ISSUE 13  |  India Song

Palette & Paints: India-Inspired Paint Colors

April 03, 2014 3:00 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

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When we think of India, we think of color. We imagine the nearly-neon pigments of the springtime festival Holi, and remember Diana Vreeland’s declaration that “pink is the navy blue of India.” (For more on that, read Michelle’s Domestic Dispatches.)

But perhaps most of all, we think of India’s earthy hues: still bright, but muted enough to be infinitely usable in India and beyond. We noted that several shades in our recent post on Metallic Wall Paints would flatter these colors beautifully (especially Warm Silver and English Brown).

Photographs by Meredith Swinehart

Above: Top row, left to right: Farrow & Ball Incarnadine; Farrow & Ball India Yellow; Farrow & Ball Brinjal; and Ralph Lauren Baltic Blue. Bottom row: Valspar Swiftly Green; Valspar Perfect Storm; Valspar La Fonda Ortiz Gold; and Valspar Bear Claw

Above: Farrow & Ball’s Incarnadine is, if you ask us, the perfect earthy red. (The paint maker notes that this crimson is similar to the one used by famed designer David Hicks in the 1970s.)

Above: Farrow & Ball’s India Yellow has a colorful past—the pigment on which it is based was first available in England in the 18th century, and made by reducing the bright yellow urine of cows fed on a special diet of mango leaves.

Above: Farrow & Ball’s Brinjal takes its name from a South Asian word for eggplant.

Above: Ralph Lauren’s Baltic Blue reminds us of the bright shades of blue saris. 

Above: Valspar Swiftly Green is the brightest of the earthy yellow hues we’ve chosen here. (Achieve a similar shade yourself by making fabric dye from turmeric: see DIY: Natural Turmeric-Dyed Tablecloth.)

Above: Valspar’s Perfect Storm is a match for the dark teal we’ve admired on many an Indian embroidery. 

Above: Valspar’s La Fonda Ortiz Gold may have a Spanish name, but it’s a close approximation of the earthy gold hue of Farrow & Ball’s India Yellow shown above. (La Fonda Ortiz is slightly redder.) 

Above: The dark red earth of India is evoked in Valspar’s Bear Claw

For more paint shades to try, see all our Palette & Paints posts, including Coastline-Inspired Blues; Jade and Celadon Greens; and, on Gardenista, the Best Black Exterior Paints