Colorful Conversations feat. Sue Wadden

When it comes to color, we love catching up with our Director of Color Marketing, Sue Wadden. In our latest interview, we sat down to talk about everything from trends in the new decade to making color selection easier. 

picture of Sue Wadden

Q: What have you been up to since you stepped in the role of Director of Color Marketing?

A: I’ve been really, really busy. I’m continuing my quest to create the best trend forecast possible. We’ve really dedicated a ton of energy and resources to ensure our color leadership is the best in the industry. What’s unique about the last couple of years, is that we’ve also brought this additional energy in the DIY space. We’ve given a lot of time and attention to the color there, especially with the launch of our new Color ID program featuring exclusive palettes that are thoughtfully curated to reflect your personality through color.

Q: You’re at the forefront of the latest trends, what role do you see color playing in the new decade?

A: I think it’s fair to say that the last decade was all about gray and this resurgence of neutrals, and while neutrals are always really important, gray just took over the place – I think it’s even fair to say that it was THE color from 2010 to 2019. As we look into this new decade, I think we’re seeing a renewed energy and interest in color again. It’s exciting because we haven’t seen that for such a long time, so whether it’s Instagram influencers or DIY bloggers, it’s not just this white-on-white existence anymore. Color is showing up everywhere and I think that’s bringing a lot of excitement.

Q: We’ve heard a lot about using color to bring wellness into our homes – how can people connect color with their well-being and why is it important?

A: This continues to be a really important topic in the next decade for all sorts of reasons, so I think we’re defining what we want wellness to be now, in 2021 and beyond. I think color plays a big part because we want to surround ourselves in environments that make us feel safe and secure, and enriched and creative all at the same time.

We actually kicked off our Colormix® Color Forecast 2020 with five distinct palettes that keyed into these wellness trends. Whether that’s mindful living or adding more adventure in your life, if you took a holistic view of the wellness concept, it’s about bringing your best self forward and we wanted colors that reflected that because they help us design that nurturing environment that a home provides.

Q: Color selection seems to be a common hang-up when someone starts a project – why do you think that is?

A: Sometimes we’re faced with all sorts of choices. Take our ColorSnap® Studio for example. It has over 1,500 colors in its array – that’s a lot of options. Helping people narrow down their choices to find the right color is the trick which is why we’ve got so many tools to help that process feel less overwhelming. Our overall goal is to make the color selection process easier.

Q: What can finding the right color do for your space?

A: Oh man, I think it can do so many things. It can create a sanctuary where you relax or a place to entertain when you have people over. When you love your home, you want others to share in your joy and that’s one of the things I love the most. Just for me, personally, I love repainting a room because I love to have people over. That idea of community and entertainment is something that doesn’t get talked about a lot but that’s definitely a benefit of selecting the right color for your space.

Q: Do you have any advice or tips for making color selection an easier process?

A: It’s definitely a process. I think the easiest way to start is to find inspiration by looking around and seeing what you love. It could be a website, or a magazine, but there’s usually some point of reference you’re looking to match and that’s a great place to start.

Inspiration helps narrow down the focus so when you go to one of our stores, you can walk right up to the ColorSnap® Studio and start pulling chips. Take your favorites home, hang them up on the wall and spend some time with them. If you want to go one step further, we often recommend getting a Color to Go® sample and painting a test area on your wall.

It’s worth the time and attention before you jump in and pick a color. If you really do your up-front work ahead of time, the chances that you’re going to love that color go up exponentially.

Q: Color inspiration can be found everywhere from magazines to mood boards. Where’s your favorite place to find color inspiration?

A: It can definitely be found everywhere. Digital is always a great place to start for inspiration, but I also love looking through magazines. They’re still a great resource for design and color inspiration but they’re also a nice way to break away from all the technology. Inspiration can also find you when you’re least expecting it, too. It might sound silly, but sometimes just watching a cooking show on Netflix can create an emotional response to something that I had never even considered.

Q: In a world full of hues, what’s your favorite SW color at the moment?

A: So, I’ve always loved the color Anonymous SW 7046. It’s a warm gray, it’s the color of my house and it has been now for almost ten years. I love it and I’m not going to change it. People still stop me on the street and ask me about the color to this day.


  1. Many years ago when I first started my painting business, my dad and I were trying to help a lady pick a color for the exterior of her home. She wanted to see the real paint sample on her house and we wound up with fifteen spots on the front of her house. But she could not make up her mind on that one specific light cream color she wanted. So in desperation I picked up the first quart (yes there were all quarts there) and painted the sixteenth sample on her house. She came out and said, “That’s It”, …..soooo my theory paid off. Choosing a color can be daunting because of so many to choose from and a lack of direction from either a contractor of very good friend that is trusted. I totally agree that painting a small sample on the surface can be a great help and most folks usually want at least two and not more than four samples. And I am glad Sherwin Williams has small inexpensive samples these days. I have been buying from them for forty five years now.

    • Sherwin-Williams logo

      Hi Phillip! We are happy to hear our Color to Go samples are helpful during the color selection process.


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