It was a very specific colour with the name Majorelle Blue. I saw it while on holiday in Morocco and instead of buying a tin there, I decided to be clever and Google the colour when I got home and have it mixed here.
How difficult could it be? After all, it is a well-known Moroccan blue, named after the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh where famous fashion designer Yves St Laurent once lived.
Back home, I Googled Majorelle Blue and realised the formula is a bit like Duck Egg Blue. The latter ranges from a baby blue to light green, while Majorelle Blue ranges from a dusky purplish-blue to an electric blue. At the store, the man who mixes the paint was sympathetic. I showed him my photo ( above) and gave him the formula I found on the internet: 73% cyan, 72% magenta, no yellow, no black. (Apparently, it’s normal that the percentages don’t add up to 100. Hesitantly, I gave him the go-ahead...)
I returned home and painted the wall but, surprise surprise, there wasn’t enough paint; I still needed another litre. I took a picture of the tin, the label with all the codes and the details on the lid. Surely another litre of this special mixture wouldn’t be a problem?
My builder Paul said he’d buy the paint for me. So I sent him photos of the label and tins and he stopped off at the store where I’d had the first litre mixed. That afternoon, he phoned me, puzzled: “Something is wrong with the new tin of paint; it doesn’t match the first litre...”
Then followed a broken telephone conversation between Paul, the paint guy and myself. Paul insisted something was wrong. The paint guy said it was impossible and that he’d followed the information on the label; it was exactly the same paint. I said that since I wasn’t there, I couldn’t be much help. I withdrew from the conversation, saying I would check it out later.
That evening, I realised Paul’s problem: the old paint was matte, the new paint had a gloss finish. So I took a photo of the half-and-half wall, and headed back to the paint shop. Paul was right, no matter what the labels on the two tins said.
The paint guy muttered, “Hmm, this is very strange,” and in my mind I could hear Paul gloating. Long story short? It took an hour-and-a-half to mix the new litre of paint because the branch manager had to first check, according to the cash register, which tins of paint had been sold on that first morning. And yes, the label was incorrect. The original base was indeed a matte finish, the second litre was a gloss. Administrative error.
How did it happen? Nobody knows. But it’s a good reminder: even if you carefully make a note of your paint decisions, things can still go wrong... We hope this issue of Paint It inspires projects in your own home. Send us photos – we’d love to see what you’ve done!