Cottage Colors: Back from the Lake

July 5, 2007 § 17 Comments

sunset.jpgMy apologies to anyone who surfed over this way only to find empty posts and no comments for two weeks. I’ve been at my dad’s cottage away from all civilization (including my trusty computer) for two weeks. Although it was restful, the pile of emails and assorted communications that went unanswered is daunting. But I’m back.

While I was there, Dad decided to have the outside of the cottage painted. Or at least talk about it. And I had left all my color wheels at home. Why would I need them, I reasoned. Well, boy was I lost without them. I took a jaunt to the closest Home Depot and stood there in front of all the color swatches, just like many of you have been doing. I too was overwhelmed by the choices. Somehow with my own color wheels from all the various paint companies, I can maneuver through the myriad choices landing on the ones that I know will work. But in front of this maze of marketing displays, it was color overload. I grabbed a handful of paint chips and bolted for the door.

Back at the cottage, the process took shape. We decided on dark green trim for practical reasons. The spider droppings are black and show up on light trim. With a dark color, you don’t have to scrape the black spots off as often. Terrific. (I verified this by wandering over to a neighbor’s cottage that had white trim. Yup. Black spots.) Then we decided to go with a medium green for the body. Again for practical reasons. It will blend with the dark trim and not stand out very much. The surroundings are all green, of course, and the cottage will blend in. Just as Dad wants. Nothing flashy for this cottage. It’s pretty rustic. And the orange daylillies will really look sharp against the green backdrop.

When you’re choosing cottage colors (or colors for any dwelling that’s buried deep in nature’s colors), stick with colors that appear in nature. They don’t have to be greens, but taupes and tans and natural stone colors work great. As do darker blues and browns. Keeping to colors you find in your landscape will leave the vista uninterrupted to the eye. TheĀ cottage will look like it belongs right where it is.

§ 17 Responses to Cottage Colors: Back from the Lake

  • Marla says:

    I have a nineteen twenties house, a cape cod, and probably close to an arts and crafts style, though it looks a lot like an old farmhouse. No gingerbread anywhere. We are putting on new siding and roofing, and want to keep it classic for re-sale. I am planning on white siding and a dark grey roof. We also have a front porch that is painted. I can’t decide what to do about trim colors. Should I trim the windows charcoal gray and paint the porch that same color? Should I just paint the porch dark grey and leave the windows white? Presently, the white house has light green window trim and a dark green porch. I have several trees around the house and huge perennial beds. But the house sits in sun, mainly.
    I did historic research and the house would probably have had white wood siding, and a green roof. But I think green is too personal for selling.
    Any ideas? thanks! M.

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Marla,

    I think I would keep the window trim white. Your windows will look bigger that way. Any shutters? Black would be good. I would paint the porch floor charcoal grey with white everywhere else on the porch. But I would definitely paint your front door a classic red. That will look sharp and will attract lots of buyers, when you’re ready.

    Good luck.

    Your Home & Color Coach

  • rita says:

    I have a very large front porch and can’t decide what color to paint the porch. The front door is black which I really like and the house is white siding with black shutters. I want a dark color for the porch because of black mess from tree frogs. I have lots of trees around. Any suggestions

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Rita,

    Well, you could try dark green. It’s a little unconventional, but since you have a white house, you have many more options than if your house had color already. Actually, any color would work, but dark green would hide the black mess from the tree frogs.

    Good luck.

    Your Home & Color Coach

  • Chantal says:

    Good evening Barbara,
    We are in the process of bringing an old farmhouse back to life, and I have a few colour questions. The roof shingles are already installed and the Antique Grey is lighter than what I anticipated (I thought it would be a darker charcoal, closer to black) – but no going back now! My siding is vinyl, Premium Pebble Clay colour. My windows, trim and facia are white. Do you have any suggestions that would help me choose a colour for my front door? I would like it to pop, but not clash with my other choices. Would you go with light fixtures in a black or dark brown finish? Do you have any suggestions for porch floor colours (the posts and rails will be white like my trim)? The double hung windows are symetrically placed on my 1 3/4 storey house, and if shutters fit, I was thinking of adding this silk tie… what colour should I choose? And one last question, the basement cement blocks that extend above ground level were painted white by previous owners, do I simply paint these with a colour that matches closely with my siding? If not, please advise. Oh, and another thing… once we’re done with the house, we will be tackling the barn. The front was painted black with white trim and forest green doors… definitely not my taste… I wish it had been left as old weathered barnboard… Do you have any colour suggestions so it still looks like a barn (I was thinking either ox blood red with white trim or whitewash with red trim colour)? The barn roof is currently partially rusted tin.
    Thank you!

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Chantal (#5),

    Why not try a slightly redder shade for your front door. Something like Ben Moore’s cottage red. I would paint the foundation the same gray as the roof (maybe lighter). Same with the porch floor. Dark gray works really well — doesn’t show any dirt and coordinates well with the siding color. I would use black wrought iron metals for lighting, etc.

    Then you could paint the barn cottage red with brown doors and black wrought iron hinges.

    What do you think…

    Your Home & Color Coach

  • Jan says:

    Hello! I have an old house (1912) that is currently white siding. I have black shutters and a dark red front door. I want to paint/stain the wrap around front porch but not sure what color would look best. We had planned to paint the house a light gray next year. Should I paint the porch a shade of gray? Or match the red door? or Black?

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Jan (#7),

    I would stick with white even after you paint the house light gray next year. You can paint the railing black if you want to and certainly the floor can be painted or stained a darker color, like gray. But I would stick with white — like you’re painting trim.

    Hope that helps.

    Your Home & Color Coach

  • Lauren says:

    I have an older farm style house with a large wrap around porch. Our house is sort of a French Vanilla color with white trim. The windows are tall and have no shudders on the outside. The porch is currently a similar color to the house and I really want the porch to pop and be a focal point. Our door is an old Victorian door that is natural wood but I have plans to paint it red. What color would be best for the porch?

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Lauren (#9),

    You really cannot improve upon a beautiful white wrap-around porch. It’s classic. You can paint the floor black but keep everything else white.

    Then it sounds like you could use some shutters. Black would also be good and would provide some contrast to your neutral palette so far. Then the red door will just be the cherry on the sundae.

    And don’t forget your rockers on the porch. Red or black will call attention to the porch and you’re going to have a knock-out farmhouse.


    Your Home & Color Coach

  • adi says:

    Hi Barbara, I want to thank you for your suggestions on a previous question I had. I really love your ideas. Our roof color is rustic black and the siding is natural clay. I would love to do black shutters for the front of the house but I am not sure what color for the front door. Should I stain the front door a mahogany color or paint it black to match the shutters. There will be an overhang as well with white trim and white columns which would match the white trim on the windows. I noticed that you recommended black wrought iron lighting to someone else above, I think that would like nice on my house as well. Please let me know your ideas, can’t wait.

    Thank you.


  • bmeglis says:

    Hi adi (#11),

    Both black doors and mahogany (natural wood) doors are very elegant. I suggest going back to the curb or the end of your driveway and looking at your house from far away. Since there is an overhang, both door colors may actually look the same from the curb. If that’s the case, either will work and you can make your choice based on cost or simply which one you like better. Bottom line for me: If you have a nice big over-sized solid wood front door, then stain it mahogany. If you have a standard raised panel door that’s nothing tremendously special, then paint it shiny black.

    Hope that helps.

    Your Home & Color Coach

  • melissa Abad says:

    Hello there,
    What a wonderful site this is, how helpful! I’m hoping you might be able to make a suggestion on something I’m struggling with. i need to decide on a color to paint my back porch wood floor. I just made a big mistake staining it dark color- almost black and I absolutely hate it! it doesn’t go wtih my house which is a cottage looking/cape cod style home built in the 1930’s. Our house color is a Ben Moore/Bennington Grey color with all white trim everywhere. Our porch has white trim everwhere and I’d like to try to find a nice neutral color to paint the floor either in the grey family, taupe possibly that you think would work well? If you can give me a specific color you like that would be really helpful! Should it be a stain or a paint?

    • bmeglis says:

      Hi Melissa,

      By any chance, do you have black shutters and black metal lights and accessories on your cape cod home? I’m thinking that you might be suffering from what I term initial shock (the surprise at how different something looks after you change the color — the shock usually fades with time). If it’s the back porch, is it a large area? Can you cover part of it with a large indoor/outdoor rug? A dark stain is going to be hard to cover unless you paint it, which is less desirable than stain for surfaces that get a lot of weathering. If you still hate your porch floor in a few more days, write me back and we’ll discuss. It doesn’t sound as bad to me.

      Your Home & Color Coach

  • joe says:

    my wife and i just purchased a small 2 bedroom lake cottage that has cedar siding with a redwood stain . the stain needs to be redone but i would rather paint it like you stated with natural colors such as a green and a stone color for the fireplace. you are right about the spiders and i have a problem with mud dobber wasp as this house has exposed rafter tails. do you know of a book where we could look at examples of different colors on such homes? joe

    • bmeglis says:

      Hi Joe,

      I don’t know of a specific book offhand, but surfing around the internet for lake cottages will give you some ideas. If I see a book or something that might help you, I’ll pass it along.

      Good luck and enjoy your cottage!

      Your Home & Color Coach

  • Greaat reading your blog post

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