Sherwin-Williams Q&A with Jackie Jordan

Sherwin-Williams Q&A with Jackie Jordan

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Jun 15, 2009
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We had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie Jordan, Director of Color Marketing for Sherwin-Williams to get her thoughts and tips on color!

Here at Apartment Therapy, we get a lot of questions about how paint works in smaller spaces. There's an old story about darker colors making small rooms feel even smaller. What's your take on that?
That is a great question and the answer is all in your perception. While some people feel it makes a room feel smaller, I would say the word is intimate and cozy, and if that is the mood you want to create then I say go for it! Also, dark colors can actually create a void, almost like looking into a cave or a night sky where you see no visible end. Dark ceilings are a great example of this effect.

Jump below to read the whole interview...

How do you suggest people get started choosing paint colors for their room?
One of the easiest ways is to start looking through magazines to get an idea for what appeals to you and of course look at existing finishes you have such as fabrics and even art. Speaking of art, this is one of the best places to help you with color. Just take a look at what is hanging on your walls for inspiration. Another perfect place to begin your color journey is right in your closet. If you have a preference to certain colors in clothing you may find that is exactly what you would like in your home. There are also great tools like the Sherwin-Williams® Color Visualizer that lets you change room colors just to get an idea of what direction you may want to go when you finally get to the paint store.

What are the "dos" and "don'ts" of interior color? Are there any no-fail tricks?
If you are not an expert I guide people to stay within the same value — that is, lightness or darkness of a color and saturation level, which is the brightness or dullness of a color, when choosing multiple colors for connecting rooms. This helps with flow and continuity. Another thing to be conscious of is viewing color as it will change based on the lighting in the room. Live with your color sample for a couple days, preferably a swatch painted on a wall or a poster board hung on the wall, to see the color in different lighting conditions and against your furniture and draperies.

We see a lot of pictures of peoples' homes and quite a number of them are still white and beige. Do you have a sense of what percentage of people stick to whites and beiges vs. the percentage of people who use color?
Based on our annual paint sales, we sell more gallons in off-white colors than anything that even runs a close second. However, I will say that some of these off-whites and neutrals have darkened a bit over the past few years, so there are at least some darker values having a presence. As far as percentages, that is hard to say with complete accuracy.

Maybe you can help us sort out the drama around accent walls. Are they hot or not? We know some people like them and others who don't. What do you think?
Accent walls are very popular for the rental apartment set with some properties offering this as an upgrade. Some landlords will actually let you paint an accent wall (of course you have to agree to paint it back), but this gives renters an opportunity to add a nice pop of color to what is usually a pretty boring interior. As for permanent homes, this trend is less popular because people are not as afraid of color as they once were and will take the chance of making a dramatic change painting an entire room.

We're loving colorful front doors lately. We've seen red, blue, black and yellow ones. So we just have to ask: what color is your front door?
Unfortunately my front door is a stained wood and my HOA prevents me from painting it. But if I could make it a color it would be SW 6181 Secret Garden, a beautiful deep olive green that goes great with almost any brick or stone color.

We have readers from Los Angeles to Boston, New York to Austin, plus many international readers in places like Paris and Bombay. Do you think Americans use paint differently depending on where they are from?
Absolutely. There are certainly regional trends and international trends. Europeans tend to be more expressive with their colors, not to say we don't have the vibe at all, but it is less the norm here. Of course there are always exceptions, no matter where you are. I would have to say we have moved a little more in the direction of using colors we have an emotional connection to, as opposed to what we think we should use based on climate and region. More contemporary design and the huge insurgence of city and loft development has played heavily into that trend.

To follow up on that, do you see a difference in prevalence of certain paint colors between America and other parts of the world?
When you examine different paint palettes from manufacturers in different countries you can see similarities as well as differences. I was actually surprised to see a color card from Ireland that was very lackluster and quite depressing; all the colors were very gray.

When picking paint colors, is it better to go light and cool, or warm and intimate?
That is all a matter of personal preference, and the mood you want to create. I never say never when it comes to color and how and where we use it. Some would never use gray in a kitchen but if done right it makes an awesome statement.

I see part of your job description is to identify "emerging trends." Where do you hunt for these trends?
Everywhere. Fashion, consumer electronics, travel, trade shows, magazines, public spaces, Internet. You name it, I look at.

What are the hot colors of 2009, and how can people bring them into their home?
What's hot for one person may not be hot for another, but a couple 2009 colors that have more popularity than others are yellow, such as Daffodil (SW 6901) and gray such as Zircon (SW 7667) and Gauntlet Gray (SW 7019). Both can be used successfully combined together, so if you already have gray in your palette, (say, stainless steel appliances), add some yellow accents in your kitchen for a splash of sunny color. Gray's are also great for bedrooms paired with black and white, which remains a popular color combination this year.

Apartment Therapy loves color. (We celebrate it in our annual Colors Contest every October.) What advice would you give to those readers who are a bit more cautious about color?
Try it out in a small powder room. Bold color in a small space like this has such an awesome impact. This will give you a good barometer of whether you can live with more color in spaces you spend more time in. And make sure you paint the ceiling too.

Colors can change so much depending on the light in the room. What are your tips for avoiding a disastrous color selection?
The best way is to paint a swatch of color on your wall, because texture will also affect the color, and live with it for a couple days, viewing it in different lighting conditions. Sherwin-Williams offers Color To Go® paint samples for under five dollars to help with this. Keep in mind the exposure of the room as well. Northern exposure provides a cooler light so cool colors will look great where warmer colors may need to be kicked up a notch so the cool light doesn't gray them out.

Do you like to use one color scheme throughout the home, or do you vary it from room to room?
Using the same color scheme throughout the home will give it continuity and balance. That's why model homes and apartments always look so nice and when you move your things in it's just not the same. You want to make sure when you do this that you vary how much of each color you use in a room. If you use the same amount of each color it will be very boring. For instance if you paint your kitchen orange, then only use that as an accent on accessories in the family room.

Do you think there's such a thing as "too much color?" If so, how can one avoid making that mistake?
Again, that is a personal choice. I have seen homes that would make me crazy with every room painted a different bright bold color but for some that energy is what they crave. I think a good balance of both light, dark and midtone values in whatever color scheme you choose is the way to go for most people.

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