Getting to Know Sue Wadden

Sue Wadden is a color expert and an avid DIYer who has been with Sherwin-Williams for 17 years. She can hand paint a dining room and tell you why she chose the colors she did. That’s why she’s the resident color guru at Sherwin-Williams, inviting you to share in her inspiration.

Why are people so apprehensive to start a new project?

Do you know the average time between a person’s idea to paint, and actually painting? It’s 102 days. And the biggest chunk of that? It’s deciding on a color. It’s not the product, it’s not the sheen, it’s not where to get it – six to eight weeks is deciding on a color. That’s where we can offer the most help.

Why does someone need help choosing a color?

Helping someone pick a color for their home is a difficult thing because it’s such an emotional journey. We’re helping people to create a flavor and a language that somebody can identify with and want to feel at home with.

Shouldn’t a person just go with their favorite color?

It’s not a bad place to begin. But there’s a lot more to color than what’s in the rainbow. If you like yellow, most people are going to think of your basic “school bus” yellow. That’s what they identify as yellow even though, in most homes, a really soft, muted yellow would look really nice. A quick rule of thumb – start at the top of our stores’ color wall display, where you’ll find all the really basic, bright colors. Then move down to the middle of the display for a more unique and subtle choice.

Wouldn’t it be easier for people to just paint their walls white and call it a day?

People want to have a story about everything they paint. When someone walks in their home, they want that person to say, “Oh my gosh, I love your bar cart. Did you get this from Mad Men?” Now, the homeowner has this great story to tell, and Sherwin-Williams color can be a huge part of that story.

These days, what makes people want to paint things themselves?

The source of inspiration is huge. Everybody talks about Pinterest, which is literally redefining how people approach their home projects. It’s why certain crafts have come back up in popularity. Right now, I could go to YouTube and figure out how to paint a cabinet I bought at a thrift store. That’s empowerment — empowerment is what painting is all about these days.

Have you ever had a DIY disaster?

Of course, that’s just human. I remember my first DIY project. I had lived in an apartment, and I was moving into my husband’s rental property. There was a dining room that was white, and I painted it Roycroft Adobe – this really brick red. I stepped back and said, “Yep, this has gotta change.” So, I repainted it Relaxed Khaki. Red was trending at the time, which proved to me that trends aren’t for everyone. I learned the hard way. It happens.


  1. I need color choice help for our new (to us) mid century modern house. Ceilings are white, lots of “blonde “ wood floors and doors. Light gray kitchen cabinets. I want to paint all small first floor rooms. Think a light white with a nice tone-gray? I am terrible at picking color and sheen. Thanks

    • Sherwin-Williams logo

      Hello Liz, We’d like to get a better sense of your space before making a recommendation. Sign up for a free Virtual Color Consultation here.


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