Prepare to be obsessed: Apps let you test drive paint colors without lifting a brush
Paint chips are so 20th century.
Not sure what color to paint the living room? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are several.
Over the past decade, major paint manufacturers have introduced free, online design tools to help homeowners choose interior and exterior paint color via computer, tablet or smartphone. And they just keep getting better.
We checked out the latest offerings from three leading platforms — Color Capture by Benjamin Moore, ColorSmart by Behr and ColorSnap Visualizer by Sherwin-Williams — that offer color matching, color combinations and the option of uploading photos to “virtually” paint your rooms.
We found the process easy, intuitive and fun.
Full disclosure: It’s also habit forming.
Here are just a few of the highlights we loved:
Color-matching tools allow users to match colors in a photograph to corresponding paint. Want to paint the bathroom the same color as your favorite orchid? Snap a photo, and the app reveals the name and style number of the paint that perfectly captures that hue. ColorSnap will even tell you where to find the paint chip in the store display.
Tanuja Singeetham, the vice president of digital marketing at Behr, says color matching is one of the most popular features on its ColorSmart platform because inspiration can spring from anywhere.
“It might be inspiration from home, like matching a rug … or something in nature,” she explains. Think: matching your paint selection to sunset pink, summer sky or mocha gelato. In a more practical vein, finding a color to match with a wallpaper pattern, bedspread or window covering is equally cool.
Once the main paint color has been identified, apps can assist with complimentary palettes. “A lot of people want to have complimentary colors to do an accent wall or trim,” Singeetham said. “We know there are multiple things in a home, whether it’s a couch or a pillow, where you can bring a whole solution together versus just a wall color.”
Here’s where differences between the apps show up. The ColorSmart app offers palette ranges for subtle blends, warm tones, cool tones and complimentary colors. Similarly, Color Capture offers categories such as “goes great with,” “similar colors” and “more shades,” while ColorSnap shows a pop-up palette of coordinating colors with each digital paint chip.
Easiest paint job ever
The virtual process helps narrow the color field before approaching the paint chip wall at the store, said Meghan Vickers, vice president of e-business marketing for Sherwin-Williams. “You can look at all the greens [online], and try them out virtually in room scenes.” Wall and trim colors also can be changed with a tap or a click.
Some Web and tablet applications allow users to upload photos of their project area to preview potential paint jobs, while all offer model rooms for “trying” on color. “It allows people to have more confidence in color selection,” she said.
Chip, chip hooray!
In spite of technological progress, “technology doesn’t eliminate the need for paint chips,” Vickers said. “You should always see a color chip of the color and try it out in your own space to make sure it is what you’re looking for. Every [digital] screen is calibrated differently.” Singeetham encourages both chips and paint samples. After online research, “put them on the wall,” she said, noting that natural light during various times of the day and lights bulbs can dramatically change the way a color appears in your home.
Keep it, share it
Most apps allow progress to be saved, and some, such as ColorSmart, offer Workbooks for making notes and keeping records. And many make it easy to share projects on Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Pinterest.