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exterior rehabs

From Habitat magazine - issue 25

House exteriors from the 1950s to more recent times can be tricky to update. Check out these stunning before and afters.

Older character houses are almost a cinch to update – pick a colour scheme and set to with a paint brush. Houses from mid-century onwards are a different story, however. Some are just plain ugly and always were. Others sport once fashionable details that haven't lasted the distance – clinker brick, lumpy stucco, leaky plaster, faded cedar, cutesy shutters.

Plaster exterior - before
White reclad home exterior
Faced with lumpy plaster, a weird profile and little street appeal, the owners of this 1970s home had one thing on their mind: to reclad. Working with the steeply pitched gable, they hid the big side lean-to behind a parapet, and framed the entire house in Rockcote aerated concrete panels. Letting the texture of the new weatherboards and the panels be the feature, they then painted the entire house in Resene Sea Fog.

Undeterred by such obstacles, and equipped with a bit of courage and vision, these homeowners have reworked their ugly ducklings into fine-looking contemporary dwellings.

Exterior colour tips

Greyed off, muted colours are often best for exteriors, blending well with both natural and urban elements. Clear, bright colours can look garish.

1970's brick home exterior
Renovated black 1970's brick home exterior
Houses of the 1970s were a mixed bag of styles and cladding. This clinker brick house has been reborn with a lot of imagination and hard work. The owners painstakingly chiselled off the raised parts of the brick before painting them in Resene Bokara Grey. Owner Urszula Sherrell then painted one wall of the entranceway in Resene Triple Sea Fog as a break from the dark colour. To match the copper spouting, she then experimented with a mix of Resene Bokara Grey and Resene Milk Chocolate for the right shade to paint the entrance pergola.

Remember that colours will always look lighter in our strong sunlight. Use a Resene testpot to try out your choices on various sides of the house (sunny and shady). Paint a sample on card so it's easy to move around.

Faded townhouse exterior
Reclad townhouse exterior
This faded 1960s townhouse has been utterly transformed by designer Andrea Burney from Yellowfox. Removing all traces of 'the brown era', she reschemed the exterior using Resene Rampart for the cladding, Resene Nero for the trims and Resene Half White Pointer for the fascia and soffit.

Many new claddings come with warranties that specify the LRV (light reflectance value) of the paint colour to be used. Black absorbs all light so has an LRV of 0%; pure white reflects all light so has an LRV of 100%. To find the LRV of your chosen colour, simply look on the reverse of the card, or in the online Resene colour library. Ask the staff at your Resene ColorShop or reseller for help if you have any doubts.

Outdated character home exterior
Renovated character home exterior
A good clean-up and a new colour scheme has turned the Shand house in Invercargill from a plain Jane to a smart character home. The couple removed a clutter of 1970s attachments like timber shutters, scrolled edging, a garden arch and plants growing up the walls. They then knocked on the door of a house with colours they liked; those owners were only too happy to share their scheme which was Resene Triple Thorndon Cream cladding with a Resene Ironsand roof. The Shands then added Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream on the window frames. The green-edged tones of the Resene Thorndon Cream variants now beautifully offset the feature red bricks and tidied garden.

While cedar cladding can be left to slowly turn grey this leaves it exposed to the weather. If you want to keep a natural look, stain it using the Resene Waterborne Woodsman range. Visit your local Resene ColorShop to see the colours on various types of timber from pine, to hardwoods and cedar.

Remember to include existing elements like the aluminium joinery and roof colour in your colour scheme. If you can't change either (or have any colour scheme query), send a photograph and details to the Resene free colour consultancy online service or book an appointment with a Resene colour expert.

And the practicalities…

Use Resene CoolColour™ paint for dark exterior colours. This technology reflects harmful UV from the sun and therefore helps protect both the paint and the cladding from damage.

Modernist home exterior
Dark stained cedar home exterior
The modernist lines and striking window configurations of this home weren't a problem... but the plaster cladding was. The owners commissioned Sketch Architecture to come up with a cladding solution. The parapet design was retained but the facade was simplified by removing the 'eyebrows' above the windows. Vertical cedar cladding was chosen to add interest via shadow lines with two different profiles giving a subtle change between the main house, and the garage and cantilevered entry canopy. The cedar was finished in Wood-X oil in colour Flint, available from Resene ColorShops. New exterior lights further accentuate the lines of the cladding and the form of the house.

Resene Lumbersider is a popular choice for outdoor use on timber claddings. It's a tough waterborne low-sheen paint with a natural look that is fully washable. Or opt for Resene Sonyx 101 for a semi-gloss finish. The glossier the finish, usually the easier it is to clean. The lower sheen the finish, the better it hides surface imperfections.

If you want to paint timber that has been previously left to weather, use Resene TimberLock first. It's a multifunctional treatment that regenerates wood fibres laid bare by UV and weather attack, so will improve the performance and life of the paint topcoat.

Top tips: When you're planning dark exterior colours, choose Resene CoolColour paints or stains. Use variants of one colour from the handy Resene Whites & Neutrals collection to create a great-looking exterior scheme.

See more ideas for exteriors at or

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

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