ZD presents….WOW!

Today, I received an email from ZD (slightly modified for clarity):

I’ve just recently come across this site and I’ve been binge reading it. Great stuff Ross! I did want to comment on the subject of the exterior colors. I think your scheme looks fantastic. However, as you mention, it’s just missing something. I can tell from the black and white archival photo that the porch columns were originally a color you have not yet represented. I also think the background behind the tower garlands and the porch railings shared this color, along with numerous other areas.

Pay close attention to the details I mention above.

Attached, was a link to four images.

I gasped.

You will, too.


ZD was referring to the 1895 image of the Cross House. In yesterday’s post I noted that the columns appeared to have been painted a light color, which I had long assumed was the wall color. In 2014, I did start painting the columns as such, but thought they did not look substantial enough, visually, to support the heavy porch roof, so instead…


…I painted them the green color and was pleased with the result, which ZD shows here in back/white. However, ZD also showed what they would look like…


…with the original scheme. ZD did not “paint” the columns the wall color, but instead with a new “fifth” color, as yesterday’s post discussed. ZD also “painted” the background of the tower garlands in color #5.


Now, wanna really freak out?

Scroll way down…




















In color! ZOUNDS!!!!!!!! This looks totally real, but ZD photo-shopped an alternative paint job onto to the house!


The columns are now color #5, as is the background rectangles of the tower garlands.

The porch railings are now, mostly, also color #5.

Compare with the actual:




Well, I am gobsmacked. Thanks, ZD!

I love the garland rectangles in color #5.

I am intrigued about the columns being color #5 but worry, still, that they may not have enough visual heft to support the heavy porch roof. I will ponder ZD’s proposal though!

What do you think?

And, thanks, ZD!!!!!!!! Fabulous! Fabulous!



  1. ZD on September 11, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Well golly, I didn’t expect that would garner it’s own post! Thanks for the shoutout! One reason I believe they felt compelled to lighten the columns was because of the constant overcast that would be on the porch. Everything becomes muted at one of the most important places on your house, your front door. So you especially need something to draw your eye back into that spot. The green is adequate, and it is a terrific shade of green I might add, but it feels too heavy and continues to be too muted in my opinion to really suck you in fully.

    • Mike on September 13, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      ZD, I don’t know what you do for a living, but you should seriously consider offering an on-line color consulting service. The work you did here for Ross is amazing! For us old-house owners to be able to see what our choices would look like, and receive suggestions and objective opinions from someone with an eye like yours, would be a God-send. I responded to Barb in another post that I have tried the “visualizer” programs and apps, and they really just don’t do it for me; I suppose it would help if I could draw a straight line with my mouse, LOL…

      • ZD on September 13, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        I work at a museum as a jack-of-all-trades with a title as ‘Building Technician’; nice and vague to cover basically anything, haha!

        I appreciate the suggestion as well. I’ve done many colorizations of old photographs before, and even have some on display currently in our gallery.

        I’d certainly be happy to help anyone in their endeavors to restore their home to its proper appearance. For me, preserving older homes isn’t just important for historical sense, its also important to prevent the awful and boring garbage that typically gets erected in place when they are torn down. I live in a college city where absolutely enormous swaths of the town have been demolished in favor of ugly semi-urban apartments, each with their own 1-2 lot parking lot to go with it. Incredibly frustrating.

  2. Cody H on September 11, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    I too, am IN LOVE with color #5 behind the garland. It makes so much more sense, visually. They pop, but not in a way that makes them appear gaudy or garish. I’m not so fond of the grey color in the porch gable, but I DO like that you’ve decided to pick out the stamped tin in color #5. As far as the porch columns go, I’m with ya Ross. The pale gold doesn’t give them enough weight. I like the idea of another color being introduced to them, but not such a light one. Perhaps a lighter shade of olive green, rather than a lighter shade of gold (color #6, anyone?!). I quite like that ZD picked out the tubular sections of the spindles in color #5, and left the balls the trim color, but the railing and the bottom cap, in my opinion, need to stay dark green. Just like the columns, when painted the pale gold color, it doesn’t seem beefy enough to support the weight of the rest of the porch. The lattice would look great the way ZD has rendered it, though! It makes me so happy to see the place slowly coming back to life!

    • Mary on September 12, 2017 at 6:32 am

      Yes to color #6!

  3. nathan davis on September 11, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I LOVE how it frames the garlands on the tower! Im unsure about the columns, I think they are still too close to the wall colour. I prefer the railings in the dark green though.

  4. nathan davis on September 11, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    What if the accent colour were a shade of green rather than gold?

  5. nathan davis on September 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Or perhaps the columns should have their capitals and bases painted the accent colour and their bodies the trim colour, rather than the other way round

  6. Stewart McLean on September 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Please realize that I am not offering advice. I am disclosing my thoughts and ideas about what I see to you in hopes of stimulating your imagination so that you find the best result for YOU. My, I enjoy your blog.
    1. I have always thought that, to my taste, the use of one fully green tone on the columns rail and cornices is too heavy looking. The echo of the columns in the area referenced below in item 4 also is heavy looking. That does not refute the fact that the house looks great with the choices you have already made.
    2. I have also been fuzzy on the logic of keeping the cornice moldings one color rather than accentuating the details. I felt that the “hippie style painted ladies” used incompatible bold primary colors as a demonstration of their rebellion. Your sense of taste, although not necessarily the same as mine, has repeatedly produced exquisite results. To my eye the solid color cornices create the weigh that columns with multiple colors can not hold up. Trust yourself Ross. You’ve earned it.
    3. The window sashes are black frames for the glass. The pediment on the porch now has a black frame. The garland on the tower has a frame that is painted green. The upper pediment has an invisible frame. Why? Why not?
    4. I am totally confused by the reference to the brooch on the great north wall. I thought that the brooches were the exquisite central jewels of the stained glass windows that happen to be in an oriel window on the north wall, or was that another set of windows? (I did say I was confused.) Is the entire triple window with columns and details surrounding now being called the brooch? I think that the delights of the detailing on that feature deserve to be accentuated and possibly framed.
    5. Although the grey background on the front pediment is really pleasing, it is like a beautiful, young person who is not wearing clothes at a black tie fundraising event. Everyone is looking, and enjoying it too, but such a person would remove the focus of prospective donors from the purpose of the event. On the other hand, if all of the wait staff was unclothed, young, and beautiful, it would make the event extremely memorable, while maintaining the focus on the cause for which the event was raising funds. I hope that this metaphor has not offended anyone, but I can’t see why the beautiful grey background should be used in just the one spot.
    6. I have fully disclosed in past replies that I am crazier than everyone else. I love the design process. Change it until it feels right and then move on. If other factors arise which make you feel that it is no longer right, change it again until it IS right again. This sense of the possible and the interactions of ideas are the way I find joy in designing. I am so grateful for this opportunity to express my thoughts. Thank you.

    • Ross on September 12, 2017 at 12:49 am

      Hi, Stewart!

      Just quickly:

      The “brooch” is how is refer to the triple second-floor windows on the north facade, and the adjacent elaborate tin work.

  7. Kerri on September 11, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    I really like color #5 and I do like the columns better with two colors. If you are worried about the visual heft, maybe reverse the colors? In other words, all the parts that are color #5 change to green and the parts that are green to color #5.

  8. Sandra Lee on September 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I think Kerri has a good idea & is on to something. Reversing would add visual beauty & heft w trim in color #5.

  9. Tony on September 11, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Ross, have you considered having a spindle color tested? Maybe that could reveal the mysterious 5th color

  10. Marjorie V Davis on September 11, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I am totally gobsmacked too I hope this is the way you go. I really love it.

  11. Alice on September 11, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    That looks exactly right–I hope you do copy it on the house.

  12. Julie Fuller on September 11, 2017 at 11:03 pm


    First off, I absolutely, positively LOVE the porch gable. Amazingly awesome!

    I also love the photoshop version of the paint scheme including a fifth color. I think it’s closer to what you are looking for. As to the ‘weightiness’ of the porch vs columns, might that problem be solved by painting the column from the green, decorated part all the way to the top? And doing the same at the bottom, omitting the band. It would give some weight to the column without losing the lighter color, which I think looks really great.

    Just an idea. Maybe a bit more photoshopping will help?

  13. Mary on September 12, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Wow! Here are my thoughts…yes the garlands absolutely need that color. You can’t even notice them now so that’s a definite.
    Your railings disappear for some reason in all green so I would leave rail and shoe dark green and paint the spindles the fifth color (or vise versa).
    The columns…hmm I do love a dark column and love your green so I would use that fifth color with the green as the stripe/band section and if there is another spot on bottom of column also to break it up.
    The house is getting more gorgeous with everything you do to it so keep going!!
    Try it!

    • Mary on September 12, 2017 at 6:37 am

      Oh yes also… The lattice base should stay dark. I don’t like a light colored lattice. It needs to look grounded. I like the idea suggested by Cody H of a 6th color- another shade of green. You have a lot of detail here that could be picked out with different shades of the colors you already have. A tasteful painted lady is ok!
      I love the pediment over porch as is with the grey. I never would have thought of it, but it looks great! Makes it look like gold foil to me for some reason????

  14. Katie on September 12, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Did you notice that the tin cornice on the front porch and the lower band of the tower are different colors?? It looks like the top and bottom band might match but the scroll work is def lighter. You could drive yourself crazy looking at that old black and white image. Do what makes your heart happy.

  15. ANSC on September 12, 2017 at 10:02 am

    I love the 5 color treatment. I think it actually strengthens the look of the porch and house. That fifth color brings out how something sort of fragile and airy looking can hold up this beautiful edifice. It makes everything look graceful and balanced. It also brings out the designs on everything else, like the 4th color in the entry triangle did.

    • ANSC on September 12, 2017 at 10:14 am

      I also like the 5th color used on the banisters which I think adds to the gracious airiness too. However though I like the grey in the triangle, it doesn’t seem quite right somehow. It needs to be a fourth color still, but maybe not the grey.

  16. JET Texas on September 12, 2017 at 10:04 am

    I vote for more colors on the house. I love the colors you added on the porch detail. You could use that grey color for the garland background. I support the statements above saying that painted ladies are a bit tacky because the colors aren’t balanced, lots of primary colors competing for the eye. You have more taste and sense than that. Look at your spectacular parlor!

  17. Mary Kathline Idriss on September 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I am so liking all the suggestions ZD made and the black outlining you suggested in another post. The black would the mascara a woman puts on her eyelashes. The total makeup work would be lost without that little black mascara. The black would make all detail pop evenmore without looking overdone like a painted lady, believe me. I like the light columns, the black banding you suggested and the light on the tower frescoes. All looks great.
    Great job Zack. This is really becoming a public effort thanks to you Ross for allowing our import. What a story this lady will have to say to all in later years.
    Mary from Georgia

  18. Matt on September 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    LOVE THIS ! ! ! Also love the gable – Wonder how things would look if you used the “Original” color that you found last year to accent some things? Would there be enough contrast?

  19. Mike on September 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Ross, I’m on the fence about what the fifth color should be, but I do not think that painting the columns a lighter color would look out of place. Here is a link to a favorite house of mine on Kelly’s site. I fell head-over-heels in love with this house last year when Kelly shared it, and it has become the model for the color scheme that I hope to replicate on my own house. The columns are light, but with dark accents, and they support a dark box beam. The beam doesn’t look too heavy to me, and the lighter columns look great, they really accentuate the large porch space. Hopefully this can help you visualize what you are considering…

    • Ross on September 12, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Hi, Mike!

      The house on Kelly’s site (gorgeous!) is not really comparable to the Cross House. The eave of the “Kelly” porch is painted in several colors and does not have the heavy, brooding presence of the huge curved cornice on the Cross House porch. This is why I think light-colored columns do not look visually “hefty” enough to support the heavy load of the cornice/roof.

      Does this make sense?

      • Mike on September 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm

        Yes, now that you point it out. What if the fifth color were a lighter shade of the olive green trim? Lighter, but not nearly as light as the body color…it would give you the contrast that you seem to want, but still pack some heft…in the end, you may just have to paint a couple of the columns and see what it looks like. Your faithful followers will let you know when you are in danger of going too far…”Ross, put down the paint brush, and back slowly away from the house…” 🙂

  20. Jennifer on September 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I think it’s getting too light, tending toward delicate. The details appear to fly off the house instead of grounding it. Less is more, my motto is “keep your Victorian gloomy.”

    • Ross on September 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm


      Keep your Victorian gloomy?

      Golly, why?

      The Cross House would not have been gloomy when build. The idea would have been anathema to the architects and owners.

      Unless the owners were the Munsters!

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