Color Your World with Tech!

by on May 7, 2012 · 22 comments

If you love redecorating, but choosing paint colors makes your head spin, let tech help!

Deciding on paint colors can be a dream or a nightmare. Imagining what an entire room will look like based on a paint chip can be daunting. Some people have the knack of envisioning a room festooned with the perfect color. They’re called “interior decorators.”

For the rest of us, selecting a color requires a leap of faith. We hold our breath until we actually see a room adorned with the color we chose. We live with it, see it in all kinds of different light, and then decide if we can continue to inhabit a room with that color on its walls.

Tech is making choosing paint colors a whole lot easier.

Paint companies want you to choose their colors so they’ve enlisted tech to help guide you. You can find plenty of free tech tools to help you choose a paint color using your computer, smartphone or iPad. These tools can suggest colors to match or coordinate with a specific color.

Do you have a rug, chair, or piece of art that you want to match with paint colors? With apps you can use your smartphone camera to take a picture of a color and the app will give you the matching paint color and suggest coordinating colors to use for trim or in adjoining rooms.

You can also choose colors from a palette on the app or from the color name or code from a paint chip. These apps make it easy for you to choose a color from their collection.

If you don’t have a smartphone, no worries. Check out a new website called Chip It! discussed below.

All of these tools include a store locator feature. After all, selling paint is why companies develop these tools.

Color varies tremendously based upon factors such as light, screen resolution and other issues. Don’t depend 100% on an app or website to choose a color for you. The actual paint color may be accurate or quite different. These apps are designed to give you ideas for colors but aren’t a guarantee of satisfaction.

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ColorSnap
ColorSnap lets you choose colors as well as organize them by room for a large project. This app from Sherwin Williams is what I used to choose colors for my US house when I was moving back from England. You can use the app to match a color from a palette in the Explore Color section or from a photo, either by using your camera or from a camera roll. The app lets you scale and crop an image so you can zero in on a color in the photo.

I tried using ColorSnap to match the lavender color in a picture from the Frommer’s France Guide. The guide suggested using Dewberry, SW 6552.

You can match another color from the same photo to compare the two choices side-by-side. For example, in the image above, I could try a different shade of lavender or a green color to compare with the Dewberry color.

If the suggested color isn’t to your liking, you can adjust it, based on lightness, saturation and/or hue. You can also Ask Sherwin, which gives you coordinating colors, and share your color choices with others using email and Facebook.

Once you have settled on a color, you can save your choice to an album (called a “Palette” in the app). You can create a different album for each room you want to paint, for example, Living Room, Nursery, etc.

Pros

  • Lots of color choices and ways to edit colors from within the app.
  • You can save colors in albums for multiple room projects.
  • Saved colors shows you the images and coordinating colors.

Cons

  • Can’t arrange colors within an album.
  • No separate iPad version.

ColorSnap is available free for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store and for Android devices at Google Play.

Color Capture
Benjamin Moore’s app, Color Capture, allows you to pick colors from an image, using your camera or from your photo library. You can also select Tools to choose colors from a color wheel or from color cards from one of their brochures.

When you tap on a color in an image, the app presents you with a color strip of different hues to choose from, similar to a strip of paint chips. You can also choose Harmony to have the app suggest coordinating colors for you.

To save a color, tap and hold it and the color will fill the screen with a hollow star in the bottom right corner. Tap the star and it will fill with white, indicating it’s saved.

Unlike ColorSnap, this app doesn’t allow you to save to albums within the app. If you’re trying to select colors for a lot of rooms at once, you could create different photo albums on your phone and save your favorite colors to those albums.

You can share your saved colors to a Photo Album on your phone or by using email, Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter.

Pros

  • You see a color strip when you’re choosing a color from an image.
  • You can use a color wheel and brochures to choose a color.

Cons

  • Can’t group saved colors into albums within the app.
  • No separate iPad version.

Color Capture is available for free for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store and for Android devices from Google Play.

ColorSmart
This app from Behr helps you choose a paint color using images from your photo roll or your camera. You can also choose color from a color palette or by color name or number.

To match a paint color to an image, press the Photo Match icon at the bottom of the screen. You can then pick an existing image from your photo roll or take a new picture with your camera. To choose a color in an image, press the color you want to match.

The app suggests two or three colors. You can save the one(s) you like as Favorites and then choose the one you want to work with. When you select a color, you are shown coordinating colors in different categories: Subtle Blends, Warm Tones, Cool Tones, and Complimentary.

The most useful feature of ColorSmart is the Preview Colors tool which lets you preview your saved colors in a sample room. Behr has added images of rooms to the app. You select the type of room, kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, etc. and the app will show you sample rooms in various styles such as traditional, contemporary, etc. You can try out the paint by putting the color on walls, trim, shutters (exterior) and linens (bedroom). This feature definitely is addictive.

You can share your color selections on Facebook and Twitter, though not via email from within the app.

Pros

  • Adding the colors to a sample room is not only useful but fun.
  • Separate version of the app designed for iPad.
  • This app has the most coordinating colors and makes it easy to choose them.

Cons

  • No sharing colors using email from within the app.

ColorSmart is available free for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch from the iTunes App Store and for Android devices from Google Play.

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Chip It! 
Don’t have a smartphone? No problem! Check out how you can match colors using Sherwin Williams’ new website called Chip It! which lets you to match colors from websites to paint colors.

This website brings the fun of Pinterest to choosing a paint color.

To use this website, drag a Chip It! bookmark from the home page of the site to your toolbar. When you visit a website that has an image with colors you want to match, click the Chip It! book mark and a Chip It! button tab will appear on the left side of your screen.

Move your cursor to the image you want to match and preview colors will appear above the image. Click on the image and you will be shown Sherwin Williams colors to match.

Interestingly, Chip It! matched different Sherwin Williams paint colors from this image than the Sherwin Williams ColorSnap app did.

You can save Chip Cards to your Chip It! profile page and share them on Facebook. Here’s a video showing how Chip It! works:

Pros

  • You don’t need a smartphone to use this tool.

Cons

  • Can’t choose colors from a palette.
  • Must use images from a website.

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Bottom Line

If you need to choose paint colors, don’t fret, let tech be your guide! These free tech tools can make picking paint colors fun and easy.

Do you get frustrated trying to select paint colors? Have you ever used tech to help? Let us know in the Comments section below!

 

*Color Spin image by alexmcc.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Hajra
Twitter:
May 7, 2012 at 8:18 am

Hey Carolyn,

One of your longer posts? :) But my brother was looking for something similar for his project and I am glad I am came across this! It does become difficult to capture the right colors at times….

Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 7, 2012 at 9:23 am

Hi Hajra, Yes, this is one of my longer posts. I wanted to give readers a choice of apps and tools. Sometimes a painter wants to use a certain brand of paints or perhaps a brand isn’t available locally for a reader. I didn’t want to cover just one app when there are so many great tools for readers to use!

I hope your brother finds this post useful. I relied on ColorSnap when I was moving back to the US from England and wanted to decide on paint colors from afar!

Glad you’re back in the blogosphere, Hajra! I hadn’t seen you around lately and was about to check on you. :-)
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Hajra
Twitter:
May 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

Was away! My best friend got married and I had a good three week break with her! I am glad people actually remember me after three weeks of disconnect! ;)

Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm

So glad you’re back, Hajra! I’m so happy you were away for a fun reason. :-)

Adrienne
Twitter:
May 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Wow, now that could come in handy Carolyn.

In my home, I’m all about white mostly because my home is so small. But, my kitchen is dark blue, oh shock… I do hate going to the paint store though because I can never match colors so this is a really cool thing to have the next time I get ready to paint. Which I really need to do soon. Oh how I do hate to paint.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Hi Adrienne, I responded to you earlier but my comment and some others got lost in the transfer of my blog to my new hosting account. I agree with you, picking paint colors can be overwhelming but with these tools the job is much easier!
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Paula May 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Really interesting post! Where did you get this info? You did me a big favor. I really wanted to redecorate my room but it was hard for me to decide which color I should use. Now it’s easier for me to do so! Thanks a lot!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Hi Paula, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m so glad you enjoyed this information. I was in a bind when I was moving back from England to the US. I had to pick out paint colors from another country and turned to tech for help. I used ColorSnap! as my tool and was happy that it suggested some great colors for my house.

Good luck decorating your room!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Note to Readers: My blog moved today and some valuable comments from readers were lost. Here is one from Mike Maynard that shouldn’t be missed.

Hi Carolyn,

When you are looking at colours on a computer screen look right at it, rather than at an angle. This applies to using apps like this one and to editing photos. I have a few interesting pictures I edited on today’s and yesterday’s blogs. The one on a zillion ideas is about writing and I used a photo I took yesterday of a Victorian building, I touched it up to get rid of cars, a sign and a lamp post and used the ‘vintage’ option in Fotosketcher to age it. It looks really Dickensian now. :)

I need decorating done… :(”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Here is another comment that was lost from Bell:

“Great tools, Carolyn – I didn’t even know these existed.

I have a few others to point out, which will appeal to the more abstract thinkers among us, or the more webdesign-oriented -
(no smart phone required for any of these)

1. Eric Meyer’s color blender
http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/color-blend/

You put in color #1, color #2, and let color-blend calculate as many midpoints as you specify. Great for people who want to use precise gradients in their palettes.

2. Color Blendy for Chrome
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mngmafdcpeeloikhhabijcnddgildokk

A nifty color tool if there ever was one. You no longer need to fire up your Photoshop just to multiply a pair of colors.

3. Color Scheme Designer
http://colorschemedesigner.com/

Finally, there’s Color Scheme Designer, which will… which will blow your mind. There’s nothing I could say to prepare you for this bit of javascript awesomeness.

Aloha.
- J”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Here is one from Barry Wells:

“Hi Carolyn,

I’ve always left colour schemes to my wife as I’m colour blind and we’d end up with a complete mess that I’d have to paint over.

I once drove 40 miles into London to buy a mountain bike. Got there, checked it out, bought it and went home. I got it out of the van and my wife asked why I had bought a Pink mountain bike. I had thought it was Grey :(

For anything i do on the PC I have colour detector which is much like the apps you mention here, only it works on the PC and gives me the colour code to paste in where needed.

It’s really good that people create these apps and programs as without them many of us would be lost.

Thanks Carolyn,

Barry”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

From Bill Dorman:

“Oh great; now I have to do multiplication, is this going to get progressively harder every time I respond?

Well, this app sure is cool; I’m guessing there will be nothing else to write about now but surely they can’t come out with anything better than this, huh?

When did you move back BTW; and you already had an app like this to use?”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm

From Jane:

“This is a great listing. You’ve provided us some great yet free apps. Colorsmart is my favorite app. Although I can’t share my selection via email with other, this app is easy to use.”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm

From Cathy Taughinbach | Treatment Talk:
“Hi Carolyn,

Great ideas on the apps. I have used Color Capture, the Benjamin Moore app when I was painting my house. I did have to do some adjusting to get it exactly right, but I do like the concept. I’ll check out your other options for next time.”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

From Pubudu:

“This is a great app .Now we’ll be able to get find out any color code we want.I was wondering whether there is a similar app for the blackberry phones ?”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

From Praveen:

“This is an extensive post Carolyn and you have done a wonderful job of listing out the pros and cons of each app which leaves me no choice but to check out all of them now :-)

Nice topic you choose, wonder how u come up with these…”
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm

From Jens:

“Hi Carolyn,

I’m really terrible when it comes to colors. To me, white is white. But my wife knows 20 different variations of white. She’s always the deciding the colors in our house :)

I’ll let her know about your post. I’m sure she’ll love it :)”
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Brian England May 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm

This is a great post. Had fun reading everything. I used to be like the rest of the world who would paint and repaint, and repaint again until I get the right color for the wall or anything that I am trying to turn “nicer.” Now I know what to do. Thanks a lot and thanks to tech. :)

Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 17, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi Brian, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Yes, these tools can not only help you to get the color right the first time, they can also help you discover colors you might not otherwise have chosen.

Happy painting!
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Carol Lynn
Twitter:
May 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Wow, this looks like it took a whole lot of time to research! You could have separated it into one post for each tool and had a whole series! Really great info and advice and boy do I wish I had one of these tools last time I was repainting my house. You have no idea (or manbe you do!) how aggravating it is to stare at those tiny paint swatches and hold them up against the curtains and the couch and the rugs….

I once tried some online tool that one of the paint companies put out, I t hink but it was a huge pain. This is in pre-app days so I’m sure it was experimental and probably the best anyone could do at the time.

Although screen colors don’t show as true colors, it’s close enough to get an idea of whether something will work or not. Especially if you’re working with a palette from one manufacturer, they can show you representations of their own colors which is nice.

And although I know there are mobile apps for these, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you want the best color representation, use a good monitor. I do a lot of work on my laptop and I’m always slightly shocked at the huge color differences once I switch to my “real” monitor. I recently built a whole website thinking it was dark blue until my client told me it was aqua :)

Thanks for the thorough reviews and although I don’t have the energy to repaint anything any time soon, this is a great resource and I will pass it along to anyone who does!
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Sylviane Nuccio
Twitter:
May 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Hi Carolyn,

Wow, I’m glad I finally made it here. This looks very interesting and how ingenious as well! I don’t have anything to paint at this time, but I will sure keep this in mind for when I do.

Thanks for this superb expose :)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr May 16, 2012 at 8:58 am

Hi Sylviane, Yes, tech can make the entire process of choosing a paint color painless and fun! The colors on your screen may not be exact matches but can give you a good idea of what paint colors would look good on your walls.

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