Colors in generally are tricky. They look one way in the sample, another way on the wall, and they change according to the type of light, the amount of light and the colors of items surrounding them. The human eye can distinguish about 10 million different colors, so it is to not surprising that understanding color selection is a daunting process.
When it comes to our homes, choosing the right colors has ramifications outside of just the aesthetic. We are judged on our style and our sense of design. An unpleasing combination not only is embarrassing, it can also hurt you in terms of resale value of the home. I have worn many hats for Newmark Homes Houston, one of them is a self-imposed exterior color dork. I love to choose bricks, stones, colors, accents, shingles, etc, as there is a large palette of styles that one can create simply by choosing something a little this way or that.
Here are a few things I have learned:
1. Choose colors outside. This may seem like a simple suggestions, but we are often comfortable in our offices, not realizing that the color will be viewed in natural light and not the yellowish tone emitted by incandescent bulbs which is then influenced by the neutral beige of the walls, the earthy color carpet and the creamy trim. Sun light is different. Go outside.
2. Drive around and explore what catches your eye. Light colors of dark tones? Cool or warm? Do you like subtle contrasts or dramatic ones? In exploring what you like, also be able to determine what you do not like.
3. Look not just for the color, but the underlying tone. Yes, that color is brown. But does it have more pink? Gray? A hint of gold? Truth is these little variations are seemingly subtle, but on a large scale, they make a huge impact.
4. Go for subtlety. Beige with a hint of green will look green. Green will look radioactive green. A hint of gold is warm. A color that looks yellow gold will look like an egg yolk.
5. Follow the rule of 3. Unless you are going for a white home look, using no more than 3 colors and no less than 2 works very well. Stucco body, stucco banding, and trim (soffits, fascia, door trim, garage doors etc.) allows for a nice contrast.
6. When choosing colors that are close in hue intensity, pick them from the same color family. Once you have the main body color, go one or 2 shades lighter or darker for the banding. You can veer off this rule if you are using an accent color that is extremely dark, or extremely light.
7. Remember the shingles. Most developers allow only one color, which is typically either black (black onyx), or a medium-dark gray with a hint of green (weathered wood). A black shingle wont pull out any particular color but will give the home a slightly darker feel. Weathered wood shingles tend to pull cooler tones out of the paint.
8. It’s only paint. Do a little sample. Look at the sample in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The color will change.
9. Would you like a richer effect? Try antiquing. Almost like a faux effect, a “glaze” color is added on top of a base body coat. This gives a spongy and deeper effect to the color. Be prepared to spend some additional dollars though. It’s practically like painting the home twice. In this case again, choose colors from the same color family, one or two shades lighter or darker.
10. Be daring. Don’t copy, unless you must. Imagine you show up at a great party, and someone is wearing your same dress, tie, shoes or jewelry. Yes, imitation is the highest form of flattery. However, wouldn’t it be more fun to come up with something others will imitate?