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Tips for Successful Exteriors: Colours vs. Neutrals

(left) “Exterior” by The Brick House (right) photo by annie.banannie

Drive around any neighborhood and you will see many houses that just blend in among the rest. Yet, there is always that one stand-out house that you often can’t put your finger on what makes it stand out, is it the colour? The finishes? The landscaping? It’s actually a little of everything. Whether you prefer a neutral colour scheme or a colourful one, I’ll give you tips and tricks to help you create a successful exterior scheme.

Tip #1 – The 60-30-10 Rule

“Minikahda Vista Home Renovation" Drafted and Designed by Fluidesign Studio, Photos by Seth Benn Photography

Any exterior (or interior for that matter) will be successful if you follow this rule. 60% of the exterior should be your main colour or finish, 30% your secondary colour (such as trim), and 10% will be your accent (generally the front door.) This rule works for both neutral and colourful schemes. The red door on the house (the 10%) really draws your eye to the front door while the cream trim (30%) acts to highlight the various architectural features of this home.

This house, while very colourful is also balanced by the 60-30-10 rule. What makes this colourful scheme work so well is the subdued blue that makes up the 60%. If this was a stronger, brighter blue combined with the white trim and yellow door, this colour scheme would start to feel a little juvenile.

This home plays with the rules, but does it very successfully. The grey stucco makes up the 60%, the wood 30%, and the red front door the 10%. Although the garage door is a muted blue-green, I would lump it in with the 60% as the tone and depth of colour is relatable to the grey stucco.

Tip #2 – Play with Texture and Proportion!!

If colour makes you nervous, or if you’re more of a neutrals person, using a variety of finishes with a monochromatic colour scheme will ensure a fabulous outcome. Both homes shown below have monochromatic schemes but use a variety of finishes well by combining siding, stone, stucco and even flagstone on the pathway. Additionally, what makes both of these homes look so terrific is the various sizes of the finishes – smooth stucco, small to medium scale stone and large flagstone. It’s always important to have a variety of proportions, whether it is a neutral scheme or a colourful one.

Tip #3 - Lighting

As the sun goes down, the colours on a house disappear. How your house looks in the evening is greatly affected by your choice of lighting. Often, we see a house with one light by the front door. While it is important to highlight the door, especially in the evening, it is equally important to properly illuminate other areas of your home. Lighting acts with double duty, for safety and aesthetics.

The home above makes use of wall sconces and recessed lighting to highlight the veranda, drawing your eye to the front door. As well, uplighting is used to wash the stone exterior, which creates a lovely subtle glow around the perimeter of the house. Finally, there is also a post light along the driveway. This is a wonderful way to accent the pathway to the house.

Behind every beautiful exterior there are rules that designers adhere to. These are just a few to get you started on your way to having the house that everyone in your neighbor hood covets.


- Christine

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