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

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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.


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

  1. debra disman

    looks great BJ- can you post some photos showing the plum? As well as the porch color/s?

    • bjacobs

      I appreciate all your recent comments and taking the time to read the post and write them!
      RE: followup or detail photos: I will do my best but I have to get back to that neighborhood again. The day I took those images it was actually raining out and I was not prepared to spend much time outside with the camera!

  2. kristie@thedecorologist

    Lovely job – specifying exterior colors is particularly intimidating, as the impact is LARGE. Natural light can make the paint appear much lighter than you expect, and every undertone seems really pronounced in the sun! Enjoyed the post.

  3. House painting Toronto

    Resolution on the colors of the facades of houses are a completely different ball game. The exterior of your home can be built in many different surfaces such as stone, brick, wood and shingles. Therefore, all exterior paints you choose, be consistent with these surfaces.

    • bjacobs

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, you are so right. All materials and all surfaces need to be considered, in addition to landscape, and anything else that one sees along with the house!

  4. Toronto Painters

    Exterior painting allows you improve the appearance of your home and extend the life of its surfaces by many years. Only one coat of paint is usually needed on your home if it is not peeling or chalking, the substrate is in good condition and a change of color is not desired.


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