Paint by The Numbers

Colour It Up!

By: Loree Wallace
Photography By: Cooper

Enjoy exploring older neighbor-hoods filled with such buildings as churches and homes. I like looking at the older homes since they have so much character. Some of the houses in such areas are often deteriorating through neglect. The fabric of those that have been maintained, however, hardly shows the passing of the years. I pay particular attention to the colours used, as this is my special interest.

Some of these old houses look very boring because of the lack of colour on the painted exterior. For instance, recently I noticed a brownish-red brick “Queen Anne” that had the window trim and front door painted in a colour similar to that of the brick. Oh! And then I noticed that the same brown-red colour was on the fascia and ginger-bread features! At a distance, there was no part of the house that stood out. The closer I got, the more I realized there were a ton of architectural features that were not emphasized! Worse yet, some other houses in the area had the similar blasé palette. Was there a deal on brown and beige paint at the time, I wonder?

Why do we do this? Especially at a time when we can get any colour imaginable. I think it’s time to bring back colour, to show how much we appreciate our old homes particularly all the interesting architectural details which are lost amidst a blur of dull colour.  We should accentuate the unique features of these old styles.  Let’s spice it up a bit, shall we? Is repainting the outside of your home in your near future? Researching everything from what type of paint to apply to what colours to use is no easy task.  You might want to use colours that are appropriate to the time period of your house.

Then, of course, comes the challenge of combining them so that you use a distinct feature colour along with a couple of accent colours.

A meeting with a colour consultant who specializes in exteriors of historic homes could be worth every penny in saving time and keeping the whole process focused. If you plan to proceed on your own, start by gathering colour chips and pictures of painted houses that appeal to you. Then you might draw a quick sketch of your houses and using coloured pencils, doodle some ideas to help narrow down your selections. You can then purchase small-size cans to paint large colour swatches, using cardboard, for example. Lean these painted swatches against the house and look at the effect from a distance. You might find yourself saying, “that’s not what I thought it would look like!” It is amazing how different a colour can look in the store from its effect when seen out in the actual setting. Most of this difference is due to light: for instance, a cream colour that you choose inside may appear as an off-white outside. You might have pushed aside some colours earlier on, thinking they were too dark, whereas outside they could be just right. So don’t be afraid to show some deep bold colour for big detail or, possibly, multi colours that are similar to show more detail. The idea is to use colour to celebrate the unique features of your house and remember to use a good quality paint for protection.

Copyright 2009 Edifice Old Home Magazine All Rights Reserved

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