Color Choice Counts

When you are building any structure, its size will necessarily add much to the view and landscape, so ensuring it is aesthetically pleasing is a good idea. One of the major factors that all buildings have in common is not just their design, but also their color, which makes a significant difference in how welcome its appearance will be to the eye of the beholder.

Whether you are adding a garage, garden shed, shed studio, kennel or outdoor living structure to your property, there are a few things you should know about the ‘color wheel’ and how color positively or negatively affects both the building’s use and its sense of ‘belonging’ on site.

{Unless you are building a structure in a playground, fairground or other vibrant location it’s best to leave the bright reds, yellows and oranges to the prestige brand Italian automakers} Even if you are lucky enough to own an antique Ferrari or new Lamborghini in one of their unmistakable color schemes and are building a garage for its safekeeping, it might be best not to add a bright color to the structure. Not only will such a pop of color upset the neighbors, it will not blend into the neighborhood either and almost certainly will not match or complement the color of your own house. This is especially important to consider when building a garage, as this useful adjunct to you property is often placed in close proximity to the house for the most efficient daily use.

A brightly colored structure placed anywhere on your property can also be extremely off-putting to a prospective buyer should you ever need to move house. The addition of a garage, shed or other structure will usually provide added value to your property appraisal, but painting a new shed or garage a bright ‘fire engine red’ might not encourage a sale.

Bright colors also attract insects such as bees and wasps. When you are designing a wooden structure, any presence of annoying carpenter bees can be easily addressed with an Amish bee trap. I’d suggest this simple, ecofriendly method for eradication of those pesky bees. Note: carpenter bees are not honeybees and the latter are not drawn to the Amish bee trap. Buzzing insects can at worst do structural damage and at best be a nightmare to live with so keep those bright colors in the flowerbed where they belong.

The closer the new structure is to others the more important it is that the color you choose is similar, the same or complementary to its counterparts. When you select Stoltzfus Structures as your building partner, you have gained the immediate advantage of having a vast array of types of siding/roofing and materials from which to choose. Traditional board and batten with 15 year stain warranties to LP Smartside to match your home and many more options are on offer.

In some instances you may want to go to a completely different color palette for your building. For example, if you are adding a studio shed to the other end of your garden and want to create a completely different ambience, the use of another color can help differentiate the space and the experience of utilizing it as a place of relaxation or revelry.

The color wheel is a great tool to teach you about the use of color for the best advantage depending on your individual taste and ultimate use of the structure. Invented in 1666 by Isaac Newton, the wheel incorporates color combinations that showcase which colors harmonize or complement each other. The rules of color theory are especially important to understand if you plan to customize your structure with one color siding and a different color trim, or if you want to break up the height of a tall wall e.g. on a tall Gambrel garage, by making the first few feet off ground level one color and the section above another.

It is not as complicated to use as you might think at first glance. Complementary colors are those found on opposite sides of the wheel. If you like high impact color combinations, then this will work for you. On the other hand, if you want a more harmonious appearance then stick with the monochromatic combination and use three shades, tints and tones of one base color.

There are other rules of color theory; triadic (three colors evenly spaced on the wheel); analogous use (three colors that are next to each other on the wheel are used); tetradic (four colors evenly space on the wheel). These options are not particularly useful for a construction project as they may quickly overwhelm the viewer and can be jarring to the eye.

Where You Live Matters

Your regional climate may be one of temperature extremes. Hot weather environments are best addressed with cooler colors such as white and grey. These lighter colors will reflect heat and provide a cooler interior environment and they also project the feeling or more size and space. If the same building is painted black versus white, the latter will always appear larger in stature.

And in reverse, the darker colors such as black and dark blue will absorb the heat and make the building warmer.

Aesthetic Appeal

If you want your new structure to appear more grounded in the landscape then go with earthy colors and neutrals such as browns, grays and dark greens.

For a rural feel the traditional red color of cow barns and farm outbuildings is a popular choice. Originally this rusty red brown color was purposed in Scandinavia to create the appearance of red brick, which was considered a building material of the wealthy. The European farmers that settled in the U.S.A., adopted the same color and made their red paint mixture from lime, red iron oxide (otherwise known as rust) and skimmed milk. I guess it was what was cheap and handy.

The idea was to protect the raw lumber from insect damage and deterioration caused by Mother Nature’s fierce weather. Some innovative mind then came up with the notion to add linseed oil to the mixture. A bright idea as it transformed the plastic-like coating into a product that could actually soak into the wood and thus further protect it. Today many outdoor structures and outbuildings are still painted in this color though of course made with more modern ingredients.

Remember whatever colors you choose the decision is one you will likely live with for a long time. Choose wisely. If you don’t trust your own instincts then ask friends and family for input or consult the team at Stoltzfus Structures who have the experience to help you make the perfect decision. Enjoy the process and good luck!

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About The Author
Nikki Alvin-Smith

Nikki Alvin-Smith is a seasoned freelance writer who loves to share her lifelong experience with everything lifestyle, horse, farm and travel. Her work has been printed in more than two hundred magazine titles worldwide and her published articles number in the thousands including travel and lifestyle press.

A Brit who has called the U.S. home for more than 37 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to her writing. Her experience as an international level Grand Prix dressage competitor/coach/clinician ensures plenty of travel and opportunity to gather lifestyle ideas for home, garden and farm. When she is not writing, riding or on the road, you’ll find her prepping culinary delights for family and friends or out with camera in hand capturing the beauty of the great outdoors.

Together with her husband Paul, also a Grand Prix dressage rider, she lives in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York and operates an organic hay farm and dressage yard. Over the years they have developed and constructed several properties together. She is the proud mother of three children, Tristan, James and Chelsea (twins), and the latter two have kept with the horse riding as adults.

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