Unless you are purposely trying to create a Southern Colonial look for your home, it seems that most clients have graduated from red brick to one that includes warmer earth tones and tumbled antiqued textures. Do not misunderstand me, red bricks are beautiful in the right home with the right style. But lack of imagination sometimes makes people choose the familiar rather than the sublime.You will not find many people describe choosing brick as having any sort of sublime attributes. But like a physical make-over, some folks needs a home style make over. Now.
When choosing exteriors, think style first, texture second and colors third.
Style: Determine what you would like. Mediterranean, old world, Tuscan, French Colonial, French Country, Austin Hill Country, etc. There are a myriad of different exterior styles and they will help you determine what type of materials (texture) you will use.
Texture (Materials): It is common in some inner loop homes to see additional materials such as metal, wood, concrete, copper and more. But for construction in the suburbs, it is wise to keep our materials to our basic four including brick, stone, stucco and siding. Depending on the style, metal and shutter accents may or may not be appropriate.
In order to create balance, heavy elements should highlight essential areas and serve as a base. Stone is heavy, brick is medium, sidding/stucco is light. Ever seen a home with stone over the brick? Now you know why it looks rather odd.
Colors: Since we have already dealt with stucco colors in a previous entry (Ten Easy Steps When Choosing Stucco Colors), lets explore selecting brick, stone and trim colors. Brick is available in many different colors, textures, and sizes. The larger is called king, while the smaller (and more expensive) queen size gives the home a more sophisticated look by using more brick and showing more mortar (the material in between the bricks). Determine what colors would work better with your style. Here are some ideas:
- Tudor – typically red and lightly red variegated bricks
- Old World – Earth tones, more browns grays
- Country French – Warm tones of orange, peach, neutrals, some white and gray flurries
- Hill Country – Lighter neutrals with warm accents and flurries
In picking stone, there MUST be a unifying color between, preferably in the majority color of the brick. Do not pick yellow speckled stone if the brick does not have any warm tones. Gray or cooler colored stones work better with brown and earth toned bricks. Fine a common element and play on that, or else you will create what we affectionately call a clown or giraffe exterior. In some instances more is more. In the case of exteriors, less is more.
Mortar is perhaps a selection most people gloss over but deserves more attention. It is the material that binds and fills the spaces in between the bricks. The “standard” color of the material is gray as it is an aggregate material of sand, cement and water. It is everywhere and gives the exterior an overall hue. Colored mortars are available at a premium, as the material needs to be bleached and mixed with a color additive. Sometimes, gray mortar is acceptable. Sometimes. Rarely.
Do you really mean to put a glaze of gray outside your home? Think about how much mortar there is and with colors available like white, buff, khaki, brown and others, it is foolish not to consider this seriously.
White mortar on a dark blends delineates each brick. White mortar on white bricks is essential or else the home will look like it was built in the 70s. Buff mortar gives an overall aged feel, while khaki lends itself well to old world styles. Darker mortars are employed with darker stones typically.
Trim colors: White? Really? Why do we always have to pick white (or a version of white) for our trim (siding, fascia, soffits, porch ceiling, door trim, garage doors, etc)? Be daring, create a character. Here is an example.
In this home, we started by choosing a queen size brick, meaning smaller than most so we would have quite a nice amount of color and texture variation. Although the majority color was orange, we shifted the look by using a khaki mortar. This separated the bricks while bringing out the the medium neutrals. The stone used was a colorful flagstone as you can appreciate in the summer kitchen. Picking up some of the colors of the bricks, we also used the same khaki mortar as a unifying factor. The trim and ceilings were a dark rich brown, giving the impression of real wood. The dark brown trim has the same effect as the mortar: it brings out the earth and neutrals in the materials surrounding it. Delicious? I think so.
Treat shutters like you wood jewelry or a scarf. Add a touch of color related to the home. Choose a minority color or a woods stain for a more rustic look. If you don’t like it, its only paint, and only in a small area of the home.
In the next few days I will be choosing exteriors for the model home. Stay tunned!