September 4, 2009

Choosing a House Color Scheme

One of the things the new roof forced us to do, was to make a decision about the "look" we are going for as we repair and remodel the house. When we first bought it, we wanted to restore it to a near original look and condition. If we had the time to put a new roof on ourselves, we could have chosen something more authentic looking than common asphalt. In researching roofs I was interested that according to this article, asphalt shingle roofs were fairly common in the 1920s. However, they weren't at all the same as they are today. If the insurance company hadn't been breathing down our necks, or if we had unlimited funds we could have made a different choice, but common sense practicality won out in the end.

So why did we choose white? To me, a white roof is the only thing that makes sense here in the South. After all, our summer heat far exceeds our winter cold, and white reflects heat while black absorbs it. You'd think that would make it a no-brainer in this part of the country. Amazingly there are a lot of black roofs around here. The entire new housing development down the road has them, as do many of the other new ones in the area. One of the roofing contractors we got an estimate from told me he didn't think he could get white, but he had a lot of black if I was interested.

Anyway, all of this is the long way of getting around to what this blog post is really about, choosing a color scheme for the outside of the house. Once the roof color was chose, the question in my mind became, what siding and trim colors go with a white roof? And a red brick foundation. Perhaps if I wasn't a fiber artist, color coordination wouldn't matter so much to me, but it does!

When I googled "house colors to go with a white roof," I found lots of discussion for black, brown, green, and gray roofs, but none for white. The I found a fun tool, the Sherwin-Williams color gadget. It lets you choose a house style, and then play with wall, trim, and door color combinations. My trim is already white, so I decided to leave that as it matches the white roof. The door I didn't care about and there was no option for the foundation. So as much fun as it was to play with, it still didn't give me an answer.

What did give me an answer was our recent trip to Pennsylvania. I paid attention to roofs and color schemes as we drove around. I noticed a lot of red brick, just like what we have. I noticed some white roofs too. I also noticed a popular trim color was a brick or barn red. So when I saw a gray home with a white roof and brick red trim, I shouted, "Eureka! I'm going to paint our house blue!"
How did the gray inspire that? Well, it was the shade of gray actually. I hadn't been able to visualize how the color value of the siding would relate to that white roof until I saw that gray house. Besides, blue is similar to gray and I like blue better, especially a blue-gray for a house.

According to my historic house research, this color wouldn't be that far off the mark for the age of our house (1920s). I found some blue-grays on two old house paint color cards at the Old House Colors website. Their images are all copyrighted so I can't show you the cards themselves, but you can see one of them here, and the other at the end of this article.

Lastly, to pick up the color of the red brick foundation, I'm thinking about putting up shutters painted a brick red color. So our basic color scheme would look something like this ...

This is the house color scheme we like.With white trim and brick red shutters.

We've already started scraping and sanding the badly chipped and peeled sections of the house, and are applying a coat of primer to protect the wood. We'll work our way around the rest of the house, removing the vinyl siding as we go. The will obviously take some time and with winter around the corner it won't be done any time soon. Even so, it's a relief to have the decision made and the work begun.

UPDATE 28 October 2011: We have begun painting the house. To see how the color scheme looks, click here, and scroll to the bottom of the post.


Renee Nefe said...

sounds lovely!

when we bought our house it was red brick (with cream splotches on the brick) white siding with blue trim.

DH HATES blue houses and didn't want to buy this house because of the blue trim. LOL! I told him it's just paint!

So we were living here through the first winter when we finally got around to making a decision. I've always liked the Tutor style architecture, but our house is NOT Tutor styled...however, I thought that if we went with a brown trim we could get close. DH took a good look at the bricks and we decided to match the base of the house to the cream in the bricks. Then the trim is a kinda brick brown color. So now we have just the two colors on the house...until we get to the grey roof...ugh! But dh has agreed with me that I can change it to brown shingles when we get the roof redone! YAY

choosing house colors is difficult.

Michelle said...

I like!

Theresa said...

I'm an old yankee and I like blue houses. Our house is a dark blue shade.. Portsmouth Blue is the color name. Cream trim and bright red doors, oh and there is some soft jonquil yellow that the front porch has.
Best advice is buy a quart of each color you like and slap it on the house and live with it in different light for a little while before you commit. We had quite the effect going on before we narrowed it down to these colors.

Leigh said...

Renee, I think one of the difficulties is the varying tastes of the occupants! *lol Sounds like you've worked out a good color scheme though.

Michelle, thanks!

Theresa, good idea. Actually, I just noticed the last time I was in there, that Home Depot now sells sample size cans of paint, for that very purpose. And you bring up another good point too, flower colors as accents! Oh dear, I think you've got my head spinning now ..... :)

Life Looms Large said...

I'd never heard of a white roof until I read about it here! It does seem like a good idea though (well, for people who live where keeping the house cool is more difficult than keeping it warm).

Personally I love a blue house. Possibly because I live in a blue house! Our blue is maybe lighter and grayer than the one you've shown (although with computer monitors you just never know).

My one blue house tip is that the blue that you love in a store looks brighter and bluer when it's on your that sampling process is a great idea!

I'm going to be painting some clapboard blue this afternoon. Such fun NOT!

Good luck! I like your color scheme!!


Geodyne said...

That looks absolutely gorgeous - and it sounds like it's going to fit the achitecture breautifully.

I hear you on the white roof, too. Having lived in the tropics, there's a reason a lot of houses there have beige steel rooves, and the cars are mostly white! The tiles sound like serendipity.

Benita said...

Actually, I can imagine it going together very well. The red will act as an accent color and the blue and while will be nice a cool to look at.

Theresa said...

Oh Leigh, We have red doors but a word on red, it fades quicker than any other color. Our doors are protected from the sun so we didn't have too much of a concern, but your white roof for sun relief reminded me I should mention the red in the sun.

Julie said...

Well you know I love red! I think its going to look great. I did the same thing when I was looking for colors for my house.

Have fun painting and I will pray winter doesn't come too soon.

Woolly Bits said...

one good thing in the irish climate - no discussions about white roofs:)) no need, anything that might trap some warmth, would be welcome... but I agree, sometimes deciding for a colour can be difficult. sometimes I wonder if people are colourblind, the shades they use for their houses:)) some even go so far to paint their house half screaming read, half strong green -the mayo colours (you know immediately you have a sports supporter for this county:)). I prefer white for our old cottage, for the simple reason that most of the house is hidden away behind masses of shrubs and flowers and white goes well with that. but then our roof is slate-grey:))

bspinner said...

Our house, we live in Pennsylvania, is barn red with white trim. The roof is being replaced next summer. We were going to get very light gray shingles but have to look into white.
I'm not a blue person but I do like light Williamsburg blue with brick red. I'm sure it will be beautiful.

Tracy said...

Wow, Leigh. I've been really out of touch. You have tackled a huge task and have done extemely well. I have no opinions on anything, but just wanted to say how great the things you have been doing are.

Leigh said...

Sue, I will probably end up purchasing something lighter than the one I like. I remember wanting a bright yellow room many years ago, I picked one from a paint chip and was quite dismayed when the room turned out to be hideous! Lesson learned. *lol

Geodyne, it's interesting you should mention those light beige steel roofs. That was the color I liked best when we first looked into metal roofs.

Benita, thanks!

Theresa, good point. Two sides of the home are more open to the sun, and my plan is to plant some shade for these this fall. It will be awhile before they get big enough to actually help however.

Julie, thanks! I think the painting part will be fun. I know the scraping and sanding certainly isn't.

Bettina, folks like that always amaze me. I've seen some really odd house color combos over here too. I suppose that's what they mean when they say it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round!

Barb, your house sounds like one of those that inspired me. Yay for Pennsylvania! I realize that not everyone likes blue, which makes gray a good alternative choice. When we lived in Florida, we had a blue-gray house that seemed to change color depending on the season and the contrast of the surrounding vegetation. Fortunately, DH likes whatever I like!

Tracy, so glad to see you on the blogosphere again! I know you've had a tough time of it and sincerely hope that you are now on the mend.

Laureli said...

Ooooooh I just love talking about colors and schemes. I can't tell you how much time I've spent looking at colored barns, barn decoration, color-matching house to the out-buildings, etc....
I really like the colors you have chosen, and I think there are other things you could also toss around- working with that scheme:
#1 they always talk about curb appeal being what you see and what your first impression is when you walk up to a house. I would therefore suggest that you care about the front door, and that you want that door to be a "Wow". Maybe it could match the shutters. Maybe it could always have a really outstanding wreath on it.
#2 I think you could change the color of the shutters too- I think black, or a brighter hue of gray-blue shutters would be quite striking. Just as painting that brick another color would work (if you wanted to change things up). Don't discount that forever, though it's great the way it is.
#3 would be dressing up the country shades you've chosen with something bright and cheerful like flowers. LOTS of them. Maybe in Window Boxes that contrast the shutters.
#4 Not sure how your front porch is laid out, but putting out some leisure furnishings that are in a shade of paint that accentuates your door and shutters, would be outstanding.
I cannot wait to see how it all comes together! So exciting to see someone thoughtfully considering using common sense in their color scheme...

Leigh said...

Thank you Illoura! Good suggestions to think about. This project has been on hold, though it has come up again recently, now that we've discovered rotten original siding under the cheap vinyl (more like plastic) siding. We can probably paint after we do something about that. I would so love to have my house blue.

The front porch is currently screened, so it doesn't stand out too terribly to passers by. We do have a new front door, a prettier one with an oval window. I'll have to consider color for that and shutters. I had leaned toward the brick color initially, but that was awhile ago!

Vernice Yehl said...

That's nice. With you finally making a decision, it was only be a matter of time before it got done. It's true that having a white roof is a good idea to block the summer heat.

Leigh said...

Thank you Vernice. We've actually started on the exterior painting, thanks to having to replace a kitchen window. I'm really liking our choices.