Archive for the 'Color 101' Category

Published by Linda H Bassert on 30 Jul 2015

Why “Ceiling White” is rarely a good choice for Ceilings

Too often, painters suggest that ceilings just be painted “Ceiling White”.  While this may be in the best interest of the painter, it rarely is in the best interest of the client.  It saves the painter a few seconds if they can come into a paint store, and just have a can shaken, without having to have it tinted.  But “Ceiling White” is typically a blue gray white, with the potentially of feeling very cold.  Unless you are painting a room in a blue-gray hue, it is not the best choice.

At Benjamin Moore, every color can be created in the Waterborne Ceiling paint, Benjamin Moore’s ultra-flat choice for ceilings.  The flattest paint Benjamin Moore makes, it hides the most imperfections.

If you have fair skin, and like white ceilings, consider Atrium White, or AF-10 gardenia. These are whites with a drop of red in them, giving a rosy light in which every fair skinned person will look very healthy.

If you prefer warm yellow-based wall colors, consider Simply White or AF-20 mascarpone for the ceiling.  Both have a drop of yellow in them, but still appear white.  Mascarpone is a little creamier than Simply White.  The next creamier color after AF-10 mascarpone is AF-30 deep in thought.

If you want to soften the ceiling but do not want a yellow light or pink light reflected from the ceiling, AF-15 steam is a white with one drop of brown in it, and gives a softened warm ceiling without being yellow.  Need it just a little less white or browner?  Try AF-45 Collector’s Item.

The same principle can be applied to other brands of paint.  But if your trim color is creamier and not white, you may need even more contrast on the ceiling.

Higher contrast colors which are a perceived color other than white also work well in ceilings, and can make a ceiling feel higher, much like the night sky.  We know that dark canopy of stars above us at night is far away.  In the same way, a deeper value of paint color on the ceiling can make a ceiling soar, as long as there is also sufficient light in a room.  More contrast on a ceiling can add warmth to a space, and increase the impact of crown moulding.

Don’t underestimate the importance of ceiling color.  The blue-gray cast of a basic “ceiling white” can make almost any wall color – other than blue-gray- duller and even muddy under low light conditions.

Published by Linda H Bassert on 04 Sep 2014

When the color isn’t the color

22079252Opening the can of paint, and omigosh, it doesn’t look like the color I selected!  It’s too bright, too ________  (insert any hue name here – too blue, too green, too red, too yellow).  And yes, sometimes a mis-tint can occur, but it’s too early to judge the paint color by the wet paint in the can.

Paint at least one wall, two coats, and look at it in the center, not where it reacts to the walls on the sides of it.  Then you are seeing the color you chose, in paint, not lithographed color the way it is on a chip.

If it still bears no resemblance to the color chip of the color you selected, then it’s time to take the dry stirring stick, the can of paint, and the chip back to the paint store to see what happened.  Perhaps their machine malfunctioned, and the wrong color was sent home.

More often than not, however, the color will be just what you asked for.


Published by Linda H Bassert on 27 Feb 2014

Color 101: The Value of “Value”

Color 101:   Another in a series of basic understandings you should have about color, in order to more easily select paint color.

The Value of “Value”.

We already have a sense of what is too bright, or not bright enough, in terms of the color we want to live with, or use in a particular space.  This is referred to as the chroma of the color.

And we tend to think of the hue, or color name, when we are searching for the right paint color.  The right blue, or green, or red, or lavender, or gray….

But in order to select a paint color, what we should concentrate on is the right color value, because it narrows down our choice the quickest, and means we have fewer paint colors which we need to consider for any one space.  Value, when used to describe color, is describing where the color stands between black, or the darkest shade of the color, and white, or the lightest tint of the color.  Notice how the shades of gray, varying from lighter to darker, on this paint can image, give the can more depth, making a two dimensional image appear to be three dimensional.  On the other hand, there is very little gradation on the paint brush, so it still appears much more two dimensional.


We see contrast before color.  And we see the contrast, or light and shadow play, in our homes, on a daily basis.  Value, in the context of color, describes a level of contrast.

Think about your room as if you took a photo of it, and printed it in grayscale.
Or think of it as if you were looking at one of those old black and white TV shows.
People were wearing colors in those TV shows, but they had to know the value of the colors, so an actor didn’t sit down in a chair and suddenly become a disembodied head and arms, and so in the same way the chair didn’t disappear into the wall.

Today we have the same concerns.  We still don’t want the sofa or a chair to disappear into a wall because it is too close to the wall color.   We want our accessories and art to stand out.


In this bedroom, an accent wall in tomato red causes the artwork to stand out, and the lighter colored headboard also is not lost.  But look at how little a difference in value there is between the accent wall and the chair.  And there is only a little bit more of a value difference between the chair and the rug.  We are losing the chair in this space.  A lighter value wall, or a lighter value chair, would have been a better combination.  Alternatively, a bright pillow in the chair would be another way to balance the colors in this space.

Take a look at this value chart, and use it in any room in your home.  If you suddenly lived in grayscale, what would the values be in the space you are looking at?  Do you have every value from light to dark, or are you mostly at one end of the chart or the other?  As long as you have some variation, you don’t need to cover every value.  You may prefer light airy spaces, or deeper, complex, richly colored interiors.  But some value variation adds contrast, and that will be pleasing. 

value scale




Next »