Friday, December 12, 2008

Historic Color Selection

As a historic Restoration Consultant people pay me to help them pick period appropriate colors for their homes. However when it is my own home I seriously struggle with getting it "just right". With Knox Hill Cottage we have a number of factors to consider and several options as to how to proceed.
We could simply replicate the original colors on the house. This is often the easiest way to go and in some instances, with a historic structure may be your only option if that house is in a national preservation district subject to exterior covenants. In our case when we exposed the original wood we found the house to be yellow with a green trim. Paint anaylisis showed it to be a Very bright yellow. While this might have been acceptable colors on a small cottage like ours we also have to deal with the fact that our home will be considerably larger after the new carriage house and connecting tower is built not to mention the new double side gallery porch. I actually tried this color on the house and it was, in my opinion overpowering!
These colors would be in too great a contrast to the dark grey slate mansard roof with its red(maroon) accent diamonds. So a decison was made to 'mute' the colors down a couple of shades and use the yellow base as a trim , so we went down the color chart somewhat to a color called "Del Corando Amber". This color is a National trust color and is slightly warmer than the original, at first glance it appears to be bright but when you use a lighter color as a trim you should always go slightly ligher as the brighter colors will "dim" somewhat in a an urban environment after about six months. People often start too dark and are surprised when a year later the color is much darker due to grime of the city and that "bright crisp look" is gone.
The secondary trim is a color I have used before as trim color and is one of my favorite greens "La Fonda Territorry Green" it is a rich dark green that holds up well as an accent or panel color.

Now this is reverse logic in paint selection as you normally want to select the body color first and work off that. In this case however the trim is a prominent element on this house and the 'body" , if you will, of the house is the "background canvas" you want a color that is not 'too light" as the trim will not "pop" off it, and you dont want something so dark that the trim has an "applied stick" appearance because it is too bright by contrast. After much soul searching and playing for days with my painting software, I selected a national trust color called "La Fonda Copper" it is a medium color cross between brick and dark pumpkin. We did some test swatches against the trim colors and it provides a good "color balance".
With that we then have the "accessory trims" selection We are using a color called "Olive Branch Gold" for the Front door. This color is a step up fron the Dark green La Fonda Territory trim color and in terms of color saturation is similar to the Body Color. This will provide a nice base for the trim and stencils that will be applied to the front door and provides a great highlight when applied as an accesory next to the dark green. The porchs will recieve a "Victorian Porch Grey" on the floors . The beaded ceilings will be painted in a color called "Homestead Resort Pale Olive". Conventional wisdom is to use "victorian sky blue" but blue as an accent would 'fight" with the other colors. Other terciary trim is an "Imperial maroon" (matches the mansard rook diamond) and "Gold Leaf" which will be used sparingly on some of the higher small details.
Lastly the exposed foundation will be painted a color called "Rustica" which is a darker brick brown color. This color will "anchor" the home to the ground. Too often people use a light greg and the house looks like it is floating.
In case you have "lost track" NINE COLORS. Not a record we used 11 on one clients home but enough to keep me very busy in the spring.

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