Surprising House Color Trend — White

February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Classic but always with a modern twist, white is trending now as a house color on new construction. Whether we’re craving our grandparents’ old homestead, or we like a crisp, uncomplicated look, white is in. White siding with white trim. But the surprise element lies in the accessories. Fresh options include silver for the metal color (not the traditional black), white or pastel door colors (nolonger black or red), medium-toned metal roof colors (not just charcoal shingle anymore), mismatched out-buildings (that old classic farm look is coming back in a big way), and even (gasp!) white shutters on a white house.

The beauty of white is that it really is timeless. Not only that, but it shows off your colorful flowers and the greenery of your landscaping, the orange patio umbrella and Adirondack chairs, and the turquoise of your backyard pool (okay maybe I’m going a little overboard).

See if a fresh pop of white brings out the character in your house.

Black Brings It

March 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Who says black is not a house color? Certainly not me.  Black is to houses what a little black dress is to a stylish woman. A great way to show your stuff.

Black is both dramatic and neutral. It attracts attention and shies away from it. Black blends with almost any environment, yet it makes all other features stand out, like the crisp white windows on this house. Since the trim on the rest of the house is also black, the white windows and window trim take center stage. The natural cedar roof creates warmth and texture. And the bronze gutters look like jewelry.

Another feature that stands out is the rock wall. The backdrop of black allows the depth of color on the rock wall to come forward — much more effectively than if the house were another more typical earth tone.

The mix of siding materials adds an additional layer of texture. The tall board and batten siding on the high gabled section makes a tower of that end of the house. The shakes on the rest bring it on home.

Yes, black maintains its reputation as the color of sophistication. Even for siding.

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.

Stone and Brick Reveal Your Exterior Color Palette

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

hamstoneYes, it’s winter and the roof in this photo is covered with snow, but now we can focus on the rest of the house, particularly the stone. What works on this house is the color palette that is taken directly from the numerous available hues in the stonework itself.

The bricks are a monochromatic rusty red color that complements the stone without competing with it — a challenge when you have multiple materials on the house. The siding is a gray neutral, also in the stone. The trim is pulled from some of the darker taupe stones. How easy is that? Job done.

If you are building a home with different materials, use the busy one with the most colors (stone or brick) to make the rest of your color decisions. That way, the whole house will come together in a harmonious cornucopia of color.

The alternative? Choosing a color that is not in the palette at all. The result? A disjointed effect that divides the house into sections and makes it seem smaller. Can be done, but it’s tricky and needs a professional colorist to pull off. Do yourself a favor and stick with the natural palette that presents itself to you from your building materials.

Coordinating Brick House, Siding, and Roof Colors

January 9, 2013 § 651 Comments

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In this brick house example, the dark sandy grout color was used as a siding color, and it coordinates beautifully with the earthy shades in the brick. Even the roof is tied in although black would have worked just as well. Contrast that with the pink brick and lemon yellow siding example below right. Yikes.

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Sometimes there’s just no way around ugly brick except to paint it. And the results can be stunning. Not only have you made your house bigger visually by blending in the brick with the siding color, but also you have added texture to the house without the busy look that highly variegated brickwork can create. A great compromise and an updated house.

Return of the Gilded Age, Well Not Exactly

January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

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We have Downton Abbey, Princess Kate, and the popularity of all things English to thank for the resurgence of gold in interior design right now. At least that’s my opinion…  And what a welcome sight it is.

After too many years degilding homes of anything that even hinted of gold, brass or yellow, the hue of royalty has returned.

The new interpretation, however, is decidedly fresh as we see in this living room from Traditional Home magazine. The wall color is so subtle that it accentuates even the creamy tan stripe on the window panel and the moldings on the ceiling. The gold demilune table and classic gold-framed art above it pop. As does the Chinese porcelain, as if pulled directly from the painting. Even the floor color is perfect, establishing a solid grounding upon which to layer all those beautiful blues and wheat tones.

The look is not your grandmother’s living room, with all due respect to your grandmother. Gold is nolonger shunned from updated decor.

Welcome back, gold.

Interior designer: Joseph Minton, with Paula Lowes and Michelle M. Wade

Brick House Trim Colors

December 26, 2012 § 337 Comments

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Creamy white trim with black shutters (and door) give brick houses like these on historic Nantucket Island in Massachusetts a classic traditional look that is timeless.  But for a more contemporary look, use the brick itself for your trim color inspiration. Choose a color that you see in the brick or the grout– tan or taupe or another earthen color. If you select a color from the brick, it will blend with the brick and provide less contrast than the white. The overall effect will be soothing and contemporary but it will call less attention to the architectural details. The Boston building below is hardly contemporary, but the color scheme is taken from the brick and grout and is one example of using coordinating trim colors instead of contrasting trim.

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Choosing Paint Colors for House Trim and Doors

November 29, 2012 § 448 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.

What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling?

November 29, 2012 § 266 Comments

The ceiling is the fifth wall and many decorators and designers feel that keeping the ceiling white is like “throwing a sheet over the room” (Christopher Lowell said that years ago). But there are a few conditions to consider before painting the ceiling anything other than white:

 1) Is your ceiling heavily textured? In many old houses, the ceiling is patterned (and God forbid, “popcorned”) and therefore very difficult to paint well. Also, painting it anything other than white will call attention to it and maybe that’s not what you want. One solution is to have your ceilings replastered to match your walls and painted, but if that’s out of the question, I would stick with white.

 2) Is your ceiling a smooth plaster? If so, you should definitely paint it. How lucky you are! See below for what color.

2A) Is your ceiling really high? If so, you can paint it virtually any color that goes with the rest of the room. If you’d like to bring the ceiling down visually, consider a color darker than your wall color or a warm color (both will advance and appear to bring the ceiling down to a level that’s more in scale with your room). Also consider adding crown moulding if it’s not already there. The moulding will also bring the ceiling down by calling your eye’s attention to it. And it really finishes the room.

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 2B) Is your ceiling low or average height? Consider painting it a tint of the wall color. If your walls are a medium blue, then your ceiling would be the very lightest blue on the color swatch or even lighter (white with a dash of blue). This will help to round out the room and make the ceiling part of the overall decor — not just that white sheet over the top.

3) Does your room have enough light? Bright white ceilings do help bounce light back into the room so if your room is already dark, pay special attention to the ceiling color. White can be used effectively, but light tints on the ceiling will also reflect light. Just avoid a ceiling color that is going to absorb all the light and leave the room dark.

4) Are you painting a guest bath? I like to paint the wall color right up over the ceiling in a guest bathroom. Doing that makes the room feel larger by blending the walls and ceiling together and avoiding sharp lines and corners.  Or do something kind of exotic on the ceiling, like the Moroccan tent (see photo above).

5) Are you painting a bedroom? In what other room do we lie around and stare at the ceiling? Why not paint it something interesting. In a bedroom, the sky’s the limit (literally) — from puffy blue clouds on a backdrop of sky blue to a quilt of squares in different colors (Candice Olson did a fabulous multi-colored geometric ceiling in a master bedroom). And in kids’ rooms, the ceiling is just one more space to use your creativity.

Hope this helps the “Do I paint the ceiling?” dilemma.

Choosing a Paint Color for the Cottage

May 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s time to repaint the cottage — it has been that shade of grassy olive green since about 1970 and I think we’re ready for a changImagee especially since the cottage next door is also green, just a darker shade. You might think that choosing a color for my own place would be easy for me since I work with color all the time. But just like you struggle with paint color schemes, I have to go through that process too.

First of all, what colors are already in the neighborhood? We have dark green on one side, beige siding on the other, and brown and beige two doors away on either side. So that leaves quite a few options.

Next, what color is the roof? It’s a gray metal roof with a white fascia piece in front. The roof doesn’t show from the front, but it’s quite prominent on the sides so roof color is a consideration.

What color are the windows and other non-changing elements? The windows are all white vinyl (I know, but they’re easy maintenance for a cottage). We had the chimney removed (that had been the inspiration for the brick orange Adirondack chair).

So with fandeck in hand, I spun through the color possibilities. I eliminated yellow and white because they would take too many coats to cover the green. Red was thrown around as a possibility but I didn’t like the idea of red next to the dark green. Not summery enough. Orange is a great accent color but our cottage is not interesting enough architecturally to draw that much attention from a wild paint color. That brought me to gray and blue.

I tried some grays, both dark and light, on the Sherwin-Williams paint site and liked several with the gray roof. My reservation was that the cottage would need color added somewhere — otherwise it would look kind of blah. (Note: I LOVE the Nantucket weathered cedar look, but you need salt air to pull that off.)

Finally, I tried blue. Hmmm… not a bad idea. I ended up with a WoodScapes opaque stain in a color called Chesapeake (SW3051) with a cool white trim (Rhinestone– it’s on the blue side of white) and my Adirondack chair color for the accent. I like a dark blue cottage color — it speaks to the lake water in the background and does not attract too much attention from passersby. I also like the contrast with the windows especially for a summer cottage. I used the Adirondack chair color (a custom red-orange) for the doors including the big garage door facing the road. Now it’s easy to find the party.

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