Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coloring Walls to tell a Story

My daughter and her husband are closing on their stone cottage next week, so Anna has been picking paint colors. Currently, every room in the home is painted an off-white, builders-grade paint. However, to help each room reflect her unique perspective, Anna is coloring the walls.

The off-white living room as staged in the real estate ad.
Over the weekend, we took paint samples to view in each room.  In each unique lighting environment, we compared the colors to transportable furnishings (a drapery panel, a throw pillow, and honed marble tiles) to be used in the room.  What an important step!  In some rooms, what looked to be a certain color on the paint chip appeared entirely different in the space!

Anna will be using a new line of paint from Benjamin Moore called Color Story.

These are "full spectrum" paints which means each color is formulated from many different pigments not including black or gray which dulls color.  Whereas most paint colors use a few pigments in their formula, "full spectrum" paints use between eight and fifteen pigments. The resulting vibrancy is readily apparent.

Actually, artists have been mixing pigments without black or gray for centuries, but it is fairly new to commercial paint companies.

As far as I know, Donald Kaufman is the pioneer in the field of architectural paint coloration.  Back in 1976, he and his wife, Taffy Dahl, began developing their "full spectrum" formulas.  To determine the colors, they collaborated with the best architects and designers and travelled all over the world visiting museums, cathedrals, stores, hotels, grand homes, and modest houses.  Today, their luminescent (over one hundred) paint colors are available through Pratt & Lambert distributors and cost between $85 and $100 a gallon.

Customers can purchase sample cards of Donald Kaufman paint through: Paint samples are available for purchase by calling Eagle Paint & Wallpaper at 1-800-237-6918.

The next "full spectrum" colorist I became aware of is clothing designer turned interior designer, C. J. Volk who started manufacturing her paints in 2001. 

Volk's passion for vibrant, non-muted saturated colors led her to develop a palette using many pigments.  Citron, Volk's company, is located in Tuscon, Arizona, but customers can purchase the nearly one hundred colors, retailing from $55 a gallon, from her web site: 

Just this winter, Benjamin Moore launched their "full spectrum" line.  These paints are environmentally friendly and were tested by the company to be "versatile with a number of architectural styles and lighting environments."

Anna chose to use the Benjamin Moore Color Stories "full spectrum" product for several reasons.  First, Benjamin Moore has piloted their Color Story line in a couple of New England locations and in the Washington, DC area. For Anna, the Chevy Chase location of Monarch Home Decorating Center was a convenient place to pick up the Color Story paint samples. 

Furthermore, the $68 a gallon price, although a bit higher than the Citron paints, was offset by the elimination of shipping and availability of free samples. Finally, the Benjamin Moore Color Story line has two hundred colors to choose from, more than double Donald Kaufman or Citron paints. 

As each of the stone cottage rooms begins to tell their own color story, I will post pictures!


  1. Wow! I learned a lot here. I had no idea there really was such a difference in the process of these particular paints.

    I can just imagine that this home is going to be warm and wonderful!!

  2. Thanks for bringing Full Spectrum Paints to the viewers on a larger scale. A couple you might want to include next time, that are very high quality with a lower price than some others, are:, Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints, and EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint, another group of colors you can see on her site also. Neither of the two lines has any black, and Ellen--herself a designer with over 25 years experience--has been creating Full Spectrum Paints for over 10 years.EcoHues is new, a special 24-color palette developed by color consultant/artist Barbara Jacobs.

  3. Can't wait to see the pictures!!!!
    What fun!
    Blessings to you!
    Cindy :)