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Patrick Landrum, Interior Designer,
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When Good Colors Go Bad!

While walking through a different neighborhood than usual this morning, I suddenly had to restrain myself from flashing my “Exterior Color Police” badge several times.

Certainly, everyone has the absolute right to use whatever colors they choose on any element of the exterior of their home, and the surrounding grounds. But is there not a sense of community responsibility implicit in the term neighborhood? Do we not have an obligation to be “a part of” the whole, in fact a universally “acceptable” part, if not a pleasant one?

In particular, this morning I saw several homes painted in varying shades of green. Some were obviously painted to blend with their surroundings, and rightly so as the elevations, and overall appearance were far less than spectacular. Excellent! Another had a bit of Victorian influence, and the green was well chosen, if a bit bright, accented with a pinkish grey, and a brighter peach, but perfectly within the style of the elevations. Yet another had no discernable reason for being painted green so let’s assume it’s the owner’s favorite color. Kudos go to the implementation on all of these.

Now to my issues…and yes they are mine and you are welcome to disagree…Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery yes, but BAD imitation is just plain SAD! All greens are NOT created equal, and simply because you love a shade or tint of a color does not mean it will transfer to an exterior fa├žade or even trim or accent. Shades, tints, and degrees of color must be carefully chosen to fit with the natural elements in the surroundings. Notice I said “fit” not blend. In greens, just the tiniest change in the amount of blue or yellow can render the color garish, or worst of all “pee” colored. Even colors that look great in sample, or even in the interior, can quickly change into something gross in natural sunlight, overcast shadows, or with green grass, or blue sky against it.

My recommendation, ask if you see a color you like. Most will share the info, as long as you’re not right next door or across the street. (Speaking of which I saw a house just up for sale, freshly painted in the same colors, as the one across the street, except the green looks like bile …I think it will be on the market awhile.)

Greens, reds, and yellows are notoriously difficult to work with in exterior colors. (In interiors as well)

Turquoise may well be Pantones “Color of the Year, but it is something to take care in using on the exterior of a home. (NOTE: Commercial use is very different) Unless the property is in a tropical locale, or on the water, this color more often than not comes off as “tacky” On my excursion today, a bright turquoise railing had me hearing the song “Venus”, seeing Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello romping on the lawn, looking for the ice machine, and trying to find out “where the boy’s are”! Unless you are intentionally creating a period look, take care.

Painting may be the easiest thing to change, but it can be expensive. In fact, I have know people to paint the house, have it look like *^&*, and just leave it because they choose not to spend the money. Simple solution, do it right the first time.

Color consultations are available from $50 and up from many sources. Many Interior Design firms offer “a la cart services for small jobs, and color selection. If paying for such help from a professional bothers you, I recommend calling your local Paint stores. They will have many color combination suggestions and schemes, and also assist with selection. If your town or city has an architecture, or Interior Design department, call them and ask if any students are available for consultation, often at no charge.

By all means express yourself, but admit when you need a bit of help. There are enough eyesores to go around without adding more…and I promise…you WILL be happier too!

1 comment:

  1. Living in Connecticut for a couple of years you wouldn't believe the color combinations they use up there on old VIctorian Homes. Some were right down garish! I also lived in Miami where pastels and bright colors are sometimes used with no regard to Aesthetics.

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