Tag Archives: Paint Contractors

Historic Italian Victorian in Wilmette

AfterKate Thomas has a passion for older homes. She and her family lived in a home built in 1918 prior to moving into their historic Italian Victorian built in 1874 on Park Avenue in Wilmette, Illinois.

“The house was built by Mr. Klem and Mr. McDaniel,” prescribes Kate, “they were founding fathers of Wilmette, who were also good friends. Two of their children married, and they built the house for the kids as a wedding present. It was a big deal at the time; you can still find it in the Trib’s social register [archives]. The county records for the ownership of the house show it was held in the family for a good 100 years. Since then, numerous owners had it for two or three years until we moved in.”

Best Laid Plans

Thomas and her husband had budgeted for upkeep and updates but were challengimage5ed with far more than they had bargained for. A ceiling collapse, plumbing held together with duct tape and socks, stairs kept in place with carpet padding stuffed between the boards and a host of other camouflaged defects kept them busy for the next decade.

After 11 long years of “triage”, Kate was finally ready to paint. “When we bought the house, it was gray with white trim, but it wasn’t until we decided to paint that I really started looking at the trim and realized how much there was of it.”

For help in keeping to the period, Thomas purchased an out of print book on 19th Century Victorian homes online. “There were suggestions for colors that would have been used, so we were able to combine an accurate paint scheme that way.”

image4Color Coordinates

Finding the right combination of trim colors was essential, and further tested by an enclosed porch which had been added in the 1920’s. “So, I had 1874 windows and 1920 windows. The challenge was to keep integrity with two different periods and still have it look good.” She says this is one of the reasons why they chose to work with Fortune because they “understand architectural styles and how to get through 150 years of paint.”

Thomas thinks people don’t truly understand the amount of scraping, prepping and design knowledge that goes into a project like this. “That’s the stuff you don’t see on the surface, and we wouldn’t have had the same result without them.”

image2 (2)The Fortune team painted test swatches on all four sides of the house so Kate could see how the colors would look in various types of light and different vantage points. “We went through $64 of paint samples – that might have been some of the best money spent on the whole project.” (Kate also spent time walking the aisles of Loomcraft looking for fabrics with the same colors in them and used material samples to help narrow down the choices.) “We tested it together; Alejandro [from Fortune] would paint a patch of trim, and we’d talk it over. You really have to listen to the consultants who know more than you do about these things. You can’t wing it.”

Not wanting to be “someone’s learning curve”, Thomas confides she had watched a local Fortune project in the works while driving her daughter to camp each day before making initial contact with them. She thinks finding a reliable company to paint newer or less complicated homes should be fairly easy, but advocates, “It takes someone with serious experience to pull off a project of this nature. The staff was a pleasure to work with and we could not have been happier.”

Paying It Forward

When the Thomas family is ready for their next move, they want to pass the house on in better shape than they found it. “It’s one of the oldest houses in Wilmette, and it’s important to take the time, do the research and preserve it. Part of this is about neighbors, it means a lot to the history of the neighborhood.”

Equally important to Kate is that the next buyers will treasure the home and continue to save it from tear down. “Older homes don’t have that Brady Bunch layout, but just because a home is older doesn’t mean it’s disposable!”

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How to Choose Paint Color for Your Vintage Home

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Historic home built in 1885 — Evanston, Ill.

What’s the most daunting task about painting your vintage home? Color –what colors would fit best with the character of your home and your personal preferences. Easier said than done, right?

With so many paint colors available today, choosing which colors work best with each other is a challenge. Considering the exterior of your house is not an easy or equitable “do-over” (unlike that chartreuse color you thought would look so great in the upstairs bath), finding the perfect outside color combo can be more than overwhelming.

Take a Spin on the Color Wheel

When choosing exterior colors, it’s important to note that some color schemes can intensify the look of an older house while others can make that same home look dull on one side of the spectrum, or even outrageous, on the opposite end.

Monochromatic color schemes offer a sophisticated look. A light brown siding with dark brown trim and shutters will provide a sleek, uniform look. If you want something a bit more eye catching, consider a complementary scheme of colors that have a huge amount of color contrast like violet and yellow.

5.26 color-wheelYellow-orange or red-violet colors fall within a triadic color scheme. When you work with a triadic scheme, select colors that are equally distant on the color wheel. Just the opposite of a triadic scheme is an adjacent scheme, achieved by using color options that are next to each other on the color wheel. A good example of this would be violet, blue-violet and blue.

Helpful Rules of Thumb

For help in finding vintage color options, select which of the following categories suits you best:

Historical Appropriateness – Research is basic in this category to investigating the color palettes that were available and favored during the time your house was built. The further back in time you go, the fewer colors there are to choose from.

Historical Color Collections can give you a hand in your paint color selection. One solution to finding the original colors that most likely would have been used for your home is to do an online search for “historic color charts”. Exterior paint colors for very old homes usually mirrored the material colors of the day like brick, copper, bronze, and exposed timbers.

Refine your color options even further by searching for your home’s design style (i.e., Craftsman, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, etc.). Many home designs had their own unique range of color pallets.

fortune restoration painted lady

“Painted Lady” in the Chicago Suburbs

Another option for finding colors used during certain time periods may also be found in old print, such as colors used on postcards, sheet music, in advertising and other like items.

Historical Accuracy – In choosing this category you will strictly limit yourself to the original colors used on your home. This could prove more difficult to match, depending upon the age and/or uniqueness of your vintage home. Old color photos (if available) may help, as would talking to long time neighborhood residents – again, completely dependent upon the age of your home, and your neighbors.

Ultimately, using a scraper to peel back the layers of paint to find the original true color of your home is the best method. Make sure you do this test on all the aspects of your home, as multiple colors can be hidden between the various areas of the body and trim.

If you do decide to uncover the old paint, it will most likely be faded. Bring a scraped sample to a paint retailer or professional service provider with vintage home experience for help in matching today’s shades with yesterday’s colors.

Wrap Up

When you adore the history of your house but are not married to preserving its historical accuracy, work with your personal color preferences and build from there.

Exercise your tastes, keep the vibe of your neighborhood in mind and take care in choosing colors you can live with for years to come.

For additional tips read: http://www.slideshare.net/fortunerestoration/how-to-choose-your-best-exterior-paint

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