Have more colour fun on the front of your home

(NC)—It is hard to let loose and have fun with colour on the front of our homes. We usually feel the need to restrict our whims to the front door—and what goes into the planters. But according to colour and design experts, there are a few more places for colour fun that won't upset the neighbours. Consider these ideas:

Step Risers. If you are using more than one colour on your exterior trim, alternate these on step risers. It will be playful but still well-behaved.

Porch Ceiling. Colour here has a big impact without rocking the boat. Navajo Red, from the Olympic line of solid-colour stains, is a terra cotta that works well with red brick or stone. A soft, mid-tone, almost-neutral green will complement yellow and red brick, as well as neutral exteriors. White is often used on porch ceilings to maximize reflected light but all light colours can do the same job and some—like Gold Buff (PPG Pittsburgh Paints, 215-4)—will do it better.

Blue is popular on porch ceilings in places like New Orleans. Blues brighten and lighten, creating a sense of sky, and they work with almost any colour scheme. Try Shipmate Blue, another Olympic solid colour stain, but you can choose any blue that blends into the larger palette of your exterior. Janice Lindsay, owner of PINK colour + design, encourages clients to push the envelope. “I like Olympic Wedgwood, a demure historical blue. It seems a bit cheeky—but only because it's unexpected.”

Porch Floor. Turn porch floorboards into a welcome mat by staining boards in alternating bands of colour. The rhythm can vary—single boards in your accent colour between two boards stained in your main colour; or two and two, etc. Just limit yourself to two or three hues chosen from your exterior palette and blend rather than contrast. Subtler palettes will be more elegant. Also from the Olympic stain palette, Lindsay recommends Sage and Seafoam with or without Woodland Green or Colonial Blue; or Beachwood and AquaSmoke, with or without AntiqueSilver. “Stripe the entire porch, or just the sitting area,” she suggests.

Furniture. Staining wood furniture creates a focal point. Complement your plantings. For example, use Olympic Amsterdam Blue on chairs that sit next to magenta geraniums or chartreuse plants; or try Olympic HarvestGold with any red.

These suggestions work equally well in exterior paint or solid-colour stain, but consider the difference in finish before making your choice of coating. For example, Olympic Maximum solid-colour stain will coat your wood with a flat sheen and let its texture show through. PPG's floor and porch enamel, in satin or semi-gloss, will give you a higher sheen and smooth surface.

Now if this isn't enough fun with colour for you, don't worry. There are still all kinds of opportunities waiting for you in a place where you can pull out all the colour stops—out back.

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