Great Exterior House Colours. Slaying the Monster Garage.
A garage that overwhelms the house may not be a common site in Vancouver, but get into the suburbs and you'll find the phenomenon is alive and well. Some architects are attempting to come up with better and more stylish solutions, but many new builds still have a garage that upstages the house.
Paint cannot change the architecture of your home. However, if used effectively, colour can do a great deal to bring your home and garage into harmony and draw attention away from the behemoth at the front.
I have a strong dislike for before and after pictures but in this case it's useful for illustrating how effective a change in paint colour can be. This is the before picture.
What you see here is a garage that is both architecturally and colour dominant, with the house sitting blandly in the background.
Yes, they did use the same colour in the gables as they did on the garage but they didn't pull any of the house colours onto the garage. White windows with white frames blend with the body colour. Windows are often the jewellery of a house and deserve much more attention than what is typically given to them. When I drove up to this house I felt the house and the garage had nothing to do with each other, the slight repetition of colour seemed more like an accident than anything else. The only other place on the house where they used the dark garage colour was on the caps of the brick pillars.
When I look at a house what I'm working out in my mind is how to use colour in a way that makes architectural sense. With this house, colour and architecture were in an unhappy marriage. There were also inconsistencies that bothered me. For example, there's a horizontal strip of trim on 3 of the 4 gables that has been painted white. That took some effort (but only succeeded in creating visual clutter). However, the caps of the brick pillars of the garage and porch are painted one colour. It may be difficult to see in the before picture but those caps are framed, making a two colour combination an easy thing to do, yet here the effort was not made.
This annotated photograph points out the problem areas.
Everything about how this house was built and the colour scheme used was designed to make you look at the garage rather than the house.
Take a look at the photos below. There are two places where the eye is drawn to and visually difficult to look away from.
Here's one of them. The eye moves in a circle up and down and around the garage.
This is the other. Even though your eye is drawn upwards it gets pulled back down to the garage without really taking in the house.
The reason this happens is because the eye is drawn to the lightest thing. With a dark background the white of the gables and garage is more dominant than the white of the windows and porch area.
Let's look at how to fix this!
There were two constraints that I had to work with. The owners did not have the budget to repaint the beige body colour, so that was staying. They also wanted the gutters to remain a light colour vs. a very dark colour, which for me meant that the fascia would also need to be a light colour.
Here's the after picture.
We now have a mix of the same colours used on both the house and the garage. While we can't magically make the garage move to the rear of the house at least now all the colours are relating to one another.
The garage colours have been layered and softened, thus helping it to visually recede. Most importantly a dark trim colour was used around the white windows, this draws the eye to that area and brings focus to the house itself rather than just the garage.
The caps on top of the brick columns of the garage and porch have also been outlined, pulling the eye from garage to porch.
The photo below gives you a rough idea of how the eye travels around the house. Beginning where the red dot is.
This a another picture taken from a different angle that shows the porch railing. The dark colour now acts as a bridge between the brick pillars.
There's another very important thing that new choice of colour did to this house, it made it look friendlier.
In the before pictures the house looks harsh and severe, not at all like its owners and not at all the way the vast majority of people would want their house to feel.
I recently had someone ask me what I was looking at when I consulted on the exterior colours of a house. It's a good question with an answer that sounds simple but in reality is very complex, the happy marriage of colour and architecture. When I speak with potential clients I always tell them that their house is probably much more complicated than they think it is. I can sense their skepticism, that is until a certain point when we are working together and they say, "I never knew this house was so complicated"! I hope this post helps illuminate my point.
Till next time!