House Colors

housecolorsSusan Hershman
House Colors: Exterior Color by Style of Architecture
Gibbs Smith
336 pages
Softcover, $34.95, SG74

AS THIS IS WRITTEN, Susan Hershman’s House Colors, published in October 2007 (just nine short months ago), is temporarily out of stock at If that tells you something, listen. As a present or prospective bungalow homeowner, you’ve likely done due diligence in educating yourself on how to choose exterior colors for your house. You’ve examined Robert Schweitzer’s presentation of the historical origins of British and American bungalow color schemes (Bungalow Colors: Exteriors, 2002). You’ve tagged along as Jane Powell and Linda Svendsen travel around North America writing about and photographing everything there is to think (or obsess) about in understanding the outside of a bungalow (Bungalow Details: Exterior, 2004).

You’ve done everything possible to find out how your house was painted when it was built. Perhaps you’ve driven around your bungalow neighborhood to find color combinations that you believe would work well for your house. You’ve also purchased a color wheel and acquired a great many paint samples from paint dealers and manufacturers. All of this you have done, and bravo! In the end, though, you may have given up in frustration and hired a color consultant to advise you or to choose your house colors for you. So why should it be of any significance to you that Hershman’s book, which isn’t even exclusively about bungalows, is temporarily out of stock at First, because it isn’t just about bungalows. Second, because although you have gone through this process once, you are likely going to have to go through it again. Third, because you are unlikely to find a friendlier, clearer, savvier or more practical guide to choosing, mixing, matching and applying exterior colors to your house—even though Hershman has never seen your house and probably never will. People have evidently discovered this, and as a result Hershman’s book is temporarily out of stock at, although by the time you read this, new copies may be in circulation. (See the Bungalow Bookstore, page 137).

Hershman is a color consultant, and her book is her way of allowing you to hire her at a cost substantially below the $1,500 or so you would pay (or may have already paid) for the services of a personal, on-site consultant. She understands that there are limitations in this arrangement. She also acknowledges that “even though I know what I’m looking for, it can be very difficult to find just the right color and intensity without a number of attempts.” But she has selected and organized the information in the book in a way that minimizes these limitations. The core of the book consists of Hershman’s photographs of 194 numbered houses in nine architectural styles, one of which is Craftsman/ Bungalow (represented by 25 houses). Cottage, Mediterranean and Townhouse styles, which share characteristics with Craftsman/ Bungalow, are also covered. (Good: houses are often not surrounded by homogeneous neighbors, and Hershman notes that “We have a responsibility to fit the places where we live because we are part of a larger community. … The neighbors across the street probably look at your home’s exterior more than you do.”)

For each set of three or four photographs of each house, there is a corresponding entry in the section “Color and Product Specifications by House Number” that gives the manufacturer, number, name and collection (if applicable) of the house’s field color and the color of its doors, door frames, shutters, windows, window frames, porticos and any other components shown in the photographs. Where relevant (and it often is, because Hershman also looks at fences, gates, pavers, roof tiles, house numbers and other details of many of the houses) she identifies the corresponding color or material.

“The purpose of this book is to show you dozens of color possibilities and to give you valuable design information. It will not merely guide you in selecting colors; it will take the guesswork out of color selection and will give you the specifications for the successful color combination used on each house.”
Yes, it will.

John Luke

American Bungalow Magazine Online – Your source for bungalow and arts & crafts news.