Monday, February 6, 2012

The Right Color in the Right Place - Exterior

My approach to working with paint colors is simple:

Where you put color is just as important as finding colors that work.

An Easy Fix With Color
Far too many exterior painting projects turn out to be unattractive and disappointing, sometimes because the colors are unsuitable or lack harmony, and sometimes because the wrong things were accented.

Misguided accenting
  • Creates undesirable focal points.
  • Distorts proportion and scale
  • Results in an overall impression of bits and pieces, instead of a unified whole.
The house in this picture illustrates what I mean. If we'd done the painting, the owners would have received a free color and design consultation. I would have recommended several color and cosmetic fixes, including the following:
  • Paint the large garage door in the wall color instead of white so that it doesn't detract from the entryway and make the house look lopsided.
  • Paint the Palladian window above the front door in the wall color. The window may be an attractive detail when viewed from the inside, but from the exterior its shape and multiple panes conflict with the front door below it, which also has multiple panes. Painting the window in the wall color would reduce the busy look and negative impact. 
  • Paint the downspouts and banding boards in the wall color to simplify the look of the facade and eliminate the "bits and pieces" problem, which is more noticeable in person than in the picture. 
  • Paint the front door, including the grid, in a single accent color to create a strong focal point that adds pizzazz and provides a warm welcome to visitors.
Once the painting was done, I would have suggested other cosmetic fixes, like adding a trellis to fill the large, awkward space above the garage, using one style of light instead of four and replacing the three lights over the garage with two slightly larger lights. The landscaping also needs a little help, including new foundation plants of varying heights, shapes and textures, and a vine, perhaps a clematis, to grow across the new trellis. Don't forget to factor in the color(s) of flowering plants when choosing exterior paint colors!

Better color placement alone would have made a significant difference in the curb appeal of this house and wouldn't have cost one cent more than the misguided color decisions you see. The other fixes could be done as time and the budget permitted.

What You Should Accent
I believe that you should accent only those things that truly deserve the attention, and that you should consider scale and proportion when you decide what to do. Don't automatically accent something because it's there. Garage doors like the ones in this picture are a prime example of a detail that's usually accented, when they should be painted with the wall color instead. Think about it. Why would you want to draw the eye to where your cars live, instead of making your front door the focal point?

Deciding what to hide is simple. Camouflage everything that's strictly utilitarian or that doesn't contribute to a simple, harmonious impression. Paint it the color of the surface on which it sits, or that it adjoins. Here are some examples:

Exterior Details to Hide, When Possible
  • Construction banding boards (They are there as joinery, not as decoration!)
  • Garage doors, if they can be painted. Read your door warranty.
  • Utility boxes, wires and pipes
  • Downspouts
  • Gutters, if they can be painted, and the colors don't work with the roof or the paint colors
  • Deck undercarriages and support posts, in some situations
  • Roof jacks and vents
  • Foundations
  • Small vents in gables
  • Small scale trim pieces used to create outlines
I can't help it! I have to get up on my soapbox now to rail against the unfortunate common practice of accenting banding boards. Seldom, if ever, is it desirable to create the impression that a building is an assemblage of segments, rather than a unified whole. Accenting banding boards creates visual confusion and detracts from the architecture. Drive around and look at examples in your neighborhood, then picture how much better those houses would look if those boards blended with the wall.

How in the world do these mistakes keep happening? I'll tell you. Unfortunately, most painting contractors, builders and homeowners aren't trained in color and design, so they go on automatic pilot and accent everything that's not a wall, or don't even think to hide those distracting pre-finished items, when it's possible.

I'm very proud to say that Roger and I are different. We combine knowledge and skill based on formal training and over twenty-five years experience as professional painting contractors, with color expertise and a concern for aesthetics.

If you're planning an exterior painting project, remember the house in this example and the power of color placement to change an ordinary outcome into one that adds beauty and value. 

Call me at 828-692-4355 to talk about what you'd like to accomplish, and to schedule an estimate. If we do the work for you, a color and design consultation is a free part of our service, a value-added approach you'll really appreciate when you see the results.

No comments:

Post a Comment