By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
When I take a drive, I’m always fascinated by the paint colors people choose to enhance the facades of their homes.
A classic color scheme for the American home is white with dark green window shutters, although in Palm Beach, blue shutters are just as common.
But across America, green trim on white houses is a common sight — and it’s often complemented by bright red front doors adorned with brass hardware and flanked by two coach-style carriage lanterns. Lanterns have never gone out of style, and every lighting shop seems to carry more than one line of them. Some designs are fancier than others, but basically all in the French style and patterned after the antique originals.
I like that classic facade style, but I also enjoy seeing other touches. For example, I’m a fan of clapboard houses with happy yellow exteriors. I often see them while driving through the countryside. They typically have white trim shutters and matching white front doors. In the same way in Palm Beach, we often see stucco houses painted pale yellow with white shutters and doors.
And of course, Palm Beach’s architectural and landmarks boards strictly regulate which color combinations can be used. That's why I don't think I would ever see in Palm Beach a color scheme I've seen across the bridge in West Palm Beach on a cottage-style home. It is painted pale lilac with white window trim and aquamarine shutters. It certainly caught my attention.
On a recent drive through upstate New York, I saw a farmhouse tucked onto a rolling hillside. Its exterior was painted deep barn red with the trim and front door a jet black. I found the combination so welcoming and charming.
There are so many ways to express your color preferences outdoors, and not just through paint. I think of gardens as exterior decorating.
At my country house, I have gardens planned around the colors pink, lilac, purple, white and blue. I don't tend to use yellows, oranges or reds as focal points. But I do make an exception for plantings of red roses, which stand alone and are mixed only with small, white secondary plants.
A similar exception applies to the nasturtiums on my property. I plant the seeds on my compost beds to provide coverage, and the nasturtiums do their job beautifully, giving me a hill of brilliant orange and yellows to enjoy through the summer and into fall.
As gardens make their transition to fall and winter, they also provide an opportunity to change the colors and plants. I always enjoy the seasonal variations.
I feel the same way about the use of interior fabrics within a home. I love slipcovers, which can quickly change a room’s décor from season to season.
And slipcovering throw pillows is very much “in,” these days. One swipe of a pillow cover’s zipper can take your room from formal damask to French toile to a countryside garden look with flowers.
Perhaps if your family is gathering for Thanksgiving and the upcoming December holidays, a sturdy slipcover for your sofa may be just the ticket if you have younger family members coming to share a meal. In that case, choosing a slipcover that’s machine washable wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
And as you prepare your home for the holidays — inside and out — I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving!