Color expert and artist Amy Wax, founder of New Jersey-based Your Color Source, knows how a drab, lifeless facade may deter buyers while an attractively painted, colorful one may pique interest and even speed a sale. She has also developed the Color911app and blog and served as president of the International Association of Color Consultants of North America (Editor’s Note: All the images included in this article were provided by Amy Wax. These and many more can be found on her website: amywax.com. You may also visit her blog: color911.com). Here’s her edited advice, which is likely to up a homeowner’s happiness quotient.
Question: Everybody talks about curb appeal as making a huge difference in first impressions of sellers and resale? How does color come into play with curb appeal?
Answer: Curb appeal can be what becomes the deciding factor when it comes to a potential buyer staying in a car at the curb or running inside! Curb appeal is what draws you into a home, pulls on your heart strings, and makes a home so appealing that you envision yourself living there. Color plays a role because it tells a story about every home. Imagine if a home has an easygoing color palette with colors that are bright and friendly versus a home that is dark and foreboding. Clearly, the first home is more attractive whereas the second might be a bit scary. Color also influences whether a home has curb appeal because the hues on the outside can be a color palette from the 1980s or appear up to date. In addition to adding to the home’s general appeal, the colors may accentuate the architectural details, and highlight what gives a home true charm. Drawing attention to everything from shutters, brackets, corbels, other architectural details will make a home more memorable.
Q: So, it’s all about paint?
A: No. A home that is surrounded by colorful flowerbeds that are well cared for add to the home’s storybook quality and will make it stand out in the eyes of a potential buyer. A brighter color front door is another way of adding a smile to the front of a home. A colorful red can be eye catching and fun whereas a rich navy blue door in a high gloss finish can express elegance and sophistication. Color will most definitely influence the curb appeal of a home, and can be as simple as making a home tempting so it’s not just another listing!
Q: How should the plantings and any yard accessories add to choices?
A: The plantings and accessories should support the color palette of a home. As every home has a setting or way it is positioned on its lot, it is helpful to use the surrounding areas to give the home more interest and charm. Planters that use the colors painted on the home or a complementary color will enhance the home and reinforce the color palette. A beautiful yellow Colonial-style might have golden planters with purple plants, complementing the sunny palette of the home. Plants, especially flowering plants, can also draw attention to everything from a picket fence to a bench. If a back yard is modest, having it landscaped with colorful plants can overcome its size and add a feeling of coziness and charm. Adding colorful plants and accessories will add a friendlier atmosphere that is more welcoming.
Q: Let’s go back to the facade. How do you choose the palette?
A: When I am choosing colors what matters most is the family that lives inside. I focus on choosing a color palette that is right for both the home and occupants. If a homeowner wants to make a statement with the colors of their home that are welcoming and friendly, I will be more likely to choose colors that are lighter with a little more saturation rather than neutrals that will not make a statement at all. The color palette can create the statement, giving the home the look and feel they are after. Another factor that I take into consideration is the period of the home and surrounding neighborhood. If the homes are traditional, I think the colors of the house I’m working on should complement the period and style of neighboring residences. Colonial-style homes might have softer neutral golds and grays that complement the stonework or surrounding landscaping. I usually don’t like to use brighter or bolder colors on larger homes, because the color then becomes more important than the architectural style. If the homes nearby are more contemporary, there might be more emphasis on texture and construction materials, along with color. Don’t be afraid to have stained wood finishes or oversized glass windows that would be appropriate for a contemporary home. Those architectural features are what give the home its sense of uniqueness.
Q: What about trim and shutters—what works well together and what doesn’t?
A: Contrasting colors that make the trim and shutters stand out give a home more charm and accentuate it’s sense of style. A crisp brighter trim can accentuate the windows, door trim, woodwork and decorative molding. The charm of a home is generally found in the architectural details, and using contrasting color will bring attention to them. Here are a few ideas as to what works and what is less successful:
Rather than use a traditional black shutter, I suggest using an elegant navy blue or rich plum color or even a warmer brown-black. If you are using a brighter trim color rather than a bright white, there are creamy whites with less gray in them that will actually appear brighter than the traditional stock-white trim. What I find less rewarding are shutter colors that are close to the body color of the house so they don’t stand out at all. If they are not accentuated, you might find that a house without shutters is more to your liking.
A growing trend is to consider the colors of the windows. Traditionally, people have chosen to paint their windows white or install white windows. What is growing in popularity are darker windows that create more of a sense of drama and will accentuate the surrounding molding and details even more. Surprisingly, darker windows were originally popular during the Victorian period, and are presently popular in contemporary homes.
Q: What about the choice of roof color–especially if it’s a metal or dark roof or has very light asphalt shingles?
A: Every home’s color palette, includes the materials, textures and colors of every part of the home. I always take into consideration the color of the roof, especially if the roof is on the warmer or cooler side rather than a neutral color. There should always be a sense of balance with the exterior color palette.
Q: Does the region of the country and amount of sun and shade make a difference?
A: The amount of sun and shade is one of the most important factors to consider when creating a color palette. Homes that are in full shade have less natural sunlight so even lighter colors will appear a shade darker once they are applied. In selecting the paint colors for a home that lives in the shadows, choose a color that is one shade lighter than how you want it to appear on your home. Homes that are in full sunlight are subject to two conditions that will affect what is the best paint color. Homes that are in the South with full sun blazing on their home all day are often challenged with colors that will fade because of the sunlight, or colors may appear washed out because of the natural light that beats down. If you love a darker color, my suggestion is to go with the color you love, but add a finish that will take more abuse and makes the paint less likely to fade. I like to choose colors that will stand the test of time or colors that will complement the homes but have taken the setting and weather conditions into consideration.
Q: Interior colors come and go with gray being very hot now; what about on the exterior? How trendy are the color choices?
A: Trendy colors come and go alongside popular color trends in fashion and home décor. I create color palettes of homes that will take into consideration the trends only if it is important to the homeowner. The reason is because the color trends change and the paint colors will outlive any short-lived trends. Paint can last more than 10 years, and my suggestion is that you ignore the color trends and go with colors you love and make your heart sing.
Q: What other choices do you help with—paving and walk materials, mailbox?
A: There are so many features that come into play when I select the colors for a home. The paint color is the most obvious, but the colors of the stonework, roofing, and everything from pavers to planters are part of what makes up the exterior color palette. It is helpful to keep in mind that you are never going to see only one of the elements; you will see all of them, almost every time you look at your home.
Q: We’ve heard so much about using low- and no-VOC paints inside a house; what about outside?
A: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are the chemicals that paints emit and that we may breathe in. We are very aware of them in the smell of a freshly painted interior space. I highly recommend using low- to zero-VOC paints if at all possible for interior painting. However, on the exterior, there is little to no concern that the chemicals will dissipate into the fresh air and cause any immediate danger to homeowners or people near the home.
Learn more about choices in transforming your home at the Global Real Estate Education Network site, https://www.learnfromgreen.com/