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A New Build Conversation about Exterior Stone (It’s all in the Undertones)

By 09/15/2019July 5th, 202119 Comments

If you are building a new house, you may be wondering which stone is right for your exterior. Choosing exterior stone for a new house is all about the undertones.

Which stone colour is right for your new build exterior?

My client was building a retirement home in a warmer city, in another Province. The challenge was that she wasn’t there every day to make sure everything was going according to her specifications.

Most recently, her contractor had installed the wrong colour roof (which in the end, I assured her she could keep because it did not impact the curb appeal of her home in any way).

Halfway through construction (when her builder was calling for decisions) she flew in to consult with me because, she confided, “We have walked through so many homes, and most recently a 3 million dollar show house that was just plain bad. The colours didn’t match, the kitchen was ugly. We’re spending a lot of money and we don’t want to make a bunch of mistakes.”

What are the undertones of stone?

She arrived with this stone that she was considering for the exterior:

Well what does it look like to you? Is it obvious? Does the undertone jump out at you?

My client saw pink in it and wasn’t loving it. But that’s because her builder had painted up a sample that was green grey (Thunder on the right).

I also included Edgecomb Grey (a lighter green grey) on the left, so you could see that it wasn’t green grey.

But was it pink beige? I immediately pulled out my large curated samples and placed the pink beige samples behind the stone:

what's the undertone? New Build stone


Now it also looks like it could be taupe right? That’s what I said it was. Especially when you’re comparing it to pink beige.

So I pulled out my taupe samples (below):

By now she was just off the entire stone. She didn’t want pink or taupe stone. However, if you look again, it’s not quite taupe yet is it?

It’s getting much closer, but now we see violet right?

Look at how nicely it matches the violet grey samples in my System for Specifying Colour (above).

Using the Colour Wheel and my System for Specifying Colour

Let’s place my Understanding Undertones colour wheel on the stone as well:

So here’s the thing. A lot of you have this colour wheel already (if you don’t, you can get it free here–you’ll just pay shipping and handling).

This is exactly how it works.

Notice, I have added the paint chips which is what you’ll need to do to make it totally accurate (because the printing process never is) all the paint chip name and numbers for 4 paint companies are located on the colour wheel landing page here.

Wait. There’s one more taupe we haven’t seen that’s slightly less pink than Cedar Key and it’s Pale Oak. So let’s compare Pale Oak and Collingwood again, but this time together:

They both look like they could work.

And often this will happen when you are moving the colour wheel around your home on different fabrics and finishes.

What this means is that you pull out both sets of samples from each undertone to see which one is perfect.

The difference between ‘meh’ and perfect, is easy to see once you have a large sample.

So in this case, I would test them both outside on your stucco if this was the stone you were installing on your house.

If you’re doing orange beige stone with taupe (as they are often found together, below) you’ll want the right taupe on your house (and not the wrong green grey which would make it look close but not quite perfect).

Then you would also ask, is the white on this house right? Was the blue grey stone on the foundation and walkway the right choice as well?

Testing colour is important.

Did you get that? Never just assume you’ve nailed it, especially if you are still learning and training your eye on what to see.

However, didn’t we narrow down the colours fast?

And simply using colours from my curated system of paint colours which you can purchase here.

What you’ll learn in my Masterclass on Exterior Colour Selection

exterior colour masterclass video lessonsIn Module 4, you’ll learn what colour white this house should have been in order to coordinate better with the stone (below). In Module 6, you’ll learn whether this even should have been specified. And in Module 8, we’ll talk about balancing trim colour (which is a common mistake people make).

The Creativity Exchange

I’ll also teach you about the colour of concrete and we’ll talk about whether pink beige steps were the right choice here:

Joseph Bosco

This online course is included as a FREE bonus for everyone who enrolls in my Specify Colour with Confidence workshop. Register here.


Course On Mac

PS. What did my client choose in the end? She brought two more samples and we settled on the white stone (on the left) below:

Have you used my colour wheel and you have questions? Email me here with photos taken in good natural light without flash to be considered for an Ask Maria post.

Related posts:

The Best Colour Advice on Painting your Exterior

The Shortcut to Testing Exterior Colour; Before & After

The One Thing you Must Do Before Choosing Exterior Colour

New Build Stone House Undertone
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  • Kay says:

    Very interesting.

    After receiving the color wheel I tested some of my furnishings, especially the natural linen ones, and discovered that the undertone was not pink beige, as I had assumed, but violet grey. And that explained why I had never perceived any clashing with the touches of yellow beige here and there, in pillows and—very pale—even the walls.

    Amazingly, I took the risk of buying two leather chairs at a sale, where returns were not an option, and discovered after getting them home that the undertone was exactly the same as that of the couch that lives in the same room. This was before I had the color wheel and discovered what the undertone actually was!

    I’ve learned so much from you, even without scraping up the money to take your class! Maybe sometime, in Boston . . .

  • Robin says:

    What color was it that was the final one, with the white stone?
    Loved this hands on blog! It really helps a visual learner. Thanks.

  • Desiré Doty Foard says:

    Maria, I have followed your blog almost since you began. I am so impressed with how far you’ve come! I just recieved the colorwheel and looked at the landing page you created explaining how to use it. WOW is all I can say! Not only have you created a unique system and I’m sure, wonderful workshops, your information and products ane one of a kind. Really, so impressed with what you are doing. I know Teeria is part of what you do and what you have become. Kudos to you both!!

  • Lorri says:

    My first thought was that the stone sample is green-gray, and if that was wrong, I thought it was purple-gray.

    However, I definitely saw more green than purple, which goes to show that you really have to compare!

    There’s a lot of stone trim used where I live because we’re in the mountains. It seems like it would be easier to just skip the stone, plus it limits your colors forever. All builders offer stone here, but I don’t know if I would go for it or not.

  • Michelle says:

    Please help. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. When I go to the landing page, only paint colors for Sherwin-Williams are listed. The landing page references “the curated cheat sheet (shown below).” But, I’m not seeing the curated cheat sheet. Your colour wheel is so helpful, I want to be able to use it correctly. Thanks so much!

    • Maria Killam says:

      You can see the other paint companies right after Sherwin Williams, just click on their names, they are underneath. Maria

  • Michelle says:

    Got it! Thank you so much!

  • I bought a new townhouse with violet gray faux stacked stone around the fireplace. It clashed with every wall color I was interested in. After living with it for nearly two years, and hating it every day, I’m having it torn off this week! It will be replaced with a simple, white, traditional wood mantel as you suggested in your mantel blog post.

  • Barb says:

    Hi Maria. Thanks for the colour wheel. I am hopeful that it will help me see undertones more clearly than I currently do. When I started reading this current blog post, I was so happy that I could clearly see that the undertone of the stone was green grey…. Of course, that proved to be wrong! For the most part, I can see the correct tones when you identify them, but frequently not until then. Yet, everywhere I go, I can see the ugliness and missed opportunities of the wrong colour choices – it’s like an epidemic! Discerning the best colour choices is obviously a complex process and I have renewed respect for the system you have created every time I see these mistakes.

  • Liz says:

    Excellent post, Maria! I do have a ? tho’ – r u saying that u would recommend painting the exterior of the house in that matching neutral? Or r u just saying it’s important to go thru that exercise so that when picking the paint colour(s), one understands the undertone first.

    PS – where is there a warmer city in Canada? 😉

    Tx for the truly awesome post!! ???

    • Maria Killam says:

      She was moving from Calgary to Kelowna! I’m saying it’s important to go through the exercise but in the end yes it would be one of the two colours 🙂 Maria

  • Fran W. says:

    Love your colour wheel, Maria! So helpful!

  • Candice Hill says:

    Oh, Maria, that was so helpful. Loved it!!!! So good!!!!?

  • Jovana says:

    I’m curious, what do you think about combining gray tile with blue undertone for kitchen/dinning room and warm hardwood for living room in open floor plan? Do you think that is ok to mix those undertones? What is best way to connect those together?
    I find your blog recently and I love all tips and suggestions that you give.
    Thanks in advance for your answer.

  • Kelly Mudd says:

    Hi Maria, I’m Curitiba know if there is only one Austin white stone or are there several varieties? Just wondering if telling my contractor that I want Austin white stone on my house is going to ensure that it will be beautiful and timeless, or if I need to “shop” for Austin white stone myself and compare it to your large color boards?

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