Why do so many houses with exterior stone look bad? Bottom line, you must choose your stone or brick first, and then you can coordinate the rest of your exterior finishes to relate. Remember, ugly is on sale – you don’t want to buy it. Here’s more colour expert advice on how to choose exterior stone.
Suddenly in the last week, we have sold quite a few New build packages because it’s that time of year where the new construction plans are getting underway. It got me to thinking about exteriors and this post that I started writing a couple of months ago, but totally forgot about.
Image via Sotheby’s
One of my True Colour Experts posted this dilemma on our private Facebook page:
What to do? I have my first opportunity to work with a builder and help buyers with exterior and interior colors and finishes for 40 homes over the next few years. The challenge is that he has partnered with a building supply company and together they have limited the choices in order to keep cost very low.
There are 8 choices of fugly faux stone and he wants it on every exterior. Most of the tile (beige and blotchy) and carpet choices are awful. To get pretty results I would have to choose the same 2 or 3 combinations for each house! I’m considering walking away, would you want your name attached to a development of homes that looks like this? I’ve dreamed of an opportunity like this but yikes! What would you ladies do?
Most of the advice other True Colour Experts were posting was telling her to walk away. Otherwise, you can’t say you were there. That’s a lot of time spent, on a design you can’t feature in a portfolio.
However, in the end, she decided to talk to the builder before she turned down the job to find out if she could sell him on the idea of classic and timeless.
Upgrade if Necessary – Don’t get stuck with your builder’s choices (they may not be a colour expert)
Why was everything so ugly? Because ugly is on sale. And too many builders don’t give it a second thought.
If you are working with a builder and are unhappy with your standard choices, UPGRADE. Yes it will cost more, but not as much as the renovation will cost later.
I had a designer in one of my courses last year who told me that she had signed up to attend my workshop because she did exactly what this designer was about to do.
She specified exterior colour combinations for subdivisions.
She told us that with the list of colours and materials she had to work with, only 3 out of 7 homes would end up clad with an attractive combination of materials because she needed 7 different combinations so that the entire subdivision wouldn’t look like rows of identical houses.
What she learned from my colour workshop is that there was no magical way to make the ugly finishes look better, other than at least coordinating the undertones so they all worked together.
For example, although it seems like pink-beige is a dirty word on this blog, that’s only when consumers buy it blindly, because they think it’s neutral.
Read more: Why Pink Beige Should be Banished Forever
Coordinate Your Neutral Undertones
If you coordinate your finishes so AT LEAST the undertones work together, at the very minimum, you’ll achieve a harmonious result – even if it’s not the most attractive combination of materials.
Did you know that every selection for your exterior is a COLOUR decision first? The most valuable lesson you’ll gain in my Exterior Colour Selection Masterclass is how to narrow down your choices to a select and optimal few.
You don’t want this to happen in the middle of your new build (see below). A few years ago, I received this photo from a distraught client who found my site after she put a halt to this installation until she could figure out how to fix it.
It’s the same with stone for exterior. Stone from the earth is primarily earthy (surprise!) unless it’s manufactured, in other words, faux. And if you don’t want fake stone on your house, and you don’t want an earthy house, then be prepared to edit your stone
image via Lushome
Edit Your Stone Pallets
Designers do this all the time with their clients. Take out most of the ORANGE or BROWN or just BLOTCHY stone, for example, so that the remaining pile gives you a result on the front of your house that is way more attractive than if you let the stonemason just ‘do his thing’ and install every single stone sitting in the yard.
Either that or work with the earthy colours like this house (above), with the butterscotch cobblestone walkway and stained wood door. The result will be way prettier than ignoring the earthy colours which so often happens.
Image via Sotheby’s
In this image (above) the doors are stained a honey maple colour to coordinate with the warm undertones in this stone house.
Choose Your Stone or Brick FIRST
Bottom line, you must choose your stone or brick first. It’s astonishing how many consultations I’ve done where the client is obsessed with the field colour of their house and are surprised when I take them right back to a conversation about which STONE or BRICK they will choose for the exterior of their home.
A couple I consulted with last Fall, hired me to help them with their exterior colour scheme. They found my site AFTER they received their suggested colour palettes from their designer.
They kept talking about the siding colour, but the drawings had stone on half the house, so when they finally understood that the stone had to be chosen first, they said “Neither our architect, builder or designer told us that we had to start with the stone.”
Here’s my theory on WHY this couple (two years into the planning stage) was STILL in the dark about this.
It’s because, neither the architect, builder or designer, wanted to have a conversation about COLOUR with their clients. NO ONE wanted to go there because they had no idea how to navigate a conversation about colour or what they should suggest.
How I know this, was that their suggested colour schemes were WRONG.
When I saw the colour choices they had been given, I started to rattle off all the neutral undertones and how they didn’t go together. The husband listened for about 30 seconds and then cut me off:
“This is why we hired you,” he said.
In the end, I even sent them back to their architect (with a photo similar to this house above) to tweak the exterior design. There were way too many unnecessary arches and alternating shingles vs. siding on their Cape Cod ‘Somethings Gotta-Give’ inspired house.
This takes me to my last point:
Question Your Architect, Builder and Designer
image via HomeBunch
I have often tweaked the installation of stone or brick during a consultation when I’m looking at exterior elevations and find myself thinking WHY?
Just because an architect specified it, doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be fabulous.
On this house (above) the stone on the right side was unnecessary. Looks great on the fence, that’s where it should have stayed. To my eye anyway.
So listen, if it doesn’t look right to you on the plans, it’s not going to get better in real life. Better to get a second opinion, rather than go along and build a house that does NOT fill you with happiness when you walk in the door.
Building or painting your exterior this season? Get help with your colours here.
Or, get help immediately when you enroll in my Exterior Colour Selection Masterclass and then jump to the video lesson you need right now.