No one wants a "trendy" building. Never the less, there are trends in building color that are distinct and make a marketing difference. Granted these color trend changes are not rapid, coming slowly and staying for a long while. But the difference of being on trend or off trend is simple. If you select colors for a building at the end of a trend your building will look nice at first when it is new. Then it will start to look tired. And in about three years, all of a sudden it will look ten years old. "Oh yeah, I remember that look—it was 2005 wasn't it?"
In many cases this will not be overly important. But if you are involved in retail or going up against brand new, cutting-edge multi-family properties you had better get it right. This is especially important if you are doing a face-lift or rehab. You can—if you get the colors right—look just as fresh and up to date as the new property you are having to compete with.
TODAY'S TWO BIGGEST TRENDS
COLOR BLOCKING This is something which has been around awhile but has now firmly taken hold and will continue for quite some time to come. It basically is the breaking up of the facade of a building into various sections of color or materials like siding, paneling, brick, stucco, metal or the like. This can be done by emphasizing sections of materials or creating new sections with color use and placement.
This use of color is particularly good at breaking up long facades into more digestible sections so that the building no longer feels like a "complex." The selection of colors can be tailored to the segment of the market you are appealing to. Subtle colors for a more sedate tenancy—brighter for a younger market.
COLOR TRENDS For the last ten to fifteen years the market has been driven by architectural styles that are based on historic models and so the colors used have been basically Arts and Crafts era colors, ones that are natural or earth toned and basically khaki-based. This era is over.
The new era references what is known as the Mid Century Modern Revival—architecture, furnishings and colors which refer back to the so-called "Modernism" of the late Fifties and early Sixties of last century. These colors are cleaner and stronger than the departing earth tones. The over-riding change now is to colors that are basically gray based. Blacks, reds and other bold colors are now popular. Colors with stronger contrasts in values are IN and softly blended colors are OUT.
How long will this remain popular? It is a fair guess to say a good ten years. This means that because the paint job you put on your building is usually going to last for a decade it makes clear sense to tune into these trends now so that your buildings don't look like they are from the last era and hamper your marketing efforts for years to come.