The biggest mistake clients make – part 1.

I’m starting a new mini series which hopefully will help you to avoid some of the mistakes I’ve seen my clients make. It’s not really in any particular order so it doesn’t matter whether you’re following the series or not. This is purely from my observations and my experiences with my clients. Today  I’m talking about the paint selection process and what I call the self-inflicted colour confusion.

Obviously colour scheme is one of the first steps in building a design pretty much straight after the concept process. Now, the problem I see time and time again is having too much options on the table. So, for example, you know you want soft rosey-peachy colour on walls in your bedroom. You’re looking for something very pale, neutral, you can see the colour in your head. Maybe you have a piece of fabric or you’re picked up the hue from wallpaper. You head to your local paint shop and the self-inflicted confusion starts. You get every possible shade and tone from all over the place, different brands, different intensity, just in case you don’t miss “the one” – the perfect colour. But what you basically end up with is like 30 options. They all look very similar, yet each of them is slightly different.

Now, the way to get through this is through very brutal elimination. You have to get down to 3 options. Not 8 or 5. 3 only. Be ruthless. Otherwise you will not move forward. Or you will but you’ll waste your time in the process, which you could have used for doing some other things. It is statistically proven that when making decisions, our brain gets tired. The more intense and the more energy you’re channeling into a decision making process, the less productive and focused you’d become. Simplifying the choices will not only help you in keeping your brain active but also you’ll save time.

I understand. It’s so easy to get sucked into it. I remember when I was on my job experience in London, one day a new client came in. She knew what she wanted. A white bathroom which would be elegant, timeless and luxurious. “Let’s throw some serious money on it,” she said. My boss at that time handled it really badly, I thought. She started bringing every white sample she could find. White tiles, paint, mosaic, sanitaryware, marbles. They discussed taps, lighting, basically the whole design. Three hours later and the floor literally covered with samples, they were still going nowhere. They both got really confused. The client’s brain couldn’t take it. She couldn’t see whether the sample was pure white or milk white. “Is it matt or semi-gloss? Honed or polished?” Everything to her was white. One big blur. Anyway, she went home with 8 samples and few days later she made up her mind. Material was ordered. Bathroom was installed few weeks later. And she hated it.
Too much choice = making bad decisions.

I learned from this big time. So the conclusion is you have to get it down to 3 straightaway. The more you stare at all the options, the worse the process becomes. You’ve got to be ruthless.

Here are few tips which I use:

1. Decide whether lighter or darker is better. Eliminate the opposite.

2. From there decide on the tone – more pink or more peach? Eliminate the rest.

3. Look at the grey undertone  – do you want warmer or cooler tone? Eliminate the rest.

4. Look at the intensity and tint – do you want very pale or some more pigment? Eliminate the rest.

5. And finally, don’t worry if it doesn’t match exactly your sample (fabric or wallpaper or stone etc) because whatever you decide on it’s going to work.

Now you got the options down to 3,  the only thing you need to do is to sample paint the walls (all four – don’t forget the ceiling if it applies) to see how the paint colour will exactly look in the room. Some people paint a paper or plasterboard, I go full steam ahead (why waste even more time) and paint straight on the wall. I normally walk around it for around 3 days and observe it during the day and evening with different light – natural and artificial. From my 3 options I pick one. Easy. No biggie. No confusion. Voila.