Give your windows more character with colour

(NC)—White is the most common choice for window trim, but nine times out of 10, the wrong one.
While it is right for white or light-coloured houses with a cottage-y feel, or for the look of a seaside home, it is not right at all for houses built of natural materials or with colourful siding or stucco, say the experts. Bright white is too bold, the contrast too great—and the result is a busy façade.

“On stone and brick, as well as on tinted stucco or siding, whites need to be toned in and toned down to reduce contrast and create balance,” says colour expert and designer, Janice Lindsay, owner of PINK colour + design.

Choose off-whites and choose with care, Lindsay cautions: warm whites with warm palettes, cool whites with cool palettes, and putty or light grey with red brick or stone.

“If you have white windows, your trim needs to be the bridge between the window colour and the body colour of the home. The darker the body colour, the darker the white must be. Whites are hard to get right.”
Far easier and more interesting, she says, is to draw the trim colour from your home itself or from its surroundings. For example, the tan and ochre of wood (PPG Pittsburgh Paints Nettle, 312-4 and Camel, ATC-91); the grey-brown of tree bark (Granite, 521-6 or Ghost Ship, ATC-95) and the many colours found in stone walks and foundations. According to Lindsay, they all work as 'colourful' neutrals that harmonize white windows with the stronger colours around them.

Nature offers greens for every taste. For their timeless elegance, Lindsay says she likes muted sage (PPG's Mossy Gold, ATC-50 or Scottish Moor, ATC-51), dark teal (Dark Green Velvet, 503-7 or English Ivy, 505-6), and traditional black-greens (Pine Forest, 505-7 or Royal Hunter Green, 406-7).

“These greens look wonderful with red brick. And, yellow khakis like Lively Ivey (ATC-44), Tapenade (ATC-45), or Dill (310-5) look more contemporary when used with dark or neutral greys.” (Remember to choose lighter, transitional greens for trim if you have white windows.)

Reds are the colour complement to nature's powerful greens. Consider using them on window trim, especially at the rear of the house where their colour will outlast the garden flowers. (And yes, the trim on back and front can be different.) Did you know that on Fallingwater, perhaps the most famous house in the world, Frank Lloyd Wright chose the burnt red of autumn leaves (PPG's New England Red, 6432-7) for all the windows and trim, inside and out? Lindsay explains that it warms the grey stone he used throughout the house and creates a colour counterpoint to the exterior's golden neutral.

Finally there is black, white's alter-ego. Black gives windows depth. “It makes the mullions disappear and focuses the eye on the outside dimensions of the window—their shape and proportion,” says Lindsay.
Lindsay's parting advice is to use white for your exterior window trim if you can meet the challenges of choosing the right one, but don't overlook the more colourful options, “which are also easier to get right.”

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