Colour Nuances

Picking colours is really difficult! I have been an artist for over 25 years and I still find the task challenging at times. Let me tell you about my latest colour adventure.

We have decided to have the interior of our house painted. Since our move to this house a couple of years ago, I have been slightly disgruntled by the darkness of the paint colours the previous owners had chosen. It’s not that I mind the colour per se but I would prefer the colour to be a few paint chips lighter. 

The entire house was painted this mid-tone coffee brown with a couple of accent walls of rust. When we moved in we were pleasantly surprised to see that our furniture fit in nicely with the colour, so there was never any urgency to redo the paint. But after years of living in this space, I feel it could use some brightening up. So we booked the time with the painters. 

Obviously, the next step was to choose a paint colour which proved a bit more of a challenge then I had anticipated. The major dilemma was the trim which we did not want to paint since it is still in really good condition and would increase the cost tremendously. Plus the kitchen cabinets are painted the same cream colour but a bit deeper. Where would the home renovations ever end if we go down the road of changing the cabinet colour?

Here’s some photos that explain a bit of what was going on.

See how the trim looks whitish? It looks innocent enough in the cream colour. But we had learned the hard way, with painting our daughter’s room white, that it is so much darker than it looks. When the walls were painted white, the trim looked really, really yellow.

Initially, I choose CIL’s Whitecliff Beige, since I loved the feeling of the room in the brochure’s photograph. I bought a paint tester, painted it on a piece of card stock and taped it to the wall. Unfortunately, when put up next to the trim, the colour swatch was pulling more pink than I had wanted. It was very subtle but I knew, that colour painted on a large wall just would not go. It was slightly off.

So, I decided to match the trim colour to some of the paint chips I had. This way I could take it to the paint store. To my surprise the closest match was Cloverdale Paint’s Artisan CA121 Hammock. Notice how yellow it is against the white of the brochure. The brown on the wall is pretty close to Cloverdale Paint’s Artisan CA064. 

The challenge was to find a colour somewhere in between these 2 colour swatches. The painter had suggested Revere Pewter as being a popular choice of home owners, so off to Benjamin Moore I went to find a sample.

This colour was close to what I was wanting but it was still slightly off. It was a tad too cool with a green undertone. I needed something with a bit more brown warmth in it so it would go with the warmth of the trim.

Luckily, the sales associate knew exactly what I was talking about and she picked Inukshuk CC-460. I brought home a tester to paint a sample for the wall and it looks like a winner.

I will let you know how it looks in a few weeks when the painting is complete. But for now, here’s somethings to keep in mind when choosing any wall colours.


Be sure to test the colour before purchasing and painting your walls. The small paint chips provided are simply not large enough for you to make the best decision. It is amazing how such a subtle undertone can change the feel of the overall colour.


Also, light plays an enormous part in this decision. Your lighting is very specific to your personal space. A paint chip might look great in the florescent lights of the paint store, but can easily change once you get it home in your space with your lighting.


Don’t be fooled by your own eyes. Looks can be so deceiving when it comes to colour. Just because you think a colour is light doesn’t mean that it is when you put it beside a tint of white white. Very rarely is anything a true white white. Be aware that there is always a slight tinge to most whites. And when a cream is put next to a dark colour it will automatically look lighter than it actually is.


Know the difference between warm and cool colours. (See my blog post “What is Color Temperature And Why Is It So Important”  to learn more about warm and cool colours). For cohesion, cool colours go with cool colours and warm colours go with warm colours. For contrast, you can combine warm colours with cool colours. Cohesion is better for wall colours in home decor while contrast is better in artwork that hangs on the wall. Regardless, contrast is always better in moderation.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people don’t really understand the nuances of colour, so you are not alone. This is why it is a good idea to find an artist or a colour consultant to help you out. It can take years to master the nuances of colour so it is a good idea to take the advise from someone who has spent the years learning about colour. If you want to learn more about colour, a good place to start is my blog series about colour. 

Here’s the biggest kicker… most people will not see the differences in colour nuances. My husband can’t see the differences between any of the colours I have chosen. Most people think beige is just beige. But they will definitely notice when something is off. They will become frustrated when the colours don’t go but they won’t be able to know what is wrong or how to fix it. 

The nice thing about paint is that if you do happen to choose the wrong colour, you can always paint over it. Never be afraid of paint. Mistakes can easily happen but can also be easily remedied. 

Happy painting!