Painting 1910 stucco foursquare any advice?

judyindisguiseMay 27, 2008

Hi to all. I know you can do wonders as I read and look at so many beautiful transitions. My house currently looks like a giant scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream without the chocolate ... just the chipping paint! There is blue trim topped with burgundy. We have lived here nearly 3 years and ... it's time to move on from the previous owners palette!

For pics please go here:

I have tried to Photoshop this myself (on more than one occasion), but I am seriously unable to do it. It ends up looking way worse than it does now! I could really use some help.

I went to Lowes today and picked 3 colors

Base color

Smoky Olive 6001 2B

Inside window and accent color as well as porch under roof

Bamboo Leaves 3009-4

Window trim, porch floor and posts

Tropical Nut 2003-5A

We are going for earthy and like to stray a little from the mainstream ... however I have a tendency to go a little too far off the beaten path and would like to IMPROVE this home.

Any thoughts?


Photoshop help?

Thanks in advance :)

Please don't notice the trash ... or the weeds ... or the ... we have been working pretty hard :)

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Do you want the house to look as it might have originally? Do you have another vision?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 7:59AM
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Thanks for responding! I wouldn't mind restoring it to it's original state ... but I am having a very hard time finding any info on the Foursquares period. Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:43AM
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I looked at your pictures. I could only see your garage/ future studio and the back of your house, so it is hard to see what style the house is.
A Foursquare, as I understand it, is a solid square feeling house with a pyramid roof. Your house may feel square from the front (I can't tell), but it does not seem to have the roof.
Some Foursquares are more Arts & Crafts/Bungalow in feeling, some are more Colonial Revival. I lived in one, small and quite modest, whose character I best describe as 'Edwardian' - not really Victorian, but not daring to be Arts&Crafts nor Colonial Revival. I suppose it reflected its origin as a rental property: it was just supposed to be, style didn't matter.
Your house may have the character of the Foursquare without the hipped-all-around roof. The nuances may come from the windows or the door, or the mouldings.

Arts& Crafts/Bungalow colors are earthy. Colonial Revival colors would be white and yellow, maybe grays, dusty blues, and golds.

I can list books if you want. But maybe not until next week.
Can you post a picture of the front?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:46PM
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Thanks so much jegr ... here are some pics - including the color scheme I was leaning towards, but now I am not so sure.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:39PM
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here are two books that may be useful:
1) A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia and Lee McAlester. It is the standard, and it has pictures of houses similar to yours under 'Prairie'. It also shows porch posts that come from the period which you might enjoy.
2) House Styles in America, by James Massey and Shirley Maxwell. They write for The Old House Journal. This is in color and will give you ideas of how the houses in the first book might look with different colors.

Your house is stucco which would have been earth-colored (red, brown, tan, even green - all muddy feeling, muted) or white, sometimes gray, with the window and porch trim and roof verge board and rafters as accent. You have white window sash. If you can't paint them, you should always add that color into your mix when you are trying swatches. Contrast is fine, but the colors are less sharp, not like a Colonial (which could be white with blue trim - what you have now). The windows would be all within one color so that they read as one thing, not each piece emphasized.
Also see if you can pick a color from your roof. It isn't particularly visible, but you want everything you have to add to the image.

The square lattice at your porch is a good choice - more Arts and Crafts, 4-square, Prairie, than diagonal lattice which tends to look more Victorian. Changing your porch posts and railing system to something less generic and more period inspired would really change the feel of the house.

The colors you show in your swatches are going in the right direction. The question is where to put what!
Look at Massey and Maxwell's book and see what makes your heart go pitter-pat! Then copy and adapt.
And try out your colors on the back of the house!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 1:43PM
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YAY!!! Some real direction! Thanks so much for your great advice and clarity. I will get the books you mentioned and ponder. I guess it's better to take my time and be inspired rather than just rush to get it done ... but man this minty green paint is painful to look at every day :)
just messing around and had some photoshop help from the decorating side, this was the direction I was headed. It's not quite right though.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 1:30AM
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Or this ...

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 2:12AM
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I don't think it's a Foursquare. They are literally square in shape, your house is rectangular.

Those square windows in the center of the second story, plus the open rafters on the roof, wide eaves, and relatively low roof pitch make me think it's a 1920s Arts-and-Craft cottage or something like that. Maybe built from a pattern book, rather than from a local common design.

Have you looked for numbers written on the beams in the attic? It could be a kit house.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 9:00PM
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I have to agree, definately not a foursquare. But it is what I call a simple farmhouse. Are you from PA, there are a lot of houses like that around here. Stucco could have been added later to the exterior. The house could be a bit older than what it appears; what is the basement made out of? And can you see the construction?

Once you get a good idea of the time frame it was built you will have a better idea of what colors were probably used. Not that you have to use those colors. By the way, the colors you picked do look nice.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 1:03PM
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One word of advice about the paint -- do not use paint from a big box home improvement store. Go to a real paint store and get Benjamin Moore or another well known brand. It will last longer and give you a better bang for the buck. As your colors, I like the white with a sage/green or olive leaning trim.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 11:17PM
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