Have you ever wondered what makes some homes look so special? In a neighborhood of houses, some stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t always have to do with size or location. Some properties just look pulled together — the house and grounds unite into a seamless whole. What’s probably going on is that the landscape has been carefully crafted to suit the house. When the landscape is in tune with the house, the result is a garden that feels like home. It happens from a unity of styles — a formal landscape surrounding a formal home, or a casual country garden next to an informal, relaxed house. Matching the style of your landscape is one important way to unify house and grounds. Another way is through color.
The first step in coordinating colors between your house and landscape is to go outside and take a good look at the house. Then create garden and landscape elements — flowers, of course, but also structures like fences and gates, arbors and awnings, even pots on a deck or patio — that connect with the colors of the house.
Start with the Walls. Look first at the walls of the house, and choose garden colors to harmonize with it or contrast pleasingly. Wall color is created by building materials, such as brick, stone, or wood, and by colored paint, siding, or stucco applied to the walls. If the walls of your house are a neutral color, such as off-white, gray, or taupe, your garden can be practically any color. You can also take color cues from the warmth or coolness of the neutral color of the walls. For example, with a gray house you might like the look of cooler colors such as purples, blues and cool pinks, or perhaps some deep burgundy or rich red. With beige walls you might find that you like warmer colors in the garden — warm pinks, or orangey reds, red-violets, or maybe rich royal purples. A brick house can be beautifully complemented by sunset colors — reds, oranges and yellows.
Look at the trim. One of the best ways to link house and grounds is through the trim around windows and doors, or the colors of doors and shutters. You can echo the trim colors on the house in the flowers in the garden or architectural elements in the landscape. For instance, you might pick up the color of your front door or shutters in a pot of flowers on the front steps, or in a gate or fence rails, or a gazing globe or birdhouse out in the garden. You can repeat a color from the house in an arbor or gazebo. You could even extend your indoor color scheme outdoors, so your indoor space flows visually into your outdoor space. This works especially well on decks and patios, where you can choose seat cushions and tablecloths to echo your indoor color scheme.
The key to it all is to step back and look at your house, and the elements of your landscape, even accessories, and unite them in a coordinated color theme. It can give your place a whole new look and feeling.
Adapted from Homescaping: Designing Your Landscape to Match Your Home, by Anne Halpin (Rodale Press)
Writer, editor and author Anne Halpin has published 17 books on gardening and related subjects and edited many more. She has been living and gardening on the East End of Long Island for 23 years, and has cared for many private gardens here.