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Welcome back! Today in The Student Lounge, Trish is joined with Nicole Ruffing, Sherwin Williams designer account executive from Atlanta, Georgia. The two dive into color theory and all Sherwin Williams has to offer for students and design professionals.

Nicole attended the University of Connecticut for political science and began working in construction in Florida before ever attending design school. She happened upon an interior design book which sparked her interest, and she quickly fell in love with the study. Finally, she looked forward to school and assignments!

As a student, she began as a part-time color consultant – giving homeowners color and product recommendations – at Sherwin Williams. She eventually became a store manager, then made her way into color marketing and design. There, she learned about the business aspects that she wasn’t taught in a classroom. Today, Nicole is a designer account executive, providing color tools, resources, and recommendations to clients. She gets to work with designers and make color fun!

The 152-year-old company offers resources for both designers and students through their site. By signing up online, you can receive complimentary paint samples as a professional or student. Events and opportunities for education are always happening at Sherwin Williams, which you can learn more about online.

A student design competition takes place every spring, spanning over about six weeks. There are two contests, residential and commercial. All you must do is submit renderings – hand drawn or digital – with Sherwin Williams colors and a brief description.

When a student graduates, Sherwin Williams will send the full library of their professional tools, including a fan deck, pallet guide, and larger samples. Contact your local designer account executive to receive a free color fan deck today, and listen on for more information about how to access the tools available and find internship opportunities.


  1. Always sample a color before choosing one. They look different from room to room, lighting and depending on if it is dry.
  2. Pick paint colors last when working on a project. They have over 1,500 colors, so there is no shortage of what might work for you!
  3. Find an inspiration piece to use with the app, Colorsnap, to match the colors in the piece.

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Visit NEWH Scholarships to learn more about scholarship opportunities.

A big shout-out to Porcelanosa and Benjamin Moore for sponsoring The Student Lounge!

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