Color Story

Color Story

Once upon a time, in December of 2009, I was asked to assist in color selection for the exterior of a cool sort of industrial-looking  building on Corbett Street in San Francisco. Being a condominium building with three units, it had three sets of  inhabitants, which made up its HOA, (Home Owners Association). One of these was taking charge of the painting project, and thus, of course, the colors.  I was in luck…someone, I still don’t know who, referred my services, and I am so glad they did.  Little did any of us know that our task would not be completed until June of 2011.

My clients, technically the HOA, but, in my mind, George and Garret, who were handling the process,  live part-time in Texas.  We initially discussed the importance of the materials (those that would not be painted), primarily the hand-made wooden, slatted front gate, and the beautiful multi-colored tiles of the steps and planter. These would provide the direction for the house body (main), the garage door and trim, and the window sash and balcony rail (accent) color choices.

Because the building has an industrial, almost loft-like feel, there is an interesting tension between the architecture and surrounding  foliage.  We knew that the color scheme was to be cool, stream-lined and elegant, with enough contrast to the proliferation of nature in which it would dwell, yet it also needed to complement, and draw out the browns and greens of the nearby plants, trees and bushes. I felt that the colors should provide a nod to the structure’s industrial “downtown” sensibility.

The silvery metal house numbers also support the loft aesthetic, and would become part of the color story, providing a bit of reflective gleam.

We opted for Benjamin Moore “Iron Gate”, #1545, for the house body, and Sherwin Williams “Rustic Red” # 7593 for the window sashes, and balcony railings. Keeping the balcony railings, on the left side of the building, the same accent color as the sashes provides balance, as there is a lot more red sash action going on to the right, and we needed enough red on the left to counterbalance.

George and Garret turned me on to Sherwin Williams “Iron Gate” #2926, which  they had used on their Houston, Texas home, and was already on the garage of the building.  I loved the color, and wanted to use it.  Incredibly, it worked beautifully with Benjamin Moore’s version, the “other” Iron Gate, chosen for the house body.  Fascinating to see the different takes on what hues the term “Iron Gate” conjure up!

Over the course of  a year and a half, chatting on the phone and by email in-between meetings with George and Garret when they were in town, and their painter Tony, (local), we confirmed the scheme. Tony put up samples,  and George and Garret discussed them with the other owners and got the consensus. We were finally ready for the building to be primed! Yes, we were moving ahead! We were keeping the garage door color, and adding it to the trim above, and shifting the red on the sashes and railings to something a bit more toned-down,  in better keeping with the strong wood hue of the gate. We were transforming the body color from a paler blueish green, to the richly nuanced  and deeper grayish green hue of Iron Gate, Ben Moore style. It was happening!

And…voila!  Our attention to detail, and focus on bringing together subtle, and not so subtle shifts of color finally yielded its fruit…achieving a stream-lined, elegant, “industrial” harmony, which plays nice with its natural and architectural surroundings, and integrates seamlessly into the neighborhood.  I know George and Garret will feel great every time they enter their San Francisco home.  I hope all others who are sheltered here do as well.

What color sagas have YOU participated in lately?

If  you feel so moved, please share them with us here.

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all coloring our way through this thing called Life, together.

Cheers!

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What great balance and interest you captured in this project, Debra! I love it!

  2. I love this project and as always I love your process. You have inspired me for an exterior job I have on the docket tomorrow am. Now where are my fan decks? I think I just might specify iron gate and rustic red. 🙂

    Kidding aside, I have a project going with King County Housing Authority in which I spec’ed paint for an apartment complex last April. It took up my whole weekend. It goes nowhere…bureaucracy. arrgh.

    • Chere EB, I am so happy to be an encouragement to your process! Do check out BOTH “Iron Gate”s…fascinating to compare them!
      Have fun with your exterior consult…I look forward to see a posting about it!
      Takes a long time, sometimes…and those exciting big commercial or institutional projects can indeed be subject to bureaucracy.
      Bon Courage…

  3. […] modern condo building  graces the urban landscape in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood. It’s […]


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