Color revives old bungalow

See how these homeowners reinvented their home with bold colors
Julie Chai

Jeffrey Becom and Sally Jean Aberg wanted to update this 1930s bungalow by using color to help define its best features.

"Color is more than a decorative element, it's an integral part of life," says Becom, a painter and photographer who is trained as an architect.

When he and Aberg bought the 1,000-square-foot house, it wore a cracked and peeling coat of paint from 1938.

Having authored books about the symbolic use of color in different cultures, they decided to bring their research home.

Inspired by the rich, warm hues characteristic of original Craftsman homes, they based their choices on this palette ― oranges, golds, and greens ― then brightened them up.

Becom mixed paints and stains to customize them, then painted sections of the walls to determine what he and Aberg liked.

In the kitchen and bathroom, they used complementary Craftsman-inspired tiles. Then the two took the vivid colors outside, dressing the outer walls in sage and honeydew and the stucco chimney in salmon.

In addition to revving up the color, Becom and Aberg opened the home's interior. They raised the ceilings to the roof line and transformed several rooms into a single space used for living, dining, and office tasks.

COLOR TIPS

When choosing colors, trust your instincts. Or pick a hue in one of your favorite paintings or pieces of art, then paint a large swath on the wall to see how you feel about it. "Don't be afraid to live with large areas of (trial) color for long periods of time," Jeffrey Becom says.

If you're deciding between a lighter and a darker shade of a similar color, pick the darker one ― you can always lighten it by adding white paint. And if you get a can of paint home and the color is not what you expected, many paint stores will modify it for free.

When using multiple colors in your home, choose hues of the same value and intensity to avoid excess contrast. "Most colors can go together if they're of the same value," Becom says.

Accent trim, doors, windows, and ceilings with colored paint. Becom feels that white paint contrasts too strongly with most colors and will make the other hues appear less appealing. "White is a good color for primer," he says with a grin.

Coordinate your interior and exterior colors for a harmonious feel, when possible.

Keep track of your paint colors by dabbing one side of an index card with paint. Write the brand and color on the other side so you can match it in the future