not help when choosing a paint color for a delicate home remodelling situation while physically choosing it in a hardware store. You can't remember the nuances of tone and hue of your original. Bringing a digital photo, in the camera or printed, does not really help either because the photo process changes the colors too much for them to be reliable color samples. In my case, the camera adds a blue tinge to everything so the tiling colors don't seem as warm as they are in reality. In the end, I painted myself a true color copy of the tiles which I took to the store to select the paint. I am lucky enough to have painted for most of my life and know how to copy exact colors, but this would be an almost impossible feat for some people.

So then I got to the point of checking potential oranges to match against my watercolor tile sample. Since the colors from the sample book were 0.5 cm tall and 2 cm wide, it added to the challenge. I had to imagine that tiny spec of color from the book projected 2.5 m high and on 2 walls! After an hour of looking, making a list of semi-finalist oranges until I got to the finalists which were 2 colori di arancione, I ordered my 1 liter sample buckets of each and went to the new house (in the pouring rain) to paint some big swatches of the colors directly onto the wall, for better effect. I was doing this the night before I was leaving for 2 weeks in the US, in which the painter would be completely painting the new house in Padua. I had to instruct him on what color to buy before leaving and I couldn't trust F to do. I let the paint dry overnight and F drove me by the new house on the way to the airport so we could look at the dried paint color and make a decision together. The softer orange hue was the winner.

Peach was it. Luckily, it doesn't feel like peach in the context of the final furnished room.

Here are some other computer-generated color combinations I experimented with along the way.

The final paint job with a custom-made sofa and retro crystal and metal coffee table. Model is Satchmo, as usual.


  1. It IS hard to match colors. But what a great job you did - I love your 'peach' color - worked out really well, no?

  2. Yes, and the funny thing is that the colors you see on the computer screen are still not really the true ones. It's peach but doesn't feel that way in the context of everything else. Next project: pictures.

  3. WOW! Your idea is so great! Maybe it would be good in kitchen flooring too! Matching colors is truly quite challenging! Especially in decorating a living room! You should also consider the window when you are choosing accessories like curtains.