This article was originally written by me for a design publication, and is reprinted here:
Choosing colors for the outside of a house can prove even more daunting for a homeowner than choosing colors for the inside. Many variables affect our perception of exterior color, and I try to take them all into account in a collaboration with the homeowner to choose a color scheme and help them realize the possibilities.  They include:

  Architecture–Are there architectural features worthy of highlighting through the use of color? Are certain architectural styles best served by a classic exterior paint scheme?

  Orientation–Does the front face north, south, east, west (not to mention northeast, southwest, etc.)?
  Surface— Are we painting cedar shake, siding, stucco, brick? Does the surface absorb or reflect color?
  Landscape— Do we want the house to stand out from, or blend in with, its surroundings? Is much of the structure shaded by the surrounding landscape, or is it exposed?
  Neighborhood or Environs– Should we adhere to neighborhood standards and expectations? Are there historical society guidelines?
  Personal Preference– What colors speak to the homeowners? What would make them feel happy as they drive up to their home after a long day?
Victorian House on Tree-Lined Street, Mount Vernon, New York

Victorian House on Tree-Lined Street, Mount Vernon, New York

In the first example above in Westchester County, New York, architectural detail in a Victorian gem was hidden under a uniform coat of white paint; the house appeared weary and worn. We used two shades of grey- green: the third story dormers and first floor, under the porch, as well as the sun room addition are darker green than the rest of the body.   This creates depth and dimension.  Look closely and you’ll see dark grey detailing around the porch and on the corbels supporting the mansard roof. What was once a tired lady is now the prettiest painted lady on the block.
Exterior Copper Detail, Larchmont, New York

Exterior Copper Detail, Larchmont, New York

Larchmont, New York

Larchmont, New York

The second house above began as a classic colonial cottage.  It was pretty, but didn’t reflect the personalities of the homeowners. We explored the homeowners’ love of vibrant colors, affection for the south of France, and through a process of elimination (and compromise between them, but that’s another story) came upon a color scheme which was classical but at the same time whimsical and fun. There was plenty of opportunity, with paint, to express creativity on the porch’s columns and railings, and on the doors and detached garage.
New Rochelle, New York, Mediterranean

New Rochelle, New York, Mediterranean

New Rochelle Front Door and Patio

New Rochelle Front Door and Patio

The third home pictured above is a 1920’s stucco home with a Mediterranean influence. Like the Victorian home described above, its charms were concealed under white paint, broadly brushed. We wanted to restore its Mediterranean flavor, but also to have it stand out in its neighborhood (it is perched high on a hill, for all to see) while working in its natural surroundings. In addition to the sunny-colored stucco, we “detailed” the house with several shades of blue,  giving it a well-loved look (and, at the same time, increasing both curb appeal and property value). The various blue and blue-grey colors blend with the meandering slate walk which leads to the massive front door, making the house feel as much a part of the landscape as a castle rising above it.
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