Frank Lloyd Wright Quote

"Form follows function-that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union"

Frank Lloyd Wright

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Looking at Exterior Colors, Part 1

The paint on our exterior is starting to fail in a lot of places, so we are starting to look for a painting contractor. I had Sam Sundeleaf out the other day from Sundeleaf Painting to give me a bid for a high-quality "investment grade" paint job. He spent a lot of time talking to me to figure out exactly what I wanted and to explain the kind of work they do. I was very impressed. Then I got his bid and realized that I ain't gonna be gettin' no "investment grade" paint job!

This weekend we were over at Grant Park with the kids and I saw some guys just finishing the exterior of this house:

I fell in love immediately! I never knew black accents could look so good. Not only are the colors nice, but you can tell within 3 seconds of looking at the house from the street that the prep and paint are well-done. I got the business card for the paint removal and paint companies and I'll have them out for some bids soon.

If you are looking to paint the exterior of your bungalow and need help choosing colors, you might give one of these books a try:


  1. I've always liked black as accent. I have been really tempted to use black similarly on my home, but am having second thoughts due to the fact that if you paint multi-pain windows in black, all you see is one big black hole from the road... all the individual lights disappear (unless you keep white blinds drawn behind them). The house you have pictured, although I love the house, suffers from that I believe.

    Color selection: I tried choosing paint colors using photoshop but found a much easier and more versatile $10 software download at the Benjamin Moore website. They have an online version, but the $10 download lets you paint up your OWN place and much quicker than photoshop.

    For what it's worth...

    Good luck with your paint project. You always do such good work and have high standards!

  2. Oooh. Pretty house! :-)

    Roger Moss (here's a link to his bio if you aren't familiar with him:,_Jr.)

    always recommends using a darker color on your sashes than on your window trim to give the windows the appearance of added depth. He says that white/light sashes and/or painting your sashes and trim the same color tends to "flatten" the appearance of your windows. For what it's worth (perhaps not much!), I tend to agree.

    You can see the difference between the two approaches by looking at these photos from Daily Bungalow:
    Pretty house but the white sash/trim combo really makes the windows look flat and dull (and it's not just the lack of panes/divided lights).

    But if you look at this bungalow on Mt. Tabor, the darker sash color really accentuates the window detailing, gives the windows depth and makes them pop more, visually.

    Personally, I have always liked black window trim, but I also understand what bungalow monster is saying. You *can* always compromise though by going with a dark/darkish color that's not quite black. (For example, you'll have to scroll down a little bit, but I've always liked the color scheme at 1912 Bungalow: )

    I will also give a little plug for Photoshop. I use it for my clients (for interiors and exteriors) and I think there are two benefits to using it (although it is a major pain to use in many other respects and there's a steep learning curve if you haven't used it before.)One is that with Photoshop you are not limited to sampling colors from a single brand (for example, if you use the Benjamin Moore software, you can only try out the Benjamin Moore colors, but with Photoshop, you can use any color you can find or think of.) The other benefit is that you can try out more than just paint colors - you can add lighting, house numbers, mailboxes, plants, trees, fences, furniture, etc. You can also play around with moving or removing trees or shrubs without having to dig anything up. :-)

    Finally (sorry this has turned into such a long comment) I have listed of painters I can send you if you're interested. I went around to several local paint stores and asked the managers who they would hire if they were painting their own homes, and they gave me a list. A few specialize in environmentally friendly finishes, if that's something you're interested in.


  3. Oops! I totally forgot the link to the Mt. Tabor bungalow, didn't I?

    Here it is:

  4. Thanks for the detailed comments Stephanie!

    Dark sashes inside lighter trim is a definite. I'm thinking off-white or cream for the trim and a very dark burgundy or maybe chocolate for the sashes. It really depends on what we choose for the main body color. Right now we're going 'round-and-'round. My wife wants grey, but everything I like has "too much green" in it for her taste. I'm thinking we might be one of your next customers!

    I would love a list of reputable painters, especially anyone you might have first-hand experience with. I think you already have my email address.

  5. My neighbor is a contractor and has done historically accurate paint/exterior restoration jobs on a number of houses in our neighborhood and they are beautiful!

    He gave us a pretty decent ballpark estimate on a complete exterior restoration if/when we ever decide to rip off our vinyl. I'm not sure what a general paint job would run, though.

    Jason Rodarte
    Rodarte Design & Remodel Inc.
    CCB 169019

  6. Right on with the cream/off white with burgundy or chocolate combo - sounds great!

    If you both like gray, and it's just a matter of choosing a gray that appeals to both of you, what about a warm French gray?

    A true gray can be kind of depressing in our climate when it's gray outside for seven or eight months out of the year! It's just too much gray. So going with a warmer gray is a way to counteract the drab effect gray can have during winter in Oregon.(Which, I suspect, is probably why you are attracted to the greenish grays.)

    So if your wife doesn't like the green tinge so much, a French gray could work - it's got a slight brownish/mocha tinge (which would be lovely with the burgundy or chocolate trim colors you're considering.)

    So something like:

    Sherwin Williams Gray Area 7052

    Sherwin Williams Adaptive Shade 7053

    Sherwin Williams Anonymous SW 7046

    Sherwin Williams Backdrop 7025

    Sherwin Williams Mink 6004

    (I'm not really fixated on Sherwin Williams - I just happen to have their fan book on my desk, and the rest of my fan books are in the trunk of my car right now.)


  7. I've been really tempted to go with black accents on our house for the last year or so. When we get our new windows this year I think that'd be the perfect time.

  8. Thanks for the good info Stephanie and Dawn. I'm getting a whole heaping helping of info to digest!

  9. I just picked up the "Historic Lifestyles of the West" color swatches from Kelly-Moore.

    Robert Schweitzer (who wrote the book "Bungalow Colors") helped developed this color palette, and it contains a collection of Arts and Crafts colors.

    The Voysey Grey and the Hammered Pewter are two more examples of warm-toned bungalow grays (although the Hammered Pewter is definitely creeping out of gray and into mocha territory.

    Wooster Smoke is more of a true gray, and Hanover Pewter is more of a green-gray.

    Might be worth a look.