Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 12, 2014

Roofs get colorful as homeowners replace them

VINTON, Iowa — When a 2011 storm destroyed their black shingle roof, Carol and Ray Knoff of Vinton, Iowa, opted to replace it with a roof in vintage Victorian colors: a clay-like red and gray.

Victorian homes typically had red slate roofs, which weathered gray over time, so the blend worked, says Carol Knoff.

"It took Vinton a while to like it," she says, but the neighbors have since come around. The 1901 house is among several Victorians built when Vinton housed one of the world's largest canneries.

Many homeowners these days are shunning monotone roofs of brown, black and gray and perking things up with color — blues, reds, purples, greens or combinations of those hues.

"A lot of people are going with roofs that stand out on their own," says Kate Smith, a Newport, R.I.-based color consultant. "They want something different that expresses them and expresses their personality."

Which could be a tricky proposition, says Smith: "You want to stand out while still fitting into your neighborhood," she says.

She admits to being taken aback herself when colored roofs first came into vogue several years ago.

Exterior home color should always be used judiciously, she says. But it is even more crucial to use it correctly when you're adding it to a large fixed feature, like a roof, that is not easily changed with a fresh coat of paint.

"Anything that's permanent needs to blend," she says. "You don't want to have too many colors that aren't working together."

One trick for doing that, Smith says, is to select roof colors true to your home's history and architecture, and in natural shades.

For instance, Victorian homes originally had colored roofs — reds, orange, purple and green were typical — because the color of the slate varied so much, she says. Homeowners wanting to restore that look should match those subtle tones.

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