Color tips for paint pros from Pantone Color Institute

by Brian Sodoma

Young designer working with color paletteThroughout the year, we hear experts tout the latest information on color trends. What’s hot now, next year, and in the foreseeable future can change very quickly. Laurie Pressman, VP of Pantone Color Institute, is one of those who has plenty of colorful opinions. But she also spends time researching the drive behind color popularity and how unique color combinations best suit certain environments. Here, she offers a few color selection insights for paint pros who may be pressed for their opinions.


In August, Sherwin Williams touted Poised Taupe is its 2017 Color of the Year. Even Pantone, earlier in the year, weighed in with nine unique interior palette suggestions for 2017. Pressman asserts that paint pros need to go beyond trend and delve into how the client wants to feel when he or she enters their home.

“Color is the single most important element in creating the ambiance so, first and foremost, it is critical to understand the relationship between color and mood,” she explained. “Remember the color you paint the interior of your home is something you are going to be living with every single day and it will be the first thing that greets you when you open the door.”

Understanding how a customer uses his or her home and interacts with it could be key to steering him or her to the best color.

“Many consider their home their sanctuary and the place they can most comfortably express their real selves, so the paint color needs to reflect that,” Pressman added.


Pressman also prefers an equal balance of warm and cool colors in interior environments. But pay attention to whether the customer enjoys a modern or more traditional style. If the space is modern, avoid earthy browns, she said. Factor in the outdoors, too.

“Sunny yellow shades convey a feeling of good cheer—especially great in climates where it rains a lot, as we react to that yellow shade the same way we react to the sun; with a smile! Greens physiologically slow our heart rates so it’s a great shade that not only brings nature indoors, but helps to calm us,” she said.

And watch out for white, she cautions. “White is NOT neutral—too much white can be sterile or cold—best to go with a warmer white shade as it is more comforting and soothing.”


While there may be a variety of experts weighing in on ‘hot’ interior colors each year, it’s important for paint pros to use the information as a tool and not get caught up in a need-to-have view on color selection.

Even Pressman emphasizes that a color or palette suggestion requires a lot of study for her team. Pantone’s color experts look outside of the U.S. for influence; they also study the entertainment industry, films, art collections, fashion, travel destinations, social media, new lifestyle trends, and even socio-economic conditions.

“The selection process is very thoughtful, and a lot of consideration is given to our color choices,” she adds.


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