Is Changing The Paint Formula a Good Thing To Do?

Changing the formulation of anything is a little risky if you ask me. Let’s say you like Sherwin Williams Chrysanthemum 6347 but find it a little too dark. You ask to have it lightened up 50%. Guess what? You now have peach. Do this with Sherwin Williams Resolute Blue 6507 and you may get baby blue. I find it really hard to believe that with ALL the paint fan decks and thousands of colors available, you can’t find “the one” without messing with the formula.

“I like the color of this lettuce but can you

make it 50% lighter?”


I received this email from someone who was looking for some color advice.

We just painted the interior of our home with Benjamin Moore Baja Dunes @ 50% strength. I want to know what other paints match it besides what I find online about it. For instance what blues would look good…

Are you available to do this kind of work online? I am in CA.


Besides the ones you find online? What? What “other” colors is she referring to?

I wouldn’t touch this color with a 10′ pole for two reasons. First, this would be a virtual consultation so I would need to see and know the EXACT color which would be found in a paint fan deck or one that I’d already know.

Secondly, this pinky-beige – and you all know how much we love pinky-begie – has now been adjusted to 50% less of what it was. There’s no telling what this looks like on the wall nor would I even try to guess.

I can bet any amount and I mean ANY amount that this color is now a pukey light gray  pink in her house. This color mistake was under the gudience of another “Designer”. Hmmm, if she was using a Designer in the first place why would she ask for my advice?

Here was my answer to her email:

Your color has been compromised since you changed it by 50%. It’s now a custom color and will be nearly impossible to match up to without someone being there to look at it or to recreate it if you should ever want to use it again. I never recommend changing the formula of a color or custom color matching for that reason. I would need to see a true hue such as Beige 1234 for example in order to suggest any other coordinating colors for you.

She returned my email saying I was negative. Well I’m sorry but I’m not going to candy coat the fact that you made a huge and I’m sure an expensive mistake in your home. I bet this pinky beige looks a little rough with your yellow beige tile and carpeting in your home. I know, I just fixed a pinky beige foyer in a clients home last week that had a similar hue. The only difference is she did not change the formula of the color.

My reply:

No it’s not negative ***** it’s just the honest truth about what you need to do with your color choices. Would you rather me lie to you and charge you a fee and you not get the best results possible? I’m sorry you saw it that way it was certainly not my intention to be negative, just honest. I just get annoyed with clients who change the formula of paint because it’s not designed to work that way. I hope you get the results you’re looking for and again, sorry I couldn’t help.

Was I harsh? I could have put a slight buffer on my words but I’ve been doing this way too long to recognize a red flag client and I will not comprise my reputation as a Color Expert and try to fix every color scenario.  I also don’t work with clients who are seeking the advice of another Designer because if you have two Designers you will more than likely have two variations on answers. It’s up to you to decide which choice you are comfortable with.

When we blog it’s nice to have a balance of happy happy posts and some posts that are, let’s say, not the most colorful. But I feel it’s my job as a Color Expert to make you aware of the obstacles that arise when dealing with paint and color. This is my job. This is one of the reasons I have this blog. It’s to read, to learn, to laugh and to also be aware of the circumstances that will potentially may arise when mistakes are made. We all make mistakes but it’s nice that we all can learn by other peoples mistakes.

What do you think about custom mixing and altering paint colors?


About Donna Frasca

I am an energy that has found a new vibration and frequency. Through many years of writing, learning, and experiencing, I've found comfort in trusting in myself and in Spirit.
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7 Responses to Is Changing The Paint Formula a Good Thing To Do?

  1. I have never changed the ‘percentage of lighter or darker’ for any color. I just assumed I was too inexperienced and naive about paint and color to fiddle around with that notion. And, like you said, there are so many other colors out there.

    As for your e-mail, it was stern, but sometimes there are certain personalities that need a straight and honest answer delivered with a firm voice. I think you were right to sense the personality of the potential client and respond accordingly. And even though she/he may not be happy with your response, it was honest and you kept your integrity as a Color Specialist in tact. I completely agree with the way in which you handled yourself and your business. Kudos to you!

    Lastly, thanks for addressing the situation of reducing paint. Sometimes I hear people say that and I think that it is something that a ‘want to be’ designer/decorator would do. Now, I could see doing it if you have the full strength color in its original formulation and wanted a lighter or darker color to use with an extra can of paint (from a frugal perspective). Otherwise, I think just picking THE color is the way to go.

  2. I agree! Never add white or cut a color in half. Very unlikely you will like what you get. Just pick another color – there are about 17 bazillion to choose from, right?

  3. Julie Ruble says:

    I’m sure glad I read this because I have professional painters coming in 2 days, and was thinking about lightening Collonade gray by 25%! It was only because I’ve seen another online color consultant recommend lightening various colors anywhere from 25-50% to various people. I’m definitely thinking you are right about this. Thanks for preventing me from making a costly mistake!

  4. Pingback: 5 Signs That You Chose The Wrong Paint Color In Your Home | Decorating by Donna • Color Expert

  5. Danielle Hill says:

    Thank you for this post! I used Wordly Gray in my upstairs bedroom and wanted a lighter version of that for my master. It was suggested to use a lightened version and it turned out a totally different color! I had this happen with a second color before I started googling and reading articles like this that explain what you’re really doing when you “lighten” colors.

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