How to Choose the Right Exterior Palette, According to the Experts

Homeowners and local paint connoisseurs help us overcome chromaphobia for a façade that pops.

About Face

Before photographer Constance Brown and her husband, artist Kenn Speiser, painted their two-family home on the East Side, “it looked like a big, gray asbestos elephant,” she says. “Life is too short not to have color in it.” 

Lack of color is no longer an issue. But excluding the black foundation, the house is only three different hues: red, beige and green. It’s the application of those colors that is notable. The front and back facades are painted the same: predominantly green with beige window sashes and red trim. However, the east- and west-facing sides are both unique: Red is boss on the former and beige is the main color on the latter. The trim and sash colors are reversed on those sides as well. Why the playful treatment? Practicality, of course: Sun exposure fades dark colors.

“The eastern side is shadiest,” Brown says, “so that’s the dark red face. The sunny side is painted beige.”

Initially, Brown fought “tooth and nail” against Speiser’s suggestion to paint the foundation and fence black (she wanted it red). But, she said, after painting a three-foot wide test strip on the back of the house, she relented. “Kenny was right. It centered the house. It made it sit correctly on the property.”

constance brown

Homeowner Constance Brown says that getting the color lines right on the corners, where continuous planes switch from one color to another, was “an enormous amount of work.” Photography by Tony Luong.