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March 22, 2010

Exterior Colors for the North

In our last post on exterior colors, we saw how the blazing sun, year-round bright blue sky, and tropical influences, shape colors in the South.  Today we explore how the more subdued light of the Northeast and Northwest regions and more intense foliage--which changes in color throughout the year--impact color choices.  Here are our suggestions for great colors for the North.


The stately homes of New England, with manicured lawns, box hedges, and shade trees lend themselves perfectly to classic palettes.  But even a simple white house doesn't have to be without flair. In this example, four colors play off one another to give a heightened sense of the architecture.  The base color is a neutral white (Antique White OC-83), the handsome trim and portico need no more than a cream-white (Windswept OC-94) to enhance them and the door is a richer cream (Albescent OC-40).  The final touch is black shutters, which accent the symmetry and balanced proportions of the facade.  Dark shutters do double duty--they punctuate the large plane and prevent it from looking flat, plus they provide a strong vertical element, making the house look taller.


Washington State architect Ross Chapin, of Ross Chapin Architects is known for what he calls "Pocket Communities".  In them, he gets to design (and choose colors for) a whole mini-town at once.  Being the Pacific Northwest, the weather is a large factor.  "We've got a gray environment for a lot of the year, and color is the antidote," Chapin says.  There's also a strong Scandinavian heritage, so he picks up on that inspiration--including local, historical buildings nearby.  "When I'm designing a house, I look how I can make a contribution, a connection to what’s around me.  The idea isn’t to simply fit in, but to be expressive. You should add something to the community as well."  Good exterior colors here are salmons, golds, blue-greens, and deeper greens.  Chapin likes to use accent colors judiciously, like port-red stripes on a dark green house, which he calls "the spice that brings the green alive."


"I pay close attention to vegetation colors.  What are the flowers that bloom?  How can we play off the different plants in the different seasons?"  Where there are bright wildflowers, Chapin likes to use more playful colors, ones that make the blooms really stand out.  A chromatically contrasting door, like the yellow against the blue, provides a bit of year-round sunshine. 

For more on pairing your house colors with its architecture, visit http://tinyurl.com/yetsdmx


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Wow, this is brilliant. Maybe that's why we don't see green-colored houses that much. Since the trees and plants around are already green, it would be quite redundant if the exterior of the house is of the same color. It makes perfect sense!

Thanks, Matt! Shelburne Buff HC-28 is a great tan/gold that will work with either darker or lighter shutters. There are many questions to answer before deciding on the right combo for you. What does your landscaping and view look like? Cooler/fresher, wooded area, lots of land, a particular style you're after?
If your home is perhaps a colonial with a dark roof in a wooded lot, the darker shutters in a color like Wenge AF-180 will be very handsome. If you're seaside or countryside and want something refreshing, try lighter shutters like Wood Ash 1065. I would suggest a punch color on the door like Audubon Russet HC-51 (one of my favorites regardless of the light or dark shutters). I hope that's helpful!

Thanks for tips. What do you think of Shelburn buff? Should the
shutters be darker or lighter?


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