Pick a Color, Any Color

My college era mentor, sometimes referred to as ‘Mentor Man’ in these articles, was an art
museum/gallery director. Mentor Man thought ‘Lambswool’, a beigey-warm-gray, was the perfect color.
It was the color he chose to paint all his museum and art gallery walls mainly because it was
unobtrusive and did not clash with the art. But he was more than a little fanatical about ‘lambswool’.

Once I painted my car ‘Lambswool’. (so I was a little fanatical too) He was thrilled. He told me the whole
world would be a better looking place if everything was ‘Lambswool’. I asked if he meant the sky and
trees and grass too? He said he meant everything. I actually think he believed it in a Stanley Kubrick
movie sort of way.

Well, unfortunately Mentor-Man has gotten his wish. To see my point, just drive out of town and check
out all the newer developments. To the last structure, they are all shades of beige. Then, if you
consider this year’s dirty snow (or snirt) and a new development’s lack of trees, you only have sky-
blue sky from keeping Mentor man away from total satisfaction.

So how did this happen? My theory is vinyl siding. The manufacturers of vinyl siding only produce
awful colors. It must be some sort of law. The least awful of the colors was beige because it is so
neutral and noncommittal. Beige sold really well. So well in fact, that manufacturers of aluminum and
wood products thought ‘Wow, that beige sure is a popular color’ so they made their products beige too.

Then this insidious trend started creeping into the city. Just look around. It is the base color on many
of the new buildings going up in Uptown. Its on bridges and infrastructure. Its on everything we are not
supposed to notice.

Well, I am here to challenge everyone who is thinking about painting their house this summer to
commit to a color. I’m not encouraging garishness unless you have really forgiving and colorblind
neighbors. But besides protecting your siding, isn’t the whole point of painting your house to give it
curb appeal?

So, if you are game, here are some of the things that you consider when choosing a color for your
home.

  1. Home style: When choosing colors for your home, you should stay within the original character
    of your home. You wouldn’t want to paint a rambler with Victorian colors for instance.  But you
    may want to do some research on your home. White used to be what beige is today. So, don’t
    assume that your house is supposed to be white. It may have been painted that color back
    when it was popular.
  2. Windows: Ask yourself (or a paint professional) if your window trim can be painted? Many
    windows these days have vinyl, aluminum, or baked enamel trim. You probably do not want to
    paint them because the paint may not last. If this is the case, you need to pick colors around
    your window trim.
  3. Roof: Believe it or not, your roof has a big impact on your home’s aesthetic. Choosing a color
    that coordinates with it is in your best interest unless you will need a roof replacement in the
    near future.
  4. Gutters and Downspots: Just like windows, it can’t or shouldn’t be painted because of the
    material it is made out of. I would strongly recommend asking a knowledgeable paint person.  

Choosing a color that is appropriate for your home is a necessary step. But color is only part of the
picture. Stay tuned for other curb appeal advice that sheds light on issues like what should be ‘wall’
color and what should be ‘trim’ color.


Paul Livdahl is founder of DesignQandA.com
For questions or suggestions, e-mail him at plivdahl@designqanda.com