Selecting an exterior colour
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Choosing an exterior colour scheme

When I discovered the planning permit requirements included the exterior colour scheme for the three homes, I knew I was well and truly out of my depth.  I turned to Libby, hoping she was ready to confidently fill in the blanks on the paperwork.  She wasn’t.  However, Libby had a plan.

I asked Libby to explain her colour selection process.  Here’s what she said …

Living in colour.

I confess that I love colour. It makes me happy and puts a smile on my face.

Yet, I found it very difficult to select the exterior colours for our house when submitting our planning permit application. Our three homes are still just a dream and currently only exist as two dimensional drawings.

I could not imagine how to use a colour chart to select an exterior colour scheme that would look good on a finished home.  Would the colour look good in full sun and in shade?  What combinations of colours work well together?  Will the result look bland or be eye-wateringly bright?

Help with choosing exterior colour.

Call an expert to get help with exterior colour choices

So I called in Lee Wright from Colourwright.

When we renovated our Blackburn home, Lee helped me choose the colours for our kitchen. She is brilliant at interpreting what I want and selecting the correct colours to make my vision a reality. I found a beautiful Caesar Stone called ‘Free Spirit”. It was basically white but the purple and amber flecks throughout the surface brought it to life.

Bench top with flecks

Lee suggested a mauve splash-back, aubergine kick-boards and under-bench recess plus a feature wall in amber. The feature wall was a leap of faith for me but the result was brilliant. I doubled down on the splash-back colour by going from the suggested mauve to a dark purple. Having the room flooded with natural light and the white kitchen cupboards meant I didn’t regret my decision.

Splash of colour in the kitchen


Lee also helped me select the exterior colour scheme for our Main Street home. I was locked into the deep Ocean Colorbond with our gutters and rainwater tanks. So I thought a sandstone tone would complement the blue but finding “the one” was beyond me. Given the cost to buy paint and then pay a painter to apply it, I thought it was worth spending a bit of time and money getting the right finish the first time.

Exterior colour scheme for previous home

Half of what Lee tells me goes right over my head – various shades being warm or cold, having a blue base or even being a bit dirty.  I don’t think she means kinky….but who knows?  I’m just happy with the decisions and I couldn’t have achieved the great result without her.

Along the way Lee has taught me a few tricks.

Using a colour sample.

When viewing paint samples, BIG is definitely better! Get the biggest paint sample you can. Lee arrives with a ‘Bag of Tricks’ like Felix the Cat….or perhaps she is more like Marry Poppins, pulling magic ( A4 size paint samples) out of a bag.

Paint a piece of timber or cardboard, A4 size or larger.  Display the sample in various rooms at different times of day and with different light conditions. You will be amazed how the changing light will alter your perception of the colour on the board. One paint sample can appear to be a deep, rich gold in a shady room but once moved into a sunny position, it can transform into an off white hue.

Use samples to select an exterior colour

Looking at a sample.

Step back. You rarely look at a wall from 30cms away. Your arm won’t be long enough so ask someone else to hold up the large swatch of colour.  Then, step back to see what the sample looks like from a distance.  If you don’t have an assistant, use a bit of bluetack to stick it onto the wall.

Vertical is best, not horizontal.  Light reflecting off a surface influences our perception of colour. Most people, when looking at paint samples, hold the paint chart flat (horizontally) or have it resting on a table or bench. Again, this is not how you will be looking at the finished paint colour on the wall.

Interestingly the reverse is true when you are shopping around for bench tops. Because space is at a premium in kitchen display centres, the larger samples of stone, granite or marble are displayed in an upright position. That is alright if you are looking for a splash-back but if you want it for a bench top, ask them to lay it down for you. Prepare to be disillusioned. What was ‘cutting edge Industrial’ while upright can transform into dull and boring when flattened.

If in doubt, ask for help.

Getting the exterior colour right is such an important decision.  You’ll have to live with the results for a while, so being confident about the choice reduces stress.

A good colour consultant, like Lee, has the talent of interpreting what the client wants and then finding the exact shades to bring the idea to life.

You won’t love everything a consultant suggests but a talented one will keep going, searching for a paint scheme that satisfies the client.  The end result may push you out of a colour comfort zone.  But that’s the point.  We all have different tastes. The world would be a boring place if we didn’t.

Some people just need assistance to select the correct shade of white. But me? I just love a splash of colour.


  • Jan

    November 07, 11 2017 08:16:39

    And the decision is…. ?

    Hard choosing but fun👍🐬
    Hardly want the houses to stand out like sore thumbs, but rather ‘nice to be noticed’ !!

    Hope all well.

    Cheees Jan

    • Libby & Howard

      November 08, 11 2017 10:07:39

      Howard & I both have a favourite Timbercrete colour. Luckily it is the same – ‘Natural’ which is a creamy off white.
      So that was our starting point.
      When originally discussing the colour for the Colorbond cladding, I was thinking of having a green theme with a slightly different shade for each home (eg Gully & Bushland). As the gardens grew the buildings would blend & eventually disappear amongst the vegetation. While these colours would look fantastic with the Timbercrete & the oiled timber windows & feature panels, I was feeling uneasy about the selection. My gut was telling me I needed to re-evaluate.
      Then it hit me. I realized I didn’t want my house to go unnoticed. I want to get that WOW feeling every time I return home. So, I have selected a combination of Colorbond Ironstone & Paperbark & Dulux Monk in addition to the Timbercrete & oiled timbers. These colours will contrast with the greens & greys of the garden foliage & splashes of colour from the native flowers &, I believe give the WOW factor I’m looking for.

  • Gillian Cohen

    November 08, 11 2017 08:53:24

    You really will have to write a book. All this knowledge, advice and experience shouldn’t go to waste.

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