Wednesday, 3 December 2014

On choosing colour

Twelve years ago when I bought this place and started planning the badly needed exterior renovation for the house I began where every woman would, from choosing the colour scheme. I knew my house would have to be of yellow-painted wood with some blue details. I also knew the colour couldn’t be selected at a paint shop.

For the next couple of years or so I kept my eyes on every yellow wooden house I saw wherever I was driving. I wanted to find a hue that would look perfect throughout the year in all our dramatically different seasons. Not too pale in the bright sunlight and greenery of summer and not too bright in the whiteness and total greyness of the colder seasons.

When I was sure about the ideal colour – I spotted it on a house that had recently been renovated and by which I drove every day on my way to and from work – I simply drove to the yard congratulating the owners on their admirable project. They had turned their plain-looking house into the absolute beauty in the neighbourhood.

The owners were delighted I had noted their efforts and were more than happy to tell me all about the paint. They suggested I should come over one day to hear more about their undertaking, which we did a few months later over a cup of coffee at their lovely place. They even gave me the details of the architect who had designed their project. I then contacted her and her office drew the plans also for our exterior renovation.

The couple from the nearby village explained how they had made it the traditional way. The mister had cut the timber from their own forest and after having it milled had kept the boards in their barn for a year or two to let them dry properly. Then he had been painting them in the barn over the winter to have them ready waiting to be nailed on the walls when the actual building would start.

Naturally, we couldn’t follow any of the old-world ways. Our boards came practically straight from the sawmill, they were painted in our yard only weeks or days before nailing – luckily it was the nicest of summers with no rain at all – and were boarded on the walls with just one coating.

Nevertheless, we are most happy not only with the hue, which is called straw yellow, but also with the paint itself. It is a traditional four-oil paint manufactured by Okram company, locally knows as the Virtanen paint factory, at Parainen in the Turku archipelago. It is very easy to apply, has great hiding characteristics, holds colour very well, allows the wood to breathe thus keeping it healthy and is known to provide a long service life. What’s more, it can be applied in all kinds of conditions from +25° to -10C!

These excellent qualities were, in fact, achieved by Mr Virtanen more than 50 years ago when he couldn’t find a paint that would withstand the rough and damp conditions of the archipelago but had to develop it himself. The exact formula is a secret but it is based on linseed oil and linseed oil varnish is used as the solvent.

Two years ago, that is six years after the renovation, we decided to apply a second coating to the walls to give the house a finishing touch. Moreover, the boards our contractor had used were so rough quite a lot of dirt had stuck on their uneven surface especially on the northern side of the house.

So we set off by giving the walls a thorough wash. Then we scraped the roughness away from the boards releasing quite a lot of paint in the process, brushed the boards and finally painted everything over. Except for the northern gable, which is far too high for any amateurs to reach safely so we had it painted only this summer. Now the walls should not need another counting in at least 20 years or so. Into the bargain, he applied a second coating to the window and door trims, corner posts and other bluish grey structures decorating the building.

We had the windows replaced with traditional wooden casement windows and I got what is rarely seen these days: the frames in a different colour.

From the very start, we were so pleased with the colour scheme we used the yellow on the barn doors and of course on our late Jack’s cat house. We also brought a bit of the bluish grey and blue hues into the interior. More about that one day, perhaps.


  1. Kaunis talo teillä! Oli kiva lukea tarina oikean värin löytymisestä sekä maalausprojektista! :)

    1. Kiitos, Marja. Kaksi rohkeaa naista näkivät aikanaan mineriittitalon potentiaalin, ja aika kaunis siitä kuoriutui. Värin valinnassa olin todella onnekas: tuo Virtasen maalitehtaan neljän öljyn maali on sittemmin voittanut useammankin öljymaalitestin, osittain juuri hyvän värinpitävyytensä takia. He kutsuvatkin sitä nyt neljän öljyn laatumaaliksi eikä ihme. Sävyjäkin on kymmenkunta, muttei mielestäni tämän oljenkeltaisen voittanutta.

  2. Lumouduin näistä ihanista kuvista! On teillä kaunis paikka. Tekstiä en valitettavasti jaksanut englanninkielen takia lukea; vaatii niin paljon ajattelemista minulta tuon vieraan kielen ymmärtäminen.
    Aika vaaralliselta näytti maalarin telineet!

    Kiitos kauniista kuvista!

    1. Kiitos, Kristiina. Pelkäsin, että kuvia on liiankin paljon, mutta pitäähän minulla olla jokin paikka, josta katsella näppärästi näitä näkymiä sitten kun olemme täältä muuttaneet. Tuo hurja kiipeilijä on onneksi "vain" rakennusmies tekemässä vinttitilaan tuuletusluukkua. Laitoin kuvan tähän demomaan päätykolmion korkeutta. Emme edes yrittäneet uusintamaalata sitä itse, ja maalareilla oli kunnon nostolaite.

  3. Oh my! The house looks absolutely spectacular with that new coat of paint. I love the hue, and its added benefits are just amazing. Kudos to you guys for the wonderful job! Thank you so much for sharing! All the best!

    Arthur Bryant @ ContractorExpress

    1. We are very pleased with it, I can assure you.