Using the Nix Sensor to Pick a Paint Colour

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Inside: A review of the Nix Sensor; a device that helps you pick paint colours and swatches for interior decorating; and the Nix mobile app that reads paint colours

*I was given this product to use and review. All opinions contained in this blog post and associated social media postings are honest and my own. This post contains affiliate links.

 I’m asked about choosing paint colours a lot. And here’s the thing – I’m not a decorator, interior designer, or a professional. I’m just a blogger who likes colour and doesn’t mind making a mistake. I repaint my walls all the time because to me, it’s not that big a deal. BUT, when I decided to paint a plaid wall in my home office, I knew it was a one-shot deal. I didn’t want to get the colours wrong and then have to redo the entire process. 

So when I was given a Nix Mini Sensor to review, I took it as an opportunity to get the plaid wall colours right on the very first go. how to pick paint colours with a colour sensor

What is the Nix Sensor?

The Nix Sensor is a neat little gadget that is about the size of a Loonie (or for those non-Canadians, the size of a walnut). It has a sensor on one side that you press up against a flat surface in the colour you want to capture. 

The Mini version, which is the one I have, costs about a hundred dollars give or take and it comes with a mini-USB charger and an instruction booklet. 

The sensor comes fully charged in the box, so I was able to open it up and start using it immediately. 

Once you’ve placed your Nix on the colour you like, the sensor then sends the data to an app on your phone that populates with known paint colours from a whole bunch of brands. 

Is it easy to use?

I’d say it’s certainly easier to use than I thought it would be. The sensor does have to be within range of the phone with the app on it in order to work – I think it has to be within a few feet to send the data properly. 

I also found that on complex colour surfaces, like my succulent painting for example, it had trouble reading the lighter colours mixed in with the dark. This reading kept giving me deep purples instead of the soft blues that I wanted. 

Pros of using a Nix Sensor

There are a few pros to using a sensor like this. The first is really that it will streamline your colour selections before you get to the store and it will help you save a bit of time combing over those colour cards once you’re there. 

Once I found a blue in our home that the sensor could read, it gave me a bunch of blues that I liked on the app. 

I was quickly able to see which ones were too green, which were too taupe and narrowed my selection to a few key blue ‘families’. Our time at the paint desk was super short because I beelined right to the cards I knew I wanted to see. 

One thing I did do was verify my selection. I made sure to cross reference three different similar blues in our house to see if there were any similar suggestions from the sensor. The Manhatten Blue I ended up going with was present on two of the three sensor read outs, so I knew it was a likely candidate. 

The app itself is fairly intuitive and it lets you collect colour inspiration in folders within the app. As you can see I named this folder Operation Office. 

I also like that it will build out colour families for you, so secondary colour suggestions for accents and neutrals if you need that level of help. 

Cons of using a Nix Sensor

The major con of the sensor method for picking paint is that it might lull you into thinking you don’t have to use your own eye and judgement to make the final decision. The read outs on the sensor will depend on the lighting in your home, the brightness and resolution on your phone screen and the accuracy of the online paint swatches available within the sensor app. 

I thought I’d love Bright Future, for example, but it was like cotton candy blue-green on the read out and the in-person swatch looked like a super pale, almost white, blue. There was a lot of discrepancy. 

Would I purchase this product if I was to do this all over again. To be honest, I’m not sure I would. I’m a DIYer, just like you are. I don’t paint entire homes or draft whole house colour schemes regularly and I’m not overly obsessed with nailing my colour selections every time. I mean, you know me, I’m a serial re-painter of walls. I never get too attached. 

I think it’s a cool device, don’t get me wrong. But is it worth the cost of two cans of paint? For the average homeowner, I’m not sure it is. 

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