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Color Advice

Why don’t my printer colors match my monitor? Why doesn’t my TV have a yellow adjustment? Welcome to the confusing world of what makes color what it is. I was taught that the primary colors were red, yellow and blue and that black is the absence of color and white is the presence of all colors, were you? When I became an adult and entered the enlightened age I found out it was all lies, well maybe not lies, but at least misconceptions.  As it turns out the red, yellow and blue thing was true for most of the applications that I use, such as paint, but in that theory, also known as subtractive color theory, white is the lack of color, not the presence of all color. Subtractive color is the theory that applies to paint, plastic and die and most opaque finishes.

Primary Colors Blog 4-11

Now light theory, the one used for TV, video, monitors has another set of primaries and it is called additive color theory because all color ads up to equal white. Ha! That is the one they tried to pass off as subtractive color theory in grade school. Light color theory primaries are red, green and blue, note that it does not include yellow that is why you can’t find a yellow adjustment on your TV.


Now I will throw in another confusing set of primaries, printing uses four primaries, CYMK or to the layman they are C for Cyan (a blue green), Y for Yellow and M is for Magenta (a blue cast red) and K is for Black. Notice I stuck that K in there to confuse you? In printing K indicated the key plate or the black plate as basic printing has a plate for each color. Printing primaries are also subtractive color theory but are complements of Additive color theory, Red, Green and Blue.


Armed with this knowledge you can see (maybe not so easily) why you can’t match a magazine photo to a paint color, a picture on your computer screen to your printer or any combination of theories you may encounter. The technology is getting better each day so there is hope, hopefully understanding the basics will help you show off the next time you visit a paint store and explain to the person standing next to you at the paint chip display what makes those beautiful colors.


~This post inspired/contributed by ColorGuild. ColorGuild, the global paint and color authority, is a member based organization serves as a definitive resource on color and coatings.  As a member of ColorGuild, we welcome their contributions and appreciate their opinions.






How important is it that Colors Flow from Room to Room?


I am often asked about the necessity of making colors flow from room to room in a home and if it is necessary. Sometimes the need to coordinate or blend with a neighboring room is an absolute, for example if the rooms do not have doors between them or no existing wall to separate them. If this is the case then the use of a color that makes it flow should be considered. But what is “flow”? A color that makes an easy transition would be one that is a hue in the same color family as the original room. For example, if a room has deep orange on its walls then the adjoining room could have a lighter orange or peach in it, or a muted version of the original orange would also work.


When adjoining rooms have a door to separate them the necessity of a color that flows is not necessary. Some people carry a theme throughout their homes and in this case perhaps all the rooms should flow, but most common today is a variety of themes, if any, and different styles in different rooms, therefore different colors.


With the popularity of great rooms in today’s homes the use of color flow is common. You will see kitchens and adjoining family rooms in colors that work together because essentially they are the same room. If there is a textile pattern in a room like this then they can use one color from the pattern in the kitchen and another color in the pattern for the family room, making this textile the accent and the “glue” that holds this color scheme together.

Here is an example of using a textile (the pillows) as the basis for the color in both rooms; they all have gray, yellow, black and white in the scheme. Note the yellow backsplash in the kitchen.

In this room red is the unifying color, it appears on the pillows and in the rug color in the living space and on the walls in the kitchen. Yellow is a second unifying color, it appears on the stools in the kitchen on the walls in the hallway to the right. A third color used is green, seen in the rug, on the kitchen stools and on the upper wall next to the refrigerator.



This post inspired/contributed by ColorGuild. ColorGuild, the global paint and color authority, is a member based organization serves as a definitive resource on color and coatings.  As a member of ColorGuild, we welcome their contributions and appreciate their opinions.






I was recently asked by a friend for assistance on his home.

During the winter a tree had fallen and done some damage

to the house.

After the damage was repaired, the house was ready for painting.

The house was a light yellow and had been painted several years ago.

(I do mean several.)

He did not know what the color of the original paint was, and did not know

What to do. He did not want to paint the whole house. He only wanted to paint the damaged part.

We took a color deck and tried to match the color that it was.

Being a yellow, the color had faded.

We had decided that it would be best to paint the whole front. Instead of touch up we went corner to corner.

We still had to decide what would be the best color chip to match. Under the eves the color had not faded as much.

The left side of the house was lighter than the right side. There would be areas no matter what we color we picked that would not be an exact match.


The best answer would be to paint the entire house. Next best thing was to paint an entire side.

When picking a color with an existing color a person needs to be aware that the color will be off on the sides.

When picking the color out you need to be aware of that and find a color that will work on both sides of the house.

If you match on side perfectly, the other side may be off more than you want.

This way you will have no surprises.


~Merle Rowland


While that color you picked out may look great in the store, it could look completely different once you apply it. The worst feeling in the world is picking a color, buying a gallon without testing it (or as we call it, “jumping in”), applying it, and coming back when it’s dry to find a completely different color than you were expecting. That can lead to more money spent to get the right looking color, and more time painting. This is why if you’re picking the color for the first time, we highly recommend testing before committing. It’s a good idea to put the sample up in your home where you can see it not only under good lighting from your house lights, but under different times of the day from the sunlight. An example would be to place the sample both near a window, and on the opposite wall.

Illuninant Metameric Failure

This same idea applies to matching a color sample, whether it is paint, another company’s color, or your favorite throw pillow. The term illuminant metameric failure is used to describe situations where two material samples match when viewed under one light source but not another. Basically what this means is: colors that match under one light source will often appear different under a different one.  Many times the completed match we give you looks great to us; but once you get it home it can look not so great to you. It’s a good idea when getting a match to take it home, test a small area, and let us know if there’s something that needs to be changed.

Our main goal is to make sure you get the color you’re looking for every time. We pride ourselves on our color skills, but ultimately, you’re the one who has to live with the color and we will do everything we can to help you be happy with your choice.

Because, because, because, because, because…

Because of the Wonderful things it does!

Color Wizard Computer System

The New Color Wizard Computer System

The Wizard has arrived! The eagerly anticipated Color Wizard computer system, where consumers can play with and pick their perfect color scheme, is now here @ Grand Avenue. Be creative and join the fun as you select your dream rooms and colors! The program is very intuitive and user friendly – even non-geeks are comfortable!

Need Color Advice?

Need Help With Color?…Ask a Designer

Many Miller Paint customers know they want to paint their house, but find that choosing their colors can be an intimidating decision. This is not a problem! Select Miller Paint locations host an interior designer during business hours on the first Saturday of every month. Consultations are free, however hours vary by location. Typically each location will have a design team on hand for three hours giving 20 minute introductory color consults. Sessions are generally on a first come first served basis, though calling ahead to set an appointment can ensure your questions are answered.

Whether you’re looking for that perfect shade of blue or want advice on making your colors work in your room these Northwest award winning design mavens can help. Check out event locations and times by going to, click on the “Homeowners” tab, and then click on the “Ask a Designer” link.

If you need color help immediately you need not wait till the next month’s first Saturday. Just stop into anyone of our Miller Paint locations and talk to one of our salespeople. While we aren’t design experts we are color experts. We’ve helped many a customer find the right color to bring out the “Wow!” in a room. Whether it’s matching a bedspread, finding the perfect accent color, or choosing a color that brings out the hues in your hardwoods we can help!

Visit Miller Paint For All Of Your Stain Matching Needs!

Oftentimes customers come to one of our many Miller Paint locations with a desire to match new wood to a wood color in their home. There are many types of wood and they all take a stain’s color differently. This means that if a customer wants a specific wood color for their home they MUST bring us both the color to be matched and a piece of the wood that is going to be stained. It doesn’t matter if the project is a deck, a door, or baseboards without these two items a good match is unlikely.

The next thing a customer needs is time. Oil base stains take 24 hours to dry. Therefore a store needs at least a day to make a great match.  Don’t wait till the last minute on a stain match!

There are other things to take into consideration when beginning a custom stain project. For example woods that have strong undertones, like cedar, or woods that don’t accept stain well, like pine, may require additional steps to achieve the look you’re searching for. Woods like pine that don’t accept stain well often have to be treated with wood conditioners like Old Masters Wood Conditioner or Benite to aid stain penetration or they may appear blotchy. Woods with strong undertones may require two separate color coats of stain to achieve the desired color otherwise those undertones can discolor the stain.

The final item to consider is whether or not the customer will clear coat the stain. Clear coats improve protection yet they slightly alter the stain color. Sharing whether you’re clear coating your stained wood with the Miller Paint employee doing your stain match helps ensure a great match for your home.

Josh, Tigard Location

Add Some Pop to Your Exterior By Painting Your Door

Change the feel of the approach to your home by adding a simple change of color to your front door. The trend of today is to do a deep red on your front door. In order to make YOUR house stand out among the rest, you can use a vibrant purple or a navy blue that will give your house the little something extra that makes it special. Of course you will want a color that goes with the rest of your house so that is where we come in. Bring in the colors to your nearest Miller Paint location, that are currently on your house and any one of our sales associates will gladly help you pick the perfect color to give your house that extra ‘pop’ it needs.

Of course you want to make sure that the colors you have selected are going to work, so remember to get a sample quart to make sure the ‘pop’ of color that you have picked out works with everything else around the door.  Or try making your house stand out by painting the trim around the door a bold color and leave the door a simple black.  This is very striking and noticeable.

For The Best Color Selection - Visit Your Local Miller Paint Location

As a paint salesman I see customers everyday looking to add color to their homes. Some of these customers have been using the powerful suite of online tools available in our digital age. While these tools are excellent at certain functions such as determining how much paint a given project requires they often fall short in helping people make the right color decision for their homes. The reason for this is that color as it appears on a PC screen is at the mercy of the screen’s resolution. What looks like a light gray green on a screen can be a bright pastel mint green in the store!

This is not to say that all Internet color tools are useless. They can be very helpful in defining a general color or color scheme for a customer’s home. Tools like the Miller Paint Virtual Painter can help customers visualize trim and wall colors in combination and help narrow their search. I advise all my in store customers to try out any number of color combinations online. Worry about the specifics after you know that you don’t like three blue walls with a red accent wall. When you find a great combination get some swatches at the store or a sample quart and double check that it’s perfect. After all monitors aren’t the only things that change color. The lighting in your house will change color too! When you’re happy with the color I’ll make the gallon(s) and get you on the road to your painting adventure.

Josh, Tigard Location

Still having trouble deciding on the perfect color combination that sings to you?

As always, please take advantage of the Ask a Designer program offered at many of our Portland and Seattle Metro store locations. We have local area designers in a select number of our stores to help you! Visit our website at under “Ask a Designer” and see the locations and times for this free service!