The ability to distinguish color undertones can be learned. This article will point you in the right direction to select colors with the correct undertones moving forward.
Several times a week I meet with clients after they’ve selected and painted their walls a “neutral beige” only to find that it’s anything but neutral. Usually, they are frantic over the amount of yellow, green, or pink that’s unexpectedly “appeared” and want to know WHY this happened. The easy answer is that they didn’t pay attention to the color’s undertones.
“Every color has an undertone, and the key to selecting the perfect color lies in distinguishing, and respecting, it.”
The initial and sometimes only, criteria people use to judge color by is what they see most readily. For example, if a color can be described at its very most basic level as a green, then that’s as far as they go in identifying it. The truth is, color can only accurately be described in relation to another. Thus, putting two different green color chips side by side may lead you to describe one as more yellow than the first, and the other more blue. In doing this you not only gave a more accurate description of the color, you also determined its undertone! One green having a yellow undertone, the other a blue.
Confidence in selecting paint colors comes from a thorough understanding of undertones. Try the following tips that I use to “tease” the undertone from any color.
- Compare your color to a true whitesuch as Benjamin Moore’s OC-65 Chantilly Lace. In doing this, the color you’re looking at will show its undertone. For example, what you thought was a warm sunny yellow may actually be a green undertone mustard.
- Natural and artificial lighting variances help bring undertones to the forefront. This is why it’s so important to actually sample any paint color you’re considering. In doing so, you have the luxury of moving the sample around the room under different light sources throughout the day, making the undertone more apparent.
- Examining a chip from multiple angles is another way to “see” an undertone. Hold the paint chip horizontally, vertically, above your head, set it down and view it from a distance, or even throw it on the floor. Why? Because, sometimes an undertone will become more evident while viewing it from a different angle rather than the usual horizontal or vertical way we normally view them.
How can you use this information moving forward? Once you can “see” the undertone of the paint color you’re considering, you can compare it to the undertones of the fixed elements of your room. Anything that will be staying such as carpet, window coverings, couches, and bedding should be compared to the undertone of the paint chip. Your newly “trained eye” will tell you whether each of the undertones are compatible or not, helping you make the perfect color selection for your project.