Ask Maria: Help my Revere Pewter Cabinets look Purple!

This is a great question that will help anyone who has had a similar issue with this popular green grey:

We’ve just had our kitchen cabinets professionally painted Revere Pewter.  They colour matched it but I think it is not 100% identical, looks more pink than the BM paint swatch. 

We have new Frosty Carrina countertops and white subway tiles. I was so looking forward to this change BUT now my cabinets look PURPLE.  I am so disappointed.

The floor tiles are greenish and off white, walls are BM Classic Grey. The light bulb is LED 2700K. Thinking of trying 4000 or even 5000. The kitchen window faces west.

Does my white subway tiles make purple stand out more?  Or the western light? Is there anything I can do except trying a cooler or whiter bulb?  Please help!

Throughout the grey trend, I heard this a lot. That in some homes, warm green grays like BM Edgecomb Grey or Revere Pewter went purple. However, this is the first time I received the right photos, so I could explain visually, why this was happening

And everyone quickly blamed it on the lighting.

Let me be clear. Yes, of course there are times when the light changes the colour. However, usually the problem is not enough light (making a light colour gray or dingy). Or reflections from outside at times of the day where the light comes in at strong angles. And yes, sometimes a colour can look quite different in natural vs artificial light.

However, people generally give exposure too much credit for affecting colour. And, if you don’t understand undertones, there’s no where else to go except to blame it on the lighting.

When you learn my System for Specifying Colour, if you choose the correct neutral undertone to begin with, it should look right MOST of the time.

Then, if the light changes the colour for an hour or two, it’s no big deal.

But if you chose the wrong colour or the wrong neutral undertone, well that’s when, of course it will look wrong ALL. THE. TIME.

Why?

Because you simply picked the wrong colour.

Not to be confused with the lighting.

I go into this in great depth in my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops.

Anyway, the reason this particular green grey undertone turns violet in a house with Tuscan finishes is because the neutrals in a Tuscan house were primarily undertones of gold beige, sage greens and pink beige (lots of Travertine). Therefore, if you attempt to introduce grey because ‘Damn it, you want to be current’, well it’s not going to look right.

Here’s why. In the Tuscan trend, we were using a lot of beige. Technically (stay with me here), beiges are all quite yellow or “creamy”. My system was born when I distinguished the subtle undertones of different beiges, or yellow based neutrals. They are Pink Beige, Yellow Beige and Green Beige. But ALL beiges are more yellow than grays.

For example, the difference between a green beige and a green gray is technically how yellow vs. violet it is.

Manchester Tan (green beige) is more yellow than Edgecomb Gray (green gray) below. Are you with me?

Manchester Tan {Green Beige} and Edgecomb Gray {Green Gray}

Grays are cooler, more shaded neutrals, and they have more prominent violet and blue undertones as compared to beiges and comparatively less yellow.

Because remember, neutrals are neutral because they have ALL the primary colours mixed together in them, the difference is in the proportions.

I don’t want to get too technical here, so here is the takeaway. If you place a gray next to a beige, the gray will look relatively more blue or violet or too cool to relate.

ALOT of people painted their Tuscan houses with the warmer grays like Revere Pewter and Edgecomb Gray in an attempt to update them. And it worked in many cases, however, it was common to hear that these “warm” looking grays turned surprisingly purple or blue.

This is BM Baffin Island CC 270 (above left), a green gold beige, and BM Revere Pewter, a green gray (above right). See how the strong yellow and green undertones of Baffin Island make Revere look cool and almost lavender?

And below is BM Silver Dollar 1460, a very cool blue gray, and Revere Pewter (below). Here, Revere looks “warm” and even beige by comparison.

All this is to say, that in the context of warm beiges, even a warm gray can look too cool or purple (and a lot of people see pink in purple undertones since purple is made of red and blue).

And this is because colour behaves in relationship to the colours surrounding it. It will distinguish itself by its differences COMPARED to other colours.

This is why an expert knows you must always compare and test colour.

So when I saw her sagey green floor tile, I was not surprised that Revere Pewter looked more violet than expected. Revere Pewter has a green undertone compared to other grays, but next to sage green it is not nearly as green.

Does all this make your head spin? That’s exactly why my System for Specifying Colour works so well. I have already curated the 50 neutrals you’ll need in all the 9 undertones in my Core Collection of large sample boards which you can purchase here.

Anyway, first, let’s find out if the paint colour was in fact not perfectly matched.

I asked my reader to take a paint chip and place it on the cabinet, but she took it a step further and took this photo which shows the boxes (that were painted DIY with actual Benjamin Moore Paint) and the doors, which were sprayed professionally with a colour match.

You can see that the door is slightly more violet than the actual paint colour. This doesn’t help at all when the colour was bound already to look more violet compared with the sagey green floor tile.

Here’s the kitchen (below). You can see that the tile is more of a sage green and upon first glance it looks like it is green and cream.

However, when we photoshopped the cabinets on the right to a colour that matched the floor better, now you could clearly see, that the background of the tile is actually pink beige and not cream at all. So the tile is sage green and pink beige.

Bad right? Now the floor looks even more old and dated. And of course the pink beige undertone of the creamy ground in the tile stands out even more.

One more thing. When we ask for photos for our eDesign consultations, this is how we can see the undertone, ONLINE, and not in person.

We ask for a sheet of white paper to be placed on everything so we can see, are we dealing with a true white? Off-white? Cream? Or is it actually beige or grey?

As you can see in this photo below, placing the white paper directly on the tile, enables us to see that the  undertone of the tile is clearly pink beige.

This is also part of the Business of Colour that you’ll learn on the third day of my colour workshops.

Okay, so painting the cabinets sage green is definitely not the answer. However, we certainly don’t want to paint them pink beige either. And, painting them off-white would still highlight the pink-beige undertone.

Since my lovely reader had them professionally sprayed (which is expensive), lets see if there’s another solution.

During December, we had dinner at the Blue Water Cafe in downtown Vancouver and I noticed a couple scratches on the floor where we were sitting and realized they had actually painted the existing terra cotta tile, BLACK (below).

So if a commercial restaurant with lots of traffic can do this, so can you.

We have already established that no matter what colour we paint the cabinets, the tile will still look bad and dated.

Especially because it should also have been installed randomly. However, the tile installer made the decision to install them all in the same direction.

Here it is photoshopped to a colour similar to BM Wrought Iron. Obviously when it gets painted the pattern will disappear, but I wanted you to be able to see the grout lines, so we just photoshopped the floor so you could see how much better it looks painted!

And you could even go further, if you had the time and the energy and stencil this floor!

Cutting edge stencils and how to paint them

There are lots of step-by-step tutorials on-line where you can learn exactly how and which product to use!

This is definitely the time and place to incorporate the look of trendy, encaustic tile!

How long it will last is certainly another conversation. But adding a pattern with a stencil will downplay any wear and tear and distract from it with its loveliness.

I’m sure paint has come a long way but when I was growing up, my Mom would paint our bad linoleum floors in the kitchen of the little house we rented, every two years.

Regardless, just painting the tile floor that will never be amazing is the smartest way to handle this colour dilemma until you can change out the floor. Eventually, an affordable wood look floor like laminate or LVP would look great in here.

Here is a gorgeous kitchen painted Revere Pewter with wood floors below. Just look at that blue gray island making our green gray look so creamy and warm 😉

original source not found (this image is found on many link bait sites) Source found: John K Anderson

If you are painting your cabinets this year, you can buy a single eDesign paint colour consultation here.

Or if you’re renovating a kitchen, you can buy our ‘Create a Classic Kitchen’ package here.

If you want to learn how to understand undertones, download my ‘How to Choose Paint Colours’ ebook here.

If you have an Ask Maria question (that hasn’t already been covered) for this column, please email me photos, taken in good natural light, without flash, and email them here.

PS. Here’s an update from my reader!

She said “This solution was totally unexpected as we never looked into the tiles as a source of the issue, but IT TOTALY MAKES SENSE NOW!

We are going to paint the tiles as soon as the weather gets warmer and we are excited about it. We have an egg chair nearby  in the family room and the colour is identical to BM Wrought Iron :)) Pic attached.
Hope it will be ok with the rest of the space.”
And here it is the photo:
The new painted floors will flow perfectly with this room and make them feel much more current and modern which this room is as well!

Related posts:

5 Reasons Your Paint Colour Looks Wrong. It’s Not the Lighting

Ask Maria: Do’s and Dont’s for Installing Encaustic Tile

A Light Colour will Never Come to Life in a Dark Room

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  1. I loved this post because as a
    rep for Benjamin Moore, I encounter this daily with designers and homeowners. I think one point should also be covered as to why BM colors dont come out right along with the color undertones theory you put forward.

    When you match BM colors into other brands, be it wall paint or a lacquer system on cabinets, the colors will not be the same. BM colorants are proprietary. Its a system of 13 colorants made from finely ground pigments with an acrylic resin base. In addition, BM’s base (Chantilly Lace) is much cleaner and whiter than other manufacturers base paint (look at SW Extra White). So When you try to replicate BM colors by using a universal tint system’ (made up of 11 colorants that are glycol based) that the majority of national paint manufacturers use along with a grayer base paint to start, its like baking grandmas snickerdoodles with margarine instead of butter. They just dont taste the same! Kinda techie I know, but if you hold up a chip of Chantilly Lace against Extra White you will immediately understand. You can always make a color grayer when color matching (add black) but you cant make it cleaner.

    • Thank you, Lisa. A couple of years ago, after ordering Maria’s boards (which are the best!), I chose a color for my kitchen walls. Unbeknownst to me, my painter only used Sherwin Williams paint. I had to be out of town the day they painted and when I walked into my kitchen it was much greener than the board. The painter insisted the paint could be matched exactly between brands, and it was “the lighting.” Fortunately, I had Maria’s large sample to demonstrate that it wasn’t the lighting, since somehow the board wasn’t affected! Lesson learned. I changed painter, but now I try to stick with the brand my painter uses or insist that he use the brand of the color I want.

    • Great information! I have always believed color matching is a bad idea and you have given the best education as to why.

    • Lisa,

      I recently painted my living room Metropolitan AF-690. It seems like country blue now not sure if that is my older wood floor with rust tones, the lighting or what? Is this a color I can dilute?

  2. Great post! Spot on. I was going to repeat what another commenter said — a vinyl plank floating floor could be applied over the existing tile as well. I’ve done it and it looks great and holds up extremely well.

    Also, as a kitchen designer, I keep wondering, WHY DOESN’T THIS KITCHEN HAVE ANY DRAWERS? haha.

  3. another important thing to bring up is that paint chip samples are generally flat or satin sheen… hand painted boxes or trim are likely semi gloss, BUT sprayed cabinet doors are ” lacquer cabinet finish ( a really thin paint that works in a paint sprayer and can be matte or shiny but is a more durable and perfect finish for cabinets)

    Every time you adjust the sheen of paint the color adjusts a tiny bit and undertones can become more prominent.. so much so that when i spec paint for cabinets, i usually take a piece of that newly sprayed/painted cabinet and have it color matched for the trim paint rather than go back to the original paint swatch or paint code…

    using lacquer cabinet paint is the right thing to do but they should have taped things off and sprayed the boxes as well… then doors and boxes would have matched perfectly..

    and just remember when spec’g cabinet paint, it will be spray lacquer and therefor slightly different color than the flat swatch appears

  4. One of my all-time favorite MK posts! You know how you were asking us in IG stories what we want more of? THIS! It’s so educational. And, small thing, but I love your caption about the click bait sites. <3

  5. I was glad that you mentioned using LVP (luxury vinyl plank). We live on a small farm and also have indoor pets. I need a waterproof floor that still “fits” in my rural house. Living out in the country where there is more dirt, grass, hay and a long gravel driveway makes for a lot more dirt. When the farmers plow the fields, dirt is in the air. Even if the windows aren’t open, the house gets dustier and the floors get dirtier.

    Most of your blog posts are city or suburban homes. I realize that this is probably your usual client base. However, I would love to see designs for rural homes… real modern farmhouse!

    • I am an LVP convert. I was working with a carpenter who suggested he use a higher molding- and THAT made a huge difference!

      • Joanne, By “higher molding” do you mean your baseboards? And is there quarter round along the bottom?

        I have been wanting to change the baseboards and door trim throughout the house. The originals (along with the hollow core doors) looked really cheap to me when we bought the house 16 years ago and they still do!

        • Yes! If I knew how I would post a picture! The molding is 6.5 inches high with an inch molding along the floor, then a 4 inch section, then another curved section along the top. I believe they are separate pieces – if that makes sense. They are a beautiful detail that adds to the impression they are real wood floors.

  6. A few years ago I repainted the living room and dining room in our condo, and I asked the BM paint dealer to dilute one can of the paint at half so I could paint a lighter contrast color above a chair rail in the dining area. The dealer warned me that Revere Pewter leans toward a purple undertone when not mixed at full strength, and that he had had many complaints from decorators doing the same thing. I took the paint anyway and it actually was the perfect half tone to the full strength mixture, not purple at all. This discussion reminded me of that experience —

  7. Maria, I have always wondered about the white paper photograph thing. How do you know if the white paper is actually…well, white? For example, white paper made of recycled materials is noticeably grayer/dingier when placed next to a non-recycled material sheet of white paper. I understand the concept in general, but how do you control for the fact that all white paper is not the same?

    • Well our eDesign department which is basically all about specifying colour on-line, is entirely done this way. White paper is technically ‘whiter’ than a true white, but it seems to do the trick because I’ve done it this way for years. There’s no other eDesign offered on the web that promises to get your undertones right, (unless it’s by another True Colour Expert). Most eDesign companies are just interested in selling furniture.

      What makes the ‘white paper photo’ powerful is that before we saw that photo, the background of the tile in the photos simply looked cream. It was much harder to see the pink beige undertone until we photoshopped the cabinets green.

      The photo with the white paper made it obvious again.

      And I understand that it’s hard to get the full concept of this in one blog post. I teach this in much greater detail in my 3 day live workshops!

      Hope that helps,
      Maria

  8. Whoa! That was hardcore but fascinating. I love this blog. You have been so material in choices I have made in our home over last 3 years. Huge decisions including exterior (your design package), kitchen (blog research and subway tile of course) and all interior walls and floor color. I wanted to go clean white throughout the interior and our floor was yellow oak and too depressing to think about replacing in the whole house. What was the solution? Sand and stain with white grey undertones. Yes slightly trendy (was worried about your disapproval) but got me out of the woods until I can swap out the floor in a few years to something more classic. Thank you Maria!

  9. Can you recommend a grey that falls in the middle? Not too yellow and not too blue? Looking to help a hair salon that needs the walls to really be neutral, so as to not reflect on the client when choosing hair dye. Thanks for your help.

    • Really neutral can only be determined by what finishes it’s paired with. A grey that looks ‘really neutral’ in one persons house looks ‘green’ in someone else’s home. Or purple, or blue. . . without photos, it’s impossible for me to give you accurate advice. Sorry I can’t help. Maria

  10. This is a great post with an innovative solution… I have to admit that I LOVE IT that the follow-up photo shows just how modern the rest of the space is! Maria and team, I think you read the mind of the client when you picked that floor color treatment! Treating that floor not only solves the problem, it creates harmony with the rest of the space. Great work! Happy New Year!

  11. AdminRealEstateGal

    What a fabulous post – So informative!!!!! Thank you for not only covering the why, but also showing the original images, the paper trick, the photoshopped suggestion as well as other alternatives for fixing the problem.

  12. My comment after reading the very good, thorough reply….never color match Ben Moore. Buy Ben Moore! I matched once, using Behr Paint and it came out a dark, muddy pinkish purple. Against white floors, so there were no external undertones interfering.
    I bought my next gallon of revere pewter from the BM store and wallah….perfect!