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Exterior Colour

Why Good People Choose Bad Colours for Their Exteriors

By 04/09/2013September 25th, 201717 Comments

If you are painting your house this year and you don’t have a complete blank slate. In other words, a black roof and no other fixed elements, then you absolutely need to consider all the other existing colours on your house.

Stone house


For example the stacked stone or/and brick, the colour of your walkway, the gutters, the windows if they cannot be painted, and the roof if it’s anything but black.

I talked about this at great length in my Exterior Webinar two weeks ago. And about how I can drive past house after house in search of a really great one to photograph.

How a house with a well-done colour combination is the exception and not the rule.

And I’ve figured out why there’s more bad than good exteriors in general.

I had two exterior consultations today, both clients were not in love with the orange/brown/gold fixed elements on their house.

Stone Exterior

One had an orange/brown roof and the other clients predominant feature of was gold beige stone.

Both received colour suggestions from me that would coordinate with their house.

If you look at the two houses above, both have colours on the stucco that coordinate with the fixed elements. But if I showed you these colours on a fan deck you would probably not be thrilled. But they work when they tie the whole colour scheme together like a pretty bow on a present!

Both of my clients were not overly thrilled until I explained why they would work and of course, we go through the process of uncovering every stone to make sure every possible colour combination has been considered.

Lovely gift wrap

So the reason why you may not choose the right colour is because you might not be in love with the undertones/colours of your fixed elements or you don’t realize how much of an impact it will cause on your colour scheme to ignore them, even a little.

And in all fairness, when we see our own house every day, we get a little blind to it. Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post I was all set to buy black exterior light fixtures for my house last summer until I was told that the lighting world had not made the transition to black yet from oil rubbed bronze and then I realized I had a brown roof anyway so the latter was the best option.

So, make sure you stand back and take a good look at the elements of your house that will not change anytime soon before you make a final decision on paint colours.

And if you missed my exterior webinar last time around, you have another chance to attend one in May for $99.00. I will not have another one again this season.

The webinar will be Thursday, May 2 at 11:00 am PST time.  It  will be live with me and include question and answers via live chat. It will last approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the number of questions.

Sign up here.

And if you missed my exterior webinar last time around, you have another chance to attend one for $99.00. I will not be have another one again this season.

The webinar will be Thursday, May 2 at 11:00 am PST time.  It  will be live with me and include question and answers via live chat. It will last approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the number of questions.

Related posts:

5 Steps to Choosing the Right Exterior Colours

The Best Exterior Trim Colours NOT Cloud White

How to Test Exterior Colours – 3 Steps to get it Right

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  • james Martin says:

    Deepening the painted body color will make the stone tie ever more closely as it keys more to the shadow lines of the stone. On the stucco one tying the window trims and belt courses will also keep the front and back from feeling like two parts. On the house with the garage a more off white trim color will pull everything together much better because it won’t tend to jump off the building. I’m not fault finding just passing along some tips from doing this for 30 years.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks for your comment James and yes I totally agree that the white is wrong on the earthy house, I was actually just trying to show the field colour on both (images from Houzz) and should have mentioned that the trim was not right on the second house. That conversation about cream and grayed whites working best with homes with earth toned fixed elements is a big part of my webinar!

  • I had a similar experience with an interior color consultation today, Maria. The colors we chose would have NEVER been something she would have pulled out of a fandeck, mainly because she was trying to ignore her fixed elements. This is what I tell my clients: When you ignore your fixed elements, no one else will be able to. I’m sure you chose just the right colors for those exteriors, girl!

  • Linda says:

    Just like Kristie said I too had the exact same experience with an interior consult. My client’s stacked stone floor to ceiling fireplace was primarily Gold yet she had completely ignored it. She wasn’t thrilled with what I suggested for the walls but said she would trust me and paint the fireplace wall. I got a call from her telling me she is in love with how it looks. She never liked her stone and now she says it is her favorite element in the house. My Client thinks I am the greatest but it is only because you taught me so well! Those fixed elements are so important!

  • Sarah says:

    About 8 years ago, we bought a house that, to put it mildly, needed a major update. The fixed elements (the brown roof) and the bricks chimney/facade (orange/red) were in good condition. Unfortunately, I had not have your words of wisdom to help me along (nor did I even know you could get a color consultation!). Luckily, when the salesman for the vinyl siding came to our home, he directed us to which colors worked best with our roof/brickwork. I’m happy to say that the “adobe cream” siding works beautifully with the roof and bricks as does the green door/shutters. I’m even happy with it after I’ve read this blog!

  • Franki says:

    Tell me HOW people can use “colored mulch” around their homes…it just kills me… franki

    • Desiré Foard says:

      Frankl, re: colored mulch. I’m a garden designer and always tell people that mulch is NOT how to add color to your landscape!

      • Paula Van Hoogen says:

        Thank you!…ESPECIALLY the orange colored stuff…ugh! Unless your in Georgia, the ground is not orange. Even there it looks bad to mulch it with orange.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself. I run into this EVERY DAY doing exterior color consultations. Just last week a homeowner had blue in mind. When I explained and showed her that the blue had no correlation whatsoever to her home, she got it and we moved on. A statement I hear a lot at the end of a consultation is, “It’s not at all what I had in mind, but I really like it.” Thanks, Maria!

  • tara dillard says:

    Some common things I say on consults, “You’re not in that chapter anymore.” “We’re not to that layer yet.”

    Every time it’s said, I can see their awareness arrive.

    Love working with Chicago fire brick. Tons of it in Atlanta. Arrived by train in the 50’s-60’s. So many colors to choose from with those bricks. And most homeowners when told the history of their brick never knew the story!

    Love , love, love choosing front door color. Always something different than trim/siding/shutter. Ties in with house and narrative of interior art.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  • Louise says:

    We have to replace our roof this spring. Is black the colour to go with?

  • Squeak says:

    I take long walks in Oak Bay, near Victoria, BC, a neighbourhood where there are numerous big, expensive houses. The owners of so many of them have ignored not only their home’s fixed elements, but the surroundings as well. My favourite house among these multi-million-dollar properties is one where the owners matched the exterior paint to the colours of the rocky promontory on which the house sits – bluish grey, grey, sand, driftwood. Even though the architecture is not my style, I love the house because it fits so perfectly into its surroundings.

  • A-L says:

    Are you saying that concrete sidewalks/driveways should be stained or painted to go with the house, rather than remaining pale grey? Does it matter where one is located (for instance, in an urban neighborhood where neighbors/sidewalk on either side will be keeping their sidewalk color as is)?

    • Maria Killam says:

      No I think they should always be the colour of the sidewalk as I think that’s the most neutral. There might be exceptions but I have yet to see one. Maria

  • B. Wildered says:

    We had to purchase a bit of emergency eavestrough this past winter; the remainder of which will be completed this summer. I’m lost on the colour, and the light taupe I selected looks all wrong but I don’t know whether it’s because it’s being viewed against the awful brown siding (which will eventually be replaced). The new eavestrough was matched to a Manufacturer’s exterior aluminium-frame window/door colour that we will eventually be purchasing…but I had a choice of two taupes and should have gone with the darker taupe, I think. Since the eavestrough is an expensive investment, it needs to be a colour that we headed towards, rather than the existing 1974 brown. We just can’t afford to do it all right now, so after the eavestrough is done I though we would paint the existing siding and window/door frames until they can be replaced entirely. Since the eavestrough will now form the foundation of all future exterior colours, how on earth does one choose correctly in this scenario?

    • Paula Van Hoogen says:

      I’m certain Maria will be the best help on this and you really ought to consider on online consult with her…my best stab at it would be to clearly identify the undertone in the taupe in the eavestroughs and go a couple of shades darker on the body color….of course Maria will have to see photos of your home & roof.
      This investment in a consult will SAVE you future $$$$.
      Go for it! Best of results!!!

  • Susan davis says:

    I have a 1970s colonial 1/2 brick on bottom and lye vinyl siding on top / I’m fixing to have a professional paint the vinyl siding/the Rock is red brick with ivory mortar/I get direct sunlight in front of house/just wondering I started off thinking rare gray by Sw but it is a gray green beautiful color in shade but I think would look light grey on top in sun do you?then I narrowed down to stacked stone Sw at homedepot or revolutionary storm by BM in Williamsburg collection do you this shade is too dark?i was going for ivory color all trim like either natural tan Sw or class Blanca by Sw / do you think on body revolutionary storm is too dark was going to use Charleston green shutters or dark blue green maybe like retreat by Sw I will send you a picture of house love Charleston want to keep to period of home

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