Monday, January 5, 2004

ColorSmart Works. Sometimes.

Unless your a beige-aholic – forgive us, mothers of America – you know what it's like trying to find the perfect color or paint scheme to match a room in, or the exterior of, your home.

While recently remodeling an upstairs bedroom into a library, we struggled through books and brochures and handfuls of printed paint chips, each devoting almost as much space to an off-color logo – be it Behr or Ralph Lauren, Glidden or Disney – as the tiny paint sample. And while we at Cloudjammer pride ourselves on a solid grasp of color – at least Pantone color – the prospect of translating disperate color chips into a real painted scheme stretched the imagination and challenged our confidence.

We were delighted to find ColorSmart™.

ColorSmart is BEHR's unique interactive color selection program. Online and in-store, Color Smart provides great color matching suggestions, helps you build palettes based on recommended color compliments and can even match a color sample scanned against the in store installation's electronic eye.

The interface is smooth and clean – a nice change of pace for consumer oriented online applications (Verisign, we're looking in your direction). With subtle and classic animation transitions, ColorSmart walks you through the steps of creating a color scheme. Starting with one color – either scanned, chosen from Behr's vast catalogue, or manually mixed – the system recommends multiple complimentary palettes with individual colors given different accent weight depending on their relevance to the overall room design. Base, accent, wall, and trim colors can then be painted onto a sample room or home exterior so you can get a feel for how your painting project will turn out (even if the colors do appear a little dull in this demo).

You can experience many features of ColorSmart online, including Behr's collection of inspirational palettes and ideal rooms. By visiting the paint department of your local Home Depot, you can quickly scan the actual colors of an inspiration sample, such as upholstery or a photograph. Anything can be color matched so long as it’s not too big or bulky, and not so tiny it can’t be accurately read. (As a rule of thumb, the sample should at least be the size of a quarter and have a flat edge.)

Print out your new palette, and use it as a valuable tool for selecting and accurately matching other colors, fabrics, and accessories.
ColorSmart also offers you practical tips for painting projects and will even provide you with a paint calculator and supplies list so you can estimate how much you might spend.

ColorSmart worked great – and we highly recommend it – online. We never did find an in-store installation that worked for more than a few screens. But we had fun pushing uselessly on touch screen interface, bemoaning our ill fortune. Nor were we ever able to make the scanning eye work. But fear not, Home Depot has another one behind the paint counter, presumably where we won't break it.

And the real test of ColorSmart? We followed its suggestions. Sage green, bright white, ceiling white, and cherry. Hmmmm... looks good. fb

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