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March 17, 2010

Exterior Colors for the South

Even though it's not always obvious, exterior paint colors are influenced by the regions in which we live.  It makes perfect sense.  In northern, woodsy regions, for instance, you'll see darker greens, mosses, and brick reds.  In warmer climates, where homes are made of stone or adobe, you'll find mineral hues of gray, slate, and terra cotta.  One of the tips every designer offers for choosing exterior colors is to look at your environment. So, what are good choices for the South?

Rainforest Dew 2146-50

We chose two very different regions: Palm Springs, California, and Seaside, Florida.  In both, there's a lot of sunshine, and this strong light means people often opt for brighter, more vibrant colors, and so can you.  What might look garish in more sober New England light looks perfectly natural here. 

There's also the landscape to consider.  The earthy desert palette of greens and browns around Palm Springs can be echoed or contrasted.  The home of designer William Stewart, for example, was inspired by colors popular there in the middle of the last century.  "People think of modern desert colors as a palette of sage, mud, and sand.  But older Palm Springs, around its heyday in the 1950's, was a little more adventurous, with crisper, more saturated and citrus-y colors."


Top: Rainforest Dew 2146-50; Door: Wythe Blue HC143
Bottom: Fascia boards: Alligator Green 2143-20; Front door: Wythe Blue HC143

Stewart says he wanted the house to feel cool when you looked at it, and cool when you're inside.  He chose a color scheme of pale avocado with deeper avocado accents.  The Tiffany blue front door is a nod to the many swimming pools.  Inside (that's another story), and around the outdoor (but covered) lounging area, is a continuation of this scheme in brighter, even more vivid citrus yellows and greens.  "It's like a giant margarita or Tom Collins," says Stewart.

In Florida, of course, the influence of the ocean and the intense, clear blue sky is ever-present.  The community of Seaside, Florida, is filled with wood-frame cottages with deep porches, wide overhangs, and lots of cross-ventilation.  In other words, perfectly suited to their environment.  (You've probably seen Seaside and didn't even know it--the community was used as the location for The Truman Show.)

Left house: Pure Joy 327; Shutters: Lake Victoria 668
Right house: Violet Stone 2069-40

Although there were certain building codes for the community, color was left up to the individual homeowners and designers.  Seaside is still Florida, so influences from the Caribbean and other islands make their way here, albeit in more subdued forms.  In this region, bright but not garish colors are paired with crisp, white trim.  Homes in shades of lilac and blue are found next to sunny yellows, pale greens, and pinks.  The ever-present palm trees give them their context.  Change a few details, and these houses could live in a lot of towns in the U.S.  But put them together, in the heat and sun, with their lazy porches and cool, shaded interiors, and you're definitely in the South.


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House exterior colors are what made it stand out or visible. It is very much important to choose a color that is in contrast with the environment yet alluring in the eyes of passersby. Roof color also should match the color of the body to have harmony with the house's aura.

Hi Cristin! There's definitely a lot to talk about when it comes to exteriors so there's more information coming. In fact, the next exteriors post is almost ready to go live! I'd love if you share this through your blog, too. Thanks, again! Sonu

I love this post and rarely read post re exterior colors. More please!!!

I would love to promote this series on my blog if so.


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