Farrow and Ball "Hague Blue" via
My favourite thing to do with a spare five or ten minutes is to busy myself on Pinterest. For those of you who are not on Pinterest, it is much like Facebook or any other social media in that you follow people, and they follow you. You can see what people pin, and they can see what you pin… and then re-pin away at will. One thing I see an awful lot of are Australian pinners obsessively pinning paint colour pins for US or English only available paint brands. These are usually Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Farrow and Ball paints. There is also one blogger that I'm aware of who has imported paint from the US to get the colours that she fell in love with in a magazine or on the internet.
Farrow and Ball "Pavillion Grey" via
There are a few reasons why thinking about importing paint is not a good idea, aside from the obvious cost involved. Firstly, paint colours change according to light. In Australia, we have extremely strong light - colours that work overseas do not work in the same way under our lighting conditions, the colour will alter from what you thought you were getting. This also holds true for the performance of the paint. Australian paint is made to hold up to extremely harsh UV levels. Pigment in a paint will fade (just as everything else does), so having paint made here for our conditions is better if you want a colour that still looks the same in a few years time. A third consideration is that many builders and painters will not warranty work that is done using a paint brand they are either unfamiliar with, or that they have no ability to go back to the source if something goes wrong (like the paint flaking off) due to a lack of warranty from the company.
Farrow and Ball "Down Pipe" via
The next point to remember is that the vast majority of photographic images you see that you like enough to pin (or in a print magazine) are professional photos, and they have had the colour saturation amped up, or dulled down, or photoshopped in some way. If you're viewing the image on a computer screen it will also have settings that change the way things look on it, and that may be different from the settings the producer of the image uses, so a colour you love on screen is not necessarily what will arrive in a pot from overseas.
Farrow and Ball "Hardwick White", Plain English Kitchens via
I know a lot of people bemoan the lack of paint colour choice in Australia - however unlike many other things we lack in terms of choice, we do have boutique brands of paints (Porter's and Murobond amongst a few others), and several big name brands (Dulux, Haymes, Solver, British Paints, Taubmans) with the bigger brands having thousands of colours in their ranges. The problem is that you won't necessarily see these colours when you go to a hardware store and choose a paint colour. Just like anything fashion related, Colour forecasters will put together a range for the paint chips you see in the stores from the very large range of individual colours within their brand.
Benjamin Moore "Beach Glass" via
Some of this relates to what they think people like (i.e. the majority of people tend to be attracted to 'clear' colours - I'll explain what I mean by this further down), and partially this is set by what the colour and trend forecasters internationally say will be popular. Every era has its own particular paint colour story to define it, browns/ neutrals were the early to mid 2000's, currently its greys and linen colours, the 70's orange, yellow and dark brown, the 80's were peachy pinks, corals and turquoise, the 90's yellow and blue. So you'll see a lot of choice in those fashion colours on sample chips, and maybe not so much in a colour you like but that is not currently on the radar.
Benjamin Moore "August Morning" via
The colours you'll see in the Hardware store relate to all these things - if they were to put out all their colours on sample chips, you'd find there would be over 5,000 sample colours from Dulux alone.
Benjamin Moore "Wythe Blue" via
Back to the colour factor. Generally speaking, the reason why a lot of people love the overseas paint brands, like Farrow and Ball, is because they are a little 'dirty'. They have a bit of black pigment mixed in, and this gives the paint colour a sophistication and depth. You can in fact replicate their paint colours using Australian paint, it's just that if you're trying to do that off the chips in the Hardware store it's unlikely you're going to find the exact colour you're after. As I mentioned upthread the biggest sellers are 'clear' colours. They have a bit of a primary element to them, even if they're quite pale pastels. There's not a lot of depth and dimension to them, but these are the colours the average person will be attracted to on a tiny sample chip. My late Mother made a bit of an error with a yellow paint colour that she painted their casual living room in. Unfortunately at the time she was choosing paint colours, I was tied up in a meeting at work. I texted her back that I'd get out the Atlas and choose a yellow for her after the meeting was over, but it appears that when she said she needed a yellow straight away, she meant absolutely at that moment. So by the time I got the Atlas out and rang her to give her a name, she'd already instructed the painter and bought the paint. It's quite a bright yellow with a lot of white mixed in, so in my view, it doesn't have a lot of sophistication to it in terms of depth of colour, and isn't particularly period correct for the house. It's been a tricky colour to work around, as curtains etc came after the colour had already been chosen and applied, and it can look a little sickly under low light levels. But as my Mum said "It looked good on the chip". And this is another tip - get a sample pot. I never choose paint colours off a tiny chip. As a designer I can order A4 sized samples for projects, and frequently find it's often not the colour you were thinking it would be when it's in a larger sheet. So if you're thinking of choosing a colour try painting a larger sample first to see if it is what you thought it was.
Farrow and Ball "Blue Grey" via Tone on Tone blog
There are so many variables as to how a colour will look when its applied to a wall - geography and light levels for that particular room are the biggest. So if you fall in love with a paint colour in a magazine and you'd like to replicate it, try finding it locally - you can definitely find that colour in Australia, it's just not necessarily going to be displayed on the rack of a paint chip selection in a hardware store. If you naturally don't want to hire a Architect or Interior Designer to assist you in picking a couple of paint colours, you can always have a colour consultant come to your home from one of the paint companies (I linked to Dulux, however the other companies may offer this too if you check their website) and show them the images of colours you'd like to replicate. For a small cost outlay you'll end up saving yourself a lot of potential heartache and will find the colour you fell in love with in a magazine or Pinterest on your walls, without having to freight it over with all the potential pitfalls that may bring.
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