Suburban Color Success


Acres and acres of lawns, green is the color of suburban color success. For escapees from city living, suburbia promises lots of the things that are in short supply in town. How does this affect paint color choices?

The landscape in the suburbs is soft, perhaps the softest of all. There are planned landscapes which include plantings, trees, shrubbery, flowers, grasses…everywhere you look (except the malls) there is green. So with all this talk about green, it is one of the hardest colors to use well in suburban settings. How can this be? Mother Nature just can’t be topped, when we put a house in the middle of her plantings and paint it green, she just laughs at us…nothing is better than nature. Is this to say you can’t use green in the suburbs? No not so, it just has to be done carefully. You’ve got to notice how prominent the plantings are that surround the house…how the house is situated on the lot…which of the four directions it faces…and if there are any outstanding foliage colors close by. Since green is a color that is a combination of yellow and blue, greens will have either a yellowish undertone or a blue one. Looking at different kinds of plants and comparing the leaves will help you to see this.

Because of the greenery, suburban color success depends upon softer color overall. Contrast can exist but saturated colors which are very pure look out of place here on house exteriors. Popular color trends will support this, the popularity for muted, “grayed” tones is no doubt driven by the homemakers of suburbia. That cherry red door which looks so sharp on a city townhouse looks like the front door to Santa’s cottage in suburban settings.

Of course regional preferences and the difference in the quality of light between regions will be a factor in color choices. Generally, the further south you go, the more intense the lighting and so the colors. Also houses near water can take a bit more color than those in the interior. Higher elevations ask for brighter colors as well. Larger homes do well with understated coloring. These are all generalities but can be used without fear most of the time. Your house and its lot are like a picture within a frame. The plantings on the perimeter are the frame and the house, its foundation plantings and its accessories are the picture. A good frame compliments the picture and gives it boundaries. The contents of the frame should never be so loud as to burst through the boundaries of the frame. A gentle balance is key for suburban color success.

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