Color consultants work with color. But, what type of color do they work with? Are there different types of color consultants? Are they expensive to hire? Below you’ll find the answers to these, plus seventeen other, important questions to ask before beginning work with a color consultant.
1) WHAT IS A COLOR CONSULTANT? A color consultant is a trained professional that works specifically with color as it applies to residential and commercial applications.
2) WHAT DOES A COLOR CONSULTANT DO? Color consultants are trained in the fine art of pulling anything from a single room to an entire home, office, or restaurant together cohesively through color.
Some color consultants work exclusively with paint colors, while others specialize in the paint and finishes of both interior (flooring, cabinetry, countertops, wallpaper, etc.) and exterior (front doors, shutters, shingles, garage doors, siding, and masonry) spaces.
My training and work experience allows me to confidently work with all aspects of interior/exterior finishes and color.
3) WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A COLOR CONSULTANT? Color consultants understand the psychological effects of color and color placement.
Good consultants combine that knowledge with color theory and a discerning eye to craft spaces that are both beautiful and comfortable to live with and work in. They also know how to save you time and money.
A color consultant’s experience and expertise will save you time in making agonizing color decisions that you’re not completely sold on, while saving you up to thousands of dollars in the installation of incorrect colors and finishes.
Sometimes clients just need another set of eyes to ensure they’re making the best color decisions. Other times a person with the foresight to imagine all of the colorful options available to a space is in order.
Either way my goal is to set your color fears at ease, save you time, and save you expensive mistakes.
4) IF I HIRE A COLOR CONSULTANT, DO I HAVE ANY SAY SO IN THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS? I most certainly hope so! Color consultants are hired for their professional opinion, but their opinion should never take precedence over your color likes and dislikes.
If any color consultant tries to tell you their selections are Gospel and attempts to talk to you into them, run away as fast as you can.
A good color consultant will ALWAYS take your likes, dislikes, concerns, and needs into consideration first when choosing colors and finishes for you and your project.
“Color in Collaboration” is my motto. As a team, you and I will discuss your needs and wants. Then I will study your answers to my in-depth client questionnaire. Finally, we will look at your fixed and/or new finishes to create a personal color scheme tailored to you.
5) WHAT KIND OF TRAINING SHOULD A COLOR CONSULTANT HAVE? This is a loaded question because I’m sure there is a color consultant or two out there that’s operating under just a natural eye for color.
A good eye for color is an EXCELLENT start, but an untrained eye can only take a client so far before it requires more expertise. Training comes in two forms: formal and experiential. A consultant worth their weight in gold will have both ALONG with a natural eye for color.
Make sure the consultant you’re considering has studied color through either an interior design program or under a known color expert. Understanding color through hands-on training is tremendously important.
A paint color consultant should have hundreds of small, medium, and large consultations under their belt. A consultant that specializes in interior and exterior finishes should’ve worked with said finishes for three years or more in a setting that allowed them to see their choices come to fruition.
A resume that includes work for an architecture or interior design firm or as a finish consultant in new construction would be excellent experience to be on the lookout for. This is tremendously important because it will have allowed the consultant to witness what works in theory versus what actually works in a real-world setting.
I’ve been blessed with a very good eye for color but didn’t think that was enough to base my reputation on. Thus, I studied color through Interior Design Institute and went to Vancouver Canada to study with world-renowned color expert Maria Killam.
My experiential training began 21 years ago when I started a 10-year stint as the finish consultant for a residential construction company. My experiential training continues as I still work in a Benjamin Moore paint store where I conduct hundreds of color consultations per year.
6) WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD A COLOR CONSULTANT ASK YOU BEFORE THEY START SELECTING COLORS AND/FINISHES FOR YOU? First and foremost, you should be asked your color likes and dislikes.
In addition, the color consultant will need to know if you like to live with clean and bright or muted and soft colors. Also at the top of the list is knowing how light or dark your prefer color to be.
A color consultant may very well ask you these questions during the consultation, or they may choose to utilize the actual consultation time just for selections by sending you a questionnaire beforehand.
Either way is good, just make sure you’re actually asked the questions. If not, you may end up with a house or office full of colors prescribed for you rather than colors chosen with your specific needs in mind.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. I will not be the person enjoying the space we create together which makes my personal preferences inconsequential.
What truly matters is my understanding the way you like to live with color combined with your color preferences which I ascertain through my client questionnaire and direct questioning.
I piece that information together with your finishes allowing my training and experience to produce a look that’s uniquely yours…based on what YOU want.
7) WHAT’S THE FIRST QUESTION I SHOULD ASK A POTENTIAL COLOR CONSULTANT? First, and foremost, you want to know what type of color they work with.
Do they just work with paint or do they also work with flooring? Can they choose cabinetry and countertop colors, but also shingles and masonry?
If all the consultant talks about is paint colors, but offers to help you with a front door and siding colors ask for references. You want to KNOW the consultant has worked with each finish you need help with.
It’s possible a color consultant that specializes only in paint colors could select great flooring or countertops, but you want your hard earned dollars going to a professional that specializes in the work you truly need help with.
Over the years I’ve worked with all sorts of building materials, colors, and finishes which makes me a very versatile color consultant.
I can assist you with the color of paints, flooring, cabinetry, countertops, lighting, door and cabinet hardware, shingles, masonry, siding, shutters, and front door colors.
8) HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST COLOR CONSULTANT FOR MY PROJECT? This is a great question with a multi-faceted answer.
First, it’s important to know exactly what help you require from a color consultant. If paint color is all you’re working with the choice of consultants will be quite broad. If you need help selecting flooring, cabinetry, shingles, exterior masonry, and paint you’ll be looking at a more specialized, smaller pool of consultants.
Next, check out their training and in-field experience to ensure it’s appropriate for your needs. Another important factor is knowing what tools and products the consultant uses and is familiar with. If the consultant just works with Valspar paint colors, or is only familiar with Cambria counter tops, these will be items you’ll need to be willing and able to work with or else the consultation will not fulfill your needs.
Finally, it’s important to have an email exchange, or short phone or in-person conversation with the consultant to ensure your personalities mesh. Life’s too short to work with someone you’re not completely comfortable with and confident in.
9) WHAT TYPE OF COLOR CONSULTATIONS ARE POSSIBLE? If the color consultant you’re considering is local, they should be willing to conduct in home or in-store consultations.
For example, if you’re in need of new paint colors, in-home consultations are perfect. Or, if you’re choosing new finishes and have all of the samples you’re interested in at your home, an in-home consultation is also in order.
If you need more assistance starting from scratch with a new construction home or renovation, the color consultant should be willing to meet you on site or at the business where the cabinets, flooring, shingles, etc. are being sold. This way they can help you make great color and finish choices from the start of the project possibly saving you thousands of dollars in poor choices.
Some color consultants provide online consultations allowing them to work with you from anywhere in the world. Color consultants that work in this manner will require jpeg photos of the room/space/exterior and the finishes you’re considering plus a floorplan of the space (hand drawn or actual) or blueprint elevations (jpeg photos if it’s an existing home) if exterior finishes is what you need. You will also need to have the same paint color chip fan deck to work from that the color consultant has.
My color consulting is based on both in-home/business and online consultations.
10) WHAT TOOLS DOES A COLOR CONSULTANT USE DURING A CONSULTATION? This depends on the type of consultation you require.
For an in-home/business paint color consultation, you’ll want to be sure the consultant has paint color fan decks and architectural boxes of larger color chips. A real plus is a consultant that works with hand painted boards that allows you, the client, to get a good feel for how the color will actually appear in your space.
An online consultation will use paint color fan decks and the architectural boxes to determine which colors will work for your project.
I have many trusted paint color fan decks that go nearly everywhere with me. I also have architectural boxes of paint colors in sizes decisively larger than the typical 2” x 2” store color chip.
In addition to these tools, I’ve personally hand-painted over 100 foam core boards with popular Benjamin Moore colors to provide you with the highest customer service that I can. These boards travel with me to each local color consultation.
11) HOW LONG DOES AN IN-HOME COLOR CONSULTATION TAKE? The amount of time is determined by the number of colors or finishes needed and how detailed you were when filling out your client questionnaire.
A consultant can learn a lot through the questionnaire resulting in a shorter consultation. My best guess is to set aside at least 1.5-2 hours for the meeting.
Initial local consultations will last up to 2 hours. If additional time is needed, it will be scheduled after our initial meeting.
Most online consultation work takes place behind the scenes but you can expect the results of my work within 5 working days.
12) HOW DO ON-LINE COLOR CONSULTATIONS WORK? Before any work by the color consultant takes place you should be emailed a highly detailed client questionnaire to fill out, instructions on how to photograph the space and finishes, directions to measure the room (if you don’t have a floorplan), and suggestions for the paint color fan deck(s) YOU will need to get as an active participant in consultation.
Within five working days, you will receive a PDF with your paint colors, placement, recommendations for other finishes (if requested), and tips to help you pull the space together beautifully.
My online color consultations are conducted very much like the above description and always begin with the client filling out a client questionnaire. After reviewing the questionnaire answers I will provide information on the small tasks I’ll need you to perform before I can get started on your project
13) WILL A COLOR CONSULTANT CHOOSE PAINT COLORS IF I WANT TO KEEP ALL OF MY EXISTING FLOORING, FURNITURE, ETC.? Creating a paint color scheme around existing finishes is a challenge, but one that any color consultant should be willing to take on.
While it’s indeed easier to pick all new colors for a space (paint, flooring, cabinetry, furniture), more than 60% of my color consultations have revolved around utilizing existing finishes.
Color consultants are trained to look at any finish (existing or new) and select colors that unite it all into one comfortable color scheme.
I’m happy to work with whatever my clients have. In fact, the bulk of my color consultations revolve around selecting a new color (paint, flooring, countertop, etc.) to fit in with existing finishes that are not being replaced.
14) DO ALL COLOR CONSULTANTS DO EXTERIOR COLOR CONSULTATIONS? I’m afraid not, and there’s a good reason they don’t. (I, by the way, do.) To choose the wrong color for a bedroom is one thing, to choose the wrong color for the exterior of a home is quite another.
The amount of money and labor involved with repainting a home can be quite large, thus some color consultants choose not to select exterior colors because of the risk of error.
A good color consultant will look at every exterior finish (just as they do for an interior consultation) and specify colors based on the colors found in the shingles, masonry, or any existing finish that will be staying.
15) WILL A COLOR CONSULTANT CONSULT ON SOMETHING AS SMALL AS A FRONT DOOR COLOR? I can’t speak for all color consultants, but I can unequivocally say that I certainly do.
Front doors are little gems that when the proper color is applied create loads of curb appeal. Regardless of whether you wish to sell your home or not, we all want our homes to have great curb appeal.
16) CAN A COLOR CONSULTANT HELP ME PICK PAINT COLORS, INTERIOR/EXTERIOR FINISHES, NEW FURNITURE, LIGHTING, DRAPERIES, BEDDING, AND WALL ART? A good color consultant can indeed select the best colors for each listed item, BUT the color isn’t the only important factor.
Furniture, draperies, and wall art each require a specific scale to fill a room beautifully, and that isn’t a skill that every color consultant has.
If you need help purchasing furniture, draperies, or wall art a color consultant will be happy to give an opinion but leave the purchasing, scale, and placement to an interior designer or decorator.
17) DO COLOR CONSULTANTS HAVE ONLINE SOURCES TO CHOOSE NEW ACCESSORIES FOR MY HOME? This is another question that I can’t answer for others, but I certainly can for myself.
Yes, I have online sources I turn to if a client needs a simple room refresh with colorful accessories, candles, picture frames, and items to decoratively display.
Just let me know at the onset of our work together that you might wish to add this to your consultation.
18) WHERE CAN YOU FIND EXAMPLES OF A COLOR CONSULTANT’S WORK? If a color consultant has photographs of their work you’ll likely find it on their website, Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook.
The end result of a color consultation is different than that of working with an interior designer or decorator. As a color consultant, I frequently work with brand new finishes that may not be installed for months. Unlike the work of an interior designer or decorator, a color consultant’s work rarely encompasses renovating everything in a room, down to the styling.
Because the work of multiple design professionals may be represented in a completed space, some color consultants choose not to have professional photographs taken. I am one of those consultants. On rare occasions, I may request a before and after photo be taken because of the scope of my work for a particular room, but it truly is rare.
19) I HAVE AN UGLY PINK CARPET THAT I CAN’T YET REPLACE, BUT I DISLIKE IT. CAN YOU CHOOSE A NEW PAINT COLOR TO MAKE THE ROOM LOOK AND FEEL BETTER? This tends to be a color consultant’s specialty. Because every color consultant doesn’t necessarily do work beyond choosing paint colors, they stake their reputations on working with disliked existing items that need to be worked around.
Make sure the consultant knows upfront that you dislike the item and that you don’t want to call more attention to it. A good consultant knows their craft well enough to choose colors that work with, rather than accentuate, the color qualities you dislike.
20) WILL THE COST OF WORKING WITH A COLOR CONSULTANT BLOW MY PROJECT’S BUDGET? This is a decisive no! Generally, a color consultant’s fee is a small percentage of a project’s budget but let’s take a closer look.
If a consultant is working with you purely on paint colors, their expertise could save you the cost of repainting the room in addition to purchasing cans of a new paint color.
Imagine selecting the wrong color of carpet to go with your room full of new furniture? That, indeed, would blow the budget to fix.
I could go on and on with examples, but I believe you see my point. A color consultant’s fee is quite small when compared to the money saved from making a big, bad, color mistake.
There you have it; my list of questions clients frequently ask in combination with those I wish they would. If this still leaves you with a lingering query or two, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.