By David Wulff, AIA

I was reading an article this past week regarding colors.  Now, we all know there are an infinite number of colors, not to mention sheen (you know, gloss, semi-gloss, flat, etc.).  Naming colors is something else.  I have always wondered about who names colors and how do they come up with them?  Do they have some sort of master list of names on a dart board and just throw the dart to determine the name?    Sometimes the names have something to do with the actual color, but oftentimes it is anyone’s guess.

Last year the paint manufacturer Valspar had a paint color of the month.  What someone does with a color for the month is anyone’s guess.  Are we supposed to go out and buy a different color every month?  My guess is that the color of the month is just some random color that the manufacturer made too much of.  Let’s take December’s color for instance, “Bodacious”. What does that mean?  The color is actually purple.  Why purple for December?  Then there’s November “Dusty Cedar”.  The color is actually a hue of cedar.  But for October it was “Meadow”, which was a light green.  Why green for October?  That’s the time for pumpkins and orange things, not green.

September was a better color:  “Potters Clay”, which was as you might think – it was red clay.  Much like the red clay we have around Lake Lure.  Probably would have been better to use it for October instead.

August was “Sharkskin”.  Cool name for a dark grey color and it is actually close to the color of a shark.

July was a good one –“Aurora Red”.  Not sure why July was red though.  I would have picked more of a summer color, like yellow.  But someone at Valspar liked Aurora Red.

Not to be outdone, Benjamin Moore has an equal number of names.  I don’t know if they have a color of the month though.  One of their colors is described as “Simply White”.  The description is:  “transcendent, powerful, and polarizing”.  It seems like you could say that about almost any color.

A few years ago I had to touch up the white trim on my house.  I went to Home Depot and got their “white” color chart.  Would you believe they had 67 different shades of white?  And each one had a different name.  I found it ironic that the one that matched the trim color on my house was called simply “white”.

So, when you determine the color you want to paint your house, inside or out, and you are sitting around with guests and someone asks what color this room is, you can say “Bodacious”.  We were thinking of “Sharkskin”, but decided on Bodacious.  That should get the conversation rolling.  That is if they don’t immediately make an excuse to leave.

DAVID H. WULFF, ARCHITECT welcomes the design challenges presented by new projects and is dedicated to developing innovative design solutions. David H. Wulff, AIA, 167 Trails End, Lake Lure, NC 828-625-5537,