Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Selecting Exterior Paint Colors Part 2: Craftsman-Style Cottage

As I mentioned in Selecting Exterior Paint Colors Part 1, I spent a lot of time agonizing over the selection of colors for the exterior of our house. An exterior paint job is not something that is quick, easy, or inexpensive to change if it is not right. And, I wanted it to be, well, perfect. I wanted charm and curb appeal.

Our house is a small Craftsman-style cottage that was built around 1929. It is in an urban neighborhood made up of houses of similar age and style built closely together. Our house had aluminum siding which was probably added in the late 1950's. About 10 years previously I had painted the aluminum siding and that paint job held up very well. Some wood trim was in need of a touch up but nothing more needed to be done until a wind storm came along and ripped part of the aluminum siding off the house.

After much deliberation we decided that the way to go would be to remove the aluminum siding and repair and repaint the original clapboards underneath. And, so began my odyssey to select the perfect color.

We started out with aluminum siding that had been painted Sherwin William's Bunglehouse Gray and Rookwood Terra Cotta. You can see in the "before" picture above that Bunglehouse Gray was more of a grayish, green on our house than it looks on the Sherwin Williams website. I liked that combination a lot but I was ready for a change and about the time we started planning for our new paint job the house catty corner across the street got a new paint job, which, as you can see below, was very close to our house's colors.

That sealed the deal for me. Our house needed a new exterior color scheme. Some of the things that I took into consideration when selecting the new colors were:

White storm windows--We planned to re-use the existing storm windows which were white. The outside frames can be easily freshened up with some white spray paint but changing the frames that hold the glass is much more difficult because the glass has to be covered and taped on both sides. A big job when you have 18 windows to deal with.

Landscaping--I had found it a challenge to coordinate the colors of flowers and blooming shrubs with the terra cotta colored trim. So many blooms are a shade of red or pink that clashed with the orange-toned trim. It wanted to be able to use those colors in the front landscaping.

Style of the house--Since the Craftsman-style takes inspiration from nature, appropriate colors are earth tones. With the aluminum siding removed, it was apparent that the house had originally been painted white with white trim and black window sashes. I wanted to bring out some architectural details that we found under the aluminum siding, like cedar shingles in the gables and exposed rafter tails. I knew that all-white wouldn't accomplish that and since the house had never been an authentic Craftsman color I didn't really feel bound to an earth tone. 

Size of the house--Our house is a true cottage with the square footage coming in under 1,000. Common wisdom is that a dark color can make a house look smaller. So, while I did end up choosing a dark color, I had the cedar shingles in the front gables painted a lighter color to highlight them and to draw the eye upward. When I finally show the completed "after" pictures (I am still working on painting window sashes) you can see if you think that worked to make the house look taller. 

Other houses in the neighborhood--In the end this was my biggest influence/consideration in choosing the colors. 

While I was debating over my paint colors there was a flurry of painting going on in the neighborhood. Our next door neighbors painted their house a nice earthy tan and brownish, gray. Across the street the house got a coat of dark gray and right next door to that they went with light gray. So gray was out, as were various tans which are also well-represented up and down the street.

I had just about made up my mind to go with a clearer (without the gray) light green and went so far as to bring home a sample when I realized that it was a very close match to a house down the street. Not only was the color nearly the same but that house was originally the same house plan as ours. I am not a copycat, so the light green was eliminated, as were several other shades of green around our neighborhood.

The house on the other side of ours is yellow and the house next door to that is an eye-catching (in a good way) red, so red and yellow were also out. After eliminating all those colors, I kept arriving at blue. 

I spent hours looking at inspiration photos. Porter PPG Paints (which is our painters' brand of choice) has a great tool on their website which lets you upload a picture and color match it to their paint. As it turned out, most of my inspiration photos were blues that had a lot of green in them. After flipping through the paint deck over and over, I finally narrowed it down to 3 slightly different blues. I purchased 1-quart samples of my 3 favorites and using sheets of foam core board I made large paint chips that I could move around and try out on each side of the house.

As you can see, the 3 finalists were very close and I am not even sure which one is which in this photo. My final choice was Baritone for the main body of the house. I know that the paint store can color match colors from other brands, but it was easier to select from Porter's color deck since that was the brand the painters were using and they had a huge selection to choose from. So many that it was difficult to narrow it down to the final selection.

After making my agonizing choice, I proceeded to try the color out on the garage (we hired painters for the house but to save some money I decided to do the garage myself) and I just about panicked. It was soooo blue. And, so much darker and brighter than it had looked in my sample. After a few days, it really grew on me and I began to feel confident in my choice.

You are probably wondering how it turned out. I am saving the final reveal for another post because I am still working on the window sashes, which I also decided to do myself to reduce the expense a bit. Today the temperature here is 93 degrees with 53% humidity, feels like 102 degrees, so I am not getting any painting done but I will give you a sneak peek.

Come back later for the final reveal of our exterior painting. I will talk about removing aluminum siding, scraping old paint, and why we chose to hire out for the major portion of the work. 

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