Curb Appeal Refresh: The Front Door

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.

Benjamin Moore Aura Color Stories (plus dove white and wood tone)

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.

Teal Door

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.

Photo: Koch Architects

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.

Notting Hill
Designer: Roger Hazard

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.

Natural Wood is a Classic

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.

White Calms the Palette

I hope these ideas dazzle your thinking and inspire you to head to the paint store. Happy painting, everybody!

Front Door Color –Refresh for Brick Homes

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.

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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.

Mary Rhoades House, 1912 Colonial Revival
Photo: @buildingsofnewengland

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.

Dark Royal Blue
Benjamin Moore 2065-20

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.

Calming the Visual Chaos

March 28, 2019 § 2 Comments

The epitome of calmness. Photo: @harlimarten

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.

Choose calming colors
  • 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.

Make one wall beautiful
  • 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.

Artificial but it LOOKS real

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.

Relaxxxx

Mirrors Mirrors on the Walls

March 15, 2019 § 2 Comments

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on mirrors. (Sorry, had to to that.) I love mirrors in decorating. Not only do they bring much needed natural light into a dark room, but they create an illusion of space and even act as art if hung in groupings on a focal wall or along a stairwell.

But sometimes a mirror just doesn’t work. Here are a few tips for placing mirrors that might help you better appreciate them in your home.

  • Avoid reflecting light back out the front door.
A little plug for a gorgeous yellow paint color here

This is feng shui (it is not good to reflect the chi back out the front door), but it does make decorating sense. Putting a mirror at the front entry so you see yourself entering the home misses the opportunity to see and greet your guests with a beautiful piece of art instead. Just move the mirror to another wall in the entry and you will still add light to the space.

  • Make sure the mirror reflects something positive.
Current obsession: Round Mirrors

Nobody wants to see your kitchen sink full of dishes reflected in the living room mirror. Make sure you place the mirror where it reflects a window or art on another wall in the room.

  • Hang mirror over the fireplace instead of tilting it on the mantel.
Hang mirror over mantel. Don’t tilt it. But isn’t this pretty?

What happens when you tilt a mirror on the mantel is that it most likely will reflect your ceiling and that’s it. If you hang the mirror, it will reflect the rest of the room and will double the space. Also, just an aside… if you are staging your home to sell, a mirror in the living room is good luck because potential home buyers who see themselves in the home tend to buy it (not a scientific fact, but it has worked so far!).

  • Hang bathroom mirror so you can see into it.

It’s okay to let the mirror overhang the bead board (or backsplash tile) as long as you and others can see into the mirror while standing in front of the sink. Although visually, you might be tempted to hang the mirror clearly on the drywall (above the trim work in this photo), in a bathroom, form follows function.

  • Make art with groupings of mirrors.
Show off your mirrors and beautiful frames

Organizing and hanging your mirrors either by matching shapes or frames (or both as above) or creating a random display of your mirror collection creates a unique focal point on the wall. Especially fun in a bedroom, stairwell or hallway that needs additional light but where the function of each mirror is secondary to its artistic arrangement.

Place your mirrors strategically to maximize their impact on the room. And for hanging really heavy mirrors, make sure you find at least one wall stud to secure the mirror onto the wall.

Mirror mirror on the wall. Be the smartest mirror-hanger of all!

What Color Brings You Joy?

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.)

housebeautiful.com (Photo: Chris Delaney)

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 —>

Fuchsia Peony

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.

The Reefs, Bermuda

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?

Going Big-Art Big

January 10, 2019 § Leave a comment

grandinroad.com

“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.

frontgate.com

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.

grandinroad.com

Go ahead. Make a statement!

etsy.co

Or create a serene backdrop for pared-down furnishings.

AD. Design: Grant Gibson. Photo: Kathryn MacDonald

Or go for a wall mural — yes, big is back!

Artist: Mike Centioli, muralsyourway.com

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!

How Do We Pick Colors?

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.

ColorWheel

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.

kellygreendesk

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.

mixingundertones

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.

ElleDecor2

Complementary Colors

ElleDecor1

More Complementary Colors

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.