It’s called ‘The Pareto Principal’ 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 also apply it to wall colours.
See the sofa above? I walk into a room with this sofa in it and I immediately know which 3 [butterscotch] colours I would pull out to see if they would work:
BM Lady Finger, Sisal, or perhaps Tawny Bisque.
And the next time I come across a ‘butterscotch colour sofa again, or a tile, it’s the same colours. That’s it (ok there are 3 others I would also consider but I don’t pull them out these days because they are just a little too orange and with the brown trend, no one is responding to them so I’ve toned them down with the ones I’ve quoted).
Same thing if I need a fresh green, I have three to choose from. The over 2000 colours that are in any given fan deck? We only really use 20% of them over and over again.
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 pinky beige’s and cold blue grays, so there are a few greens, yellows, purples and 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.
The other day, I decided to paint up some new samples so I thought I’d do a tutorial on my dining room table to show you a good way to do it when you paint yours at home!
First you need a poster board. 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.
Here I am drying them with my blowdryer to speed up the process. I used to use cute little rollers to paint on the colour 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.
And here they are the next day. I leave them out to cure a little before I stack them all up and stick them in my sample bag (otherwise they start sticking together if I do it too soon!).
So relax about knowing every single colour already. All you really need for colour confidence–right now–is my list of 40 large neutrals and 10 whites, click here to find out how you can buy your very own set, way cheaper and easier than painting them all up individually!
And a tip for the designer’s reading this post? All those paint samples you buy with your client and paint on the wall—don’t do it! Instead, take the extra time and paint out the samples on poster boards and you will have the start of your own collection for the next client!