How to Whip an Awesome Color Scheme out of your Arse-nal!

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Home Stager with CurbAppealForDummies.Com

 

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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!

farmhouse original Farmhouse New Scheme

 

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! 

Sue Eldredge 

Feature This... Interior Design and Professional Real Estate Staging

http://featurethisdotdotdot.com

http://www.curbappealfordummies.com

 

 

         

 

 

 

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Tags:
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Show All Comments
Rainer
6,002
Michelle Molinari
CurbAppealForDummies.Com - Lafayette, LA
CurbAppealForDummies.com

Thanks all! I sure appreciate the feedback!

Sue 

May 02, 2008 07:38 AM #4
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

The house on the right definitely looks more pulled together and striking. It's beautiful! The colors remind me of many of the newer homes down here in Atlanta. Earthy tones and more bold colors are definitely popular--and make such a difference.

May 02, 2008 07:43 AM #5
Rainmaker
115,496
Elaine M. Gage
A Wonderful Space, LLC - Lakewood, CO
A Wonderful Space, LLC
Catchy title, Sue! The two examples definitely look like they are from different decades! updating is not just for interiors!!!
May 02, 2008 10:12 AM #6
Rainmaker
145,471
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario
You caught my attention with the title too - pretty funny!  You've given everyone a lot of great information.  Excellent blog Sue.
May 02, 2008 11:15 AM #7
Rainer
6,002
Michelle Molinari
CurbAppealForDummies.Com - Lafayette, LA
CurbAppealForDummies.com

Thankks ya'll,

You should join or group, Curb Appeal 101. We've got all kinds of useful curb appeal tricks of the trade.

Sue

May 02, 2008 12:00 PM #8
Rainer
56,633
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE
Sue - thank you so much for the step by step, common sense guidelines!  you rock.
May 02, 2008 12:15 PM #9
Rainer
56,633
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE
Sue - thank you so much for the step by step, common sense guidelines!  you rock.
May 02, 2008 12:17 PM #10
Rainer
132,548
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

I read this post like, six times. This is some really sound advice! I like the section particularly about the white being the right shade, which is so important to make a house look "designer"!  I feel a blog comin' on!

~Michelle

May 03, 2008 08:20 AM #11
Rainer
36,709
Kelly Townsend
Coldwell Banker - Santa Rosa, CA
CDPE, Realtor

Sue -

This is really great advice. One worthy of a bookmark. In fact I think I will join your group!  

May 03, 2008 05:48 PM #12
Rainer
6,002
Michelle Molinari
CurbAppealForDummies.Com - Lafayette, LA
CurbAppealForDummies.com

Hi Kelly,

Thanks! We look forward to having you!  :)

Sue

May 03, 2008 10:41 PM #13
Rainmaker
137,338
Beth Lester
Home Staging Designs of California - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating
That's helpful.  Thanks.  I always struggle more with exterior than interior colors.
May 03, 2008 11:08 PM #14
Rainer
6,002
Michelle Molinari
CurbAppealForDummies.Com - Lafayette, LA
CurbAppealForDummies.com

You are welcome, Beth! My sister, Michelle, is really great with the interiors. My favorite, however, is exterior. The result is so dramatic, and the buyer-interest a well-staged exterior brings, in my opinion, is even mire impotant than the inside.

 I know, speaking for myself, that I wouldn't even agree to view a house with a poor exterior, even if the internet photos were remarkable for the interior. A well-kept outside tells me that the seller took care of the  entire home. Yard-freaks usually take their home-maintenence very seriously. I know the inside will be tight too, if the outside is tight.

May 04, 2008 02:28 PM #15
Rainer
13,698
Gabriele Campbell
D F Campbell Ventures Group Inc. - Saint Albert, AB
ASP, CID
Nice break down and good tips. Thanks.
May 04, 2008 03:28 PM #16
Rainmaker
139,656
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Home Stager Inland Empire & Palm Springs

Loved all the information in this post and I will definitely refer back to it many times.  Thanks so much

May 07, 2008 09:16 PM #17
Rainer
6,002
Michelle Molinari
CurbAppealForDummies.Com - Lafayette, LA
CurbAppealForDummies.com

Thanks Gabriele and Ana!

You are welcome to join our group Curb Appeal 101! We'd love to see you there!

 

Sue

May 08, 2008 06:14 PM #18
Rainmaker
139,656
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Home Stager Inland Empire & Palm Springs
Did a couple of days ago, I have been off the rain alot recently and jumped in the last couple of days to catch up.  I was so excited to see your posts and this group started.  Thanks so much.
May 08, 2008 06:42 PM #19
Rainer
6,002
Michelle Molinari
CurbAppealForDummies.Com - Lafayette, LA
CurbAppealForDummies.com

Yes, you did! I am so glad, as I can see you are a curb-enthusiast like myself!

Thanks for joining!

Sue

May 08, 2008 06:48 PM #20
Rainmaker
139,656
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Home Stager Inland Empire & Palm Springs
I think someone else used the term "yard freak"...that would be me.  If I don't get off this computer soon I will be called a blog freak by my oldest daughter!!
May 08, 2008 07:40 PM #21
Rainmaker
310,293
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles & Pasadena, CA

Sue: I don't know how I missed this post, but it is a winner. Thanks for posting this very useful information about choosing an exterior color. I'm bookmarking it.

Oct 05, 2008 01:58 PM #22
Rainmaker
41,255
Ashley Whittenberger
Ashley Whittenberger Companies, Inc. - Austin, TX

What great information, Sue. You are good!

Feb 18, 2009 09:19 PM #23
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