OSWEGO — Katie Pagliaroli, a beneficiary of the Paint Oswego grant program, said her 1923 Gregorian colonial revival home was “plain cream-colored” when she and her husband Steve moved in 10 and a half years ago. Pagliaroli was surprised, she said, when a color consultant said the exterior would comfortably fit a six-hue color palette.
“We thought, ‘there’s no way we can add six colors to this house,’” Pagliaroli said.
Today, pedestrians passing by the Pagliarolis’ house see the doorstep painted terra cotta, with Irish-cream accenting and sage green-colored shudders. Her advice to other homeowners aspiring to give their houses a new look? “Don’t be afraid.”
“I thought it was going to be this gaudy house,” she said. “But it looks amazing, and it came together amazingly. We could not be happier.”
The Oswego Renaissance Association (ORA) and Fulton Block Builders (FBB) offer grants for homeowners to reimagine their homes based on 50 different historically rendered color palettes, yielding 250 historic color combinations.
They’re called the “Paint Oswego” and “Paint Fulton” grant award programs. This year Oswego residents applied for matching grant awards — $1,000 in “target zones” and $500 elsewhere. Fulton residents who completed their Paint Fulton projects by Oct. 31 are set to receive a total of $500 in matching funds.
While this year’s Paint Oswego opportunities might be over, the Paint Oswego Color Palette Booklet remains available on the ORA’s website for interested homeowners to use and for grantees to benefit from next year, after ORA Paint Oswego grant application will become available again in January 2020.
Developed with the cooperation of Robert Schweitzer of Ann Arbor Michigan’s Historic House Colors (HHC), the booklet divides the exterior of houses into four general areas to be painted — body, which includes the siding house, like clapboard and shingles; trim, which includes wood or other material surrounding windows, doors and vertical and horizontal corner boards; accents, such as brackets beneath the eaves of houses; and finally “bonus colors,” which include gables and secondary body siding.
ORA Executive Director Paul Stewart said often homeowners refrain from giving their houses the paint job they deserve, or they resort to the bland white exterior that came with the property.
“It’s safe and it’s easy, but it’s not creative,” said Stewart, a SUNY Oswego professor in the department of psychology. He expertly converted his house from a forsaken blighted property to the gem of suburban living Oswego neighbors recognize today.
He said homeowners often run into another issue: going with their favorite primary colors, which Stewart said often makes houses look garish.
“The issue people run into a lot of the time is they use primary colors and end up making the house look like the circus,” Stewart said. “If you do it right, you use not primary colors but tertiary colors. Rather than green, it’s olive. Rather than red, it’s clay. Rather than yellow, it’s mustard.”
Stewart said the Oswego’s property history lends itself to “stories” and “clues” that lend themselves to homeowners as cues for what direction to take their historical paint and renovation projects. The houses in Oswego have several different styles, he said, because they were built in different times through the 19th and 20th centuries.
“One of the really cool things is that houses tell a story and you can find clues in them,” Stewart said. “The houses in Oswego have a number of different styles because they were built in a number of different time periods.”
ORA co-founder Steve Phillips said another way to get in touch with your house’s history is to contact the local county historical society at the Richardson Bates-House Museum. Fulton homeowners can go to fultonhistory.com for a Fulton-specific review of historical properties.
“People can also just look around the city and see what’s inspiring them,” he said. “You can find other homes in the area that are basically the same as yours and they will do one of two things for you: give you a sense of what people did right or what people did wrong.”