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Tips and Views on the meaning of cost–and the cost of color.

From remodeling your home to mowing your lawn…What is often at the top of a list of hesitations?
“Price” or “Cost” often includes much more than an exchange of money.

Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that it can be the cost of professional services.

What does this have to do with remodeling, color, and design?
As with most discussions there are various ways to look at the subject. Ultimately, the question would be “processed-focused” or “outcome-focused.

Looking at “Cost vs. Pleasure”
Cost is outlay of cash
Cost is the level of perceived value
Cost is “Doing it yourself”

  • Time to do the project
  • The “learning curve,”  if it’s something you have not done before
  • Quality of the outcome, value over time

Cost is often also can happen if you do not engage a qualified professional.

take a bath

You can even take a bath in your DIY bath house!

Pleasure of spending money? If you have the resources this can be unimportant or even pleasurable. But pleasure thrives in the value of creating or producing something yourself, the Satisfaction of “Doing it yourself”

  • Enjoying making Time to do the project
  • Enjoying your Achievements in mastering new challenges
  • Appreciating the outcome has value over time
  • In some cases your results don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be valuable

Pleasure in having engaged a trusted, qualified professional, is a form of “passive participation.”

An “outcome-focused” view depends on your goals
What is your biggest obstacle, for either or both of these positions?

a) as a provider of professional services
b) if you are considering hiring professional help

It’s an important subject from either side and I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences.

For me, one pleasure that’s worth the cost: getting the windows of my house cleaned…Professionally!


When More is Better: Exterior Color Ideas

Speaking of  your new house colors…What house colors are you planning to use? It’s time to evaluate your home for a new look.
Is it for a complete repainting of your home or other building, or maybe adding a few accents to bring some “snap” to your existing color scheme? Even a house with a conservative, subtle color palette can benefit from a small adjustment.

A few tips for individual homeowners and building professionals
When you start to think about colors for painting your existing home, a renovation, or new construction

Homeowners: new colors for any size home
From  a small Cape Cod style house to a Victorian mansion, your best color choices are the ones you carefully consider.

  • Assess the current condition of your siding, eaves, other trim and architectural details.
  • Porches are a great place to introduce new color: Floors, Ceilings, and Trim.
  • Alcoves, niches, window seats: all are candidates for minor revisions with color and sheen.
  • Even homes with less architectural detail will be more elegant and distinctive with the right color additions.
  • Are you planning some landscaping? Coordinate your house color with property updates.

Builders: Single family or a development
Building a single Spec-house, or an entire neighborhood? There’s a lot to consider when it comes to color.

  • Multiple, adjacent homes do not have to be made in the same color schemes
  • The colors you use have a lot to say to–and about–the buyers you attract.
  • The best color plan will include all your building materials to create the most interesting and appealing properties.
  • Color is what your customers will notice first. Make it count!

This picture of three houses show examples of different color schemes applied for one house, from more conservative to more dramatic.
3 color schemes, one house

Now can be the time that you expand your own color-horizons.

  • You can break out of the typical format of “3 colors” for your home.
  • Keep your house colors harmonious with your surroundings, appropriate to the architecture of your own home, and fitting in the neighborhood. All are important.
  • The key is to use the right colors in the right places, where tasteful and imaginative colors will enhance a simply-structured house as well as one with multiple architectural elements and embellishments.

Designer Color Palettes: See what your home, or other building, will look like before you paint!
In addition to my architectural color services for any type of building, inside or out, I’ve added an exciting new service for individual homeowners and other design/build professionals. With Designer Color Palettes, we’ll use colors you may have already selected but want to see how they will look. We’ll  add a few of my own recommendations, or even show you your house with colors that I’ve selected for you at your request. You can direct exactly what you want to see, and what you want help with.

Don’t be left out in the cold…Weather, that is.
Beautiful days inspire us to get out the paint brushes for a new Spring look. But first, register at the D+D web site and read this important article from Durability + Design.

Share your favorite house colors! What are they?
Let us know!

Ready for exterior color?

Following the last post here about price of paint and Titanium White (a major ingredient in house paint products) I want to share this article with you.

From the magazine Period Homes, it’s titled “A Primer on Paint,” and offers a detailed view of trends in paint products. It’s not about ‘color trends’ but rather about the actual development of paint products.

It's the pigments that make color visible. Aren't they beautiful? Kremer Pigments manufactures pigments from natural materials to create a wide range of historically authentic paints and finishes. Photo: courtesy of Kremer Pigments.

Major paint and pigment manufacturers are featured, with comments from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Behr, Fine Paints of Europe, and Kremer Pigments.

If you have been wondering about Waterborne – vs. – Oil based paints, differences in paint qualities, “VOC’s,” and pigments, be sure to read the article. You will also glean a few tips from color consultants James Martin and Barbara Jacobs (Yes, I am honored to be included in this article).

I hope you enjoy reading it, and perusing the magazine, in general.

color design by Barbara Jacobs Color and DesignFrom the Period Homes article: photo by Barbara Jacobs

Do you have a “Period Home?’ What are the joys and challenges?  What do you love the most about it? Let us know about your experience.

Imagining, knowing, envisioning, creating, and Enjoying

Everyone does it!
That is, everyone looks at color, and feels the effects of color—one way or another. Even those with impaired vision experience and feel color internally.

So, when it comes to actually deciding what colors to use for our homes or even for our businesses, some confusion usually ensues. Typically, the ways color is decided when we need help is one of these:

Paint store defined palettes: Makes it easy, requires little imagination (ie: it’s already done for you). At the very least, this can be a good place to start, to explore testing some colors in your own home.

Ask-a-friend or family member: sometimes works, but the friend or family member is then responsible for their advice (and the relationship!)

Painter recommendations: Painters have more experience with applied color than anyone else in the field.
While some painters are happy to work with you closely to arrive at your specifically personal colors, I’ve noticed that they will typically want you to tell them what colors to use, so they can keep rolling.

However, on the side of patience and imagination,  there might be more that’s needed to achieve something really personal and interesting.

Copy the house down the street: this can be good for inspiration but might not suit your house, Or You, even if it’s the same style building.

What’s different?

  • You are different! There are no two people alike, even though they might like the same kinds of colors.
  • your House is different – even if it’s only the specific physical location
  • Landscaping is likely to be different.
  • lighting is probably not the same

Whether it’s for interior or exterior colors, in the process of determining a unique, harmonious and balanced personal color palette for your home, the four qualities in the title of this post are essential to really get it right. Don’t worry about where to begin, because you can actually start with any of them. The creative process is one that evolves through all of those phases.

They are all part of eliminating the frustration of being confronted by thousands of colors, and turning the experience into one that’s enjoyable and informative. At some point you may want to consult with a professional about any of these aspects of selecting colors:

  1. Imagining – artistic
  2. Knowing – educated, trained specially in the field
  3. Envisioning – experience
  4. Creating – putting it together

And finally: Enjoying
Something you can do without any help at all!


“Yellow,” she said! And, 3 tips for exterior color selections.

It’s not often that a client is adamant about a house color. At least not to the extent of being so fixed on one color family that all others are not available for consideration.

With that caveat, I began to look at various yellow paint colors for the exterior of a Victorian home in a Boston-area suburb.  Not only was the only option to be “Yellow,” but the painting was going to be done by an area company specializing in a ‘never-paint-again!’ method, and so it had to be the right yellow to last…and last…and never be changed.

Back of house view - Before painting

One view, from the back of house, "before." Note existing color-testing by the owner, on the siding

Originally built as a single family house, as were most structures of this general style, this house has been made into apartments.

Original colors and some testing

Stuck on Yellow, the owner had done a few swatch tests and come up "empty."

The house was already yellow…

The house was already mostly yellow

Before: looking for the right change to make the difference

Selecting a different yellow for the body, with a more subdued color for the doors and an earthy color for porch floor and steps, was not a huge color change but it was a significant one overall.

The new palette: Sherwin Williams colors

  • Body: SW 6374 – Torchlight
  • Shingle accent:  SW 2817 – Rookwood Amber
  • Window and door casing trims, and stair risers: SW 6372 – Inviting Ivory
  • Porch floors and stair treads, front and back: SW 7053 – Adaptive Shade, a stoney gray
  • Front and back doors: SW 6278 – Cloak Gray, a deep plum

    Sherwin Williams Colors

    The palette: all from Sherwin Williams. Note: your monitor will not look like mine so please get the actual paint colors to test them.

Newcolors, almost done - but lacking the detailed accents

New colors, almost done - but lacking the detailed accents

I had specified Rookwood Amber to be used on the details of millwork as well, which would have been a lovely detail, and would not have appeared over-decorated. Some of the column detail was done, but other details that were to have been done on the peak trim and some of  the other decorative millwork would have completed the picture.

Ultimately of course it’s up to the homeowner, who is the person hiring the painting contractor. Sometimes the finishing touches are omitted due to the budget constraints and the result, even if beautiful, seems to be missing something.

Three quick tips

  • In homes with architectural detail, consider using color in the architectural details as a way to add balance and refinement. “Painting out” the detail sometimes works but the inclusion of the right, subtle color can make a world of positive difference in the overall appearance of your home.
  • Even a simple color change can make a big difference. In this case, where Yellow was the only color family considered, it was a matter of getting the right one to suit the building.
  • Testing: you can see that the tiny strips of color-tests, applied close together, don’t provide you with much ‘information’ about how the color will look on the house. It’s important to test on large areas that you can move around the building at different times of day, on the different surfaces.  Testing your paint colors on primed card stock or even pieces of wood (ideally, using siding to replicate the shadows) is a better method that small swatches. Be sure to use 2 coats of any colors  you are considering.



View from the street

Overall, it's a big improvement!

View from the street. The colors of doors, porch and stair treads complement the roof color.


Got Color? No More Neutrals…Get Gaudi!

A long winter..”neutrals” got you down? Fret no longer, Get energized with Gaudi.

Antonio Gaudi

No, it's not a dragon—it's a building. From: Complete works: Gaudi / by Aurora Cuito, Cristina Montes. This image from the book is by Pere Planells

Exquisite photography and detailed descriptions of sites provide a compelling entree into the Gaudi world. As an architectural color consultant I particularly enjoy Gaudi’s bold, personal style of color in architecture. I’m happy to have the English edition so I can actually read the text!

Next stop…Barcelona!

Antonio Gaudi: Complete Works (Paperback)

By (author): Aurora Cuito

Book by Cuito, Aurora
List Price: $38.95 USD
New From: $56.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $33.71 USD In Stock

Is it Physics, or Magic? How about Both!

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — Barbara Jacobs @ 8:30 am

Believe it or not, I can actually be a bit reserved.

But now that I’ve seen other people call it “magic,” I will come out from behind my little curtain and say… “Yes!”

Actually, when clients become exuberant about “my magic paints” I’ve always replied,” Well, maybe not ‘magic.’  Maybe it’s Physics and Artistic Vision.”  OK, that’s my pragmatic side speaking.  But, however you want to describe it, Full Spectrum is a wonderfully beautiful and–dare I say it–the Most FUN and inspirational way to work with paint color!
Inspirational Color

Architect and interior designer Richard Morrison is also an enthusiastic advocate of Full Spectrum color, with Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paint as his stated favorite.  He describes it like this: “For many people, the difference between standard paint and full spectrum paint is like night and day.”

I could not agree more!

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Curb Appeal: Updating a 50’s custom home

Residential Exterior

The owner of this 1950’s custom home wanted to create a great view of his house from the street. True, the house is in a commanding position at the upper crest of a hill on a corner lot where two streets meet. It’s almost like a punctuation point, since the house is visible as soon as you round the corner.

Originally white with mauve trim, the house is surrounded with homes for the most part “colonial” with taupe, brown, or beige siding.

<p>View from the street</p>

View from the street - click to expand image

The owner’s goal
The owner wanted to make his home a showplace without it standing out too much. In other words, Stand Out as  unique while serving as a focal point and complement to the neighborhood.

<p>Unique home need new colors - detail view</p>

Note: existing vertical siding  on two sections.
Each of these two areas in the updated home will have new horizontal trim band to separate it from the lower portion. Also: new shutters will be made and all windows re-glazed. Old stone of chimney is an eyesore against the white background.

At our first  meeting

The owner expressed his interest in making the house ‘stand out – but in a good way” – among the more traditional “colonials” of taupe, tan, cream, and brown. His father had built the house and he was interested in respecting the “bones” of the house and the quality of it’s construction.

It was also of primary importance to him that his home have an aesthetically pleasing view from the street since it is on a corner with an expansive front lawn. In the winter, of course the yard is not so beautiful and he  wanted the house to look great even when the yard did not look its best due to the winter weather.

At this time, he showed me his ‘favorite’ paint colors that he’d selected. It’s always good to know what people like, yet it’s essential to not be bound by their preferences. He was open minded and detail-oriented, which I enjoyed, and which helped the process.

Next, back to the studio, where I printed out the many photos I’d taken at our meeting. When use my initial digital photos expanded in larger black-and-white images, I can work with them to visualize the new color palettes. I can also sketch on the photos as much as I have to, to develop the paint palette.

Our next meeting

The objective of our second meeting was to  review the colors and distribution of a couple of the palette options I’d developed based on our first meeting and a few calls and emails between meetings to confirm the direction.  Meanwhile, he’d had a chance to look at all the color ideas on his own. At this meeting I also brought a number of larger paint sheets with me and we finalized the selections.

Then, back at the studio

I created a digital ‘color sketch’ based on our palette selections. This digital imaging is often a good way to communicate the paint scheme before actually doing the work.

Finally, the painting was started…and efficiently completed!

He’d had the carpentry work done, to trim the vertical siding edges and install the horizontal trim, and also have custom shutters made and painted the new color.

<p>New colors for this unique home.</p>
New colors for this unique home.

The owner emphasized his interest in creating a coordinated “look” between the exterior and the interior, which he had previously painted.  His enthusiastic comment: “When you’re inside, you see the outside. People have commented on the great blend and relationship of colors inside and out.”

<p>Interior view, existing colors</p>

Interior view, existing colors

<p>Detail view</p>
Detail view


<p>Alternate view from the street.</p>

Alternate view from the street. Owner states that now, the roof color works well with the rest of the house. Same with the chimney color.

The owner’s question—and his responses
His question: “Color is the first impression someone has. Does it fit?” And he answers: “It’s Spectacular! Really, Really, REALLY came out great! It’s not the same house at all. It’s that dramatic !”


Owner: "The bay windows look twice the size as before – the colors highlight each bay even from a distance."

He continues, “the house is ‘one of a kind,’ and now it looks it. I tried numerous times to pick colors but it was never really right. Anyone could have painted the house but not just anybody could have picked the colors like this.”

“The colors you picked are Perfect!”

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