A small house can wear its diminutive size proudly with a clever exterior paint job that emphasizes architectural detail over dimensions. Paint can turn a tiny charmer into a sailing ship becalmed, a gingerbread house worthy of a fairy tale or a serene and carefree respite floating over a patio that's nearly the size of the house.
Subdued Shipshape Colors
An old lakefront bungalow reflects the blue of water and sky with a blue and white paint job, stone staircase and gray shingled roof. Variegated roof colors mimic the mortared local stone that leads to a screened porch and the front door. The main house is painted white; the enclosed front porch, all the trim on the porch screens and screened door, window frames, eaves and the garage door are the same muted sky blue — a color with a bit of gray in it to blend with the roof. The front door is a slate gray, and the house foundation, visible on the garage side because the house is set on a hill, is a lighter shade of the same blue as the trim. The house blends into the blues and greens of the surrounding forest and foliage and seems larger than it actually is. Its small size, gables and neat nautical color scheme give it an air of a compact ship glimpsed through the trees.
Carefully Edited Colors
A tiny vacation house set in a landscape of old trees and faded brick pavers is a light confection with pale pink walls and glossy white trim. The house has two steep faux tin roofs, and a narrow front porch runs the length of the house under the eaves of the first floor roof. Porch columns and gingerbread buttresses are painted white. The front door is a varnished, honeyed wood with gathered white shades hanging in its vertical side-by-side windows. Limiting the exterior palette to just three colors -- gray, pink and white -- keeps the look very neat and appealing. The wooden door draws the eye to the entrance and away from the corners of the house, which has the effect of making a very small house seem larger than it is.
A haphazard cottage that seems more like a stage set than a real place to live gets costumed in a whimsical paint job of complementary colors for curb appeal. The main house color is a deep honey gold with a hint of brown in it, almost like a pale graham cracker. But there are gables and dormers and shutters and wrought iron archways; every window is a different style, and every frame is embellished. The chaos is contained without squashing the exuberance of the place by choosing an opposite trim color and using it sparingly on just the shutters. The honey gold gives way to a butter cream color paint on eaves, window frames and balusters. Porch railings and some of the wrought iron trim are painted to match the walls. On the second floor, the awnings are a cross between bright bluebell and robin's egg. Because there is some contrast, the architectural details crammed onto a small house don't all run together, but since there is only a touch of contrast, the dominant yellow shades pull the disparate shapes into a coherent whole.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .