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Exterior architecture bright colors of school by Cristina Acosta

Exterior Paint Colors Enhance Architecture

Color can change the way you perceive architecture, and it’s the least expensive “remodel” you can do! Artists know that color “moves” visually in space. Colors recede or advance depending upon where they are in relationship to each other and their surroundings.

If you are a homeowner choosing exterior paint colors, here are a few color tips:

  • Check to see if your neighborhood has any restrictions regarding color use. Often titled Covenants and Restrictions these rules will limit the choices you have. If your neighborhood is a designated historical area check with the local Historical Society or Building Dept. to learn if colors are restricted to historical colors typical to the era your house was built.
  • Choose at least 3 colors for the home so things don’t get too dull. Please don’t think that painting the whole house one color will make it “blend in”. The result is usually very “lumpish”. In a typical home the colors can applied like this:
    • Body Color (main part of house)

      Cottage cabin exterior colors © Cristina Acosta
      Cottage cabin exterior colors © Cristina Acosta
    • Trim Color (around windows and Doors)
    • Fascia Color (trim around the roof and possibly the belly band (6″ – 12″ wide plank trim that separates 2 stories, or the body of the house from the peak of the roof).
    • Door Color
  • The example of the home below shows this idea altered to suit the mid-century modern sensibility of the 25 year old home. Originally the windows were un-trimmed, so I only specified a fascia trim (in tan). To enhance the modern segments of the architecture, I had those segments each painted contrasting colors. The palette was inspired by the colors of the beach pebbles and flora at Elk Lake, a nearby High Cascade lake.

    Contemporary Exterior Paint Colors by Cristina Acosta
    Bold use of exterior paint colors enhances the complex contemporary architecture
  • Buy the best paint you can afford. High quality exterior paint has excellent UV blockers.
  • Whether you are painting it yourself or having it done, make sure that the prep work is well done. A good foundation of prep work will make your final paint colors last years longer.
  • If you have a strong prevailing wind/sun direction, put a extra coat of paint on those sides of the house. The entire paint job will last years longer.

Mid Century Modern Bright Wall Colors

Choosing colors for a mid-century modern home is a balancing act between the historical and the contemporary color palette. Though slavishly adhering to a past aesthetic makes sense for a movie set, I prefer to choose a group of colors that give a nod to the past and live in the present.

Mid-century modern homes typically have an open floor plan that blends the communal rooms of the home: the kitchen, living room and dining area. This arrangement of communal rooms is typically called a great-room. Ceilings in the great-room are often vaulted and intersect at interesting angles with other parts of the architecture.

Bright colors define a Mid-Century Modern open floor plan accented with shapes of bright colors balanced with earthy golds.

These intersecting architectural spaces demand a cohesive color plan that looks great from every angle. Here is how I made the color choices for the home pictured. The home is mine, so the colors are some of my favorites mixed with some of my family member’s favorites. Built in the late 1980′s with a mid-century sensibility I sought to enhance the mid-century aspects through the color choices as I updated and resurfaced the home.

Cork Floor Stairwell with contemporary mid-century modern design and bright wall paint colors
Stairwell with contemporary mid-century modern design and bright wall paint colors

The primary color chosen for the home was the floor color, as the flooring is the same through most of the house. I chose Wicander floating cork flooring in a light golden hue that coordinated well with the existing natural wood baseboard, window and door trim. Cork is also a classic mid-century material that is considered modern, cool and environmentally sustainable, so it was key to setting the conceptual tone of the home.

The interior doors are natural wood (another type of “gold” color). With that earthy gold “anchoring” the home, I chose a gold paint color that I would use in various parts of the house, as a “connecting” color, thereby enhancing the visual flow of movement throughout the home. With that strong foundation of warm golds repeating throughout the home, the remainder of my color choices where predominately the warm colors of red and purple with a subordinate palette of cool green and blue.

The resulting palette of strong bright colors anchored with earthy golds created a happy, contemporary feel to the home.