Good Design Learns from History

February 4, 2010 § 2 Comments

This historic New England barn is original to the property, and its characteristic beauty helps to define the classic regional style. Owning an historic property can be a real joy for those whose passion is preserving the beauty of the past, but don’t think you have to own a historic treasure to enjoy the pleasures of a striking outbuilding. 

If you need more space for a workroom or your vehicles, you can add a lot of character to your property by incorporating  the unmatched elements, colors, and materials used in previous centuries to make your own history, whether it’s a barn, a large work shed, or simply your garage. 

I get lots of questions about how to match exterior colors and blend materials between house and garage, but as you can see from this photo, there’s absolutely nothing matching between this barn and the accompanying house. From the unpainted board-and-batten style siding,  brass lighting, and  farm-style scale, this barn stands on its own. The colonial house has traditional, painted,  horizontal lap siding and white windows. The bridge color between house and barn is black — the black windows on the barn carry over to the accent color on the house (note the black shutters and lighting as well as the black pergola and fence next to the driveway). By painting the wood accessories on the house black instead of leaving them natural, the unpainted barn takes center stage.

Even if you have no plans to build a major additional structure in your yard, keep this basic design principle in mind when you’re working on your exterior. Colors and materials do not have to match.

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§ 2 Responses to Good Design Learns from History

  • Lisa Smith says:

    My husband and I bought a rural property that has four buildings on 16 acres. The house has metal siding that is a bluish gray with lighter wood-grain-look. The shop was painted blue gray and the log sided garage is also blue gray, and the shed is log sided brown. We hate blue gray! Without re-siding the house (to save money) what colors would you paint the out buildings? I want the “homestead” to stand out, be different…unique. The house also has horrible bright blue doors, which I also hate. The trim is on the house is white. The house is your basic ranch with now outstanding features except a rood wood deck. We were thinking of also putting metal roofing on each building. We live in rural Wyoming..a lot of rock, a few trees, sage brush…it is sparse but beautiful. Every farm or ranch around here has everything matching, mainly white. I wish I could send you a photo. We are stumped and we need to paint the garage this summer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    This is such a great informative site…Thanks!

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