The Pareto Principle
It’s called ‘The Pareto Principle’ and it means that in anything a few (20%) are vital and many (80%) are trivial.
Or 20% of the people own 80% of the wealth or 20 percent of the defects cause 80% of the problems.
Project Managers know that 20% of the work (the first 10% and the last 10%) consume 80% of your time and resources.
You can apply the 80/20 rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world.
And you can apply this rule to the world of paint colour in homes.
Ever noticed how, often, when you are looking for a paint colour, you’re looking for the perfect neutral? Yes, we choose whites (when the room has enough light) and chromatic colours too, for rooms like a powder room, bathrooms, an office or bedrooms or even an enclosed dining room, but neutrals are the paint colours at the top of the list of choices.
And here’s where the Pareto Principle comes into play with colour. When you know the right 20% of all neutral colours, you know the vital ones.
My nine useful neutral colours — pink beige, orange beige, yellow beige, gold beige, green beige, green grey, blue grey, violet grey and taupe — make up the 20% of useful neutral colours. Familiarize yourself with these and you can stop turning your brain into a pretzel by considering the other 80%.
These neutrals are the reason why so many people attend my Specify Colour with Confidence workshops, because they are much harder to choose than any other colour.
Start by identifying all the neutrals
See this pillow (below)?
If this was the starting point for your room, which neutrals would you eliminate right away?
Don’t scroll past this image yet. Just look for a minute.
Okay, so we would eliminate the pinker pink beige because even though it relates well to the very strong pink beige colour in this pillow, you probably wouldn’t want to paint your walls this colour.
So that’s when you’d choose the lighter pink beige (below right).
And the yellow beige because there is no yellow beige in this pillow at all.
You can see that there’s violets and blue greys and perhaps even a taupe.
All these neutrals are found in my curated collection of 50 paint samples in Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams.
You can also get the VIP collection, which give you some more pale greige neutrals, the best yellows, pinks, greens and blues and the best darks.
See the colours on the left? Well you can’t see them all that well in the above photo, but mostly they are used for kids room colours or (as I tell my students) those yellows, on pillars in a parkade to signify caution– too screaming bright.
The ones on the right? Way too many pink beige colours and cold blue grays, so there are a few greens, yellows, purples including blues to choose from.
The ones in the middle that I’m sitting in front of? Those are the Designer Classics and the Heritage Colours, these are the ones we use over and over.
Before I sold large paint samples on the site, I painted them myself and this is how I did it.
How to Paint your Own Large Samples
Directly on my glass dining table:
First you need a poster board (above).
This one is already cut in half because I’m going to paint 4 colours on it but if you are painting one for your own testing purposes, better to at least paint the entire half of the board. The bigger the better.
Take some green painters tape and tape it all around. To save on tape I left the 4 outside edges—I’ll cut them off anyway.
I used to use little rollers, but they only last for maybe four times and then I have to throw them out so now I just use a paint brush.
They dry way quicker.
Wash out the paint and then shake it until you don’t see any more water, then it’s ready for the next colour.
Here’s the finished paint sample with the second coat still drying. I’ve taken the tape off (better to do it before it dries so it doesn’t start taking the paper with it!) and now I’m writing the colour names and number on the bottom of each.
So relax about knowing every single colour already.
All you really need for colour confidence is my curated collection of best neutrals and whites, click here to find out how you can buy your very own set.
It’s way cheaper and easier than painting them all up individually!