Choosing Exterior House Colors

Shakkei ~ Borrowed Scenery

When studying Landscape Design at the New York Botanical Garden, one very important concept taught was the Japanese idea of Shakkei or borrowed scenery. This meant that as you were designing the garden and considering its elements, you needed to take into account the existing landscape which was part of your immediate view shed. If, as you stood and looked at your plot, a distant mountain, a nearby pond or a stand of tall grasses in the your neighbors yard were visible then they, in effect, became part of the garden you were designing.

Exterior House Colors

This concept resonates when considering house exterior colors. Many factors must be considered when choosing house colors of course. Architectural style, how it’s sited on the property, what your neighbors have done, your geographic region, the climate and what I call “fit in/stand out” are all important factors. But Shakkei or borrowed scenery is up there in importance.

house colors in a dry climate

Arid mountain home

The landscape around your home becomes part of the equation. The colors of your environment can inform your house color decision in a big way and choosing colors which really integrate it into the landscape is almost a guarantee of cohesion and beauty. See more examples below.

Turquoise house

Tropical House Colors

When choosing the colors of nature the home blends seamlessly into the landscape.

Green house, red door

Pastoral landscape

The red barn below stands out against the green landscape. It would disappear if the terrain was red earth, like the environment we see in the first photo.

Red barn

Red Earth Landscape 

If you live in the North and the seasons change then your house will integrate into the landscape differently based on the time of year.

houses in snow

Winter Landscape

Many homes in the mountains use natural wood stain colors and the colors of nature on their exterior.

forest homes

Mountains and Forests           Margaret Roach’s house  in upstate NY

Western and Prairie Style homes use warm neutrals like brown and tan and taupe in their color palette.

dry landscape

Scrub Landscape

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