What is my Local Color?

Local color is color placed in proper context  

Not local color

This house above might be good
in a tropical setting, but even then,
the color is a bit too bold for its size.
This is an actual home, not Photoshopped.

Location, location, location…it’s been said a million times. It is the mantra of every real estate agent. But did you know that for color designers, the locale of the house greatly determines the selection of the final local color?

For starters, this is a great big world we live in…your house may be in the city. Perhaps you enjoy a suburban existence or your house is out in a rural setting, far apart from neighbors. Some of you may be in a historic district or have unique architecture which places your house squarely in a “period” look.

Homes located near large bodies of water will find that the local light is a bit more intense due to the reflective properties of water. Colors may need to be ramped up to compensate for the greater level of light.

The local color of the soil is also a large factor in how light is perceived. In Florida, not only do you have a semi-tropical sun but you also have a sandy soil which is high in reflective value. In New Hampshire, there’s lots of gray granite which tends to absorb rather than reflect.

We can’t ignore regional and local preferences. Turquoise and coral look just right in New Mexico but totally out of place in Vermont. Immigrants from other nations bring their cultural values with them. These values include perceptions and preferences for color which were an integral part of the place they came from. They may or may not assimilate into local standards.

Applying the same treatment for differing locations will suit one but most likely, not the others. The lighting is very different in the city, reflected light off of concrete asks for brighter accents and sharper contrasts. The softness of suburbia could not tolerate such a treatment.

I am not suggesting that all the homes in a locale be the same. But since a home is the largest investment most will make, it’s important to maximize its value by making it a desirable and salable commodity. These are physical realities, there are also the considerations of the context, i.e. what kind of neighborhood your house is in and which community standards exist.

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