Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Hey everyone....Hope all is well?  So I got to thinking the other day about colour.  And specifically exterior colour.  Picking colour for the outside of your home is way more challenging than you might think.  Picking colours for outside is so tricky due to one main factor....and that is light.  Depending on where you live, this will determine what colours will best suit your home.  Not to mention the other factors such as the other materials on your home, cultural, historical factors,  indiviiduality, or even geography.  However, in this post I want to talk about colour and light and where you live.
For those of us that live in North America....and I mean for those of us that do not live in tropical climes...we get to deal with the ever changing light that is brought to us courtesy of our position in our Universe and the seasons.  For those of us that experience 4 seasons you may have noticed how different things look depending on the season.... why is that?  Well....it has to do with the quality of light that we are exposed to.  What do I mean by that?  Depending on the time of year or more specifically the season....the light from our lovely sun comes to us through our atmosphere at different angles.  Without being to scientific about it (although I do love these nerd parts....) depending on the angle that the sun comes through our atmosphere we get less or more heat and a different colour is perceived.  The heat part is what most people understand.  The "quality" of light or in simpler terms the "brightness"....well most people take that one for granted.
Here is an extreme example of what I mean:

This photo was taken the previous winter in Feb.  Granted it was close to 5pm when it was taken and we had snow...however, you can see how "blue" and muted the light seems.  This photo was not retouched in anyway whatsoever.  For those that do not live up here (we are near 43* North here in Burlington) would never believe how "blue" and dull the light can look outside in the winter.  This is all due to the angle that the sunlight is coming to us through the atmosphere  at this time of the year and time of day.  Now contrast this pic with the one below:

Excuse the craziness of the two toads above....... But as you can see the "quality" of the light is much brighter and more "brighter" and "intense" than the previous photo.  Now remember I am trying to find extremes in my photos to illustrate the point.
And to go even further.....

Oh to be on that beach!!  As you can see in the photo how much "brighter" the quality of the light is.

So now for a bit of tech speak!  When the light comes through our atmosphere the "temperature" of the light can be measured on a scale of Kelvin.  Everyone can relate to this just by looking at the back of the light bulbs that you buy.  In simple terms the higher the number in Kelvin the "brighter" or closer to pure sunlight the bulb will be.  Most Incandescent bulbs are around 2600K.  The brightest sunlight is usually around 5500K.  And if you pay attention you can see that your light bulb at 2600K has a more yellower and muter quality to it as compared to bright sunlight which is a very clear and brighter "blue".  The higher the Kelvin number , the "clearer" the visibility   This is highly illustrated in my photos I have shown.  Look how "clearer" and brighter the photo is of the beach as compared to the "dull" one of the winter scene.  So there you have it .... a quick and dirty version of  light and it's "quality".  This is a very simplistic version but one that I hope is easily understandable.
What the heck does this have to do with me picking a colour for the exterior of my house??  Well....it has everything to do with it!!  Even if you have never been to the tropics what do you think of when you think about a tropical beach house??  You are probably thinking about a lot of white and very bright, juicy colours.  And you would be right.  When you think of the colours used on houses anywhere north of the tropical line you think of more muted, less saturated colours. And again you would be right.

For the most part the rule of thumb for picking colours for the exterior of our houses here in the North is to STAY AWAY FROM ANYTHING IN THE FAN DECK THAT ISN'T AN HISTORICAL COLOUR OR ONE THAT IS NEUTRAL.  For the most part if you stay in those two areas then you will be gold.  Why is that you ask?  Well.... think about it.  Really bright, tropical colours for the most part don't look their best up here in the North and you can thank your position on the earth for that one.  I love bright turquoise but I would NEVER put it on the exterior of my home.

Bahaman Sea Blue 2055-40 BM

How amazing is the above paint chip.  I can imagine this on a lovely beach cottage down south.  But put it on my front door and OY!!!  Let's just say that I DO NOT have the right light here to do this colour justice.  And I think that is the key here.  These amazing saturated colours do best and shine their brightest in...well...quite frankly brighter light.
If I had a client that was hell bent on a turquoise then a better choice but in the same vein would be either:

Majestic Blue 2051-40 BM

Caribbean Teal 2123-20 BM

Now....is this set in stone??  No, absolutely not.  If you want the brightest colour to adorn your front door then by all means go for it.  However, for the majority of people...when you go to the paint store..stick to the more neutrals and historical colours...you will probably end up with the result you were looking for and now you will know why!  That's always the rub for me...the why!  Why does tropical colours look so awesome down in the Caribbean yet here in the Great White North it doesn't...well now you know...it has to do with the quality of the light up here.
One other "little" detail you have to think of when picking a colour for the outside is how much of an influence the light outside effects the actual colour you pick.  You may want a super deep aubergine on your shutters but if you don't pick one that is deep enough the sunlight will completely lighten it up.  It is amazing how much full outside light can "lighten" a colour and wash it out.  When picking a colour for a room, many times people are told to go down on the chip to a lighter one so that when the colour is on the walls it will be the colour they wanted.  That is because paint tends to "intensify" on walls from when you take a little paint chip and then spread it out over a large area.  Well it is the opposite when thinking about colour for the outside.  Sunlight loves to really "wash out" colours.  And it makes sense when you think about it.  More light means more light bouncing off of objects, thus "washing out" the colour of the object.  The way I look at it.....More light bouncing off of an object, hitting your eye, getting in the "way" of that colour of the object you were looking at- simple , but that is how I think of it.

I wanted to share with you all some really great shots of exteriors and perhaps give you all some inspiration no matter where in the world you live.

I love this house.  I will take one to go please!!  Usually I am not a huge fan of white trim, but there are cases  where it looks stunning.  This house is just one case.  Although if the designer had chosen a darker trim colour it would have looked amazing too.....It just would have given a completely different look to the house.
The current Stain colour for the body of the house is Cabot Solid Stain in Pewter Gray.

I love red on an exterior.  LOVE IT!!!  Again, white was chosen as the trim colour but a darker colour...say the one used on the shutters or doors would have looked awesome too.  The main colour used here is Tomatillo- not sure the manufacturer though.

I have loved this exterior for years.  It is just so classic and well executed.  The architects picked the right blue for the shutters.  A lovely grayed down blue works so nicely with the stone work.  However, if this had been a plantation home in the tropics a brighter Turquoise would have looked amazing too.

Main body colour: Blue Note 2129-30 BM.  trim: Cloud Cover OC25 BM, Garage Door/siding: AF750 Sparrow BM.  If you look on the chip, Blue Note is very gray with a blue undertone to it.  Cloud Cover for the trim is quite grayish as well.  However, outside the colours would completely change as is evidenced by the above pic.  Love the colours used here.

This is a great example of seeing how light affects the appearance of the red on this house.  Under the porch where the light is less intense you can see that the red is truer and deeper than on the upper part of the house.

Just look how amazing the bright turquoise is on this house.  And being in Florida it looks right at home.  Put this same house on my block and well.....it would not look as stunning.

Here is a lovely little house.  It is known as the "Salsa House".  To me it is darling and an exception to the rules.  The homeowners went for broke for colour and I think it looks great.  I think that with picking all the colours from the "brighter" part of the deck helps out a lot.  Mixing bright with duller colours can be a challenge.  They chose all brights and I think it works for this lovely little gem.

Just look at this amazing modern bungalow in Los Angeles, CA.  I love the Ombre colour that was used here.  It is so great to see something just that little bit different.

This amazing modern home is located in Houston, Texas.  I love the hit of Orange with that gray.  Hits of  larger blocks of colour always look amazing on modern homes.  This too would look awesome in my neck of the woods, however, I would probably put a more muted orange on the home if it were here.

You don't often see green on a home anymore- at least around where I live.  However, on this lovely home it looks amazing.

What a lovely Victorian Home.  I love it when people adhere to the character of a home and use traditional colours to bring it to life.

Remember how I said that there is exceptions to the rule....one such example if for those that live in places such as Newfoundland, Canada, the Faroe Islands, and other Nordic places,  as well as little caches of homes that defy all rules.  But that is for another post !!  However, for the rest of us mere mortals it is best to stick with what works best for the area in which you live.  Does this mean you have to be boring?  Absolutely not.  Just do what is right for you.
And if you live north of the tropics it may be best to stick with more neutral, nature inspired colours

Have a great day everyone.


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  2. This blog post on exterior paint colors is incredibly helpful! Choosing the right colors for the exterior of a home can be quite daunting, but your detailed explanations and visual examples make the process much easier to navigate. I particularly appreciate the emphasis on considering the surroundings and architectural style when selecting paint hues. For those in need of expert guidance and execution, visiting painters Chatswood could be the perfect solution. Their expertise in exterior painting can bring these color concepts to life, enhancing the curb appeal and overall aesthetic of any home. Thank you for the insightful tips and the recommendation to explore painters Chatswood for professional assistance!