Devine Color paint was born out of Gretchen Schauffler's frustration over paint chips. They never seemed to match the color on the wall. Then there was the problem she was having finding an acceptable shade of lime green. “I am from Puerto Rico. I live in the Pacific Northwest. I love lime green. I couldn't find a lime green that would work here,” she says.

So the graphic design major, turned pharmaceutical sales person, turned stay-at-home mom, decided to make her own. For the raw product, she turned to a company that made paint for manufactured homes. Mixing and muddling, she came up with some colors and took them to Miller Paint Company, a popular North-west brand, with the hope they would manufacture it for her.

“They turned me down the first time,” she says. She persisted and succeeded five years ago in netting a 25-year agreement in which she does the color consulting and promotion while Miller manufactures her product. Devine Color pioneered the idea of providing small samples of paint-in-pouches, eliminating the need to buy quart-sized samples.

In other innovative marketing techniques, the company uses actual paint on samples rather than the photocopy cards Schauffler hated so. That helps show that the paint is different than average paint, with a sheen and depth to the finish designed to make it look more like fabric than paint. Indeed, the company markets its product as more than paint.

WATER COLOR: Devine Color gives consumers small samples of paint-in-pouches, eliminating the need to buy quart-sized samples. “I created Devine Color as my personal confirmation that wall color impacts the way we live,” she says on the company web site. “I believe that certain colors give us instant pleasure, and we should give ourselves permission to live with it.” Builders have been somewhat slow to take to Devine Color. For one thing, Schauffler hasn't done much marketing to them. At about $38 a gallon, its price tag is higher than average.

“We chose not to market with the builders originally because they are in the bidding wars,” she says. “We did not even do five-gallon buckets to begin with. Now builders and professional painters are using it like crazy. The reds cover over white in two coats.” The paint has become extremely popular in the Portland, Ore., an area where she lives.

“It definitely looks different on the wall than regular paint,” says Wendi Olson, who runs custom home builder M.J. Olson Enterprises with her husband, Morall, in Kalama, Wash. “We started using it in our show homes and it is definitely a seller. People come in and they say, ‘That is a Devine color.' ” Now she uses the palette as a starting point for customers.

“Usually they find what they want right away,” she says. Dacor appliances used Devine Color paint throughout its new Los Angeles headquarters says Michael Zivanich, the company's national sales training manager for North America. “We have a lot of people here looking at appliances,” says Zivanich, “and the biggest commentary we get from our visitors is about the paint.”