The Wolfram Alpha of Color

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May 20 2009 2:18 PM

The Wolfram Alpha of Color

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Ah, the blogosphere : hate the word, love the benefits. I was recently introduced to a fresh and charming blog, A Bloomsbury Life (author Lisa is sort of Vita Sackville-West meets Cameron Diaz), which led me to discover an insanely addictive website, www.colorhunter.com . Do we recall my favorite feature from the late, great Domino , "Can this Outfit Be Turned into a Room?" Similar concept: if you have a photo of said outfit, or of a favorite painting or magazine cover or room, then you're well on your way to that room with Color Hunter.

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All it takes is uploading your shot et voila, five of the most dominant (and usually pretty saturated) colors appear on the screen. Check out Lisa's results with a lovely Ruthie Sommers room from Domino at right. Such chicness! Totally reminds me of Lance and Harry's fabulous, tiny studio from Apartment Therapy. (Guilty admission: I tried three different images of my old apartment and all the schemes were HIDEOUS. Like, I was living inside a bottle of Chartreuse or something.)

Okay, I know not everyone will paint their hallway charcoal and add a melon-y shade (though I highly recommend it!), so let's analyze the Sommers-inspired palette and try to make a stylish living room with only these colors and by varying textures. I would paint the walls the buttery off-white (flat, maybe lightened a bit) with the lighter grey on trim (high gloss), or the reverse as in L&H's apartment. I actually like the unexpected contrast of the warm beige next to colder neutrals so I could see a sofa in this shade of cotton duck, piped in the dark charcoal or vermilion red. That's the safe route. Another option would be a bright red cotton sofa with a warmer wooden frame (a la L&H) and rich charcoal satin pillows for texture contrast, on a beige jute area rug sitting atop a wood floor painted deep grey or black. Either way a red lacquer coffee table would look terrific.

Whew, see how one could while away the hours? I'll get to my beef with Color Hunter: just what do those numbers refer to? First I thought Pantone , but no. It's maddening. In a perfect world the site would spit out Benjamin Moore (or, heck, Home Depot brand) colors with a link to purchase, available for pickup at a local store. Am I missing something? If not I fear the site's a bit like the much-hyped Wolfram Alpha search, completely remarkable but frustratingly limited.

Image is a screenshot courtesy of A Bloomsbury Life .

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