How many times has this happened to you? After spending hours agonizing over the perfect shade of paint, you gleefully coat every wall in your home in that shade. Then, years later, when there’s a swath in your bedroom that needs retouching, you can’t remember if the color was Phantom Mist or Dinner Mint. Panic sets in!
What’s a forgetful homeowner—who can’t exactly carry a wall to the hardware store—to do? Not to worry, we tell you everything about how to match paint color without a sample.
Grab a spool of thread
A digital snapshot from your cellphone can never quite capture the exact shade (and you don’t want to end up with an ugly color). But an ingenious way to find the true depth of a tone is to match it to a spool of thread.
“Maybe you have the various spools in your house,” says Sandy Levin, home staging expert and owner of Beautiful Interiors Design Group in Freehold, NJ.
If you don’t routinely sew, buy several different shades that seem close at your neighborhood crafts store. Once you have a range of spools, place them against your paint color and see which is the best match. Bring that spool to the paint store, and ask staff to match the color.
Or a swatch of fabric
Another way to match color without a paint chip is to find the shade you need on a piece of fabric in your house.
“Maybe the color is one of several in a print pillow, or maybe the color matches a piece of clothing in your closet,” says Levin. Use that fabric to then find the corresponding paint chip in the hardware store.
There’s an app for that (naturally)
Almost every major brand of paint has a free app to help you nail a shade you’ve forgotten the name of. It usually works like this: Take a picture of your existing color and upload it for analysis. The app will then identify the hue and find the closest shade in the manufacturer’s palette.
A few popular choices for your smartphone are Behr ColorSmart, Benjamin Moore Color Capture, and ColorSnap Visualizer from Sherwin-Williams. Just remember that each app provides matching paint colors only for their specific brands—so here’s to hoping you remember at least that much. If not, proceed to our next step.