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Colors have a public persona that we identify as the mass tone…and underneath the mass tone is the undertone.  The gregarious, sometimes loud, sometimes soft, but always identifiable color is the mass tone.  Furthermore, underneath that mass tone, is the sneaky undertone that is lurking in the background to make or break your color scheme.  The key to picking colors that harmonize is identifying the undertones and choosing colors whose undertones don’t clash.  Disrespecting undertones can blow your whole color scheme and leave the exterior of your house looking disjointed and haphazard.  In addition, undertone is the characteristic of the color that is often hidden when a color is viewed in isolation.  Undertones show themselves when they are viewed in combination with other colors.  Sometimes, the undertone is very similar to the mass tone.  Oftentimes, it’s different.  Here are few examples:

A true Blue has a mass tone and undertone that are very close to the same hue.  For example:  

  1. Turquoise has an undertone of green

  2. Periwinkle has an undertone of violet.  

The more complex and less pure the color is, the more difficult to determine the undertone.  Understanding how to select the correct color which includes the correct undertone is part of creating a cohesive design.  Hence, the undertones of the the color scheme you are trying to create…have to mesh.  

How do you identify the undertone?  The easiest, most efficient way is to compare it to other colors in the same color family.  Here are some common examples:

whites with undertones

whites with undertones

  1. You are trying to find a white that doesn’t look yellow and that doesn’t have pink undertones.  This process could include putting big swatches of several different whites (same color family) and comparing them.  It becomes more obvious very quickly which white is the most yellow.  
  2. You are trying to select a blue and want to identify the undertones.  Putting multiple blue swatches up will quickly show you which ones slant more purple or red and which ones slant more green or yellow.  

Consequently, even though all the colors belong to the same family, comparing it to another pure color or color in same family will help illuminate the undertone.  Which will make your color scheme successful! 

Let’s get to work on creating the perfect scheme for the exterior of your house.