Friday, 23 November 2007

Porch stairs and trim, colour choices

The book I have been waiting for has finally turned up. It is "Victorian Exterior Decoration" by Roger W. Moss and Gail Caskey Winkler. It has a lot of information on historical paint schemes, with original illustrations from the period, and a list matching historical paint colours to modern manufacturers. However, it hasn't been a magic answer and I am still dithering. I guess I was hoping to open the book, spot a picture of a paint scheme that I liked, and just copy it. Instead I had to read the whole book, discovering that the Willowcrest is an example of Second Empire architecture from c. 1870, and also discovering that most historical paint schemes from the 1870-1880s are not to my taste. They went in a lot for rich bland colours like drab, olive green and straw. The blue house with white trim scheme pictured on the Willowcrest box is actually historically inappropriate as blues were not commonly used in this period and trim was almost always darker than the house colour. Blue with white trim came later in the colonial revival and onwards.

After a lot of cogitating, I narrowed it down to a paint scheme I found on the Sherwin Williams web site on their Victorian paints page, then headed off to our local DIY store to see what I could turn up that would match. I came home with several match pots, and painted lots of index cards so I could see what the colours looked like when they dried, and when taped to the house in natural daylight. Most of them weren't what I wanted, so I went out again today and got some acrylic craft paint in a few more shades. Eventually I have narrowed it down to dark brown for the roof (two colours under consideration), a blue-green for the house (similar to the historical colour light blue stone) which I can only get close to in a kitchen-bath paint, and brown or terracotta for the trim. Please note that these are not my personal choice at all, but they seem to be a good compromise between historical accuracy and a scheme I can live with. This is such a big decision, as the colour will really make or break the attractiveness of the house. I'm still not sure about these colours, I am going to live with them for a few days and see how it goes. But I know the house will look more realistic, and less like a toy, if the scheme is accurate.

In the meantime, I built the porch steps (Step Q.f) and applied the porch foundation trim (Step S). I had to relocate the steps to the middle of the porch as that is where my shop door will be. They went together similarly to the stairs in the house, the only real difference being that you glue on all the risers first, then add the steps second.

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