Interview with Paint Color Stylist Mary Lawlor from Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday}

Favorite Kelly-Moore Paint Colors {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange


Wall color is San Francisco Fog by Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange

San Francisco Fog by Kelly-Moore Paints


Color is Granite Canyon by Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange
Granite Canyon Kelly-Moore Paints


I hope you guys had a fantastic weekend!!

Today for Paint It Monday, I am really excited to share an interview that I had the chance to do with Mary Lawlor, who is a Color Stylist and Manager of Color Marketing for Kelly-Moore Paints:




Mary has my ultimate dream job and gets to track paint color trends, create new paint color collections and develop tools to help consumers find just the right paint colors.   What a great job to get to play with paint colors every day!

{By the way, every picture in today’s post is a Kelly-Moore paint color, which I have listed the name of the color directly below each image.  I would love to know at the end which one is your favorite!}

Darker trim painted in City Loft and lighter upper color is Urban Bird both by Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange

City Loft (lower) and Urban Bird (Upper) Kelly-Moore Paints


Barnwood by Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange

Barnwood Kelly-Moore Paints

I have always wondered how paint companies zone in and choose specific paint colors for their collections and how they determine what colors consumers will respond to. Paint companies have teams of Color Stylists who understand paint color better than anyone and who are able to analyze color trends with precision as they develop color collections. Of course, any “inside” information or advice that we could get from these paint color experts in choosing colors, could really up us so much.

Kelly-Moore Paints recently contacted me to tell me about their new color system called the ColorStudio Collection and I asked them if it would be possible for me to interview their Color Stylist.  I wanted to get as much information as possible to help us as we choose colors and was so excited that Mary agreed to talk with me.  So today, I’m sharing my interview with Mary with you and she gives us some really great information and advice in choosing colors. So let’s jump right in;


When you set out to choose new paint colors for your collections, what influences and inspires you?  Do you look at trends in design or fashion? We would love to know how you determine what colors consumers are transitioning to in their home.  Are you influenced by “barometers” like the Pantone Color of the Year? 


As a regional paint manufacturer located in one of the most picturesque regions of the country, my influences when developing our ColorStudio Collection were the uniqueness of the geography, culture and lighting in our diverse western markets. With more than 1,700 very useable and timeless colors, this color system was developed to align with the ever changing trends in design and fashion.

From within this color system, I will select collections of colors a few times per year. For these collections, I look at design and fashion trends along with socioeconomics and credible “barometers” as influencers when selecting trends palettes.


So many people really struggle with choosing just the right paint color for their home.  I can’t tell you how many of my readers agonize over a color and finally make a decision and then hate the color when they get it on the wall. Do you have any advice for use that could help us make better paint color choices and how we can better zone in on undertones and crazy hues that jump out in a certain light?

Mary: Making suitable color choices for our walls certainly has its challenges. As for “undertones,” they are best identified by comparison to true or primary color. For instance, to determine the “undertone” of a specific neutral color being considered, align it with a true red, green, blue or yellow. It will become evident just what family the color belongs to. Then it need only be determined if this “undertone” is harmonious in the space.

And most important – keep an open mind about color and try to not overanalyze it. So many fear choosing a color, this is a shame. Paint color can add so much life to a space so quickly and with little expense. If you find a particular color grabs you and makes you feel good, use it.

Cyndy: Last year I shared my tips and tricks for how I choose my paint colors.  Is there anything that you can add or expound on my little technique that can help us even more? 

Mary: I have to say, your tips and tricks post was very well done. Understanding that color does not exist without light and that different types of light determine how a color looks is helpful when choosing color. Color selection should only be determined in the environment where it will be applied. This will ensure the light source reveals the colors as they will appear once applied.

Cyndy: Now the question that we all want to know (get out your crystal ball)- please tell us what direction you think consumers are heading as far as colors and undertones.  What colors does Kelly-Moore think we will be racing to get on our walls in the next 6-12 months and why? 

Mary: The undefined yet safe neutrals enlivened with pops of bold color we lived with during the recession are being painted over with softer and less defined color. Think pastel, yet a little deeper. A little cleaner, less “undertone” infused. As we see a shift in influence from boomers to Gen Xers, look to see ever so many more unexpected uses of color. Like black accent walls with repurposed furniture painted chartreuse or fuchsia. We see this now, mostly out of necessity during the recession. However, as manufacturers zone in on it we will see more of it.

Cyndy:  If you could pick just one Kelly-Moore paint color that is the best and ideal neutral/safe/calm color that looks spectacular in any lighting situation, what color would that be (I know, that’s like picking a favorite child!)?

Mary: Since I can choose only one, it would have to be Rotunda White:

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 8.50.15 AM


This is the wall color I chose for our “color wall” in the San Francisco Design Center, a 42’ wall to which we mounted a 3” x 4” sample of each of our 1,700-plus ColorStudio Collection colors. It has a light reflectance value (LRV) of 65; it’s a neutral that casts very little of any one color family; it works great with both warm and cool colors.

Cyndy: Lastly, can you tell us a little more about Kelly-Moore and what is unique and sets your paint apart from other paints on the market?  

Mary: We are an employee-owned regional paint manufacturer. We manufacture in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most environmentally restrictive regions in North America. As a result, we are a leader in Zero-VOC products. Our reputation for quality products is unsurpassed in the industry.  We produce some of the most technologically advanced paint products and set the industry standard for new product development and quality control.

Our 150-plus company-owned stores provide high quality, innovative products with exceptional service at a fair value. We’ve crafted our ColorStudio Collection colors focusing on the color needs of the markets we serve. Colors inspired by the uniqueness of the West – from the varying geography, lighting and architecture to the diverse cultures and neighborhoods.

Thank you so much Mary for taking the time to talk with me and share your insight and knowledge.  I agree, if you’re attached to a color and love it, don’t agonize over it, just go with it and enjoy it.  I’m also really glad to hear Mary reiterate the importance of choosing your paint color in the space that your going to paint.  I think this is by far the most important thing to do when choosing paint colors!

I asked Kelly-Moore Paints to send me a fan deck of their new colors and I was absolutely blown away. It’s not too often that I look at paint fan decks and fall in love with almost every color.  There are some very rich colors and I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites.  By the way, Kelly-Moore Paints has this really helpful way of choosing colors on their website that makes it so easy to find just the right color.  All you have to do is zone in on a color that you like and then click on it and it will give you the name.   It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 8.40.08 AM


When you click on a specific color, you will also see colors that coordinate with that color!  How smart is that!

Ok, so here are a few of my favorites;

I love the color “Tranquility” and think it would be a beautiful bedroom or bathroom color, mixed with crisp white or “Urban Bird” as shown below:

Tranquility by Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange

I instantly gravitated to “Harrow’s Gate” when I received the fan deck, which is a very rich blue/gray that would also look beautiful in a bedroom, entry way or a beautiful cabinet color:

Harrow's Gate by Kelly Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange

“City Loft” is a really nice neutral that would be great in any space. In fact, I think this would be an excellent open space color. I love that it’s calm and rich but it’s also subtle:

Desktop13For a darker color for trim, doors or an accent wall, I can’t stop drooling over “Wrought Iron Gate”:

Wrought Iron Gate by Kelly Moore Paints {Paint It Monday} The Creativity Exchange

Kelly-Moore Paints has more than 150 independent stores nationwide and to find a location near you, you can go here to search.

So, I’m curious to hear if one of these colors are jumping out at you?  Have you guys ever tried Kelly-Moore Paints before?  I have never used their paints but I have heard really great things and I think I may give the paint a try in my guest bedroom that I’m getting reading to revamp.  That “Tranquility” would look so amazing in my guest bedroom!

Thank you again so much to Mary Lawlor for taking the time to visit with us and I hope she’ll keep in touch with us!

Thanks for hanging out with me today and I’ll be back on Wednesday with a fun project.





This entry was posted in Color Palette Monday, color palettes, Paint Colors. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Interview with Paint Color Stylist Mary Lawlor from Kelly-Moore Paints {Paint It Monday}

  1. Great post, Cyndy! You know how much I love these paint-related posts. Gorgeous colors, and I’m really smitten with Granite Canyon – what a fantastic color! Would look awesome in a guest bathroom, or maybe a masculine office with white trim as a contrast. Here’s hoping there is a location nearby!

    • Cyndy says:

      Yes Jenny! I love Granite Canyon too! So rich and so much depth. I agree, would be so amazing in a small powder room or office! They have so many great colors in this collection Jenny and if you go by the store, ask if they’ll give you a fan deck so you can see the whole collection. You’ll love for sure!

      So glad that you are loving the paint posts! Thanks so much for stopping by Jenny!

  2. Wonderful post! I had never heard of this brand of paint before. I’m glad that you have shared so many of their wonderful colors with us, and I enjoyed reading your interview. I agree that you tips on choosing the right paint color was a great post. It was super helpful.

    • Cyndy says:

      Thanks Megan!! I wasn’t really familiar with the paint as well but I have heard really great things. I think I’m going to give it a try in my guest bedroom. The colors are really beautiful!

      I hope all is well sweet friend and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Marcey says:

    What do they mean by “adjacent colors” when using the myCOLORSTUDIO? Are they colors that you could paint an adjacent room?

    • Cyndy says:

      I think “adjacent” is referring to the next to the color/shade in the collection. For instance, maybe the main color that you pull up is a tad too dark or too light for you. The “adjacent” color(s) show you what the next shade up (or down) is to give you more options in case that main color is not “quite” what you’re looking for.

      The “Coordinating Colors” that come up would be the suggested colors to use with that main color that you pull up.

      I hope that helps Marcey! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Jill Jones says:

    I live in northern California and Kelly Moore is one of out most popular paint stores. Residential and commercial builders and painters seem to use it almost exclusively for exteriors and interiors. It is durable, easy to apply, and priced reasonably. In fact, my entire house –inside and out– is painted in Kelly Moore paints! Great selection and customer service.

    • Cyndy says:

      That’s what I have heard Jill that Kelly-Moore is the most popular paint in California. I have also heard really great things about the coverage and the product. I was very impressed with the collection of colors too.
      I can’t wait to try it!

      Thanks so much Jill for stopping by!

  5. Nancy says:

    Cyndy, great post regarding Kelly-Moore paints. I am looking for a neutral that can go warm or cool and Rotunda White fits the bill. Unfortunately I am unable to locate their paints in New England. Do you know or can you get the color stylist from Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams ( both popular choices in our area) to share their most popular neutral choice that work warm and cool. The Kelly-Moore site does not allow to print or get the paint formula for local interpretation. Thank you.

    I have learned so much from your blog. It is my favorite. Keep up the great work.


  6. Impressive. Every place is full of beautiful colors… What a lovely thing to see.. Bookmarked!

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