Emily Lauderback Colorist


So John, I’ve worked as an independent color consultant and architectural designer for a number of years. Prior to doing this work I was an educator and actually worked with teachers, training them on math instruction. I found out, then, in working with clients, that a lot of them just don’t understand the way color works. It’s actually elementary school physics so it’s right in line with my elementary school math career. So there’s a quality called metamerism which is how light gets impacted or how color gets impacted by light, but more importantly in my experience it’s how colors get impacted by other colors. It can be overwhelming when people go to the paint store and they see these kinds of tools (holding up paint chips)—these are Benjamin Moore, which are the colors I use all the time. So this is overwhelming.

I use the classic color system from Benjamin Moore and the preview collection from Benjamin Moore. There are thousands and thousands of colors in here. Where would you begin? From doing this, I figured out that most people have a sense of the kind of home that they want theirs to feel like. So I came up with these pre-packaged color pallets—there are eight of them—and they’re named for how these particular dwellings feel. There’s a hut, a cabana, estate, cottage, cabin, bungalow, villa, and penthouse. Each one has 12 different Benjamin Moore colors in there that when they’re put together, they really work together beautifully and they create the feeling of that environment.

What’s often confusing for people—what they don’t understand–is that while these can work for your paint, they’re not only paint. You can take them shopping with you, you can go and match them to find your sofa, to find your rug, to find art. So these $25 tools can be used to design your whole home for years and years and years—it’s not just when you’re painting.

So a typical color consult, when I arrive at a residential job, is to find what things will be in the home even after the painting is done. Those are the dots that we have to work with as our starting place. So it’s sort of a two-step process when I come to do a color consult. First, we create the palette. So the palette comes from those dots—the things we know will be there after the painting occurs. So we start with those. Then I actually show the client color after color after color within that palette and how they relate to their existing colors. So then the client’s choosing which ones go and which ones don’t. I’m, of course, facilitating so I won’t let them make a wrong choice.

So we first create a palette, that’s the first step. And then after the palette’s created, we’re going to have maybe 10, 20 colors to choose from. So from those 10 or 20 colors, I then organize them into piles, three piles: which pile would be definite, safe paint colors, which piles would be still safe paint colors but pushing the edge a little bit, and then the last pile could still be safe paint colors, but they’re more sort of the accent colors and the things that are going to give some punch. So from those three piles, then we start going through and going room by room and saying “ok, in this room I know I want this color for the wall.” I like to create flow within a house, so maybe it’s the wall in this space but then as we walk into the next room, maybe it goes onto the ceiling. And then the trim color often will be the same throughout all the spaces. But sometimes because of metamerism, the color that we’ve chosen for the wall and the color with the trim doesn’t work as well. So then we might alter the trim color and use perhaps a wall color from another room to be the trim color within in that room so that everything flows and is harmonious throughout the whole home.

My consults are for all the communal spaces in a home because I really need to work holistically. I’m so sensitive that I can walk into a room and I can feel a color in another room if it’s not working. I know that that flow and continuity throughout all those communal space is so important to make a home feel cohesive and healthy and nurturing.

There’s not a typical process for commercial projects. It depends often if it’s a retail atmosphere and if they have if they have a logo (we’ll often use those colors within the interior). For an office space—for example, I just worked on the Blakely Building which is over by U-Village. It’s registered architecturally, it was built in the mid-50s so it’s an amazing mid-century building with all this natural stone work, shoji screens throughout, and it needed an update horribly. It hasn’t had any work done on it in 20-30 years. So I used all this natural stone—there’s also this incredible oak paneling throughout—we used those natural architectural finishes to start the palette. So then we chose the carpet, marmoleum for the entry way, and then the paint color actually came last because having those other items working together with the other finishes—the paint then is just sort of an icing on the cake to make all the other natural finishes sing and do the most that they can.