Maria Bembi had considered many color choices before deciding to paint the exterior of her family’s Angeleno Heights cottage (pictured above) a combination of reddish brown, maple and white. At this point, most homeowners would go to a home improvement store to buy the paint and hope the color slathered on the wall resembled that on the color chip sample. Bembi, however, had to go through one more step. In late March, Bembi presented her color palette before a handful of neighbors who review paint colors to make sure they are appropriate for buildings within the Angeleno Heights’ historic district. The March meeting did not go in Bembi’s favor, with the board rejecting her choices. Last Thursday night, Bembi’s brother, Marcelo, returned to the board (she was away at a conference) to seek the approval of a new and simplified color scheme. “It’s such a pain,” said Marcelo of the process.
But, added Marcelo, it is a process that he and his family support to protect their neighborhood’s historic character. There are more than two dozen historic preservation overlay zones and boards across the city, each with it own policies and rules about what property owners can and can’t do with the exterior of their buildings. Big things – such as room additions and new roofs – as well as small details – porch railings and window styles – can fall under their jurisdiction. Exterior paint and wood stain also come under review.
Unlike some planned suburban communities or condo complexes, the Angeleno Heights Historic Preservation Overlay Zone does not have an approved palette of colors. Property owners are free to select whatever colors they like. But the Angeleno Heights board decides whether the selection makes sense for the style and age of the home. When it comes to color, the Angeleno Heights Design Guideline Overview reads:
These guidelines are not to dictate color choices for homeowners however, the colors chosen should be appropriate and should be within the color range of a particular style.
In the case of the Bembi’s Bellevue Avenue house, the board rejected the family’s first color scheme was as being a bit too complicated for the simple, 192os, Colonial Revival-style home. “For a Victorian home that would be okay,” said one board member. “But for that house it was too much.”
After a recent meeting, the board members emphasized that they don’t want to force a color scheme on owners. They note they have approved houses that are pink, purple and brown. “We are trying to guide them to a color scheme,” said one board member. In the case of the Bembi home, the board suggested that a simpler palate of only two colors – one for the walls and a second for the trim and window sashes – might be more suitable.
After being rejected during the first meeting, Bembi once again examined the color schemes of other Angeleno Heights homes and also traveled to a historic district in Long Beach for more ideas, said her brother. In the end, she settled on a grayish green (second photo) hue for the main body of the house and white for the trim.
These were Stonecraft #6292 by DunnEwards for the body of the house and a generic white for the trim and window sash.
Last Thursday night, Marcello Bembi, arrived before the board, which meets around a small black table on the second floor of Old Firehouse No. 6 on Edgeware Road. Bembi brought along a narrow sample book from paint maker Dunn-Edwards that contained the color his sister had selected to cover the walls of her home: Stone Craft #6292.
This time around, the board members liked what they saw.
“It’s a two-color scheme that really works,” remarked one board member of the grayish green and white. “It’s much lighter – minty,” said another. In about 10 minutes, the board approved the new color scheme, and Bembi was headed out the door.
If all goes well, the Bembi home should be painted in shades of Stone Craft and white by mid May. “We came upon a happy medium,” Bembi said.
Here are the color guidelines for Angeleno Heights historic district:
Each of the building styles in Angelino Heights has a range of color treatment that help to characterize the period and style of the particular building. These guidelines are not to dictate color choices for homeowners however, the colors chosen should be appropriate and should be within the color range of a particular style. Please refer to the architectural styles section for your style of house.
7. In choosing paint or stain colors, 19th and most early 20th century homes should be painted or stained in a minimum of three harmonious colors; one color for the main body of the structure, another for trim and architectural detail, and yet another color to pick out window sashes, and perhaps distinguish other detail.
8. In choosing paint or stain colors for twentieth century colonial revival type structures, homeowners should pick a pallete of at least two contrasting harmonious colors, one to be used on the main body of the house and another for the trim, detail and window sashes.
9. In choosing paint or stain colors, homeowners should select paint colors appropriate to the period of the structure to be painted. The HPOZ board maintains a library of pattern books which illustrate colors popular at the time the HPOZ was developed. Consult the historic paint color chips resource maintained by the board and choose harmonious color schemes from these ranges.