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Choosing the right colour: It’s hard!

On the phone with my Mom last night she mentioned that she was painting my brothers old room. When we were in high school we painted our rooms whichever colour we wanted.  I chose a lovely sage green.  Very soothing.  My brother on the other hand… he chose what I am going to title “French’s Mustard Yellow” and he painted everything except the floor that colour.  Not precisely to my parents or I’s taste.

My Mom decided last week to paint the room a neutral brown. After painting the whole thing she decided it felt too much like she was in a cardboard box.  She re-painted the whole room a different colour and is much happier now; And now my Dad hates the colour she has chosen (he was on team “cardboard box”).

Colour is, without a doubt, one of the most contentious issues when it comes to painting that we encounter (especially when it comes to painting large strata complexes –like the kind I previously wrote about in Langley and Surrey – where everyone wants to have a say in the colour choice).

Colour is tricky for many reasons:

  • It is 100% subjective.  What looks good to one person, may look horrible to another.
  • Colour subjectivity gets multiplied a thousand fold with every new person you add into the mix.  My family couldn’t agree on the colour of one room in our house… Painting a large townhouse complex with hundreds of owners makes colour choice a serious headache.
  • There may be a cost difference between different colours.  Darker colours tend to cost more but lighter colours may require more coats of paint to cover the old colours. Cost may be a deciding factor for some people.
  • There may be specific rules and regulations your business or strata has to follow when it comes to colour.
  • There are just so many paint colours to choose from! Looking at a colour fan can quickly become overwhelming even when you are just trying to select one of thousands of different shades of off-white.

Here are a few quick tips I have picked up over my time watching stratas and business owners struggle with picking the colour for their building:

  • Limit the options! Get one person to get a few colour schemes together. Don’t even show the rest of the strata the colour fan.
  • Have a colour committee.  If assigning one person to get the colour schemes together sounds like too much responsibility, consider getting a colour committee together from volunteer strata members (the smaller the better).volunteer
  • Consider a colour match.  No current owner could have been offended by the current colour of the building enough to not buy their property.  Chances are the current colour is OK for everyone there.
  • Research the rules.  If you own a business in a block of businesses, what specific rules are there when it comes to painting the exterior of your building? Does your strata have any weird by-law no one has ever heard of prohibiting red doors?
  • If everything becomes overwhelming, consider working with a professional: A colour consultant.

At Wolfgang we usually opt for the last one. For us colour choice is most frustrating because it can delay the start of projects, sometimes for quite a while when it comes to large stratas.  One of our colour consultants Trish, from Moxi Design, that we use all the time, provides excellent advice to stratas and present them with a few different colour schemes for them to vote on. After that it comes down to majority rules (not a perfect solution but it gets the job done).

Unfortunately I don’t think “majority rules” will work when it comes to my brothers old room (my parents might have to work with “Mom-jority rules”), but it seems to work well for picking colours when large stratas are involved.


Erin Gray

About the Author: Erin Gray

Erin Gray is the Office & Marketing Manager/Finance Assistant for Wolfgang Commercial Painters, one of Vancouver's top commercial and strata painting companies. On a daily basis she could be responsible for doing back end maintenance on the website, organizing marketing campaigns, building videos for the website, paying suppliers and painters, collecting on outstanding invoices, ordering office supplies... just about anything that needs doing to keep the office running smoothly.

Wolfgang Commercial Painters

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