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Saturday October 08, 2016

On Matching Colors

Some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve been getting lately at Vita Futura are about matching colors. Often times people have some existing items in their bathroom, such as towels, accessories or a certain tile or paint and they’re looking to find something from us to match. If this seems like you, read on to learn why this isn’t necessarily as easy as you might think and what to do about it. If this seems like you but you’re short on time, skip to the bullet point summary at the end.

First off, exact matches of color from different manufacturers or across different material types are very difficult or impossible to find. I recently needed to find paint for a baseboard replacement after replacing carpeting with wood floors. The previous baseboards matched the door trims and baseboards in adjoining rooms and I was looking to keep that color on the new baseboards. The paint store I went to had one of those fancy machines that can make custom colors of paint based on a sample. Even so, one of the first things the paint department person told me is “I can tell you right now, you won’t be able to get an exact match; but, you should be able to find something close.” This is something that’s also true of our products here at Vita Futura. For example, we have more than 30 different colors of elongated lid covers in stock at any given time and more than 90 additional colors that can be custom made to order. There’s a very good chance that one of these is quite close to the color you’re trying to match against.

You may think it’s easy to describe the color you’d like or send a photo of the item you’re trying to match against to have us pick. There are unfortunately a few problems with this approach: different manufacturers call the same color by different names. Our items are designed in and imported from Europe. It can be hard enough to find a match between different color names locally never mind expecting the names to match across different manufacturers from different continents. Across different product families on our website colors with the same name may not be identical, within a single product family they are. Photos are difficult because lighting plays such a big role in how things look. The same item may look quite different under traditional incandescent lighting than it does under newer LED lights. You may have noticed that diamond and jewelry stores like to use LED lighting to make their products appear shinier and more reflective. Additionally, many cameras or cell phones will adjust colors automatically, and, can make colors appear significantly differently when the flash is on or off, or when HDR mode is on or off.

The Dress

The colors of our photos shown online are quite close to the actual products. That being said, a minority of people may find they don’t match. How can this happen? You may recall an image of “The Dress” that was making the rounds on social media around February, 2015. The same dress, in the same photo, appeared to some people as black and blue and others as white and gold. Color perception is a complex field of study and there are differences between how different people perceive colors. There are also differences between how different computers display colors. If you’ve gone shopping for a television recently, you’ve probably encountered discussions about which technologies (such as HDR OLEDs) display whiter whites and blacker blacks versus other technologies. People who edit videos professionally, or do film colorization often end up buying specialized monitors and color calibration equipment. This is also assuming you have perfect color vision ( a surprising number of people don’t, and, may not even realize it; we do occasionally get calls from people saying that two colors of one of our products look the same when they really don’t).

So, given this reality, how do you pick the right color? We’ve seen people use a few different approaches to this problem. Some people prefer to order many different possibilities and return those that they don’t use (taking advantage of our lack of restocking fees as long as items are returned in the same condition they were sent). By doing this, they save significant back and forth by having one shipment to them and one shipment back. It’s a similar approach to saving time and gas/shipping costs that contractors use when overbuying materials to save themselves going back and forth to their supply store. If you’re doing this, pay attention to the return instructions you’re emailed after requesting a return (you may be better off taking us up on the offer to give you a paid return label and take the amount out of your refund than paying USPS, FedEx or similar yourself to get your return to us). Another approach we see often is to plan your room around a different but well coordinated colors. This is the approach that our manufacturers often take in their staged photo shoots (like those used on our homepage). Lastly, if you’re determined to get as close to a particular color as you can, getting something custom made to order may be the solution you’re looking for (we have color sample strips (1) (or swatches), similar in concept to paint test strips).


  • It’s unlikely that you’ll find an exact match to the other items you have now; but, you should be able to find something close.
  • Color perception is complex.
  • Consider buying several possibilities you’re considering and returning those that you don’t use.
  • Consider going for a coordinating color scheme instead of exact matches.

Other Recent Contributions

  On Matching Colors - Saturday October 08, 2016
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  Make your Kids Want to Shower with Cute and Fun Shower Curtains - Wednesday February 05, 2014
  Extra Long Shower Rods: Bridging the Gap - Thursday January 23, 2014
  Design and Color Trends in 2014 - Tuesday December 31, 2013
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  How NOT to Let Sloped Ceilings Drive You Up the Wall - Wednesday November 27, 2013
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