Sunday, January 25, 2009

True Colors

Color visualizers are arguably the handiest of all online design tools. Be careful though! They can really suck you in. Before you know it, you’ll have spent several hours comparing the subtleties of watermelon baseboards and peas-and-cream moldings. Most tools are free but some sites (like Benjamin Moore) will allow you to upload and work with original photos of your room, for a small fee. The following free tools represent a wide array of colors—and you can find these paint brands virtually anywhere.

Select an exterior home or interior room image from the viewer's pictorial library, or import an image of your own space for a fee.
PROs: Creates a complimentary palette of a separate trim and ceiling color, which is based on any color you choose.
CONs: Want to work on your own digital photos? The sofware costs $10.
Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer
Choose an exterior, interior, and room type. Browse paint by collection or individual colors.
PROs: Images are detailed: You can cover everything from windowsills to chair rails. The “e-mail scene” tool is so detailed. Plus, it’s immediate and hassle-free—no registration required.
CONs: It’s difficult to match your existing flooring to colors you’ve chosen.
Select a room type, a color family, and drag and drop paint onto surfaces.
PROS: Room choices are original (family room, study) and you can paint seemingly every detail, such as lamps and file storage areas. Easy-click button for free chips.
CONs: No exterior options.

Valspar Idea Notebook
Start with the room you want to paint (bathroom, kid’s room), choose a color collection (Martha Stewart, Eddie Bauer), and get cracking.
PROs: Very basic. Four accent options allow you to see different combos right away.
CONs: Adding the accent colors can be a little confusing and time consuming.

I know there are plenty out there like Pratt & Lambert and Behr, so please feel free to comment and add any others you know and love.

REMEMBER: Online colors aren’t always true-to-life.
For more info on how to see true colors, go to Seeing Red. A.

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