Have you missed me? I may have taken a vacation from writing my column, but I certainly have not been relaxing. I remodeled and staged a home for sale, did consulting work on a Kamehameha Schools affordable housing project, started designing and furnishing a law office downtown and am now preparing reStyle for its grand reopening this month.

Phew! I need a vacation just thinking about all that. But this slew of projects has given me lots of ideas and information to share with you over the coming weeks.

One thing that comes up over and over again is my constant need to keep the color palettes for different projects organized. If you’re redoing your own color schemes, you can use these tips to organize the colors of your rooms.



One of a designer’s most valuable tools is the color fan deck. Paint suppliers make these available to the trade, but anyone can purchase one. It’s a great investment. The difference between a fan deck and loose swatches of individual paint colors that you can pick up for free is that on a fan deck, the color you like will be one of several gradated shades on the same sheet.

If you like a certain shade of gray in your living room, for example, you might want to stay in the same gray tone for your bathroom, but go two shades lighter for the smaller space. You may not want a cool-blue gray in one room and a warm-yellow gray in another. A fan deck is a great frame of reference for keeping your color scheme cohesive from room to room.

Regarding my fan decks, I color-code them with tabs to stay organized on different projects. As a homeowner, you can color-code your fan deck by colors have you chosen for each room.

I’ll bet you have a drawer where you keep all the manuals for TVs, microwaves and other appliances. Why not keep your fan deck in the same drawer? Remember to label your tabs with which room you used the color in. Or on a sheet of paper, write down which paint company, color names, numbers and finishes you used in each room. With this reference, your future paint touchups will have a flawless finish.


What to do with leftover paint? You don’t need to keep every paint can that’s ever been used. Organize them by interior, exterior and accent color paints by sticking color-coded tape on the cans or writing on them.

To dispose of paint you no longer need, check websites for the proper method based on the type of paint you have. For example, did you know that you can put cat litter into some paints to dry them up?

Better yet, look for ways not to dispose of your paint. If it’s an interior color, can you use the remainder for the inside of your garage? How about the dog house? Could you mix a couple of colors to make a new one you like? The best way to dispose of paint is to not dispose of it at all.

I hope this gives you some ideas for staying organized with your colors. I can’t wait


to share more ideas, challenges and inspirations that I’ve come across on my so-called vacation!