Customizing A Color Scheme

color flower by Sharon Pittaway via UnSplash

When I’m doing any themed design, one of the first elements I nail down is the color scheme.  It’s going to make most of your decisions easier and the color sets the mood of a room.

Color Script from A Turtle's Tale 2 Finding Nemo Color Script by Pixar


Disney and Pixar use color storyboards, or color scripts, to map out the lighting and mood of the story.  Having a physical color palette to work with is going to help you do the same thing with your themed design.

My tiny home is anime themed, which is pretty broad, so I went with a neutal light peach (Pittsburgh Paint’s Subtle Peach) for my main color and Espresso for all of the accent elements.  This allows me to use the more kawaii colors found in Japanese-themed pieces.  I have a lot of pink and light teal in the house.

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For the purposes of this post, I’ll pick a specific inspiration piece.

Sword Art Online Wallpaper from Aliexpress

I’m going to use ColorZilla’s Color Picker to pick colors out of this Sword Art Online wall mural from AliExpress for my color palette.

Next, I’m going to go over to color-hex to make a palette using the color picker.  Copy the # hex code from the color picker in your top right corner of the toolbar and it will paste it into the color-hex box.  I noticed that the palette doesn’t change as you’re working on it, so keep that in mind.  It will stay gray-scale until you view it in your palettes.  

The blue-black in the sky and Kirito’s hair were very similar, so I went with that.  Asuna’s orange hair and the flames were also mirrored colors.  The moon was a little too gray, so I picked the white out of Asuna’s dress.  If you wanted more gray in your decor, you could choose differently.

Remember that this looks different on different monitors and screens.  I have two, for instance. The color I refer to as peach is more of a dark khaki on one monitor, which is funny considering I pulled it from the flames.  The color I refer to as pink is a deep red on one monitor and a dark magenta on the other.  Don’t freak out if your color choices aren’t quite what you see in your inspiration piece.  They’ll still work together. This will also hold true if you color pick using a photo of a physical inspiration piece or if you take that piece to the paint store for a color match.

Also, keep in mind that white and black are scaled colors.  This means that the shades vary quite a bit depending on how much blue or red is in them.  John Hench, Disney’s original Imagineer, was once tasked with painting an Epcot attraction white.  He responded “Well, I have 34 shades of white.  Which one do you want?”  In Designing Disney, he would also tell of the color difficulties faced while trying to light Epcot and painting the castle under a Florida sky versus the California sky.  It seems there’s a difference.  The point is, when you’re picking a color to match a palette, don’t assume white is white.

A house’s color palette usually consists of one main color, one secondary color for all of the major accents, and an accent color.  For me, the pink and orange on the right are far too bright for the main home colors.  The white and peach combination would be perfect if I wanted a really neutral backdrop.  I could paint the walls tan or white, use the other color for accents, then bring in the navy, orange and pink for accent.

That would work great, but, despite my use of light peach in my home, it’s not my style in general.  In this case, I would use the white as my main color, the navy as my secondary color and the other three colors for accent pieces.  We know they all go together because they are together on the wall mural.

We’ll use EasyRGB to turn the hex codes or RGB codes into a usable format so that we can figure out paint colors.  EasyRGB lets you choose your paint brand so that you can find colors available in the store you prefer to use.  I’ve gotten better results with sRGB 0-255, so that’s the method I’m going to use.  And, since Home Depot is international and has the most stores, I’m going to choose their paint brands.  Home Depot’s eight ounce paint samplers are made in Behr Paints, so I’m going to choose that palette for my color match.

I couldn’t find anything in the Behr colors that even comes close to the navy blue I’m looking for, so I’m going to try different paint options.  Turns out that blue was really hard to match by RGB so I tried the # hex code, HTML -FFFFFF, and found a decentmatch in the Sherwin-Williams Honorable Blue. I would do this for each color in my color palette.

Note:  Paint stores can color-match your choice to the paints they carry.  So, I can take information for any paint color deck into any store and have it matched into a paint.  However, the paint color will vary from the original vendor’s color swatch since base color recipes vary from brand to brand.   You’ll still want to stick with brands you’re familiar with since the store may not have odd brands in their competitor deck.  

OK, armed with the color information for each color in my palette, head to the paint store and get the samplers.  Be sure and pick up a stir stick for each sampler — they’re free!  Paint a good layer of each color on each paint stick and let it dry.  If you’d like, you can cut the sticks down to the color swatch.  Drill a hole in each and hook them together with an office ring.

Now, you have your unique color palette.  Take it with you when choosing paints, bedding, throw pillows, rugs, accent pieces, flooring, and whatever else you might need color for.

Sherwin-Williams also has a ColorSnap app available for Apple and Android phones.  You can take a picture and use the app to find colors within it.  This is a great way to design around your favorite location or a physical inspiration piece.