Exterior colors for a wooded lot?

flgargoyleSeptember 18, 2012

I'm building a small craftsman bungalow in the rural southeast mountains. Our lot is heavily wooded with dark hardwoods. The roof will be tin. Any thoughts on where to start for a house color? I've been thinking darker with lighter trim. There will be 4 brick columns, using antique-look bricks. My wife and I are both 'color-challenged'!

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If you google Craftsman bungalow and look at the images, I am sure you will find something pleasing. Also, there are a number of books out (check your library) about bungalows.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Green would look great...if you can find just the right shade of green. If you want the house to stand out (and you have the red barn, right?) then maybe a nice gold tone...with green or brown trim? Just some ideas :)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Any thoughts on where to start for a house color?

Yeah. There are seven steps - they're the same whether it's interior or exterior:

1. Define Expectations
2. Identify Tolerances
3. Evaluate Proportion of Space
4. Observe Natural Light
4. Inventory Artificial Light Sources
5. Consider permanent, non-transient elements - they are the reason why it is not possible to "choose paint colors first".

No matter interior or exterior, there is ALWAYS something that gives color direction and sets you on the right path to building color schemes.

Step 1 is often the most challenging because everything is possible with color. Many viable options for "good" color choices. You just have to figure out what you want color to do, how you want it to look and feel. What you want color to consciously and un/sub/consciously communicate about your home.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:24PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Messed up the numbers. Sorry. It looks like this:

1. Define Expectations
2. Identify Tolerances
3. Evaluate Proportion of Space
4. Observe Natural Light
5. Inventory Artificial Light Sources
6. Consider permanent, non-transient elements because (rolling into #7)
7. they are the reason why it is not possible to "choose paint colors first".

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Let's see if I can first understand the steps!

1) Identify expectations- Does this mean what I want as a result; ie; to blend in or stand out?

2)Identify tolerances- How far I'm willing to go, such as bright purple?

3)Evaluate proportion of space- ?

4)Observe natural light- I'm living on-site while I build, so I have a very good handle on this, at least for the exterior. Not sure what to do with this information, though.

5) Inventory artificial light sources- not applicable for the exterior, that I can see.

6)Consider permanent, non-transient elements- There aren't many out in the woods. Everything is changing, with the changing of the seasons and the angle of the sun. The only relatively static colors would be the gravel driveway and the trunks of the trees, and of course, the house itself. I'm not sure how the galvanized tin roof plays in. In the winter, you have mostly bare branches and rather harsh, low-angle lighting, in the spring there are very pale greens, as well as a fair amount of red in the young oak leaves, in the summer, the oaks are relatively dark, and in the fall, you have the yellows, oranges, reds, and browns. Do you try to pick a preferred season, or try to find something that works with all of them?

That's a good list, and I can see how it would work, assuming I can ask the questions.

As far as looking at other Craftsman houses- I do, all the time, but most of them are in urban or suburban locations, rather than deep in the woods. The reason we went with Craftsman was an attempt to dress up what would otherwise just be a very plain ranch.

All I know so far is that I want a good contrast between the field color and the trim, and would like to have a bit of a third color, such as a red door and windows (but only the windows, not the trim around them. For example- A medium-dark gray-green with cream trim and a deep red door and windows.

LL mentioned the red barn- Is that a factor? It's pretty far away from the house, although from some angles you can see them both at the same time. The barn is classic barn red, with a tin roof and white trim.

Thanks for the great responses so far. I'm a chicken when it comes to colors; I see something I like, but think, "I could never do that in my house." As a result, after 15 years, most of the interior of our current home is still white!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:16AM
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When I think of craftsman schemes, and imagine your lovely deep woods, I immediately see a rich, earthy, loamy body color, with deep brick red or green trim, and a stained natural wood door. That's if you want your house to melt into the landscape.

We were talking in another thread about the Pratt & Lambert Williamsburg collection of colors - Benjamin Powell House Red, or George Pit House Green, approximate the kinds of trim colors I am thinking of. And of the earthy loamy ones, Farrow & Ball's London Clay looks like freshly turned garden soil. In their range, for trim colors, Terre d'Egypte is a luscious brick, or Calke Green or Green Smoke for greens.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:55AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

If you want it to blend in more then I like the one on the upper right. If you want it to stand out more and have some brightness then the middle on the right is very nice.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:17PM
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Yes, IMHO, unless you plan to take down the barn or change it's color, it is part of your property and should be cohesive.

Just curious, given all you described, why brick and not stone?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

1. Yep. Do you want the mood of the house to say fun, rustic, nestled in the landscape - that kind of thing.

2. Yep again. For some a grayed green is "a lot of color" for others it's just "gray" and boring and more saturated colors are preferred.

3. A light paint color on a big expanse of space on the body of the house will produce one effect. A darker color on the same house/expanse of space will produce another. Easy way to determine your preference is when looking at pictures or driving by do you prefer the look and feel of lighter colored houses or midtone or darker. Everyone usually has a definite preference for exterior color schemes dominant in lighter, midtone or darker colors.

4. You get it. A lot that is shaded for most of the day is going to render exterior color schemes differently from a lot that is bathed is full sunrise to sunset.

5. Some people do lightscapes and paint colors can change dramatically at night. If landscaping will include lighting, have to consider that when choosing exterior colors.

6. Permanent or fixed elements are things like the roof, stone/brick/stucco. Even window trim. All those colors work their way into the overall exterior color plan and all need to harmonize, coordinate, go with each other.

Surrounding or neighborhood colors are also a consideration but if you can 'answer' 1 - 6, then the last thing is tweak to accommodate surrounding/neighborhood colors and make sure chosen color scheme will work, blend, fit *in* nicely.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:01AM
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Why brick on the columns? About 95% of the Craftsman homes in this area are brick on the lower columns, with the typical tapered wood upper columns. This is South Carolina, and brick is prevalent. If I could get the right stone, I would prefer it, but haven't been able to find it locally, and shipping costs would be prohibitive. The only stone I would like would be round gray stones like I have seen on some Craftsman homes. The stone around here is all tan/brown/red, and has flat surfaces, rather than really round.

The brick is a given, although many homes around here have painted brick, which is a possibility if it were needed to fit a color scheme I really fell in love with. Likewise, the tin roof (galvanized, not painted) is a given. This roof will be really reflective for a few years before it dulls up a bit. We're going with the classic tin to match the barn, plus it is traditional in the area.

The only time that the entire house would be bathed in light is at high noon when the sun is directly overhead. With the large overhangs, much of the wall area would still be in shadow.

As far as the relationship to the barn- Due to the woods and the size of the lot, the barn could be perceived as being a separate property altogether. As of now, the land doesn't have much in the way of cohesive elements, and probably never will. There will be a little bit of lawn around the house, and landscaping will be minimal and as natural as possible. No sweeping expanses of groomed lawn or formal gardens here! The driveway is just a gravel path through the woods. I managed to convince the contractor to put a few curves in the drive instead of making it dead straight- he thinks I'm nuts!

At this point, I'm thinking about blending in more than sticking out. The house is on the backside of a hill, but near the top, so it doesn't really look 'nestled in the woods' like it would if it were down in a hollow. Despite being one story, it seems a bit tall to me, due to 9'6" ceilings plus an energy heel on the trusses, which adds another 10" to the height. Maybe when the roof is on it will come down to earth a little. Originally, I was going to have a forward facing gable on the deep front porch, but have decided to go with a shed roof instead, which lowers the front appearance, and also lowers the cost. Because of the front porch, 3/4's of the front of the house will always be shaded and somewhat dark. I can post a front elevation, if that would help.

Just to show you how mind works, in the charts Annie posted, I like 2837 for a wall color, but with 2834 for trim, and something like 2839 for accent, although a little redder than that. Is that completely messed up? BTW- my windows are close to 2832 as ordered (there was no red available) but they are paintable.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 6:09AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I misunderstood...I assumed when you said tin, you meant metal that could come in a variety of colors. If you are leaving it tin, then that is gray which is a color that should be considered when painting the house.

Is there a reason you wouldn't get a colored roof? Standing seam roofs come in lovely colors....

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 7:58AM
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I have a wooded area lake house and we chose to stain the house rather than paint so that it would be more muted and settled looking. For the body we chose a reddish brick color and a tan on the trim with accents of green on the doors. Our roof is a dull green so it all blends with the seasons. I prefer earthy colors. Brown is always a viable choice too.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 8:58AM
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It sounds like you are combining qualities of craftsman houses with practical aspects of the local low country cottage, which should make for a great look - they often have many things in common, like the generous windows and the deep sheltering porches. And in a rainstorm, it will be heaven to hear the rain on your roof!

Have you considered an earthy gray for your body color, since you are leaving the roof to weather naturally? I fear that with all those brown tones, it will push the roof to look unfinished rather than as part of the scheme.

Funcolors, what's your take on that?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 9:30AM
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