Mix Your Perfect Paint Color [tutorial]

Mix Your Perfect Paint Color [tutorial]

Sometime back, I went to a mixing color class with Cece Caldwell. It was so much fun to sit with my entrepreneur friends and learn from Cece herself!  I learned how to be brave with color, which sorta sounds silly, but it can be a little scary to break out of your favorite palette with color. I thought I'd start off the New Year by sharing some of my learning and some color mixing recipes too...  

Do you ever find yourself wanting to paint a piece of furniture, but can't quite find the right color to go with the couch or the throw pillows? I find that in my work with clients, people are very specific about colors. They're a little like Goldilocks: a little darker, little lighter —  just right.

If a color isn't already available in Cece Caldwell's Paints wide color palette, I go through a process to mix one that fits.  First I pick two colors I think will get me close to the color I want, starting with the color wheel as a guide.  

The Color Wheel. Do you remember in first grade learning about color? The primary combos: red and blue make purple, yellow and red make orange, etc.? It's the same idea with the paint.

Color Wheel for Paint Mixing

Color mixing is not only fun but super easy. I start with current CeCe Colors on either side of the color I'm shooting for. For this example, I wanted a muted, sort of earthy green that was somewhere between a yellow-green and a blue-green. I chose samplers of  Cinco Bayou Moss (my "yellow green") and Destin Gulf Green (my blue-green). 

My first mixing is a bit of "play," trying to see how much of each I need, and what affect each has on the resulting color. I like to do this by hand in tiny amounts on a  reusable mat I can scrape off when I'm through. I typically start with roughly 50/50 mix.   

Once I get a good sense of color direction, I'll mix a slightly larger batch in an empty sample jar, using a tablespoon of each color. I'm careful to measure and record the amounts of each color so if I really like it, I know I can reproduce it on a larger scale just by increasing the measurements. 

Watch Your Mixture. To keep your paint costs low in this experimentation phase, think of each color amount as a "part." In this case, one tablespoon is "one part." So my mixture is 1-to-1 (one part Cinco, and one part Destin). If you find you want a larger amount of one of the colors you're mixing, just record how much you're adding compared to the other color.

For example, if I wanted my final color to be a little more green, I'd use more Destin. If a tablespoon is my "part," then I might try two tablespoons of Destin to one tablespoon of Cinco, which would give me a 2-to-1 mix. As you look at increasing the size of your mix, you use the same formula. For example, if you were doing a small nightstand, each "part" might be a full sampler size, so you'd mix two samplers of Destin into one sampler of Cinco. 

Remember, anything can be a "part." Cups, quarts, etc. If I'm back to my 1-to-1 mix for my earthy green, and my project is a larger piece like a dresser I might mix two cups of each color for a total of four cups, which is a quart of paint mixed to the new color. This would be plenty for a medium dresser.

Results. Here's the 1-to-1 mix of Cinco Bayou Moss and Destin Gulf Green. I haven't named the result yet. What do you think? You know I'll come up with some sort of a California name for it. Maybe...

Monterey Cypress?

REMEMBER: When you're mixing colors, it's always better to have paint left over than to try to mix a second batch, because no matter how carefully you measure, there will always be slight color variances. 

Bucketing. When you have your color mix down, and you're ready to create enough for your project, you'll want to mix it in a larger container, using a process called "bucketing." Bucketing just means that instead of trying to mix the exact amount you need, you mix more so you have a larger amount, consistently mixed, so you won't run out of the final, mixed color mid-project and have to try to mix it again.  

This is especially important for big projects—like a bathroom vanity or kitchen cabinets—where you'll need several quarts of paint. Even though you're mixing full quarts, you will want to bucket the entire batch at once, rather than doing small batches. This ensures the natural, slight variations even between identical paint color batches, don't affect your project. Also, make sure you store any excess in an airtight container so you can use it throughout the project.

Color Pops. Color is really what adds spice to a room. I do love muted tones, and have tons of friends who have rooms that look fantastic in them. But even these "shades of white or gray" die-hards add color for accent. Mixing CeCe Caldwell Paints gives you more color choices for these accents.

I've added seven color recipes below that you can mix yourself. Which pops of color will you use tie your room together?

Happy painting!


The Central Coast Collection
Karen and Kim, two friends of mine, developed these recipes, and I've named each mix after a local, Central California attraction. Each includes a link to the original colors in the mix under the color name. Also, if you're curious why I picked a particular name, I've included an info link for that too. 

Irish Hills (info)
Source Colors: Blue Montana Sky and Spring Hill Green

Paso Robles Merlot (info)
Source Colors: Jersey Tomato and Santa Fe Turquoise

Bishop's Peak (info)
Source Colors: Santa Fe Turquoise and Grand Prairie Sage

Monarch Grove (info)
Source Colors: Carolina Sun Yellow and Pueblo Pepper

Santa Maria BBQ Pit (info)
Source Colors: Middleton Mustard and Beckley Coal

Avila Bay (info)
Source Colors: Johnston Daffodil and Thomasville Teal

Madonna Inn (info)
Source Colors: Johnston Daffodil and Jersey Tomato

These are the most affordable specials for trying several CeCe Colors:

The Try CeCe Free Brush Offer: Get any six samplers and get a free $19 brush

The CeCe Caldwell Color Explorer: Buy 4 Samplers Get One More Free