The Elektra Condominium – Exterior Paint Color Design, Seattle, WA

Two Color Paint Scheme and Placement on Downtown Condo

The original Elektra tower was built in 1949, and the second tower added in 1959. Located in downtown Seattle and a block away from the Paramount Theater, it’s a stone’s throw to the swanky, downtown, Frederick and Nelson department store. This meandering, block long, slice-of-pie, was tired with its 1980’s trendy color scheme, and confusing checkerboard pattern. There were skyscrapers popping up all around it, and the Elektra was in need of a new life, a facelift to bring it into modern day Seattle; to sit infallibly in it’s place within the skyline. The colors and placement from the Art Deco era were an inspiration from the beginning, and I envisioned a color scheme to suit just that. This was both of my parent’s stomping grounds, and with the ever-changing Seattle of today, I leaned towards contemporary colors that warmed up the skyline, while paying homage to the historical.
Blue and orange are complements, and everywhere I looked I seemed to be seeing these two architectural colors combined in some form or another. My idea was to soften the tones, make them look like nature, give them lightness, and the sense of being married to both earth and sky. It was important to retain an objective viewpoint as a design professional, and offer color scheme options that covered as many bases as possible. We addressed home owners questions and the decisions made by their directors – questions that goes to the very heart of how a community operates. Who has the authority to make decisions for a community association (especially when it comes to a subjective thing like color – the board or the members? Actually, a better question is: which decisions are made by the board, which by the members, and which by either? Our job was to present the right options, and help the community to commit to their decisions once the color starts going onto the building in large scale.

Color is said to have an influence on an emotional level and in a case study like the Elektra! exterior envelope, that is putting it lightly. It was a hot topic. Colors were selected with special attention to preference, architectural style, demographics, geographical location, cost, and types of building materials and substrates.


Colors Up Close

When there are 180 homeowners, seven board members and a million paint colors in the world, how do you select two hues that will satisfy everyone? As a color consultant for the Elektra condominiums, the answer is “you don’t”. This why the HOA saw the necessity to reach out to a color professional that could provide advice on color and light, and the best products and finishes. I provided them with sample colors in mock-ups, color placement options, and they heeded the recommendation to use the PPG products.

In Process

Many thanks to PPG PAINTS – Craig Turrentine and Susan Williams for providing a variety of resources, including expertise and seasoned experience. A high five to Brian Doner and the Purcell Painting crew who provided the utmost in accuracy while translating our color and placement design onto the building. Thanks to Andre Zita, Board President, for getting this project off the ground, and Brittany Bell, Board Secretary, for your unending support. And special thanks to the board members and homeowners of the Elektra Condominiums!


12 criteria we based our color selections on:

1. Architectural Relevance – Bring new life to an old, tired building and make the property look more modern and open 2. Surrounding Skyline and Setting – Consider Fixed Elements – trees, foliage, hardscape, neighboring buildings, the appearance of Elektra both near and far 3. Environmental Influences and Colorfastness – Protection against Weather and UV Rays 4. Color Reflections – Dark, green foliage surrounding the building and more 5. Coating Durability 6. Coverage Capacity 7. Overall Cost 8. How natural light affects the color at different times of day and artificial lighting at night 9. Paint Undertones 10. Varying finishes and their affects – from gloss to satin to matte 11. Emotional color – ie: Lighter colors feel uplifting and blue gives the feeling of air and sky 12. Curb appeal to reflect the character of the neighborhood

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