Living in an older neighborhood can be a good thing. No Home Owners Association and no approvals needed prior to your exterior paint selection—that is unless the city decides your home is special enough to consider it as a historic property.
Recently, our team at Kerrie Kelly Design Lab has been asked to assist in the exterior color and materials selections for one of Sacramento’s most recognizable properties. If you have been by McKinley Park, you have undoubtedly noticed what is lovingly called the “Cinderella House”. Soft yellow and pink tones with a thick, almost tulle like, stucco finish give the home a memorable aesthetic that you just have to smile about.
In January, the home received new owners. A wonderful family of six is now on a mission to create a livable interior with an updated exterior that they love and the community approves of, too. They recognize that this 1930’s home needs to honor its history and meet guidelines of a historical site now. Unlike interior colors, exterior hues can affect the entire street. That can put a lot of pressure on homeowners when it comes to choosing a palette—not to mention the landscape, hardscape, roofing and lighting selections, too.
In an effort to meet the homeowner and community needs, the team at KKDL once again partnered with Kelly-Moore Paints. The tools that Kelly-Moore offer made it easy to create and help our homeowner visualize six different palettes in elevation form that could be shared with the family, the City, the contractor, painter and mason, too. With the click of a few buttons, paint selections were brought to life with Kelly-Moore’s Click & Paint program. Here is an example of one of the new palettes bringing in colors that speak to the nature surrounding the home.
And we anticipate additional great colors to join in the mix as Color Expert, Mary Lawlor, says, “The much anticipated ColorStudio Collection of new colors from Kelly-Moore Paints will arrive this April. A total of 1721 rich and beautiful new colors, crafted to bring together colors and paint that enrich people’s lives.”
Plan around the elements that are hardest to change. Unless you’re doing a complete renovation, surfaces including roof shingles or tiles, stonework, pathways and driveways will remain in place. Take these into consideration as you select exterior colors. Look for undertones between them that might inform your palette. Are they warm or cool? Consider paint colors that will tie these fixed elements together in a harmonious way.
Consider your home’s architectural style and era. Whether you have a Queen Anne Victorian, a Craftsman bungalow or a midcentury modern ranch, your exterior paint scheme should feel appropriate to the style. Imagine a classic federal-style home painted burnt orange, or a New England saltbox in pale mint green. Jarring, right?
Many paint manufacturers offer collections of historically accurate colors, which can be an excellent springboard for your palette, and you can also consult a professional who specializes in this area. You don’t have to adhere strictly to historical guidelines unless codes for your home and neighborhood specify otherwise, but for the most pleasing effect, don’t stray too far from them.
Think about the visual effect you want. Mull over your home’s relationship to the street and the landscape. Does it sit back from the road or amid a cluster of large, towering trees? You might choose a slightly lighter or brighter color so that it stands out. Conversely, a darker hue can make it appear to recede.
Choose three or more different paint shades. Essentially, an exterior scheme has three major parts: field color, which dominates; accent color, which brings doors, shutters and other smaller areas to life; and trim color, used for window and door casings, roof edging, railings and other trimwork.
Ideally, the trim color should contrast strongly with the field color. If your main hue is dark, consider classic white trim or another pale shade. A light field color can look stunning with darker trim — like eyeliner for your home, it produces a crisp, dramatic effect. Feel free to go bold with accent colors, but don’t go overboard. A door painted bright red or lemon yellow lends just the right hit of punch. Extending that same shade to the shutters and gables … not so much.
Stuck for inspiration? Most major paint brands offer preselected color palettes that take the guesswork out of coordinating an exterior scheme. An architect or a color consultant also can help you come up with a combination that’s unusual but still attractive.
Never rely on paint chips alone. Just like interior colors, exterior shades can vary significantly from the way they appear on the chip. And because painting an exterior is a bigger undertaking than simply painting a room, you’ll want to get them right the first time. Buy a quart of paint and test it on an inconspicuous area of your home. Study it at various times of day and under different weather conditions. How does it change with the light? Road testing it is the only way to determine for sure if you’ll be happy with it for years to come.