It is common for people to ask their painter about color selection. Many painters dodge the question because it can be a morass of lost time and money. Their attitude is, “look, you tell me what color to paint and I will paint it.” When I was new to the trade, a customer left color selection up to me; I was painting the entry to an old high-rise apartment building that had a lot of relief work in the plaster – acanthus leaf etc. I decided to use two shades of blue and gold because I thought those colors looked great together. The detail was elaborate and it took two days for three of us to finish the job. As we were removing our drop clothes on the last day, an elderly woman stepped out of the elevator and looked at our job. “Bilious,” she exclaimed. I didn’t know what bilious meant so I looked it up. It means “of or pertaining to bile.”
Sometimes, a customer depends on you to tell them what they like; you become the interior decorator (wizard) that can come up with just the right color for them. When this happens, I glance around the room; the colors this person likes are usually there already, even though the room is stark white: in a sofa, a picture, a nick-knack, a figurine. When decorative punch is requested, examine the room for these clues and suggest colors based on what you see. Another trick for refining colors is to retreat to the wallpaper department of your local paint store. Expert colorists have adjusted the combinations of colors and shades in books of wallpaper. Based on the pallet your customer has selected, have the paint store match the colors in the papers that have those colors. When in doubt, go conservative. Use a creamy off-white or soft beige on the walls and a fresh white on the trim and doors. A pale gray or taupe also work with fresh white.