Colorful cottage

Bold paint plays up this home's personality
Peter Sackett

Radiant ― that’s what Ken Schuricht and Mary Hall wanted their new home to be, and they knew color would play a key role in making it happen. As owners of a paint-and-home store near their house on Bainbridge Island, Washington, their skill lay in knowing how and when to deploy all the tools at their disposal. “Owning the store doesn’t mean we use every color in the spectrum,” Schuricht says. “We wanted to complement the architecture, not distract from it.” So they turned to architect Bernie Baker for help.

Baker first focused on using materials with their own rustic palette, such as rough-hewn Douglas fir planks that bloom into honey orange with exposure to sunlight, and a stacked-stone fireplace of salt-and-pepper granite river rock. Once everyone had offered ideas for exterior colors, Baker identified the common element: dark, rich purple (Benjamin Moore Deep Caviar #2130-20), which he used to anchor the house to the site as a sort of exterior wainscoting. He presented Schuricht and Hall with suggestions for the body (Hodley Red #HC-65), trim (Golden Retriever #2165-30), and accent colors (Dill Pickle #2147-40 for the windows, Mexicana #2172-30 for the front and deck doors). Natural red and orange hues are found in the fir decking.

“Colors get lost outside if they don’t have some impact,” Hall says. “I think reds always work in this environment because they contrast so well with the greenness of the Northwest.” She extended the color theme into the garden with vivid specimens, avoiding paler shades that would be overwhelmed by the house.

Design: Bernie Baker Architect, Bainbridge Island, WA (206/842-6278)

Info: Exterior paint by Benjamin Moore

Bright paint without fear
Ken Schuricht, Mary Hall, and architect Bernie Baker offer the following suggestions and reminders when selecting exterior colors for your home.

  • Cover the three basic color groups. “I tell customers to pick red, yellow, and blue, or variations of those, so your eye sees the full palette,” Hall says. “But it doesn’t have to be done only with paint. You can use a blue-green plant in a red pot.”
  • Don’t limit your palette. There are no “interior” or “exterior” colors ― only interior and exterior paints.
  • Consider the home’s setting and backdrop. Should it blend in, stand out, or complement?
  • Spend money up front to test a variety of colors. “It’s much cheaper than repainting the house,” Schuricht advises.
  • Think big when it comes to swatches. To test your color choices more reliably, paint large pieces of plywood to use as swatches ― or paint an entire side of the house ― before deciding.
  • For exterior color, go about three shades darker than your initial hue. “Once it’s out in the light, it’s washed away,” Hall says. Baker notes that the reverse is often true for interiors.