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The Importance of Undertones in Paint Color

The Importance of Undertones in Paint Color

You have finally decided to paint the living room. You’ve been waiting a year to do start this project and you know in your heart that beige is the way to go. You confidently march into the paint aisle at the hardware store and request a beige paint. Only to be led to a sea of paint swatches in beige paint choices. This is when you start to notice that there are pink-beiges, yellow-beiges, green-beiges and so on. Your eyes have been opened to the world of undertones.

When choosing a paint color, it is important to take into consideration the undertone of that color. Think of the color blue in your crayon box when you were a child. There were blues that leaned toward green, such as turquoise. There were blues that leaned toward purple, such as periwinkle. What you were noticing is the undertone of the color. Its mass color, the one that you notice right away, is blue. But the undertone is what makes it its own special color.

In creating a color scheme for your home, color undertones are very important. If they don’t harmonize and have different undertones, the colors will seem “off”. If you are going to use a painting technique that requires different shades of one main color, such as ragging or sponging, it is best to select the shades from the same paint swatch. This will ensure that they have the same undertone.

Although colorists and professional designers are trained to work with undertones, you might struggle with seeing them right away. One way to detect them, is to hold the color up against its true color on the color wheel. You might think that yellow is yellow, until you hold the paint swatch you have in your hand up against yellow on the color wheel. Magically, it appears greenish now.

Designers will use undertones to their advantage when they want to create a subtle feel to the room, but not necessarily use that color. For example, a white with a yellow undertone can be used to add a warm, buttery color to the walls without having to use a yellow. It creates brightness and warmth in a soft manner. Our paint staff here at Shell Lumber can help you find the perfect color for your project. If you have a fabric that you want your paint to match, bring that with you to our store and we’ll be able to provide a color match to that fabric. We’re here to help make your painting project a success! Call us at305.856.6401 or visit us at


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