Since I finally had the brilliant idea to ask for clean vs. dirty dilemmas or issues where ya’ll think the lighting might be the problem, here’s a great question I received along with this lovely room from a reader:
Thank you for your post. I finally understand why my family room wall looks green no matter which color I paint. I tried 5 different colors and they all look green. Some of the colors I tried were BM revere pewter, grey owl, and most recently white dove Oc-17.
Any suggestion you could give will be very helpful.
Before – reader photo
This is her family room and if you look at the TV wall you can see that it does indeed have a green cast. In this go-aound, she painted her walls 1/2 strength BM Revere Pewter which would be more in the realm of BM Edgecomb grey.
And because we know that it’s a Green Grey, that’s why it looks green.
As you can see in the photo with Edgecomb Gray on the wall (scroll down a couple of images) taken in good natural light, the fireplace has lots of purple in it which means that the correct undertone in this case would be one with a Violet Gray.
You should also know that Off-White walls often look green in low light areas (or in the summer when you get the reflection of the green outside) because whites reflect surrounding colours.
When the wall is painted Off-White (BM White Dove), we end up with a wall that simply looks primed (below), not finished, because we have a few different colours in the fireplace but none of them are white.
Off-White, BM White Dove OC 17
And, although the stone has some variety in colour, the OVERALL READ of this tile is more pink/purple than green or blue which is why all the other colours look like blue or green and don’t relate.
When I sent her a note asking for clarification she said:
I’m also looking at painting just the “green” wall (my husband and I named it that way after painting it 5 times) with Balboa Mist OC-27 which has a red under stone thinking that red and green makes it more grey:) I’m kind of running out of ideas and your expert opinion would be very helpful.
If you are looking at a small sample of ANYTHING, it’s much harder to see the neutral undertone until you get several larger samples, or if you have a small swatch of fabric, buy a half yard if you’re not sure how it will read in the end.
Here’s the same wall photoshopped in BM Edgecomb which is a Green Grey, and BM Abalone which is a Violet Grey.
Could the final colour be a lighter Violet Grey? Yes, however I chose to photoshop BM Abalone in to the room so that you could see how well the new Violet undertone wall colour actually relates to the fireplace.
Since the original room has a cognac sectional with purple cushions, this colour would probably work very well!
Violet Grey is not used nearly as often as Green Grey or Blue Greys, however in the right environment, they are just beautiful!
So even if there is a lot of green reflection from the landscape on the wall, if my dear reader paints her wall in the correct undertone to relate to her fireplace, Violet Gray, rather than adding even more green with a Green Gray, it will relate well and not bother her.
How do we avoid making this mistake? It’s easy if you compare the different undertones of gray to the tile with large sample boards. Since there are only three possible undertones of grey, Green, Violet and Blue, it’s simple to do a process of elimination when you have large samples.
Blue Gray would be easily eliminated as this stone is clearly not cool blue, but it’s common to get tricked by Green Gray and Violet Gray because they can both read like what is often vaguely called “brown gray” or “warm gray” in lay terms.
It’s much more precise and useful you see, to distinguish your “warm grays” into two clear undertones, Green or Violet. By comparing how each relates to the stone with large samples it would be easy to see that the stone has an overall Violet undertone and not Green. The only way to know for sure is to compare.
The secret to getting colour to do what you want can be summed up in one word: comparison.
It’s laced into every training exercise in my 3 day live training. It’s way more important, than anything else.
Understanding where to place the colour when you are going through the process of choosing or specifying colours and most importantly constantly comparing, will have YOU be the boss of the colour, instead of the colour bossing you around and surprising you when you least expect it.
If you have an Ask Maria question that has not been covered on the blog, lighting or clean vs. dirty, email me with photos here.
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