Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Donald Kaufman Paint

Since I am in a paint frame of mind...

A friend of mine has a lovely home on the water, and I always cherish my time there when I go for a visit. Here is a picture of my friend's guest room, taken from the summer edition of 'Decorating' magazine (sorry for the low quality of the picture):

It is hard to tell from this picture, but in real life the color of the paint on the wall is magical - at times the color of green sea glass, at other times a pale white, and other times a silvery gray. It truly changes appearance based on the light and time of day. When I asked my friend what color she used, she told me that it was Donald Kaufman Color Collection paint (she thinks that it is DK No. 29). (Update: for more pictures of this lovely home, and more information on the Donald Kaufman paint color, please see this post)

The Donald Kaufman Color Collection ($45 to $85 per gallon, depending on whether the paint is oil or latex) is a set of 66 preblended "full-spectrum" paints. Whereas most paints use just three pigments and obtain a static color, Kaufman's paints use up to 13 pigments to create a paint whose numerous hues react to changing light with much of the same richness and range of color found in the natural world. Kaufman mixes his pigments with Benjamin Moore and Pratt & Lambert paint bases.

In researching the information for this post, I found a wonderful article in the New York Times from June of 2006. The author was looking for the perfect shade of silvery blue (I guess this was before Matt found P&L's white smoke!). She found it in Donald Kaufman shade DKC-37; as she describes it, a "haunting, moody, silvery-green blue". When Kaufman was interviewed for the article, he said "we (Donald Kaufman Color) have a unique way to mix colors. We use a lot more different colorants and we don't use blacks and umbers, which are opaque. Our colors are transparent and have a different quality." As you can probably tell, Donald Kaufman is first and foremost an artist with an in depth understanding of pigments and how they interact with one another.

There are two books devoted to Donald Kaufman Color - one by Kaufman himself, titled Color: Natural Palettes for Painted Rooms; and Color Palettes: Atmospheric Interiors Using the Donald Kaufman Color Collection (authored by Susie Butterfield).

Donald Kaufman paints are not sold in many places. For those lucky enough to live in the NYC area, the primary distributor for DKC paints is the Color Factory in Englewood, NJ. Cox Paints in Santa Monica, CA also sells DKC paints. Sample pots of the paint are available, and the paint can be ordered and shipped from either of these outlets.

Donald Kaufman Color's website is http://www.donaldkaufmancolor.com/, but understandably there are no online representations of his colors...for that, you will need to pay $75 (or more, this may be outdated pricing) for a set of 66 4"x8" cards, each one handpainted with a DKC hue.

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  1. People who use DK paints RAVE about them! They say there is nothing else like it. Thanks for all of the info!!!
    (PS- I love that shot of your friend's house- beautiful!)

  2. The purity of the product really helps avoid that "ugly hour" of the day when the light hits at different angles.

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  4. Oops - what I meant to say was: even though I am a long time devotee of Farrow & Ball - I will be giving this range a try.
    I like your blog, btw, and thank you for your comment.

  5. Wow, that is fascinating. Thanks for such a well researched post. I'll be sure to check them out in more detail now.

  6. I am looking for just such a color for my powder room! Thanks for the info!

  7. What a lovely guest bedroom to stay at. I would love to be able to DK paints, but unfortunatly not available in my area...DK get on board in more areas! Very informative post. thanks

  8. After trying about 30 samples of every paint imaginable, I tested DK #59 and voila, finally the the beigy gold (not yellow) color I'd been looking for. It looks absolutely sensational. The effect these paints have on a room is amazing. Beautiful in any light and at any time of the day - a luminous quality.

  9. I just ordered a gallon of Donald Kaufman paint from Cox Paints. Unfortunately, their web-site doesn't mention the paint they send is water-based. They offer no choice and make no mention of it. I foolishly didn't think and asssumed I would get oil. When I called to ask what could be done about it, Jason at Cox paints told me in no uncertain terms nothing could be done, I was stuck with it. He ended the call by telling me to "F*** Off" and hung up.

  10. I am a professional union painter since 1986 and have used Donald Kaufman paints several times. I love the colors but DESPISE the material! It does not touch up at all and there is no ease of application. The paint colors that are any darker than an off white have no body to them. You might as well prepare for more than several coats to get coverage. I am unhappy with this product performance!!!!!

  11. I just painted my entire house with this stuff. The quality of the paint is fine, it's made by Pratt and Lambert, which is by far superior to ICI or behr. Sure, other companies can match the color and get close, but they only use 4 or 5 colorants at the most. It doesn't give you even close to the same effect. There is a store here in Manhattan that carries Donald Kaufman now, London paint on 9th and 22nd, and they were helpful and knowledgeable, and I had a fine experience with the color factory in jersey as well. Nothing compares to this paint, don't cheap out and try to have somebody match it.

  12. I have lived with Donald Kaufman 41, 43 and 49 since our apartment was last painted in 2004 and can say that this paint has added so much serenity and serendipity to our lives -- it's soothing yet surprising as greens gives way for taupe and bends to beige ... it's not only superior paint, it's a spectacular way to live in your own colorful world.


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