25 November 2015

Exterior Color: Alameda Queen Anne

Morton St. Queen Anne with a new paint scheme by Lynne Rutter

Alameda, California is a lovely small town on its own island, and home to the best flea market on the West Coast.  I counted as a good sign that my clients called me from Forbidden Island, Alameda's famous tiki bar, asking for help choosing paint colors for the Victorian house they had just bought.
The house is a fabulous 1890 "Queen Anne" style, set back from the street with a front garden.  It had been painted with a bachelor-pad color scheme in the late 1980s, and it seemed to me the feminine aspects of the architecture got a bit lost in the process. 

Before: "bachelor pad" color scheme or brown and beige

Walter Crane "Swans" by Bradbury and Bradbury

With a major restoration and interior upgrade already in progress,  the exterior painting was a ways off, but it often feels like the light at the end of a long tunnel to have the colors worked out in advance, and to have that to look forward to, as well as to help us focus on what this house - what the experience of living in this house -  will be "about."
I was asked to give her back her dignity, as well as some of her sass, like a well-dressed lady who is also fabulously smart.

Meanwhile, awkwardly-added gutters and downspouts were reworked or replaced, and the balcony rebuilt; a large number of window sashes were replaced as were many of the cedar shingles.

Our new color scheme was inspired in part by an Aesthetic Movement poster, printed by Bradbury and Bradbury Art Wallpapers, on a swan design by Walter Crane. The gold ochre, the terra cotta... even that little bit of black.  So this is where I started.  Th gold, ochre, and bronze color all look so different at various times of day.  I meant to use two of them, because normally I approve of painting the shingles differently from the shiplap, but in this case the texture difference was enough.
The blue appears not only in the sky but on the ceiling of the porch and the underside of the eaves.  Gold leaf embellishes some features, including many that are visible from inside the house, through the upstairs windows.

Morton St Queen Anne with its new paint scheme by Lynne Rutter

I have been involved with the interior of this home as well, and may share that later. But for now I want to point to those amazing giant thistle lace sheers, custom-made using a fabric by Timorous Beasties. With such prominent windows the choice of window sheer had an immense effect on the exterior.

Lynne Rutter designs color for interiors and exteriors in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as by email for homes all over the world!  Contact her here.



  1. That is just wonderful. And you are right about the sheers - they make a unified whole that compliments your sophisticated use of color.

    1. thanks so much! The exterior appearance of window treatments really needs to be considered. I am really happy to be involved in both inside and outside of this fabulous house


Join the conversation!