Contrasting House Colours and Trims in New Orleans

Orange and purple brick wall in New Orleans
New Orleans-style brick wall

In Lancashire, our buildings are conservatively coloured. We don’t use each feature as an excuse to add a new colour. I wish we did.

Purple house with banana trees
Purple house with banana trees

While some of the combinations a visitor will see in New Orleans are startling, really there’s no idea why they should be. It turns out that purple, pinky-orange and beige go well with green banana leaves.

Navy house with purple, turquoise and green paintwork
Navy house with purple, turquoise and green detailing

I would never in a million years dream this colour combination up… no, I take that back. A year in New Orleans ought to do it. The painting is applied with such care too: how much easier it would have been to slap a single colour on that pillar?

Bar sign New Orleans
A blue sky accentuates the contrasts

It does help to be in a sunny place. When colours dance together in the  light, pretty much anything goes.

Lady with skeleton in hat and coat tails, NO

It has taken a good few trips for me to get used to the imagery of New Orleans too. I don’t think I’ve seen so many skeletons anywhere, in the shops, markets and even on the garage doors.

But there’s a consistency to it: on the right of the picture, the smart terracotta, yellow, white and green building sits perfectly well with the grungier left.

Pale blue house with purple door and shutters

Here, the shutters draw the eye, but the pale blue and fuchsia pink are pulled together by purple accents on the steps, down the edge of the building and on the finials, while the white is so neat and fresh.

Green house with yellow door
These soft colours appealed to me

I didn’t get a great picture of the last one, but I loved the combination of green, teal, pale yellow, lilac and white, and the patterns they create.

Every one of these colour combinations challenges me in a different way, but I am secretly thrilled by their care, individuality and freedom. It shows how a community can resist the urge to batten things down, and instead inspire each other to do their own thing. For who says which colours are right and which are wrong?

This post is inspired by HeyJude who invites us to share strong contrasting colours.

30 Replies to “Contrasting House Colours and Trims in New Orleans”

  1. Many of the historic neighborhoods in Galveston still are recovering from hurricanes Ike and Harvey, and as they do, color is becoming beautifully apparent. It’s interesting to see how colors are used in different neighborhoods, too: more muted in some, but strong and vibrant in others. I do like the unusual combinations, too, although it’s been a developing taste.

    1. My eye for many things has changed from travelling in the US. I associate colourful neighbourhoods with creativity – artists and creatives have a good influence on a community.

  2. I too, love the vibrant colours of the houses in New Orleans but I must confess my eye was rested by the more subdued colours in your last picture. I find that after a while the sheer exuberance of centre ville, the noise and the colour, can be exhausting.

  3. The tropical light deals well with the bright colours. Farther north, I think the light is too pale to dilute such brightness. Some things just can’t be imported. 😉

    1. I think the colours could still be beautiful in the north, if we were to embrace them, though they would not pop as much. They work even better when many people use versions of them. It would be a brave soul who kicked this off in my neighbourhood.

  4. I love coloured houses and often wish we could see more of them in this country. Many small rural towns and villages in Ireland have coloured houses and though they are paler than these they make a change from plainer colours. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Anglesey but coloured houses are rare there, they are mostly white, cream or grey. I like all of these but my favourite is the purple house with the banana trees 🙂

    1. I haven’t been to Anglesey, although my mother often went when she was younger. It’s on my to-do list. The foliage works well with the colour scheme in the purple one.

  5. Definitely fit the brief! These are striking colour combinations. You see places with colourful houses in Ireland and there are even a few close to home.

  6. I am thinking that the people who paint these houses must have a lot of fun doing so because there would be so much work involved that they’d have to be having a great time! I am in awe of the combinations! I cannot imagine walking down a whole street or through a whole neighborhood of such color. I think my brain would explode.

    1. I think so too. Each little detail is the house version of a smile. I could spend days there just taking pictures of the houses.

    1. Neither is Lancashire. It always strikes me as being a touch reckless to paint a stone house – to paint one purple would be startling. Once done, it’s a challenge to go back. We could be a lot jazzier with our paintwork though.

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