Color Cues: How to Avoid Common Color Mistakes - Ply Gem

Color Cues: How to Avoid Common Color Mistakes

Color selection is one of the most important aspects of design. It is also one of the easiest things to go wrong.

Common color mistakes to avoid when choosing colors for your home:

Location, location, location.

Always look at colors in the location they will be used. Because color is merely the reflection of light, different types of light affect the way the color will reflect it. This is particularly important when selecting exterior colors. Incandescent lights are yellow, while fluorescent and LCD lights are blue. This will alter the way the color is perceived.

DP House

Include warm and cool colors.

An ideal color palette will include both cool and warm colors, with enough contrast to create a hierarchy. If the main body is a cool neutral, the second body used to highlight an architectural feature can be a deeper color that is still in the cool family. Then, liven the palette with a warm pop of color. Think a light cool blue house with warm brown shutters.

Color transition is important.

Dont end on a corner

Where you transition from one color to another is also important. A common color mistake is ending a color on an outside corner. This makes the home look two dimensional. Wrap the color and either end it on an inside corner or at a corner board to create a termination point.

Let columns stand out.


Columns are often a point of contention when deciding on color. The rule-of-thumb is to treat them as trim. A common color mistake we often encounter is when a column is finished with stucco and it is painted the body color. It is still the same architectural element as the column constructed of trim board, therefore should be painted the trim color. The architectural element supersedes the material. Columns are a beautiful design element, why blend them into the rest of the house?

Look at the Light Reflectance Value.

On the back of all paint chips, you can find an LRV (Light Reflective Value). A high value will reflect a lot of light and, as a result, will be very bright. A low LRV will absorb most of the light and appear dark or muddy. The key is to find some middle ground so that the house neither glows nor disappears.

Have you ever selected a paint for a room that you thought was the perfect shade, only to find that when applied to your room, it was much more intense than expected? This happens when the walls of the room reflect onto each other. When you find a color you like on the fan deck, try selecting the color two shades lighter in order to come closer to your vision. Also, purchase a sample of paint in the sheen you plan to use. Typically, samples are flat and won’t reflect light the same way. It is much more cost effective (and time efficient!) to pay a little more for a sample than repainting an entire room twice.

Weigh all design aspects on your home.

white window dark trim

When selecting the paint palette, it’s important to weigh all design aspects of the home and pay attention to the other materials that you have chosen. Look at your fascia and window colors. If you have only chosen to use white windows, avoid using dark trim. Have you ever seen someone wearing black pants and white socks? Perhaps you are the next Michael Jackson, but it’s best not to subject your home to such a design faux pas.

Selecting colors is a daunting process. Selecting colors is a daunting process. Unlike fashion wardrobe mishaps, the road to redemption goes far beyond a change of clothes. Understanding what to avoid can spare you the headaches (and eyesores) of choosing the wrong colors.