Mid-century modern paint colour cards
Alistair McLean
Category: Colours

Alistair: Posted on Sunday, 4 September 2011 6:23 PM


As part of my research (and love) of mid-century modern architecture I have managed to collect quite a few paint cards from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  I have used these cards to help pull together some authentic colour schemes for clients that want to be totally authentic.  I find that the easiest way to work with them is to cross-reference the original colours with my Dulux Colour Specifier 2 fandeck, which has almost 2000 colours, and get the best match.  If I am not satisfied enough with the Dulux colour match I then go through my other fandecks for Wattyl and Taubmans etc.  These fandecks are only available to design professionals (like Secret Design Studio) and are the complete range of colours offered by each manufacturer, not the limited consumer range of colours that are available as paint chip samples from your local hardware store, such as Bunnings.

I raised the whole question of original mid-century modern colour schemes in my last blog post when I was comparing original photos of a mid-century modern house, with its new, renovated scheme.  While both schemes work, I prefer the original as it is more subtle, and easier to live with, however the new scheme is very striking, and does not detract from the original architecture.


Before scheme above, from Mockridge, Stahle and Mitchell 1956.


After: New 21st century colour scheme by Austin Design Associates.


In my previous blog I said I would post some of the mid-century modern painter’s colour cards for comparison, so please refer to the pictures below.  What I find interesting is the advertising material that is on the card, including the instructions on how to add colour and mix the paint by hand, prior to the invention of the paint mixing machines at Bunnings!

Unfortunately the images below aren’t as vibrant as the original paint colour card due to the scanning process, which is not as accurate as I would like.  Theses images also give no indication of the gloss levels of these paints.  I know from past experience that the colour settings on a computer monitor can also influence a client’s understanding and perception of colour schemes.  I will try and do some fine tuning on the Secret Design Studio’s system before posting any of more of the Secret Design Studio’s mid-century modern paint colour sample cards.





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