Is Your Home Ready for its Close-Up Shot?

May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

finaldooryellow3In real estate, a picture is worth a hundred home visits — at least to many potential buyers who cast off rejects as fast as they can hit the Next button.

If you’re preparing your home for the market (or if your home is already on and just sitting), here’s a tip that might get your home ready for its close-up shot and looking good on the big screen (or at least the laptop):

Take photos of your house from the street and then take a shot of every room from the doorway. Then put them on the computer and take a look at what the public is seeing online.

Ask yourselves:

1) Does the photo of the house from the street show that the house is kept up? Is there stuff in the yard? Are there weeds in the garden? Is there peeling paint anywhere? (You can see the to-do list forming, can’t you…)

2) In the photo from the front door, can you see into other parts of the house or is the foyer closed off and dark? Is there old carpeting on the floor or is it tile or hardwood?

3) Inside, are any rooms dark? Do the curtains cover the windows? Is your furniture in sad shape or is there too much of it in a room? (These are the areas to address)

4) And lastly, is there something in the photo that immediately grabs your eye — and not in a good way? It could be a crooked picture or a sloppy bed. That is what the public remembers from that photo.

With to-do list in hand, fix those items that are keeping your house from getting a personal visit from potential buyers. Selling a house is far more than just listing it with an agency and sticking a sign in the front yard. Make sure you value the importance of photos that show your home to its best advantage.

Is Your House Comfortable in its Color?

March 18, 2013 § 4 Comments

LtGrShuttWherever I go I study house color, trim color, front doors, and overall curb appeal (it’s kind of an obsession). And this house (even with its imperfections) struck me today as a good example of a house that is comfortable in its skin.

The siding color is yellow but not too lemony and not too orange. Kind of pale but not too cream. Buttery but not too saturated. It’s just, in a word, perfect for this little house.

The trim is not white-white but an off-white without being too beige. A whiter white would look too crisp and a little too Cape Cod for this antique. Off-white gives the house an aged, relaxed, comfortable look. No face-lift needed here.

And the accent color, a soft weathered green with just a touch of blue is really not an accent color at all. Instead of interrupting the house color, like black shutters would, the green simply finishes the house like curtain panels finish a room.

The point is, these homeowners let their house speak to them when it was time to pick a house color palette and didn’t try to make the house into something it isn’t.

Do You Have Two Front Doors?

March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

2doorMany of us have more than one entrance on the front of the house, and sometimes one is rarely used. How do you indicate which door you want visitors to enter? Do you paint both doors an accent color or just one?

If you use the main front door as your guest entrance — if you’re having a party, say,  and don’t want people traipsing through the kitchen — then paint that front door an accent color (red in this case) and all other doors a color that coordinates with your siding (maybe a shade or two darker or just the trim color). If you paint both front doors red, we are not only left with two focal points but we’re confused as to which door is preferable. Painting only one red door will announce which one is open for guests. In this photo example, the homeowners painted both doors red but distinguished the front door from the porch entrance with a wreath. Not quite as clear as using color, but it works.

Now here is where it gets tricky. If you NEVER want anyone to go to the front door, then paint that door a neutral color that coordinates with the siding and paint the porch door red. It’s okay. The same applies to all the various side doors, garage doors, and shed doors. Paint them all a coordinating color but not the same as your main door. That guest entrance is special.

Just a guideline if you’re struggling with too many doors and what to paint them.

Choosing a Color Palette for Your House: It’s a Natural

January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

wall1Another drive-by sighting of some curb appeal. This time, the stone wall pops out partly because of its mix of natural stones (and not just one kind) but also because the house color is drawn from the wall’s palette of natural hues. Even the front steps coordinate nicely with the wall.

Any of the wall’s creams, beiges, browns, and grays would have worked for a paint color, but the builders chose a light creamy yellow for the siding with a beige shingle on the portico. White trim pulls the house together and the black door makes the dramatic statement.

It’s so easy to choose your house color from nature. You cannot make a mistake.

Light Up Your Front Door

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Why wait for the holidays to light up your front door? You spent enough time choosing the color — show it off all year with a boost in your exterior lighting.

Choose properly spaced recessed fixtures that will wash light down on the door color and other parts of the porch as in this photo (lighting by IlluminationImages, Inc.). Or add a large pendant over the door and sconces on either side. Make sure the lighting fixtures are big enough that they don’t look skimpy from the street. Bigger is usually better when it comes to lighting.

While you’re choosing your new light fixtures, take advantage of all the different metal color options you have now. Don’t settle for wrought iron if another color would update your house and make it look fabulous.

So when the holidays are over and you take down the hanging twinkle lights and box up the spot light from the front door, take a close look at what lighting is left. Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

Let there be light!

Choosing Paint Colors for House Trim and Doors

November 29, 2012 § 446 Comments

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The front door is the focal point of your house and it can make a big splash. (Even though Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly changed his 10 Downing Street door color from conservative black to Labour Party red as seen in this photo from the Daily Mail, evidently it was all an April Fool’s joke — see the full story at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8677004.stm)

Doubtful that changing your own front door color will create as much of a stir in the neighborhood, but you’ll want to give it considerable thought anyway.

But first, what about the trim color?

House trim color: If you have a small house and you want it to look bigger, consider painting the edge trim the same color as the house or just a shade lighter. This will blend the corners of the house in with the body and draw your eye to color — hopefully, the front door. If you want to show off the trim in a more contemporary way, consider painting the edge trim two shades darker than the house color. To accent your trim in a traditional way, choose contrast by using either white or cream. If you have a stone house, the grout color is a great trim color.

The message here is to avoid too many different hues (different colors) when painting the house, trim, doors and shutters. Unless you have an architectural masterpiece, I would avoid choosing trim colors that are unrelated to the house color (for example, painting a gray house with navy blue trim, red shutters and red garage doors). Not only will you draw attention to all the different colors themselves and away from the front door (regardless of what color IT is), but you will have visual chaos!

Exception: If you have an old Victorian home, you may want to accent all the different architectural elements with paint in many different colors.

Trim around windows: To keep the windows looking as large as possible, paint the trim around the windows the same as the window frames, either white or cream or whatever color the window frames are. Matching the trim to the actual windows will make them look bigger than if you break up the color by painting a dark trim around a white window or a white trim around a dark window.

Garage door color: Unless you want to broadcast to your neighbors that you have a three-car garage, you probably don’t want to highlight your garage doors. Standard garage doors should usually be painted either the color of the house or a couple of shades darker to “anchor” them. Plus, by painting the garage doors the house color or a little darker, your house will look bigger and less chopped up. The focus is reserved for the front door. Note: yes, metal garage doors can be painted even if they’re white when installed. Just clean the doors very well and use a good primer.

Exceptions: Garage doors associated with brick homes are often painted either the trim color, the grout color, or the shutter color — black or dark green, for example. No need to try and match a paint color to the brick. The other exception is the new carriage-style garage doors, designed to be the focal point on the front of a home. If you have fancy garage doors, it’s okay to show them off! Even keeping them white or the trim color is okay.

Shutter color: For a traditional look, match your shutters to the roof color. If you have a dark gray or black roof, black shutters look terrific. It’s like adding a touch of black to a living room to dress it up a bit. Matching the shutters to the roof makes it look like you planned your roof color as part of the overall house palette. Dark brown shutters with a brown roof color give a similar, traditional look as black shutters with a gray/black roof. And brown is supposedly the new black. But for a classic home, black will never go out of style.

If you have lots of really small windows or don’t want dark shutters, consider choosing a color that blends with the house color. Here’s one strategy: choose your house color in the medium range. Then go lighter for the trim and a shade or two darker for the shutters (or remove the shutters altogether). And choose a completely different hue for the front door. This contemporary look focuses attention on the front door. There are no distracting colors anywhere else on the house.

Front door color: It’s time to create your focal point, the front door. This is the area you want guests to find when they pull in the driveway. Color is the way to do it although a shiny black door with a brass kickplate, brass door handle, and big colorful wreath is a classic. If you don’t want black, consider a rich dark red in a semi-gloss finish. Dark red (not cherry) seems to work with almost all house colors.

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Light green house. Traditional: Dark purple door (especially nice if you have lilacs and other purple flowers in your landscape) and white door trim. For a modern look: Rusty red.
  • Dark green house. Traditional: Rusty red door or natural wood and cream door trim. Modern: Turquoise.
  • Light blue house. Traditional: Dark red door or navy blue door with white door trim. Modern: Dark olive green.
  • Dark blue house. Traditional: Maroon door (play up the nautical look) with cream door trim. Modern: Lime green.
  • Red house (or brick). Traditional: Black door with brass accents  (classic) and white door trim. Modern: Grass green.
  • Brick house. Traditional: Mahogany door with light grout color door trim. Modern: Dark purple.
  • Pink house. In the North, a charcoal or black door. In the South, anything punchy. White door trim.
  • Gray house. Traditional: Navy blue or red door with white door trim. Modern: Bright lemon yellow.
  • Brown or tan house. Traditional: Dark green door with white door trim. Modern: Robin’s Egg Blue.
  • Yellow house. Black door, black shutters, white door trim (a classic look). Modern: Dark red.
  • White house. Traditional: Black, red or other dark rich color. Modern (or in warmer climates): Any bright, cheerful color that works with your landscape plantings. White trim everywhere.

One woman I read about paints her front door for every season. It might be cranberry red during the winter, purple in the spring, raspberry during the summer, and rust during the fall. Every year it’s different.

Don’t forget the roof: Consider the roof color when you’re making your house color choices and if you’re getting a new roof, choose something that coordinates with your house color. There are many choices in roof colors these days particularly in the brown family– many more choices than just slate gray or black. Don’t pass up the opportunity to finish the job with a well-coordinated roof.

Spring Spruce-Up-Your-Front Door Campaign

March 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

ImageYour front door says more about you than you know. Who lives behind this front door?

Someone who appreciates simplicity (look at the actual door –besides the wreath, there is not one embellishment) and architectural drama (check out the Corinthian columns and the heavy layers of molding on the portico).

The person who lives here also has ties to culture (a Moravian star pendant hangs above the door) and a sense of humor (the three little silver starfish on the wreath are so cute!).

The homeowner’s color sensibilities are subtle and elegant (the understated cream siding blends effortlessly with the soft, light sage door color).

The overall impression is eye-popping as you drive by. This house is tiny (I assure you) but the entry speaks volumes.

What does your front door say about YOU?

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