The Day Heidi Got Colour Wrong

Here it is folks.

Me. Admitting I got it wrong.

And big time.

The Bright Blue House

I was so excited to paint the exterior of this house.

My client, Sue loves colour. We had already painted the interior of her house and used colours from the Benjamin Moore Colour Stories palette. When she told me she wanted to have the prettiest house on the block, I knew we were not going to be looking at grays or taupes.

Her very talented brother had also installed an alpine garden in her front yard. All that was left to be done was paint the exterior.

We started with mock-ups.

Sue decided on blue. The inside of Sue’s home were soft turquoise and watery blues. So she loved these colours. Sue also loves being unique and Benjamin Moore had just released their new Williamsburg Collection and we both loved the idea of having a house colour that no-one else did.

We chose Benjamin Moore Anderson Blue CW-565. I loved this colour. Sue loved this colour.

There was a lot of love.

We sampled this colour on large boards and looked at it in different light. It was so pretty. It was going to be the prettiest house on the block. We bought paint. Our crew got to work applying the first coat.

That night I got an emergency call from Sue. Could I come over and take a look?

When I got there I froze. It was screaming bright blue. I felt awful.

I instantly knew what went wrong.

What I Forgot

  1. The Clean Dirty Rule – If you have read Maria Killam’s posts on clean vs. dirty colours you will know that putting clean and bright colours beside greyed-out or muddy colours rarely works. Either the muddy colour will look washed out and ugly or the clean colour will appear too bright and bold. In a neighbourhood that was row upon row of earthy colours, this blue was too clean and too pretty to be stuck between a couple of boring brown houses. I was so focused on this house, I forgot the neighbours.
  2. West Facing Front – Sue’s house faced due West and on the other side of her street was a green space. Lots of direct light. As soon as the evening sun hit the house, the colour became more intense. That’s why I got the call in the evening instead of during the day.
  3. Low Lustre vs. Flat – When we paint houses in rich colours and the customer is looking for durability and fade resistance, our go-to paint is Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Latex Paint in a low lustre sheen. The paint is excellent quality and low lustre gives a beautiful soft sheen. But, in this case, the sheen combined with the colour was too much. It likely would not have been as bad if we were using a flat.
  4. Grey Makes Colour More Liveable – A much as we loved this colour, it was not right for the exterior of a house. Really the only place for a colour this bold is on a painted lady or a beach cottage in a neighbourhood with other brightly coloured houses. It would also make a great front door colour. It needed grey.

 Anderson Blue on the bottom, Wythe Blue on the Top. I remember hoping neighbours would think the first coat was just the primer.

Fixing An Exterior Colour Mistake

I counted my blessings that day that I wasn’t just the colour consultant for this project but that we were also the painter.

Sue still loved the blue. We just needed to tone it down.  We looked at our samples again and went back to our second choice, Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue HC-143. Wythe Blue was still going to be fresh and pretty but it is a much more liveable colour because it is muddier than Anderson Blue. You can see how small the difference is on a small swatch compare to the photo above where the colour looks very different.

By staying with a colour similar to Anderson Blue there was a good chance Wythe Blue would cover well and we might not need a third coat. I won’t deny that I was holding my breath the next day when we started the second coat. But the paint covered well and we were left with not much bright blue paint.

On the Subject of Fixing Mistakes

If you are doing a major colour change on your house, ask the painter to let you know when the first coat will be going up and then be there to take a look. The cost of the extra paint to change the colour of the second is never going to be higher than the regret of painting your house the wrong colour. Even the pros get it wrong occasionally. If you find yourself in the same situation as I did, bite the bullet and fix it. This is your house and every time you pull into the driveway you should feel joy, not regret.

It will be worth the cost. I promise.

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