Archive for April 28th, 2011

Cue the Banjos

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

by Samantha Prust

Before we painted our house exterior, my husband and I used to sing hillbilly banjo music as we pulled into the driveway. It was our way of saying, "Yes, we ARE embarrassed by our house," and it made us laugh when what we really wanted to do was cry. We also decided it could definitely pass as a crack house. The paint job didn't look so bad when I bought the house, but after a few more years of wear and tear—spackled spots where we had insulation blown into the exterior walls, scraped off old paint and splotches of new paint samples on the siding—there was no curb appeal to speak of, unless, of course, you're a hillbilly or a crack addict. It was time to paint.

I had never been fond of the house's yellow body and maroon trim. For some reason, I don't like maroon on a house. Yellow is a nice color for a house, but the yellow paint on our house was dull and faded. When it came time to paint the house, I was elated. I gathered paint samples. The one sample that attracted me the most was the Sherwin Williams Suburban Modern palette. Its brochure says, "Your future is bright. With clear, cheerful colors, the 1950s exhibited a new American outlook. The exuberance showed up on the walls as striking shades like chartreuse and organic shapes like boomerangs. Whether you just feel nostalgia for those optimistic days or you want to re-create the period in exacting detail, our Suburban Modern Preservation Palette provides the hues you desire." Well, that sounds peachy keen, doesn't it? And the names of the colors—sunbeam yellow, holiday turquoise, pink flamingo, radiant lilac, caribbean coral, burma jade—this was the palette for us.

I had read that you should try to match your neighborhood when choosing a paint color for your home's exterior and I knew we could get away with these colors because there are houses in our neighborhood painted in these retro hues. However, there are a lot of "normal" colors, too. At first, we decided we wanted the body of the house to be less bold. We chose "beige" on the Suburban Modern palette, but when we tested a sample on the house, it looked pinkish. I thought, I can tell people it's beige from the Suburban Modern palette all day long and they'll still say our house looks pink. Not good. So then we thought we'd go with white for the body and burma jade for the trim. Later we decided against that because the house kitty corner from us is white with teal trim. Too close for comfort. We wanted our own style. Finally, we decided to go bold and use burma jade for the body and white for the trim.

Choosing the colors was difficult, but had I known how difficult the painting would be, I would've taken another year to choose the colors. My brother was here to help us paint and we couldn't have done it without him! The transformation was unbelievable. People driving or riding by on their bicycles would shout out compliments: "Looks great!" and "Love the color!" The neighborhood was probably celebrating that we were finally painting the eyesore that had plagued their street for years. Dave and I certainly celebrated, even though we were a little disappointed that singing hillbilly banjo music when we pulled into the driveway was no longer applicable. Just a little.