The paint job on the outside of a house is something we notice largely when it’s gone rudely off-piste — like the row of period terraces with the clown house shrieking at its centre — the striped house in Kensington, below, being a case in point.
Dramatically glossy finishes in poster paint choices seem disconnected from the render — flagging a brutal Teflon overcoat can be offensive.
More familiar still, are walls and reveals fogged in lichen and atrophied paint loss that simply look exhausted, suggesting the interior has equally gone to seed.
Colour me contemporary
Do exterior colours, finishes and fixtures date? Absolutely.
Many new builds feature coloured renders, stone and hardwood skins exclusively — so no paint necessary.
Where the architectural darling of white won’t do (I’m a firm fan of unadulterated snowy houses), the new family of modern neutrals can celebrate and protect.
A house with a superb application of colour to sound, blemish-free walls, sits confidently in the landscape complimenting rather than challenging the countryside and neighbouring buildings.
It relates, it pleases, forcing even brutalist architecture to play nice.
Look at fixed colours on and surrounding your home — walling; window materials — and work from there in putting together wall colours and trim choices.
Generally, if your wall colour is dark, you will be choosing a light reveal colour, and white to off-white trim.
A click down to a darker trim and the reveal shade sits up on pale walls and belts the architecture.
For true pastels and signature colours, fresh white windows, reveals and trim offer balance.
White reveals also encourages light to flow in through windows.
If you are determined to continue colour choices you love indoors in unfiltered sunshine go at least two shades deeper.
Use dedicated Apps to try your house colour as it would look outside.
Weathershield’s Mouse Painter is one, but most firms have some sort of visualiser.
This should not take the place of a full, real paint test over a metre of wall in every orientation.
White and cream are crowd pleasers when preparing a house for sale, according to a recent survey by Dulux UK.
The most popular front door colours include white, cream (46% of respondents) and surprisingly pale blue with 14%.
Deeper dramatics like red and lilac were in single percentages, but well worth consideration for an otherwise all white home.
Experts play outdoors
One colour doesn’t have to rule them all.
Dermot Bannon, like many architects is known for breaking up a modern house of boxy portions with a quietly stated difference in colour between the individual volumes, underwater white moving to a pale and then a mid-grey depending on where the sun falls on the building during the day.
The subtle shift can even be from wall to adjoining wall.
Inspiration for masterly harlequin palettes can come directly from the natural materials of the area, indigenous soil colour, the sea, or the purple depths of a stand of trees.
Mid range neutrals can be surprisingly pale over metres square — test, test, test. Keep those reveals to mid tones, and as luminous as possible.
What about marrying the semi-D?
Melissa Lyras of Dulux advises: “It is always best to consider your neighbouring houses and look for a colour which is sufficiently different from their house but complimentary.
“While no one wants their home to look the same as everyone else, opt for colours which work together, such as creams alongside olive greens.
"Weathershield Claystone next to Soft Avoca, for instance, or Cobblelock next to Olive Garden.
“Consider the undertone, such as greyed or yellow tones — align these if possible.”
Size matters, according to Daniel McIlroy, Colour Mixing Sytems Manager with Crown Paints, Ireland:
“Light colours can make a detached home look larger; warm colours can reduce size.
“Use masonry paint colours on your garden walls to open up space. Making your home part of the landscape lends to a natural tranquility.”
This tip brings us neatly back to landscaping.
If your borders hug close to your house, examine the potential influence of house colour on your landscaping hard and soft.
Team cool house colours with cool planting such as pale blues, silvers, greys and sages for a harmonious relaxing finish that relies on texture, subtle shade differences and movement to remain interesting.
Brick walls can sit with warm red/gold planting with any green sitting up exquisitely.
Weathershield’s latest colour card includes Atlantic Way, a superb blue/grey for Irish light conditions and silvery gardens, which teams well to their more intense slate blue of Sweet Bluebird for doors and windows.
Alternatively contrasts, using bold modern feature walls, can sing with the competing foil of flowers and foliage.
Rather than plunging into glaring primaries or synthetic pastel confections, try a test area in a deep contemporary neutral that will show up plants but not suffer in overcast Irish light.
Fleetwood’s Venetian Tile (a chalky red) and the mocha grounded Antelope highlight the presence of green and golden leafy shrubs, climbers and vivid blooms.
Choose plants that will cycle through the year in suitable flowers and foliage.
Stiff exotics and desert plants such as aloe, tall grasses and clump-forming bamboo, along with sculptural trees like acer and other specimen, look fantastic against white or off-white walls.
Raised beds, containers and cut-outs in paving allow you to curate these muscular plantings against a formal render backdrop.
You can indicate desert, strand and Mediterranean settings with sandy shades or self coloured renders.
Don’t forget the influence of shadow where light passes through and around plants.
A pale colour and north eastern position will soften stark shadow, a south or south west position will bring it out to play, especially where plants are close to the house walls.
Spot lights can be used to silhouette trees and shrubs for additional theatrical play.
Lettering and numbers combined to fresh paintwork will kick up the look, and doing it yourself, involves a relatively small spend.
Bold modern fonts such as Helvetica and Gill Sans signal change and in stainless steel will add some easy flash.
For a period house try Century, or a more traditional font.
Go large, mix up number sizing, and consider a floating set which use dedicated fixings to leave a few millimetres of depth to the rear of the letters or numbers and no visible screws.
Look for marine grade stainless steel to avoid future rusting and rub your address over occasionally with a little WD-40 for shine and protection.
Follow the drilling template carefully and use a level. Goodwin & Goodwin have a good selection from €32 per oversized number. notonthehighstreet.com.