Color: Selecting An Exterior Palette

San Diego's Marston House incorporates a vintage color scheme while remaining harmonious with the nearby surroundings. Photo by DCoopMedia

San Diego's Marston House incorporates a vintage color scheme while remaining harmonious with the nearby surroundings. Photo by DCoopMedia

How to choose the right colors for your home with a little advice on what not to do!

Sum, sum, sum . . . sum, summertime! Summertime, is the perfect season to tackle sprucing up the outside and repainting your home's exterior.  And to help you get a jump start, today we're focusing on choosing the right colors for your home, and a little advice on what not to do.

Have you ever been a looky-loo and gone cruising through a neighborhood and found the one house that you just fell in love with? Everything about it sang to your senses; from the landscaping and paint colors to the infinite architectural details.

The secret to creating a welcoming approach to your home is to consider the whole picture: the home's surroundings, landscape, and architectural details.

During a historical walking tour a few years ago, we were most enamored with a beautiful Ballard home and the harmony between its landscaping and exterior features.  Every detail of the landscape - the colors, textures, and forms - complement the exterior finish palette of smokey greens, rustic red cedar shakes, and bright white accents bringing this Craftsman style home to life.

Distinguished historical neighborhood Ballard, Washington | Photo courtesy of Corinne Gail Interior Design

What we love about this New Orleans estate spotted by our friends at DCoopMedia, is the neutral color palette and highlighted architectural details that are in blissful harmony with the exquisite landscape.  A fine example of less is more - very stately, very vintage, and very elegant!

On the flip side, have you ever cruised through a neighborhood and found the one house you just couldn't seem to un-see? Everything about it screamed "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!" and was an assault on your senses.  Although we can only hope you may have in place an HOA that helps protect against crazy house colors, there are times when even an HOA gets it wrong, relying on deciding board members lacking in any training in color theory or with just plain bad taste.

More common than not, homeowners tend to choose a palette based on what they like, selecting off tones of blue, green, yellow, purple, etc (or other worse offenders) instead of what actually works in conjunction with the home and its surroundings.  Just because you like a particular color doesn't mean it will result in the desired welcoming approach.

 
An elegant Palladian inspired manse in New Orleans | Photo by DCoopMedia

An elegant Palladian inspired manse in New Orleans | Photo by DCoopMedia

 
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PROTIP:

Painting color swatches all over the home creates a sensory overload and only confuses the selection process. Remember that in order to see the actual color, only paint one color at a time - if you don't like that color, then paint over it with the next.

Time and time again Corinne Gail Interior Design is called to a homeowner's property, tasked with helping to select the perfect paint scheme.  Generally speaking, by the time we get our Bat-Call, the homeowner is beyond frustrated and is desperate for a little guidance.  The patchwork of paint samples scattered throughout an unpainted home is often a classic sign the homeowner may be giving up all hope.

Selecting the perfect home color scheme does not have to be frustrating. Once you've determined your desired general color direction - be it inspired by a neighbor's home, a color brochure, or your favorite interior designer (hint, hint) - order a trial sample from your local paint retailer.  Reputable paint stores like Sherwin Williams typically offer affordable sample quarts letting you get a better feel for a hue without the waste and expense of a full gallon.

Next, select a sampling area such as a focal point of the home: architectural detail such as next to the stone work as shown above, an entry way, view window, etc.  If your budget allows or if planning to paint multiple areas throughout the home, we recommend choosing several sampling areas as a single color may take on different tones depending on light, whether it's used on a horizontal or vertical surface, and surface texture.

Using a brush or roller apply 2 coats of sample paint making sure to wait approximately 4 hours between each coat.  Be sure to use the entire quart in order to get the truest depiction of the new color.  Do let the sample section dry completely before making any final decisions; many colors change tone when drying.

Courtesy DCoopMedia

Courtesy DCoopMedia

You may find that you have to repeat this process a few times before finally landing on the perfect color scheme. Don't fret as taking this valuable time up front will save you from making costly mistakes in the long run.  It's just one part of the process. If it becomes too much to handle, however, the professional help of Corinne Gail Interior Design is only a Bat-Call away!

And remember, though rainbows of color are nice, try not to use them on your home (unless your home is a San Francisco Painted Lady of course!) and reserve those crazy color schemes, instead, for your Skittles and Lucky Charms!

The secret to creating a welcoming approach to your home?  Work with your home's setting, landscape and architectural details, and only sample one color at a time to help eliminate color confusion, frustration, and the urge to throw your paint brush (hopefully not at a loved one) and give up.

Sum, sum, sum . . . sum, summertime!

Corinne Gail


Corinne Gail Interior Design did not receive compensation for this post. All images copyright Corinne Gail Interior Design unless otherwise noted and may not be used without permission.