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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Time to Use More Hues on House Exterior

July 03, 1993|From Associated Press

Exterior colors don't go in and out of fashion like those on the inside, but there's definitely something new in the way homeowners are mixing paint for their homes. The key word is more --more color and more adventurous combinations.


"It used to be that an exterior color scheme was two colors: a body color and a trim," said Patricia Verlodt, president of Color Marketing Group, an association that forecasts color trends. "Then we started seeing people using three colors and now it's four."

There may not be as much room to play with color on houses in neighborhoods governed by homeowner associations, which often have established permitted color schemes. But, even in those cases, applying for a variance may set a new policy in motion.

"If there are 20 houses on the street that look just like yours," Verlodt said, "you can set yourself apart by tasteful use of color. You want to be unusual without being outlandish, different without being garish."

Even a color novice can put together a distinctive color scheme. To avoid a garish look, remember that a livelier palette doesn't necessarily mean a brighter one. "Neutrals will always be the heart of the palette for the exterior," she said, "because direct sunlight has the obvious effect of making colors look brighter."

Louis Aubert, a colorist and a member of the American Society of Interior Designers who describes himself as "a rabid color fan," has made a specialty of helping homeowners become more adventurous with color.

If you're interested in trying out new colors for your home, Aubert shares advice on how to get started. "Look at your house objectively," he said. "What are its best features and its worst features?" Too many homeowners, he says, accent mechanical features such as rain gutters and downspouts. "Those are things you want to lose," he said.

On the other hand, attractive details--like moldings over the window--will come alive if you paint them a contrasting color, even if the contrast is subdued.

Before choosing colors, Aubert suggests studying photos of your house from all sides, including detail shots of the front door, dormer windows, gables and other special-interest areas. "Photos make you focus," he said. "Look at them carefully. Look at the givens--exposed stone or brickwork and the colors in those materials." You also need to consider neighboring homes and the color of blooming plants around your house.

Aubert recommends painting samples directly on the house--not on plywood--and putting a patch on each side to see how it is affected by light from different directions. Test a bit of trim color next to the body color as well. Finally, he suggests, paint a test area around the front door, because that is the part of your home that is most visible and usually the focal point.

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