VIVID:  It’s always been there for me. Always in interiors. I never had a little girl room or a teenage one or a wall in a dorm (that caused trouble) or in a first apartment, or a series of houses, that did not have at least one vivid bedroom wall. And ultimately that brought me to my first serious color job. It was not even picking colors.

THEY ALL NEED NAMES:  I worked in San Francisco in clothing design, my first design training. And after one season of loving the work, fabrics, colors, shapes and everything about it, and although I was not yet allowed to pick colors of the season, that having been dictated by some larger-than-life entity, I was assigned to name the colors. This was an era when there were just not so many colors on the racks. So imagine, every spring, creatively naming pale pink, baby blue, and yellow.

This is why I was so eager to attend a new color launch by my favorite paint company, Dunn-Edwards. And I am not paid to write this.


THE PROJECT:  It was led by Sara McClean who spent five years with them on a $10 million dollar project to create and launch a palette of 300 new colors. Names like “Wine Goblet” and “Bourbon Truffle,” ranging from historic to ‘trending now,’  in a collection called “Then, Now and Forever.” How happy I was to learn that she too had a hard time…. “with names like Pewter Patter, Eat Your Peas, Outlawed Orange. She admitted with whites and creams in particular, ‘there’re only so many words you can use.’” (Hemispheres Magazine Dec. 2015)

Color in paint really is the hardest thing to pick successfully. . . requires testing, etc.  That’s why I have a lot of work doing it.

NOW FOR THE QUALITY:  But paint quality is something many clients do not understand. And they sometimes ask “Why shouldn’t we just get cheaper paint at a big box store?” Because it will disappoint.

paint color

I am not paid by any paint company to say this, but there are great reasons:  

Here they are simplified for us, excerpted from


“Most contractor-grade paints are vastly superior, in that people who do it for a living tend to buy the coatings that go on easily, cover, and last. I have never used Brand X from the big box store, but have used Benjamin Moore and Dunn Edwards. I like Dunn Edwards a lot.”


“All of the professional painters I know hate (Brand X at the big box store) and refuse to use it, because it doesn’t go on as smoothly. They are not just being conservative, with this product it takes them more time to get an even coat, and time is money.”


This from a homeowner: I have 6 doors painted with (Brand X from the big box store) that are pretty much not salvageable. They peel like crazy. When I decide to fix the problem, I’m going to just buy new doors.

paint swatches

And this from a paint store manager who sells Benjamin Moore and another brand, C2, I don’t know of in our area:    

“If we’re just talking about the makeup of the paint before tinting, the #1 factor in a good paint is the amount of solids the paint contains, i.e. the resins and other components that are left on the wall when the solvents evaporate. Paints like from big box stores tend to have pretty low solids, so they tend to cover poorly and leave behind a thinner film (although their higher end lines are better). They’re also often not 100% acrylic latex, and will be termed ‘vinyl acrylic’ paints. Paints like Ben Moore and C2 have higher solids, so they tend to have a greater film build, greater adhesion, and better coverage.

         The colorant that goes into each can, and the color that you choose also have a great deal to do with quality. As an example, C2 in particular uses pigments that are higher strength and more finely ground than many other companies (Ben Moore included) and their colors will often be made up of three or more pigments. Whereas a Big Box store brand blue tone might be made up of some concentration of a single blue colorant, a C2 blue tone might be created with a mixture of four different pigments, and sometimes won’t even include any blue colorant at all!”

And an industry rep explains it to a class of design students:  

“A Dunn Edwards rep actually came and spoke to my class the other day, and he described it this way: The same things go into every can of paint, regardless of brand. This is stuff like resins/adhesives, colorant (the liquid pigment), etc. The thing with more expensive brands is the quality of those ingredients–just like any other product I guess. Brand X has always worked fine for me in terms of application, but I think the difference comes down to the long-term: How long before it fades? How is the water-resistance? If you try to clean it, will you end up with a faded spot? How soon will you need to repaint? Will it chip? Will it crumble? Think of a designer dress versus its knock-off counterpart. They may look exactly the same next to each other, but the knock-off probably has crappier material (which will wear out sooner), thinner thread, cheaper buttons, etc.”

                                   So check out professional brand paints, we are happy to guide you.

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