Cottages of Color

OF THE DECISIONS I’ll be making in upcoming months, the most fun is what color to paint the doors and trim on my cedar-shingled cottage.

The fact that it has cedar shingles is one of the things that drew me to it in the first place. They have been the vernacular cladding material on the South Fork all the way back to the 17th century, and you still see them everywhere, on houses old and new.

Springs Fireplace Road

Springs Fireplace Road, Springs (East Hampton)

I love turquoise against the weathered gray-brown, but do I have the nerve? Perhaps a subtler shade of blue would be the ticket. Or white for the trim and blue for the door.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

Somewhere in the Hamptons, Photo: House Beautiful

Somewhere in the Hamptons - Photo: House Beautiful

Red? I won’t go there, but I admire those who do.

Three Mile Harbor Road, Springs

Three Mile Harbor Road, Springs

Yellow? Definitely not. (That’s an antique store, below, so it can be excused.)

Sag Harbor (it's an antiques store, so can be excused)

Sag Harbor

There’s always classic white.

Old Stone Highway, Springs

Old Stone Highway, Springs

Sage green is what I have now, and it’s attractive and natural-looking, kind of Adirondack-y, but I want to put my own stamp on the place.

Which do you like? Input welcome!

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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12 Responses to Cottages of Color

  1. Without seeing your house it’s hard to say but I’m leaning toward one of the “water” colors (blues/turquoise) with some verve!

  2. MazeDancer says:

    Consider sticking with white until you’ve been there at least two seasons. The light on the East End is its prime treasure. You want to see your house with and without trees, in every light, before deciding. Get some test boards, the right size, those balsa 3″ they have at home stores, or cut some masonite or something thin, with hole or hook at the top, and paint those for test strips. Hang over trim in appropriate spots to view. Get bigger ones to fake shutters, doors, whatever else you’re considering.

    And you already — to our enjoyment — observe all the other residents’ choices. Eventually, you’ll notice you’re trending towards wanting to stop and shoot a particular theme most often.

    Your stamp will be everywhere on the property. It’s already there just in the gusto with which you’re clearing the yard. If you like sage green, use it. Don’t let previous owners, who did live there for years, realizing it was a sage green spot, keep you from something you love.

    You well know there is an infinite range of red. If you don’t like it, then good, one color off the list. But a red front door is good feng shui. Supposedly lucky.

    Thanks for taking time in the midst of all the work to take pictures. It’s a nice reminder of the East End’s enduring beauty of sky, sea, and beautiful houses. Without the traffic.

  3. MazeDancer says:

    Oops – I was thinking “home” not “rental”. Thinking about you’re living there, long term.

    If you’re renting, got to go with widest appeal. White trim, colorful door. Blue most favorite color. But any sage & red, not yellow, fine. Too much color looks too cutsey to some.

    If you’re renting for August, you’ll be spending your time propping the outside. Window boxes, big pots of flowers, patio furniture. Cosy, charming outdoor key, as you know. (And taking pictures for the winter viewers to see when they’re looking for rentals. “The owner will be supplying this same kind of flowers.”)

    August is a great month in Manhattan. Probably Brooklyn too. Stay in someone’s place and enjoy the empty streets, the easy tables in restaurants, the lovely park. The days have gotten short enough that the nights aren’t as sweltering as July. The Upper East Side is practically vacant.

    September is Hampton’s dream month. Warm water. Crystal days. Seasonal crowds gone.

    But what you have to huddle with your accountant and see is what benefits you. If it’s a rental property, as a real estate tycoon, you well know you get to deduct fix-up expenses from income.

    But since it’s in the Hamptons, you’ve got more options for making it your primary residence. And, well then, besides primary residence tax deduction you’ve got space enough to set up dedicated office for that very nice TD from your self-employment earnings. (Utilities, maintenance, everything). Use the biggest bedroom as office/studio and you get larger TD. (Because based on square foot percentage).

    Also, you’ve lived 90-120 days in NYC. (Moved out in April, right) And then moved to Springs. Which in this economy could be moving for work. (Plenty decor biz action on East End, cheaper overhead). So TD there on all that storage, moving stuff. You can come in under the 180 days that make you a resident of NYC. Save that tax. Make every Jitney trip for a meeting a tax deduction. Make entertaining editors a TD. (Keep excellent records). You and your accountant might choose to look at all that.

    Next year when they come reassess for property taxes and give you the outsider/just purchased assessment, 10% (square footage) could be useful TD. And not paying the NYC city income tax could help offset that.

    I believe you can rent for two weeks, or stay personally in rental property for two weeks, without affecting either status.

    And if you’re primary residence has been a rental apartment for the past 3 years, then if you can juggle your income flow for 2009 to come in under the limits, wouldn’t you get the 8K first time buyer cash back?

    So all that, which you may have already considered, affects color of trim.

  4. Nancy says:

    I love the blue from the “somewhere in the Hamptons” photo! Periwinkle?

  5. Astor C. says:

    Like the barn red accents…

  6. cara says:

    Wow, MazeDancer – i thought i was aggressive in taking tax deductions, but you’ve come up with some new wrinkles.
    Don’t see how I could get a first-time buyer credit, though – the Springs house is my sixth property :-)

  7. Debre says:

    What if you go with a green that is lighter than the existing sage and has more punch (like, starting to lean toward chartreuse). I seriously considered that for the doors on my shingled house.

  8. Anonymous says:

    window trim white. doors and shutter blue. I like delft blue if it’s just door, but if you have shutters too, I’d do zuider zee. I only use this chart for exterior paint colors — I can only function with a handful of color choices.

  9. Mary-Liz says:

    What about a darkish hot pink for the door? I also like the Delft blue….Fun!!!!

  10. cara says:

    Thanks, y’all, for taking the time to register your opinions. It really helps! Blue seems to be the hands-down favorite.

  11. MazeDancer says:

    First time buyer only means you haven’t owned a primary residence in 3 years. Doesn’t matter how many you bought before that, as long as it was more than 3 years ago. Doesn’t matter if you own vacation or rental properties. It’s the primary residence that counts. Google search “first time buyer credit”. Lotsa sites. Gov even has one.

  12. cara says:


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