The great paint name game

July 31, 2009

I’m a huge fan of the lovely new Living Etc paint collection, launched this summer. It’s a beautiful, contemporary palette, with some fantastic colours. And check out their fabulous names!

Picture 6Pavement, Spire, St Paul’s, Rush Hour, Statue, Siren, Wharf – these words instantly conjure up a fast-paced, urban, London mood – it’s basically a list of everything I see or hear on my daily commute to the IPC Media offices! There are also a few telling lifestyle references which are oh-so-London… note: Chai (not Builder’s or PG), Plimsoll (presumably the white retro Converse variety favoured by graphic designers and creative city types, rather than the manky black Woolworths pumps you wore for PE) and Paperback (no doubt a stylist’s vintage Penguin Classic, not a dog-eared Danielle Steel).

I’ve always been fascinated by paint colour names. Who makes them up? How do they choose them? And, more importantly, please can I have a go?! According to the press office, Dulux has a panel of experts who meet regularly to decide what new colours should be called, brain-storming to come up with names such as Wellbeing and Babe, while Crown thought up Prom Night, Cheeky Wink, Lunch Date and – my personal favourite – Celebrity, a deep, fake-tan orange.

paints

Our friends at Farrow & Ball have got the right idea with names such as Dead Salmon, Pigeon, Arsenic, Cat’s Paw, and Mouse’s Back. They’re quirky, but at least they all convey the colours exactly (let’s ignore the fact that Elephant’s Breath doesn’t strictly speaking HAVE a colour because I love F&B and will forgive them on principle). Much better than The Little Greene Paint Company‘s random collection: Boo, Button, Peep, Jack-in-a-Box, Mischief, Julie’s Dream, Attic II, Clockface (not to be confused with another shade, Clockwise) and, perhaps the most mysteriously-named paint of all time, Three Legs. It’s impossible to work out what kind of colours these are from the names alone, which all seems rather silly. But, I suppose there are only so many names one can reasonably think of for ‘dark green’ and repetition is a definite no no. Click here to play an online game to see if you CAN work out what colour a paint is, just from it’s name. I scored 5/10, so it shouldn’t be too hard to beat me!

farrow

Lots of paint is named after food. While I find colours such as Crown‘s Choc Chip, Frothy Coffee, Tiramisu, Rum and Raisin, and Cocoa easy to stomach, I’m fairly certain I’d have some sort of allergic reaction in a room painted in Behr‘s Parmesan paint or, even worse, Benjamin Moore‘s Nacho Cheese. I’m not winding you up – this is a real paint name! Although, in their defence, this nauseating shade is such a hideous orangey-yellow that there really is no better way to describe it.

nacho cheese paint copy

I’ve just painted my kitchen in a soft grey-green Crown colour called Crochet, which is definitely a paint name that bears no relevance to the actual colour it’s supposed to convey – but it’s so GORGEOUS, changing in different lights and providing a restful, calm atmosphere, that it could be called Celery, Janet, Bob Sleigh or Manicure and I really wouldn’t give a damn. ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…’ – Ellie

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2 Responses to “The great paint name game”


  1. The Living Etc colours are lovely. I’m moving to my new house on Friday and can’t wait to start choosing paint colours! there are so many gorgeous ones out there to choose from though, how do you pick?!? 🙂

  2. Paint Bull Says:

    Great post. Bookmarked!


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