I recently received the following question on an Instagram post from several months ago:
“Hi! I know you posted this a long time ago, but I came across it as I am trying to choose a green for my front door. I ADORE your door, so I wanted to copy it, but I’m absolutely shocked at how dark the swatch for Colonial Verdigris is!!!! I’m terrified to go that dark! It’s hard to believe it’s even the same color! What are your thoughts? Does the color look different in reality? My door is under a deep 7′ balcony overhang, so it wouldn’t get much direct sun to lighten it. So I’m thinking I should go lighter than you did. What do you think?”
That’s my front door, which I painted Benjamin Moore Colonial Verdigris, as part of the One Room Challenge nearly two years ago. Before I did it, the door was actually green already, but it was so dark (and, much like the Instagram commenter’s door, under a deep north-facing portico with little to no direct light), I actually thought it was black for several months after we moved into the house!
I definitely see what she is talking about! Even on screen, the ‘blob’ looks quite a bit darker than the door. A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the reasons why one shouldn’t pick a paint color from pictures on websites and in magazines, and there are a few of those reasons that apply here.
1.) Lighting. This is a HUGE factor in this case. Even though my door is under an overhang and in shadow most of the day, it is still quite a bit brighter there than any other place in my house. Because there is general, indirect light coming from all directions during the daylight hours. Colors used on the exterior almost always look lighter and brighter than they would inside. They just behave differently, which is why I recommend to my exterior color consulting clients to test their colors before painting.
2.) Sheen. Again, this makes a big difference. I used a high-gloss paint to achieve a shiny finish. The glossy sheen reflects a lot more light, and has the effect of lightening the appearance of the color.
3.) Photo Editing. Now, I honestly do not know for sure whether my photographer intentionally lightened/brightened the color of my door in post production, but color correction is a normal part of the process of finalizing the images. It is possible that the color was adjusted slightly then. But not dramatically – I can confirm that the actual appearance of the color of my front door in ‘average’ conditions is very close to what you see in the pictures above (I wish I could say the same about my hair – lol!).
There’s one other factor that is likely at play here, which is that a color in a small area looks darker than that same color in a larger area. In other words, looking at a small paint chip (or worse, a fan deck), you will interpret the color as darker, whereas the painted door looks lighter. It is just a function of how our eyes see color.
All of that said, I cannot definitively answer the question, “Will it look the same?” But I can say that it might! The question and observations are consistent with the differences I would expect to see between a color seen on a paint chip indoors, vs. a color painted on an exterior door in high-gloss, and then professionally photographed. Buy a sample pot and see how it goes (bearing in mind that sample pots usually come in eggshell sheen only!). I hope that helps!
Do you have a burning decorating question? Ask me anything! Contact me through my website, or feel free to message me on Facebook or on Instagram. I can’t promise to reply to all of them, but I will be regularly selecting questions to answer here on the blog.
Photos: Eric Roth Photography