A Tough Project’s Colorful Results

Swatches on paper is one thing; applying them to and on a house is another. Jane Esaki photo

Swatches on paper is one thing; applying them to and on a house is another. Jane Esaki photo

I finally decided to have the exterior of my house repainted. I just would have to pick out a new color and slap on a fresh coat.

Not so simple. Not if you’re imagining a charming, colorful cottage and you have let your house slide for 10 years without a paint job in a very wet climate. I had a lot to learn and a lot to swallow.

First, I thought picking the right colors would be a slam dunk. My fine arts professor would attest to my mastery of color. She even posted my work on her board for all in the class to see.

Well, mixing and matching color swatches on paper apparently is one thing and applying them to and on a house is another.

I picked avocado green for the deck’s railing and open-beam ceiling, so their strong lines would be diffused when looking out into a natural vista. The deck floor then would be varnished an orangey cedar to mimic the color of earth. The stark white vinyl window and sliding-door frames would be toned down with a creamy trim that matched the fascia.

But for some reason, finding a wall color to complement all those colors posed an interesting challenge.

In haste, I chose a light taupe.

Second, the prepping and painting were incredibly complicated. The entire exterior needed to be cleaned of mildew and mold, then rinsed off before a critical coat of primer and then paint could be applied. And while it was a brilliant idea to tie in the deck’s avocado-colored railing and ceiling to the underside of the eaves surrounding the entire house, it required taping off sections of the house at least twice, which took substantial time and materials.

And all of that happened during the rainy season, which required further strategizing.

In a nutshell, by the time the house was 95 percent painted, I was amazed at how complicated the project had become and how some issues still remained. On top of that, the color scheme I picked sucked. As I looked at and around the house, I felt sick to my stomach.

I could have pouted until the next paint job, in at least five years. But sulking wasn’t going to solve any problems. The only thing that came to mind was: “When there’s a crisis, there’s an opportunity,” thanks to another college professor.

Well, the door was still a blank canvas, so I pulled out the paint swatches again. The only color that I felt would immediately rid any nausea and provide perfect harmony and contrast with the other colors would be magenta.

Yes, a bright raspberry red on the door!

Also, by simply repainting a small area with taupe instead of avocado for balance, further visualizing the steps in an orangecedar color like the deck floor, and discussing other concerns with an incredibly patient, understanding and generous painter, my hopes continued to rise.

It wasn’t long before the final colors were applied and all issues were addressed.

The result?

In the process, I learned that things don’t always manifest exactly as we imagine, and that by swallowing a little pride and modifying expectations along the way, we can discover unforeseen opportunities and perhaps achieve even better results. That way, when all the final colors are applied and all issues are addressed, we still can have that colorful charming cottage that we always imagined.

I did.