Sheltering in place has us looking outside!

Spring is here, the birds are singing and the grass is greening up……and what are we doing? We are sheltering in place……wait….WHAT?! We are all doing our part for the good of the whole, but if you are tired of looking at the confines of your interior space, take a step outside and reassess the exterior of your home. Could your house benefit from a fresh coat of paint, new shutters, a snappy new color for your front door? It doesn’t have to cost a lot and it could very well enhance the aesthetic of your neighborhood, which would make YOU & your neighbors happy. All good!

My husband and I, along with our dog Tank, have been cruising our Florida coastal neighborhood each night since the Shelter in Place rules went into effect. Here are my handsome boys!

During these evening drives, I have been noticing the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY of home exteriors in the area. Please don’t be offended if you recognize your home as one of the “uglies” in this post. I don’t mean to say “ugly” per se, it’s just that you, or more than likely, the PREVIOUS homeowner, (yeahhh, that’s right, the previous owner!), didn’t know or just didn’t care about having a cohesive exterior color palette. And that’s perfectly o.k., I guess…….., but as a certified color consultant, I feel it’s MY DUTY to help folks create beautiful interior & exterior color palettes for their homes. My motto should be, “helping beautify the neighborhood one house at a time!” Yep, that’s going to now be my personal quest!

The 2 photos below are of my friend Shelley’s coastal home. The home’s front hurricane shutters are functional so she didn’t want them removed. But they were bland and did nothing for the front facade of her house. Shelley had already painted her front door and storage room door a fun, vibrant coral color. Her exterior transformation was made complete when she painted the hurricane shutters in the same pretty coral color! You can see how those same utilitarian shutters have now become an accessory for her home. Kind of like a necklace that was needed to complete the dress. You are immediately drawn to the symmetrical windows which act like the “eyes” of the house. The homes’ long, coral lashes saying, “look at me!” It’s adorable!

Before: Utilitarian Hurricane shutters are just “ho-hum” and did nothing for the front facade of the home…….
After: Pops of Coral color make this coastal home stand out yet it is in keeping with the aesthetic of the neighborhood
She even coordinated her mailbox to match the house accents!

Just keep in mind the character of the house, perhaps its’ era or historical style, as well as how it “flows” with the rest of the the neighborhood. Shelley did all of that!

Now let me switch gears and talk about what Vancouver, BC Color Consultant Maria Killam drives home on her blog, “Colour me Happy” as well as at all of her Specify Colour with Confidence workshops around the country. It’s the issue of “Clean & Dirty” colors. There’s no better way to describe the clean & dirty concept than to show you.

Take for example the coastal home below.

“Clean” /bright blue color is painted on the top deck, while the “Dirty”/muted gray/blue is painted on the mezzanine below. This is a prime example of clean & dirty not getting along!

Above example shows “dirty” pink/beige paired with clean teal. Just say “NO”!

Here’s an example that involves a brilliantly, “clean” colored Oleander bush. By placing it in front of the “dirty” green stairwell and muted salmon colored home, the brilliance of the pink Oleander plant falls flat! Put this same bush in front of a white picket fence and it would POP!
Or this…….again, the bright red of the hibiscus flower conflicts with the dirty red brick & vice versa

Now let’s shift gears and see how clean & dirty can be done in harmony on a home exterior

Below is a great example of 2 clean colors paired and presenting themselves to the neighborhood in a pleasing and perfect palette for a coastal home.

Clean blue with crisp/clean white.

Below is an example of 2 “dirty” or muted colors working in harmony. You have a muted green sided house with a muted/dirty beige railing. It is soft & understated. These 2 “dirty” colors compliment each other! See?…..dirty isn’t a DIRTY word!!

Dirty with dirty

This cute bungalow below shows off it’s clean colors. Bright yellows, turquoise, pinks and corals coexist and show off some local charm.

Clean with clean makes this bungalow work!
This is my house in 2 colors: Beige & White. (I’m so glad creams & whites are “back trending”) What color do you feel my front door should be? I am allowed one ACCENT COLOR. Would it be GREEN, NAVY, CORAL or something else? I’m leaning toward green to relate it to the surrounding natural landscape of the palms.

I hope this was helpful. Again, with your home exteriors, keep in mind a few key things:

1). Select colors that are appropriate to the character of the neighborhood, the property & the house itself.

2). Watch out when mixing clean & dirty color schemes. Know & identify your undertones. Do you want a warm or a cool color palette? Here in Florida, many of the color palettes we use are cool. Up north in Montana, the opposite is true. Folks there opt for warmer palettes.

3). Know that exterior color will be 3-4X brighter and lighter in full sunlight. Choose colors that won’t get “washed away” if you have a lot of on sun. Conversely, if you have a lot of shade & trees around your home, you may want to choose a paint color that is a few shades lighter to achieve the appearance of the color you actually want.

4). Identify and play off of the FIXED elements of your home. Things such as the roof, siding or stone facade that aren’t going anywhere or being replaced anytime soon. Just launch your color scheme off of the colors you find in those fixed elements.

5). Remember the Three-Color Method: Field Color which will cover the bulk of the house, Trim color for railings, gabling, decks and other trim, and Accent color for doors & shutters. Any more than the 3-color rule and you get a disjointed, busy look very quickly.

EXTERIOR COLOR – Work with what you’ve got!

I came across this small ranch whose trim & accents had recently been painted a warm gray. First of all, good job to the homeowner for choosing an accent color that pulled color in from the ROOF and the BRICK. This is a prime example of taking a FIXED element of your home like the roof, and PULLING that color down into your accents & trim. The roof is a BOSSY FIXED ELEMENT that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Same goes with the brick. The gray chosen for the trim & accents ties in nicely with the gray roof as well as the gray & black found in the brick & mortar. (The brick is comprised of blacks, grays, tans and reds)

My only wish to really give this home the finished look it deserves, would have been to paint the front entry door in a high gloss BLACK rather than the gray. The gray is “blehhhh”, yes it works, but it’s just o.k. Front entry doors are an opportunity to make a STATEMENT! “Hey look at me! Come on in”! It would have related well with the black bricks found in the body of the home. If budget would have allowed, black shutters on the skimpy windows would have augmented the look too. Otherwise, I give this homeowner a big shout out for a job well done on a budget!

CASE OF AN UNHAPPY “MARRIAGE” Why Yellow Beige should never marry Pink Beige & vice versa!

I had a question from a client the other day stating that she “heard” you should never mix pink and yellow together, specifically when talking about the fixed elements in the home such as tile, carpet, upholstery, etc….. She asked why that would that be so terrible when you see pinks and yellows in nature ALL THE TIME and it looks beautiful!

I couldn’t agree more! When you have a “clean”, true pink matched with an equally clean, pure yellow, the marriage is a thing of beauty! Mother Nature knows what she’s doing. We, on the other hand, need some help.

Mother Nature is a masterful color designer!

Here’s the deal: The problems arise when you ALTER the pink to a PINK BEIGE and pair it with a YELLOW BEIGE. That’s when it can get ugly quick! Note: There are many, many, did I say MANY “beige” tiles, carpets, textiles & flooring out there that have PINK undertones. The tile you are looking at may LOOK yellow & creamy on the display board at your local design center or on your computer screen, but you need to bring it home (or order a sample) and COMPARE it against your other fixed elements prior to committing the relationship! Hopefully that tile you pick will be a lovely compliment, but with so many sneaky pink beige undertones out there you won’t see the pink come out until you compare and compare some more! If you simply “hope”, or assure yourself that “it will be fine”. You may pay dearly in the end $$$.

Case in point: I had a client with a yellow beige Travertine countertop who wanted to compliment it with a tumbled Travertine 3X6 tile back splash. She ordered a sample from Wayfair, and when it came it, she called & said it was PERFECT! It was just the color and texture she wanted. I then instructed her to put it up next to her existing Travertine countertop. It wasn’t until she COMPARED the 2 together that the pink undertone on the back splash sample revealed itself in all of its’ pinkish hue!

Case of the not so happy marriage. Pink beige 3X6 tile with Yellow beige Travertine

Had she simply ordered this back splash tile without comparing and then had it installed, she would have been one unhappy camper. Like they say…..“ugly costs just as much as pretty”. I say ugly costs MORE because you have to rip out the ugly and buy again, or at least, put your project on hold until you get the right undertone nailed down.

Same holds true when choosing carpet, sofas, textiles and flooring! For instance, say you go to a carpet outlet, you pick out a safe, “neutral beige” carpet for your dining room. You then have it installed only to find out it had undertones of pink beige & it now looks DIRTY next to your yellow toned trim and cabinetry in the adjacent kitchen! Ouch, expensive mistake right? Remember the pink flooring tiles from the ’80’s? The ’90’s came along as did the “Tuscan” era, so that ’80’s pink tile gal got married to the yellow Travertine Tuscan boy and it got ugly fast! See below. You then start down the slippery slope of trying to make your “dirty & ugly” look better next to your new “clean & bright”.

What were they thinking?

So, just like when you were dating prior to marriage, I implore you to COMPARE, COMPARE & COMPARE before you commit to that happily-ever-after marriage! Don’t go for the tile on the first date! Go armed into your local design or home centers with samples under your arm, swatches of fabric & paint in your bag, and save yourself a lot of time and money by COMPARING prior to purchase. Or better yet? Hire a professional color design consultant at or contact me direct at 406-570-5333 for your on-site color design consultation and color with confidence!

UPDATE: Color with YOU in mind!

I started this post back in November prior to leaving for Florida for the winter (just like a good snowbird should!). I’m back now and the downstairs basement bathroom paint project is complete. See the after below this original post.

I have a favorite “go-to” shirt that I wear more often than not (far too often if you ask my husband!). It’s not an expensive or fine piece of clothing because, well, I don’t own any of those, but rather it’s in a color that I love and makes me feel prettier when I wear it. This well-worn shirt is a smoky, eggplant color. It compliments my skin tone and my hair color, and because of that, I think it makes me LOOK better when I wear it, and more importantly, I FEEL better when wearing it!

So let’s translate that same concept to the colors we choose to paint the rooms in our homes. Paint with color that makes you FEEL good in your space and that RELATE to the fixed elements already in place!

For the past 10 years or so, I have been living with a dull, yellow paint color in my basement bathroom that does nothing for the space. This yellow wall paint in no way RELATES to the flooring (which is a slate stone in hues of brown, gray, blue & violet). This yellow paint color was simply a color that was sprayed throughout the basement when we first built the home in the hopes of making a dark basement feel brighter! (Spoiler alert, that doesn’t happen!). Even the ceiling is painted in this same light yellow and it does nothing to compliment the features and beauty of the guests who use the bathroom downstairs. I’m sure they look in the mirror and think, “hummm, I thought I was better looking that THIS!”

BEFORE: Basement bathroom with no natural light. Notice how slate floors do not relate to the yellow walls and vice-versa!

So, it dawned on me the other day, while I was wearing that favorite shirt of mine, to paint this bathroom the same dusky eggplant color similar to my shirt that would not only compliment and relate to the flooring, but would make me FEEL & LOOK good in that space. I narrowed it down to these 3 color choices.

1). Top: Sherwin-Williams Storm Cloud (LRV = 23) . Will pull more blue

2). Bottom Left: Sherwin-Williams Special Gray (LRV = 19). Will pull more violet (purple)

3). Bottom Right: Sherwin-Williams Poised Taupe (LRV = 22). Will pull both brown & violet.

All 3 colors relate to the slate stone. All are dark colors, yes DARK! Don’t know what LRV is? (Light Reflectance Value) Check out:

Why go DARK in a basement bathroom that’s already dark & has NO natural light you might ask? The thing is and remember this…….NO, & I repeat, NO light paint color has enough “muscle” to lighten and brighten a space that lacks sufficient natural and/or artificial light. If you choose a light paint color in the hopes of making the space feel light & airy, you’ll just end up with a light paint color that looks flat and dull in the space. My advice when dealing with a room with no natural light and/or poor artificial light, don’t fight the lack of light, but rather EMBRACE IT! Go dark, bold and dramatic, particularly in a space that is set off by itself like this small basement bathroom.

I chose SW Poised Taupe. Again, it RELATED to the slate stone floor, the barn board vanity & gosh darn it, I look & feel good in TAUPE! End of story. You have to admit, not many people look good in yellow, so it had to go. Here’s the after below.

AFTER: SW Poised Taupe wall color now relates to the blue, gray, taupe & brown slate flooring

You see how now the taupe wall color now RELATES to the slate flooring and the barn board vanity? Unfortunately, I could do nothing about the yellow vessel sink, (don’t ask me what I was thinking when I purchased that back in 2001), but you don’t notice the vanity so much now. That’s the beauty of good design. It’s all about DISTRACTING THE EYE. DRAW the eye to those elements in your space you want to focus on, and DISTRACT the eye from those elements in your space that you don’t.

The take-away of all this is…….paint your space in colors that make you FEEL good, happy and healthy, while at the same time relating to the existing fixed elements in the space (i.e., flooring, countertops, cabinets, etc…). Perhaps test this out first on a small space set apart from the rest, if you like the results, incorporate this application & thinking throughout your house while maintaining flow & cohesiveness. Better yet? Hire a certified and professional color design consultant to help guide you through the process and color with confidence!

Contact Color Choice Consulting at 406-570-5333. or email me at