May 22, 2019 § Leave a comment
Some of you may remember when the fashion industry changed the skirt hem length every year — from maxi to mini to midi and then back to comfortably above the knee.
Front door color has followed a fashion trend of its own. A decade ago, red was all the rage — and for some it continues to be the most welcoming front door color. Black with a metal kick plate has always offered a sophisticated read on the front entry. But what has followed in more recent years has been a busting-out of traditional exterior curb appeal. Here’s what front door colors we were talking about just 3 years ago.
So it is time to update those door trends again. No more copycat door-painting just to be fashionable. We’re stepping out of the shade of the porch to a bold new entryway that will set each house apart from its neighbors.
But first, let’s talk about house colors. What has changed:
–More white houses. It used to be that white fell to farmhouses and antique colonials. Not anymore. There is plenty of white new construction, which opens up a fan deck of front door options.
–More gray houses. Always a neutral that fits into almost any environment, the gray interior trend moved to the outside and remains. Gray also opens up a fan deck of front door options, maybe just a few fewer than white.
–More Crayola color and less safe beige. Dark and rich are replacing light and airy. Briarwood is moving to Hale Navy. Rich Cream is moving to Merlot Red. Even some developments are providing a rainbow of siding options instead of the light neutrals from years past. <<applause>> If you have a bold red house, you probably don’t need me to tell you what color to paint your front door (lol!), but I’ll offer suggestions anyway.
–More midcentury renos, both contemporary and ranch style. With a surge in client interest for open-concept living (uh-oh to that trend, but that’s another story), people have realized that it is easier to update an already open midcentury home with the high vaulted ceilings and the great-room flow than it is to modify a boxy colonial. Big surprise there. So we are seeing a plethora of exterior colors (even black) as a result of these one-story re-dos.
Back to the front door. Here are some ideas for redoing your front door color to refresh your home.
Teal and Turquoise — I cannot believe that I used to recommend turquoise only for tropical house locations or homes that at least had a pool. What used to be a quest to coordinate house colors with the local environment is now a challenge to ignore it. Where teal and turquoise work: on gray, white, black, yellow, red, okay almost every house color except blue. Where they do not work: on dirty or faded house siding (the bright color makes the house look worse) and on other blues like colonial blue.
Yellow and Orange — not everybody’s favorite colors but they are so happy. I love them on a front door. Where they work: on dark house colors like navy, green-browns, dark and light grays, neutral gray brick, and white. Where they do not work: Again, on any color that looks faded, aged, or dirty.
Lime Green — fresh and springy and a wonderful coordinating color for your landscape. Where it works: dark gray, navy blue, even red brick, chocolate brown, black. Where it does not work: any other green or dirty beige.
Pink and Purple – always beautiful on a white house with coordinating landscape trees but also on a dark house for a real pop of warmth in the neighborhood. Where they work: white, gray, navy. Where they do not work: on yellow beiges and orange beiges because of the undertones and on anything that has a faded or dirty appearance.
If the bright colors will not work with your house color, try natural or even white.
Natural Wood or wood-look – always a classic. Where it works: navy and red, for sure. And just about every other house color.
White — yes white! What white does is make the whole entry area look larger since it blends with the white trim color. It also creates a blank canvas for holiday decor — wreathes, flower pots, etc. There is nothing quite like white as a backdrop to a variety of color palettes around the entryway. Where it works: especially good on a house with a lot of color already and crisp white trim. Also works on neutrals when you want to maintain a soft neutral palette throughout — be sure to add textures though with lots of greenery and baskets or wicker furniture. White also works on aged or faded houses where the bright colors do not. Crisp white perks everything up.
I hope these ideas dazzle your thinking and inspire you to head to the paint store. Happy painting, everybody!
May 20, 2019 § 4 Comments
I wrote my first blog post about front door color back in 2012 when it seemed like red and black were the most common options for traditional homes. And shutters? Well black and then black again.
But today I stumbled upon a couple of photos from Beacon Hill in Boston that blew my traditional color palette out of the fan deck, so to speak. It was love at first sight of that rich gorgeous blue — yet to be identified by name and brand.
Just guessing here (I didn’t find anything in the Sherwin Williams paint line), but Benjamin Moore has Dark Royal Blue 2065-20 that comes pretty close for now until I can track this color down.
What I love about this color for the front door (and shutters for that matter) is that it’s dark enough be traditionally tasteful and even replace black on many houses like the 1912 Colonial above, but it has hue enough to excite the senses and certainly stand out from the crowd of traditional black and Charleston Green doors and shutters (not that there’s anything wrong with traditional!).
And I’m just talking about brick homes — because door colors on painted houses and more contemporary homes have gone right through the color palette. More updates on that later.
In the meantime I’m going to appreciate that stunning blue on the brick Rhoades House and open my fan deck to more brick home door color ideas.
March 28, 2019 § 2 Comments
It’s all around us. Chaos. From the constant stream of visual information we scroll through daily and the mountain of snail mail we sort and toss to the stuff of life — equipment, cords, mismatched socks, you get it.
On the other side of chaos, we have the wisdom and direction of Marie Kondo who delicately advises us on how to live a happy and ordered life. It’s no wonder she has sold over 10 million copies worldwide of her “The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Series.
But what if you’re somewhere between surrendering to utter dysfunction and summoning up the energy to fight the entropy bombardment to disrupt your home? What else can you do to add some calmness to your home without ordering a dumpster for the driveway?
- Rid Yourself of Red (unless it’s your favorite color)
Whatever tends to agitate you emotionally, get rid of it. I’m talking about colors, not your family members. Whether it’s your limey yellow kitchen walls, red curtains in the master bedroom, or the dated and kind of ugly wallpaper left by the previous owner, take the time to change it. Personally, I took all the red pillows and artwork out of my living room and replaced them with blues and calm neutrals. I noticed a remarkable change in my spirit.
- Create One Beautiful Vista Per Room
If the thought of clearing out 27 years of living from your house is overwhelming, then focus only on the view of each room from the doorway. If you can free up and make beautiful only one wall of each room, you will enter the room each time with a feeling of orderly calmness. The rest will come with time. It’s a start.
- Keep the Plants Living
It may seem ridiculous to say this, but “Water your plants.” If you have them, nurture them. Otherwise, give them away or toss. There is nothing calming about a dead plant occupying a coveted corner of your living room. You might better replace that pot with a decorative one with nothing in it.
Now that you’ve started to create a calmer environment, you might have the energy to rummage through closets and drawers — maybe on a nice day with the windows open. I’m not suggesting you throw anything out. Just put like things with other like things. It will make a big difference.
- Invest in Containers
In the laundry area, bathroom closet, under the sink, in the kitchen drawers — everywhere there is a bunch of related stuff cluttering up an area, put that stuff in a container: basket, plastic bin, or a box even. What that does is take all that visual clutter and replace it with one thing to look at on a daily basis. Then when you need to get an item, focus and locate it in the container. But until then, you’ve managed to calm that visual chaos.
- Combine Cluttery Stuff
Books, collections, trophies, photos of the family — everything that tends to creep all over the house and look busy. Combine them into groupings: a collage of family photos on the stairwell wall, a curio cabinet with all your collectibles, dedicated bookcases for your library of favorite books. Once your collections are contained in a dedicated area for display, you will appreciate them more for all the stories you can tell about them. Plus, you can find them. You’ve contained your chaos of stuff by highlighting and honoring the reason you’re keeping it all.
- Keep a White Flag Handy
Okay, that’s it. I don’t want to stress you out with another to-do list. There will be days, weeks, months when you need to take care of yourself and let the house go. Acknowledge that. Wave your white flag. Order a pizza delivered, close the door to the clutter, and put your feet up. Or take a bath. It will all be there tomorrow, but you may feel better about it.
January 23, 2019 § Leave a comment
As I type the title into this blog post, I am struck by how nearly impossible that question is to answer for somebody like me who loves almost all hues. How would I ever pick a favorite? But some people have no problem.
In the latest House Beautiful (Jan/Feb 2019 issue) amidst the usual articles about paint color trends and new wallpaper patterns, a spread jumped out of the magazine when I turned the page. Designer Kristen McCory and editor Emma Bazilian lay out a color palette that I would not expect to see in a Connecticut home.
There in a high-gloss fuchsia fiesta was a fireplace surround and mantel popping out of the living room wall. And there was more! A hot pink antique secretary and a raspberry velvet settee left no doubt as to the intentions of the designer. The homeowner wanted Pink. (That’s Benjamin Moore’s Gypsy Pink on the mantel.)
But the story gets so sweet when we discover that the pink is a tribute to the homeowner’s 99-year-old grandmother whose favorite lipstick was Revlon’s Parisian Pink. And that is what brings me to ask “What color brings YOU joy?”
For me? I guess I’m kind of in a Pink frame of mind these days — it’s bitter cold outside and that warm pink hue brings joy to my heart when I stare at it long enough. Witness my Facebook page yesterday —>
But by Spring I know I will have put all the warm colors into the closets and brought out blues to cool the house down and bring me newfound joy. I’m not sure what it is about turquoise, teal, and aqua that I love so much but maybe it’s what those colors represent to me: in this case, last year’s vacation with my precious sister! When I see ocean blues now, I think of her and it brings me joy.
Whatever color brings you joy (always or maybe just right now) … embrace it. Wear it, decorate with it, and share it with others. Don’t worry about keeping up with trends that make others happy. When clients tell me they want a color for their kitchen that is the same color as their best friend’s kitchen, I always push back a little. It never fails. What looks good in somebody else’s house is inevitably a big fail somewhere else. Don’t pick a yellow front door because your neighbor has one. As we say so often these days… You Do You.
What Color Brings YOU Joy?
January 10, 2019 § Leave a comment
“Little stuff reads Clutter — big stuff reads Drama.”
That is the mantra of a home stager, but the staging principle (what shows up best on camera) translates nicely into home decorating. That is not to say that you can’t have collections of treasures and portraits of the family scattered around your home, but going big successfully draws the eye and establishes the personality for the room.
Of course color does help! I’m enjoying the oranges and reds this cold winter morning, but contrast is all you need for major dramatic impact.
Go ahead. Make a statement!
Or create a serene backdrop for pared-down furnishings.
Or go for a wall mural — yes, big is back!
One caveat. Keep the furnishings in front of the art relatively simple for maximum effect. I’m about to install a piece of art that’s 60″ tall — can’t wait to show you the end result in my client’s family room.
Happy 2019 Everybody! I’ll be back with more color talk soon!
May 23, 2018 § 1 Comment
We are attracted to colors that are pleasing to us, and nature provides the best inspiration. Color palettes are everywhere, but not everything we see is pleasing to the eye. Why do some colors whisper sweetly at us whereas others, when combined, seem to claw at each other for dominance?
As color enthusiasts, we are all familiar with the color wheel as the foundation of basic color theory and the resource for learning the characteristics of various colors (or “hues”) and which colors work together.
Hue Value: Besides the obvious differences between the colors in this rainbow wheel, one of the easiest characteristics to see is the value (whether one color is lighter or darker than another). Color professionals and other color lovers know this, but just in case… if we look at the second ring in from the outside, we can see that moving toward the outside of the wheel (adding black) makes the hue darker (a shade of the original). Moving toward the center of the wheel (adding white) makes the hue lighter (a tone of the original color).
Color Clarity: The clarity, whether a color is Crayola-crayon clear or kind of muddy looking, is another color characteristic that contributes to our particular color taste and definitely influences which colors go together and which ones fight.
Clear colors are vibrant and are used not only in packaging and advertising because they attract so much attention but also in some modern decorating and architectural color schemes.
On the other hand, the same color (green) when altered by mixing its opposite color with it becomes quieter and more subdued and can blend easily into a landscape. That’s why “grayed-down” colors work well on an exterior – at least for the siding (doors are a different story!).
TIP Mixing clear colors with grayed-down colors (especially if they’re in the same color family – say green) does not work. The clear color suddenly looks garish, and the grayed-down color suddenly looks dirty. It is probably one of the biggest decorating mistakes I see.
Undertone: One of the hardest color characteristics to identify is a color’s undertone, but every neutral has one. And what may on its own look like a simple beige or gray may actually reveal another color (for example, pink, green, yellow) when placed next to another color (or white).
In large quantity (like a floor), either tile above might read “beige.” But the tile on the left has a pink undertone, and the one on the right has a green undertone. It is important to decipher the undertones particularly in carpet, counter, tile, and other materials and avoid mixing undertones when you add fabrics, paint, and furniture, and other surfaces. The kitchen below is an expensive mistake.
There are whole books and courses on undertones alone. I refer you to Maria Killam who literally wrote the book on Undertones. Professional designers, decorators and color experts need to be very familiar with undertones before specifying color.
TIP Don’t Mix Undertones!
So How Do Colors Work Together Successfully?
Almost any color will look good by itself or mixed with white. But we don’t pick colors to stand alone most of the time. We choose color combinations. And that’s where the fun is – figuring out which color combinations work together and how to use each color effectively, whether you’re designing a magazine cover or a living room.
Using the color wheel again, here are some combinations:
A monochromatic color scheme is an easy way to decorate a room as it uses many different shades and tones of one color (hue) like you would find up and down a particular color strip in the fan deck.
TIP If you use a monochromatic color scheme, make sure that the clarity of the color is the same throughout. In the words of Maria Killam, “don’t mix clean with dirty.”
Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel and they tend to have energy when they’re together. So using them in an application makes a big splash like on a magazine cover when you want it to leap off the shelf at you while you’re standing at the checkout counter.
Analogous colors are side-by-side on the color wheel and tend to be either cool (blues and greens) or warm (red/orange/yellow).
Cool colors all used together actually create a calm feeling, and they are often used in high-stress settings like hospitals.
And what better color scheme when you want to generate warmth and draw customers into a hot coffee shop than to use analogous warm colors like pink and orange.
TIP When you are using an analogous color scheme, show those subtle color differences off by pairing with plenty of white! White makes colors pop!
Sharply contrasting colors like black and white provide the starkest contrast, but white with gray and a pop of vibrant neon can really look striking, both in packaging and in a room.
Neutrals are not always beiges and grays as you can see from this neutral living room, but they don’t always show up on a typical color wheel. Many of you may be in what we might refer to as the Gray Period of recent years (gray replaced beige of decades past as the neutral of choice).
TIP Add texture (nubby pillows, shiny metals, soft fabrics) if you decorate with a neutral color scheme to add visual interest in a room without a lot of color and contrast.
Whites — who knew — are so numerous that if you Google “shades of white” you get 982,000,000 results. So there are whites, and then there are WHITES. Unless you are painting an art museum interior, I suggest avoiding a chalky white for your wall color. That particular white is so vivid it practically glows in the dark.
TIP Choosing an off-white (a “white” that leans more toward a color like beige, gray, yellow, or blue) gets you more mileage and will age more gracefully than a pure toothpaste white.
Color trends may come and go, but it’s helpful to know why certain color schemes work and how to make adjustments in ones that don’t.
February 22, 2018 § Leave a comment
Late to the party here, but better late than never. At least that’s what I said to myself yesterday when I scrolled onto THIS beautiful hue and found out that it was crowned The World’s Favourite Colour. No great surprise since it represents some of the world’s most exquisitely beautiful treasures like Bali — an island so gorgeous its name alone sounds relaxing.
Last summer there was a questionnaire sent out — ’round the globe, as it were — to find out which color appealed to the most people. (I totally missed it! Arrrgh!)
“The competition organised by Hull 2017 UK City of Culture and paper merchant GF Smith invited people to select their favourite shade online by hovering over an infinite palette of shades with their mouse until they landed on the colour they found most appealing.”
The winner was this rich teal that nature inspires and artists incorporate to capture the beauty that surrounds us.
The closest paint color approximation I could find was a Duron Paints shade, Sea Sphinx.
But there were others:
There are plenty of other ways to introduce the color into your decor — window treatments, accessories, and more art, of course.
On an accent wall of Marrs Green, this art pops!
And so does this one!
Though I have blogged about “teal” before, I guess there’s a reason. It appeals to vast numbers of people worldwide. It is a little bit blue, yet a little bit green. It’s the warmest ocean color and a color that appears in natural gems and plant life. It is rejuvenating in all its forms.
It looks great with the full green/blue spectrum and all its values, and it forms a calm backdrop to pops of heat. Marrs Green — The World’s Favorite Color.
February 19, 2018 § 2 Comments
While scrolling through the interwebs today I bumped into this tweet from Architectural Digest highlighting 20 cute items from Walmart. Okay, that I had to see. And I have to agree — there are lots of really “super cute things” that I had not noticed while shopping for cheap soap dispensers.
But the item that caught my eye and sent me off to color dreamland was a gorgeous ribbed glass bowl in the most deliciously subtle tones of green. It reminded me of the Farrow & Ball color palette — you know — those paint colors that look like velvet in shades and tones that no other paint company seems to match. There’s something about them (trade secrets, I suspect) that gives a room or a piece of furniture a hue that whispers sophistication. Not one of them will show up in a Crayola box.
There are two obvious things that distinguish Farrow & Ball from other more mainstream paint lines: the number of colors (way fewer) and the price (way more). And although many home projects and palettes of colors might not be worth the extra expense because the subtle tonal difference or undertone might not be noticed, I find that the blues and greens in Farrow & Ball are far superior for their soft, sophisticated richness.
Maybe it’s the largess of their English roots (Farrow & Ball is located in the United Kingdom). Or maybe it’s the fewer number of perfect colors (only 132) so that every color decision is a successful one. Or the fact that the company has maintained its original formulation. Or maybe it’s the mystique. But whatever it is … I love it.
Regardless of the paint line you prefer, keep your eyes open for color inspirations. They are everywhere — even Walmart.
February 15, 2018 § Leave a comment
In the next town over, there’s a purple house. And when I say purple, I mean PURple, but not just the front door as we see in the row house above, but also the siding, the trim, the doors, the shutters, and even the concrete foundation. The whole house is purple. (I would show you a photo of the house, but I don’t want to embarrass it.) The result is a house that draws everyone’s attention and not in a good way.
On the other hand, if your house is already an extrovert — one that has character and interesting features you want to show off in all their glory, then go ahead and use paint. This article from This Old House presents ideas for how to bring out the personality in your older home and shows not only colors that grab attention but also where to put them and which ones go beautifully together.
There are lots of ways to use color. This beachy turquoise, perfect for a cottage style home in a coastal community, uses one hue — a medium tone for the siding and a darker value for the shutters and door. White trim completes the cottagey look. The result is a house that displays its positive features without overdoing the palette. This strategy is especially good for a small house.
Dark colors are trending now, and this gray-brown ranch is a good example. But instead of keeping the whole house a quiet, conventional wallflower, the homeowner displays its cheerful personality with tangerine shutters, front door and striped awning. The white trim makes the colors “pop,” as we say, and you have a real looker!
Speaking of citrus, look how this bungalow shows off its architectural features with Juicy Fruit colors and — wait a minute — a lovely deep grape purple foundation. Now that works!
My favorite color combination, though, and perfect for this restored Italianate house, is terra cotta siding; a darker value for the window muntins, eave corbels, and column accents; a rich natural wood front door (and rocking chairs — nice touch); and cream gingerbread trim.
These are only a few ideas for how to embellish your older home with color. Spring outdoor projects are coming for many of us, and one of us at least has house color on her mind. Ha!
Think color, my Color Friends! And stay cozy.