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Thursday, October 27, 2011

House Projects Update 1.0: Choosing Exterior House Colors

Our little house in northern Indiana was built in 1923 and has had multiple owners over its lifetime. We bought the house in the summer of 2007, a year after my husband took a faculty position at a university which is several states and 13+ hours drive away from our home in North Carolina.  He needed a place to call home while in Indiana (hotel rooms were a bummer and difficult to find on football weekends, anyway) and we knew we’d probably be permanently re-locating at some point (and would therefore need some kind of a place to live).

The five of us lived in this house for the freezing-cold-snowy-winter spring semester of 2008, the three bedrooms occupied by my husband and me, the two girls sharing, and my son.  The fall of 2009 our son began his freshman year at the university in town and the remaining four of us spent that semester here.  This fall it is just the three of us since my older daughter has also begun college a few hours away in central Michigan. 

At first, we bought just a few new things for the house, furnishing it mainly with duplicates or cast-offs from our home in North Carolina or whatever I could purchase inexpensively at Meijer.  It was kind of like the way you’d furnish your first apartment and it has always felt a little thrown together.  This fall though, we’ve gotten more serious about making this temporary “pretend” house an actual home, where a real family might live, or at the least try to turn it into the kind of place someone would want to rent or maybe actually buy. 

So to this end, there have been lots and lots of projects – small, medium, large, and a few extra large.

I am sharing a few of them here with you in the hope that you may be entertained (I always like reading about other people’s home improvement projects and I thought maybe you do too?), perhaps informed, possibly inspired.

First, the Big One – getting the exterior painted!  Wow. 

In my 28+ years of home ownership I have never actually had the privilege of having to make decisions about house painting.  Either we’ve just put the same color on whatever house we were living in, or we lived in a brick home where painting was just not an issue.  Now I had to decide how to take my little white house with battleship gray trim from Drab and Boring to Exciting and Warm.  (My husband particularly dislikes white-painted homes and repeatedly complains that “there are too many white houses in this neighborhood”.) 

The other challenges posed by the exterior of the house (besides its lack of architectural significance) are the screen porch, ugly metal storm door and the falling-apart-in-places painted brick foundation.  Yeah.  [These will all be addressed in future posts.]

Here are a few tips on choosing exterior house paint colors:
  • Drive around your neighborhood and take note of houses that appeal to you -- that just make you happy -- and note specifically what it is that you like -- is it one specific color they used or a combination of colors?  [If you can't find anything that appeals to you in your neighborhood look around in a neighborhood with houses that you do like!]
  • Do this several times and try to note what consistently draws your eye.  Choose a general color direction (like taupe or green or blue) and pick up some paint chips from your local paint or home improvement store.  Often you can get brochures which will suggest color combinations.  These can be helpful in getting you focused.  Hold the chips up outside during different times of day and see what continues to appeal.  [You can get large paint chips from paint stores if you ask--do this when you've narrowed your choices down to just a few.]
  • Once you've started to focus on certain colors drive around again and take photos of houses that are similar to yours and/or use similar color combinations to what you are considering.  Load the pics on your computer and study them, noting what you like and don't like.
  • Take advantage of online color choosing helps.  I found this one really useful: Sherwin-Williams Color Visualizer.  You can load up a drawing of a house that is kind of like yours and plug in your color choices -- they won't be the same as in real life (as your screen will alter the colors a bit) but it will help you get an idea of what works together and what might not).
  • It's usually a good idea to pick colors that are on the same strip or in the same general color family.  For example, my body color and trim color are found on the same color strip and are both in the color family of "Warm Neutral".
  • Ask friends and relatives for their opinions and ideas!  People love to weigh in on this kind of stuff and you will get helpful input.  [Whatever isn't helpful you can just ignore.]
So...  you are wondering what I chose, right?  We are using Sherwin Williams Duration exterior paint.  The body color will be SW 6159 High Tea a warm green/taupey kinda color with trim of SW 6155 Rice Grain, a very cream-y cream.  The brick foundation and porch floor/concrete trim will be SW 2838 Polished Mahogany which is a very rich plummy dark red.  I have not decided for sure on the color of the shutters -- possibly they will be the same color as the trim or maybe the mahogany color.  Fortunately I do not need to decide on that now. 

Here is the back of the original house after it has been scraped. 
The sunroom addition did not need to be scraped because it has vinyl siding on it (which can be painted!)

After one coat of body color and some of the trim color has been applied.
The decks were power washed and will also be stained, but I haven't chosen
that color yet -- this part of the project might have to wait until
spring anyway as the weather is getting colder and wetter.

Come back for more House Projects Updates and
helpful home improvement tips!


Raksha Varma said...

Really,very interesting designs.Thank you useful information! House Painters

Susan said...

I am looking to paint my house, So fat, the samples I'vr painted lean toward High Tea. I Also plan to use Duration. How many years ago did you paint and has the paintcsbd color held up?