When it comes to picking the color(s) to paint or side a house, most people don’t take into consideration the roof. The roof probably has the second largest amount of surface space (color and texture) next to the front, back and side walls of your home.
Over the years roof styles have changed. There have been periods when you had the streamlined look of the Hip Roof, and other times when multiple dormers, peaks and gables were all the rage. What ever style of roof is on your house, other than a flat one, that you can’t see from ground level, it is a large surface of color that should be considered, when picking out color(s) for the body of the house.
For years we’ve traveled to Newport, Rhode Island. Saturday mornings are spent at the Newport Art Museum, which is housed in Griswold House. Griswold House was designed by the famed nineteenth century architect Richard Morris Hunt, in the American Stick Style. The Griswold House has the most gorgeous slate roof, an artwork in itself, done in shades of russet-red and gray tones. A roof like that is a jewel, a starting point, that a color scheme for the facade of the building should be culled. Instead of pulling colors from the magnificent roof, and working them down onto the body of the house, they painted the facade in tones of medium-brown and a kind of chocolate-brown. The body of the house, does not, in any way enhance the fabulous roof, and the roof does not set off the colors chosen for the Stick Styled house.
After being inspired, in an odd way, by the color choices for the Griswold House, I started to look more closely at roofing colors on both Slate and Man-Made Shingled roofs.
SLATE ROOFS ..Slate roofs have a lot of colors that could easily be worked down onto the body of a house, or even used as accent colors on front doors, shutters and trim.
The colors I most often see, when looking at roofing slates are: light, medium and dark tones of gray, blue-gray, greenish gray, grayish rust, russet red, gray-brown, and grayish purple. Even with this small list of colors, you can easily come up with some exciting color schemes, to use when painting / covering your house.
Picking Paint Chips …Let’s pretend you have a roof that has gray, greenish gray, and grayish purple colored slates. My first suggestion to you is to go to the paint store and get every paint sample strip they have, that are in those colors. Look for paint chips that you think are exact color matches, to both the dark and any light toned slates on your roof. Bring home everything! What you think is it in the store, might not be it at all in true life.
Next, when you get home, take the paint samples up to your slate roof, if you can, to get an exact / close as possible match. If you are afraid to go up to the roof on a ladder, or don’t have roof access, then try this approach…
Stand in front of, or behind your house, with the sun at your back. Take a paint chip in your hand, and extend your arm out and up in the direction of the roof. Hold that paint chip in the air, so it is visually in front of the roof. Close one eye when looking at the paint chip and roof, it will help you focus better. One by one put up the paint chip samples against the roof, until you find the ones that match the roof best for color. These will be the paint color chips that you will want to use.
Paint color chips show many tones of the same family of color. You have the lightest tint (color with much white added), to the darkest shade (least white added), and medium colors in-between. Any of the different color samples, from that paint color strip, will be fine for your painting (siding color choosing) project. The choice is yours.
After finding the matching paint colors to your slate roof (gray, greenish gray and grayish purple (all mentioned before as examples) you can have fun with your painting options. One option might be a greenish gray house, with light gray windows and trim, and grayish purple for the front door or shutters, if you have them. Option two could be a medium gray house, light gray trim, deep greenish gray windows and gray purple on the door. Your objective is to move the colors, down from the roof and around the house, not isolate them in one place. Your color options can go from safely traditional to colorfully whimsical, if that is your style.
If you are questioning your paint color choices, go back to the paint store and get many samples of the same colors you are thinking of working with. Tape together many color samples to make a larger sample of that color. Do this for the body color, trim, and accent colors. With some painter’s tape, go outside and tape them (together) to your house, to see how they look in daylight. This will help you make your final choice. What you think is dark inside, will probably look lighter in daylight. You might have to come up with two or three tonal ranges, (light, medium and dark) so you can have a few color-ways to choose from.
MAN MADE SHINGLES ..Picking colors to go with asphalt roofing shingles is easy. The shingle, itself, is made up of different colors of sand. Those different colors of sand are what you will be matching, when picking painting / siding colors for your house.
Now look at illustration #2 This roofing shingle is made up of sands that are dark, medium and light gray, along with a medium russet red. There are 3 easy options to consider. Option 1 (shown) is a red brick, or red painted facade, with light silver-gray for windows, doors and trim, and dark gray for shutters. Option 2 could be a white house, with russet red shutters and gray-black doors, or gray-black shutters and russet red doors. Option 3 could be a medium gray house, light gray trim and front door, russet red for the windows, and gray-black shutters.
Next look at illustration #3 This roofing shingle is composed of sands in the colors medium-gold, russet-brown, and medium-light gray. Option 1 (shown) is a house with a medium-gold body, light gray door and trim, with russet-brown shutters, and side box window. Option 2 could be medium-gray house, light gray trim and door, light russet-brown for window sashes, and dark russet-brown for shutters. Both of these options are different, and only work because they have the roof to justify these colors being used together. A third more common option, that would go with this roofing shingle is: a medium-light gold house, white trim and door, and russet-brown shutters (forgetting the gray in the shingle altogether).
Now look at illustration #4 This roofing shingle is composed of sands in the colors dark chocolate-brown, medium gray, and medium-light gold. Color option 1 (shown) is a medium gray house, light gray trim, doors and side box window in a medium-light gold, and dark chocolate-brown for shutters. Option 2 is a medium gold house, light gold trim , medium-light gray doors, and dark chocolate-brown shutters. Option 3 is a medium-dark chocolate-brown house, with medium gray for windows, light gray for the trim, and medium gold for doors.
So there you have it. Hopefully I got you to look at shingles and slates as a source of color inspiration. At the beginning of this post I wrote about Griswold House and its marvelous roof. The color-ways of that roof is the same color-ways as the shingles in illustration 2. If I were going to pick the colors for Griswold house, its body would be a light gray, its decorative Stick Styled skeletal details would be in a medium gray, and its windows would be a russet red. The front door would be painted a gloss dark gray-black.
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