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Before you buy that paint, consider these guidelines:
Keep in mind that choosing an impactful color scheme doesn't mean "your favorite". It means finding the right shades of a color to enhance the architectural interest of the home in question. After you find the most complimentary tones, then you can tweak them towards you or your client's taste. Read on...
Too pale, needs to take more risk! Much more substance...Gracefully Gutsy!
1.) What color is the roof?
The roof is a "fixed element", meaning, it is not changeable, for the most part. A roof can comprise as much as 65% of the entire color scheme on some architectural styles. Regardless, it is the first question to be answered. What color family (brown, black, red, green, blue, tan, etc.) is the roofing in (see my blog post, GROOVING OFF THE ROOFING)? Does the the "visual temperature" of the color lean toward warm or cool? Deciding it is a cool blackish-slate color, or a warm tan with reddish undertones,for instance, is crucial for the rest of the scheme to fall into place. If a color doesn't look good with the roof, chuck it. There are 100,000 other paint colors in the sea.
2.) What color is the Brick?
Another "fixed element", unless you are entertaining the thought of painting the brick (this is NOT a crime. It is a crime is to have really ugly brick when there is perfectly good paint to be had). Evaluate the fixed brick thru a "squinted eye." That's the best way I determine a mid-range color in a brick. Find the resulting color on a fan deck, and use it for the body. It is a no-brainer. You can go lighter or darker, but stay on track as far as the color. The body of a house HARMONIZES with it's fixed elements. ). A house with large areas of brick truly must blend with any siding or stucco , or the house will look choppy and small (If there is very little colored brick, then you can get creative, as the smidgen of brick becomes an accent.
3.) What style is the architecture?
Different architectural styles can support different types of color palettes. Learning more about different architectural styles is helpful, and cannot be covered in a blog (see our article on Ranch-Style house color schemes) The rule I, myself, follow is: Elements should only be in the natural color range of the material it is made of. Stone columns should be stone colors. Adobe should be adobe colors. Ironwork should be iron-colored. These things look silly when they are painted unnatural colors. Wood is traditionally painted, so it can be far more flexible, color-wise. Brick looks best if it is a sturdy color, rather than a light, airy bright color. These are rules of thumb, but they make sense, especially when you are selling a house. If it is an odd color-choice, people won't think your house is cool or cutting edge. For the most part, they'll just wonder if weirdos live there. Daring choices are NOT good for selling houses!
4.) What kind of Neighborhood is it in?
You want the house to be well-aspected within the neighborhood's setting. If the scheme is too heavy for the 'hood, it's going to look like the Munsters live there. Too bright, and people will think the Circus has taken up permanent residence. You really want to offer a home that is respectable according to the appearance standards set by the existing neighborhood.
5.) What color for the body?
Once you have an idea of the relevance of the above factors, now you can go to a fan deck and start considering your first color choice. Choose the body color first. Try the my most-common-neutral method (squint!) mentioned above, FIRST. Then branch out into other shades of that color, leaning into differing families. Let's say the brick is very pink-brown. Start with a nice mid-tone pink-brown, then move it into an less reddish version, or a more reddish version. Choose three or four winners this way, and work each palette separately using the following advice for trim, accent, and door colors. Treat all utilitarian parts of the house like BODY color. Trim colors and accent colors are for the pretty parts of a house, to enhance architectural detail. If it isn't an architectural detail or a focal piont for some reason, HIDE IT with the body color ( I am talking about electrical boxes, attic vents, garage doors, extra utility room doors, air conditioning units, downspouts from rain gutters, lattice, trellises, you name it. If it doesn't say "nice architectural detail", then it gets hidden)! Don't get people to notice your $29 trellis from home depot. It's a plant support. You want them to look at your plant. Now if it's an ARBOR, than pop that sucker with an accent. The body color is the backdrop. You can't feature everything!
6.) What color for the trim?
People think white is white, and off-white is off-white. THE WHITE IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you choose a gray-green body, choose a white that carries hints of gray-green in it's undertone. Tan? Choose a creamy white with a slight cafe-au-lait undertone. Yellow? Pick a white with a whiff of lemon in it. Customizing your white can make a HUGE difference. Whites don't all look alike, no matter what they say. Next time you go to a paint store, take a white sheet of Xerox paper in with you. Grab ANY white color chip. I guarantee you lay that chip down and you are going to immediately see an undertone. The wrong white can make a house look really cheap. Can't take the pressure of white trim picking? Consider dark trim. It can look very dressy in some instances.
7.) Choose an accent color (shutters, awnings, window boxes, gingerbread woodwork).
The accent color should compliment (not match) the fixed elements, the body color, and trim. Don't wimp out with a lightish color. The accent color is like mascara, it should be rich, dramatic, and preferably, very dark. Accent colors frame the architectural elements and make an area come into focus. Accent colors anchor the entire scheme. A deep color choice makes the other colors come to life and find their place. "Loud" shutters are nearly always a mistake, as they don't support, they distract. Find something deeply shaded and juicy. Gingerbread woodwork on a Victorian is the exception tothis rule. If you house isn't Victorian, don't have two or three accent colors. That is what landscaping is for.
8.) Choose a door color.
This is where you play! The door area should be obvious, interesting, and inviting. Putting the color punch ONLY at the door makes a natural focal point that is instantly welcoming, and entices with a pleasant perkiness even on a ho-hum color scheme. Don't wuss out on the door. It is the star of the show, and the one place that guest will seek out and walk right up to and through. Make the most of this moment for your guests. Don't be scary...just give them a portal they can't resist.
There you go! It's a process of puzzle pieces to be plugged in. Once you use the formula, with a little practice and you'll be causing dynamic impact!
Best of Skill to You!
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