Paint Color Names That Hinder Rather Than Help
Paint color names are oftentimes more confusing than they are helpful. Case in point, what color do you suppose Benjamin Moore’s Weekend Getaway 473 is?
If you guessed a cheerful yellow or turquoise (who wouldn’t be cheerful getting away for a weekend?), you’d be wrong. Yet if Weekend Getaway 473 conjured up images of an earthy and somewhat somber green, you’d be correct.
Benjamin Moore’s Baby Fawn OC-15 is another color name that doesn’t relate to the actual color. If you were imagining a soft warm version of brown you may be surprised to find that Baby Fawn OC-15 is actually a green based gray.
Truth be told, Baby Fawn OC-15 is known by three other color names in the Benjamin Moore system. It’s also known as Alaskan Skies 972, Yukon Morning OR-110, and Edgecomb Gray HC-173.
Edgecomb Gray HC-173 literally tells you what color to expect, while Alaskan Skies 972 and Yukon Morning OR-110 just serve to confuse. After all, anything to do with sky or morning makes me think of blue.
Lest you think Benjamin Moore has the exclusive on naming colors poorly, I’d be hard pressed to find another manufacturer that doesn’t do the same. Why does this matter? Because plenty of people put stock in a color name, one way or the other.
For example, I know of a lovely medium depth warm green that clients like as long as they’re unaware of the color’s name. There seems to be something about the name Baby Turtle 515 that turns people off…
Paint Color Descriptions; Keep It Simple Sweetheart
To further complicate things, we as paint consumers like to attach descriptive words to color in order to make it abundantly clear which one we’re talking about. In a perfect world this would work, but you and I (and your neighbor or your spouse) will rarely describe color in the exact same way.
For this reason, clients that come to me asking for a persimmon color may be frustrated if I hand them a chip that they define as terra-cotta. Neither one of us is wrong, we just perceive and describe color differently.
My favorite example of this occurred years ago when I was asked to select a cafe au lait color. Without skipping a beat, I immediately asked how much milk the client wanted in it.
It was obvious by the look on the client’s face that they thought I was being rude, until I explained myself. Cafe Au Lait has milk in it which lightens its color. So, in asking how much milk they wanted in their cafe au lait I was asking how light or dark they wanted the color to be.
Once we were on the same page, the rest of the color consultation went well. But until then, there was no way for me to know whether we were discussing color in the same way, or not.
The Simple Universal Language Of Color
While it may seem simplistic, the one universal way to describe color that anyone can understand is by its hue name. Hue, as defined by dictionary.com, is the property of light by which the color of an object is classified as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Before you yell at the computer screen with all the reasons you believe this won’t work, please hear me out. We can all agree on what a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet are, right? It’s when we begin to classify colors with names or descriptions that confusion can set in.
If you tell your color consultant what hue(s) you’re interested in, they can ask questions to refine the search for the specific version of the hue you desire. Otherwise, if you ask for a blueberry color you very well may be disappointed when the color consultant (or anyone else) shows you something you’d define as navy or royal blue.
Which of the three colors in the photo below would you classify as blueberry? Over the years, I’ve had clients identify each of these colors as blueberry. I personally would select the middle photo if I was pressed to define the color for myself, but I’ve seen plenty of live blueberries that match the third photo.
Hues to Use
Whether you choose to start using my simple method of color identification by hue, or not, I wish you the best of luck searching for new favorite colors. And, if you are in need of ideas of hues to use for your next project, head on over here. My Pinterest boards are full of them.