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Built in 1896, new homeowners converted the house from rented apartments to their beautiful completely restored home.

I designed seven paint colors, including three shades of gray, and selected colors for the storm windows, gutters, and downspouts.

The color placement was critical to the desired outcome.

Result: a crisp and updated look, while being respectful of the legacy of the house.

Exterior Colors for Homes




Designed by noted architect Joseph Jacobberger, this house, built in 1911, is now completely restored. The new colors by ART FIRST capture its historic nature while accomodating the taste of the new owners.



ART FIRST constantly maintains an "A" rating on


Built in 1894 the imposing Sladen residence in Northwest Portland began as a white Colonial Revival house with black shutters.



Art First created the new color palette and placement in response to the owners desire for a rich and somewhat whimsical look.

However by the year 2000 the house had been mummified in asbestos shingles and embalmed in forbidding dark charcoal grey paint. Purple and blue trim with metallic gold accents contributed to the eccentric neo-Egyptian appearance.



Hello Mary, It was a real pleasure to work with you. I am amazed that the process seemed so intuitive and natural. A serious contrast as I compare it to my attempt to figure this out on my own for the last several years. Thank you again! Candace."

With the new colors in place the building's classical style attains dignity and grace.


Beautiful new colors for a classic Craftsman style home


Custom colors in home decorating add charm and value to your property.

The outside of our home was painted yesterday, and it looks incredible. We love the colors you chose. It makes such a difference. Color is so crucial. I am meeting with the painter tomorow to go over the interior colors. Mary, thanks for your contribution to this home. I love how it looks!
Have a great day, Liza B.
On Exterior Color Design

"A personal interview about your color preferences, and a guided exploration of the myriad paint color possibilities always returns the best result. I know, having tried other methods in my life-long partnership with color". A computer-generated picture of your house can not match the actual appearance of paint colors because landscape and surroundings make every building a unique subject of light and shade.


Mary McMurray of ART FIRST

Phone 503 287 4354

A stunning Contemporary Gothic style home with subtle colors by ART FIRST

We guarantee that every color design we create is original and selected especially for you.

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
©The Christian Science Monitor
It's time to paint your circa 1860 house again, and you're beginning to think about colors. Should you stick with the same old white house with black shutters, maybe jazz up the shutter color, or try to find out what shade the house was painted when it was built? .... Read more


February | March 2010






If you were to dream up the perfect couple to caretake an historic architect-designed house on a leafy double lot in Portland’s coveted Irvington neighborhood and to usher it into the next century as a better version of its 1910 self, you’d come up with the discerning duo Donna Wax and Jeff Jones ... read more for a pdf to download.


Mary McMurray, expert, designed the colors for this renovation of Wade Pipes' family home.


Color Pro Makes Minty Ensemble a Misty Memory

PROBLEM: Mint green on Jack and Marion Newlevant's 1909 house felt like a shoe on the wrong foot. Designed for ranch-style houses and modular buildings of a later era, the color didn't bring out the architectural details of their Southeast Portland home. The couple struggled to find suitable colors. "We just didn't know where to start," Jack Newlevant says.

SOLUTION: Hire a color consultant. Mary McMurray of Art First Colors for Architecture helped the Newlevants define a palette of historically accurate colors for their home. Like any good color consultant, she is trained to see and judge the subtle differences in colors and know how they will react in different light and with other colors.

HOW SHE DID IT: McMurray took the pressure off by breaking down color choices. She prefers that houses have at least three colors: one for the body, another for trim and a third for architectural accents. Medium to dark shades on the body of a house make it more noticeable, she says. Complementary trim and accent colors can define architectural features and make them pop out, or in the case of undesirable elements, recede

I T'S ELEMENTARY: To narrow the choices, McMurray also considers roof color and the paint on neighbors' houses as well as overall landscaping. "The closer the element is to the house, the more important it becomes. In this case, the roof (newer green asphalt shingles) was most important. "The wrong paint with that roof would be like wearing an outfit with a mismatched hat", McMurray says.

STYLE POINTS: Another consideration is architectural style. She had some latitude with the Newlevants' predominantly Craftsman-style house because of its colonial-revival elements, such as round porch columns and square corner pilasters.


Levant sketch © McMurraay


PUT IT ON PAPER: McMurray sketched the Newlevants' home prior to painting, shading it to show how the new colors would look. The home owners settled on a rich gray green more appropriate for the 1909 house than its minty predecessor. A copy of the final sketch also went to the painter.

AND THE WINNER IS: The home's new gray-green body, off-white trim and tan and blue-green accents made the awkward mint shade into a memory.

Y ou can reach Lori Mendoza of The Oregonian by e-mail at

Levant house beforeA memory of the minty house before

The lovely result after


Hi Mary,
You were a delight to work with; you did wonders for my mental health when I was so worried about the stucco!
Many Thanks,
Susan E.


after: this residence was dramatically improved by subtle changes: the location and shape of the attic vent, and the color make-over.



Hi Mary,
Thanks for your help! I talked with Sally and her husband yesterday and they’re very pleased with how you helped to resolve their color differences.
Now for the great news – I am very pleased with the exterior colors!
We have already heard from some of our neighbors and they couldn’t say enough about the paint choices (my husband said they actually gushed!) Looking forward to our interior color consultations!
Marie R.

Services available to you at any location





Dear Ms. McMurray,
Thanks! We really like the colors – a lot!
Sincerely, Gene R


Columbian staff writer

Think of your house as the most expensive and attractive garment you've ever worn. Just as tuxedos and gowns are tailored to the wearer, so should a home suit its owner, according to architectural colorist Mary McMurray."Not only do some colors suit some people very well and not appeal to others, but some colors you apply to one house and that look wonderful will look bad on another," said McMurray, who consults on designs for residential and commercial buildings ... read more



"Exploring house color options can be an adventure ... It's kind of like going to a scary movie," McMurray said. "Some are called thrillers and some are called horror movies."




after: a striking Victorian beauty
with new colors by ART FIRST.



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