Step by step guide to being a designer on a ground up construction project.


This is Step 1- Choosing the color palette


Once the architecture is pretty much through design development, the first step depends greatly on whether or not the home is in a subdivision with homeowner association guidelines. The ground up construction I have chosen for this series is in a gated subdivision with extensive rules as to palette, size, height, setbacks and more, and we have to pick our exterior colors for everything on the home (stucco, metal, windows, pavers, even the roofing material) before submitting plans to the HOA (Home Owner Association) review committee. There is often one local architect hired to guide the association, and then a few neighbors to offer thoughts.


Exterior Color Palette: There is a generally approved palette and in the case of this Santa Fe subdivision, like so many, it just about has to be brown, beige, or some very close “natural” color. It is true that my favorites to work on are those where I have much freer rein. For example, this subdivision encourages interesting colors, but it is a rare one. And a treat.


exterior palette ground up construction
A local exterior palette in a subdivision that allows color.


But today we are here to create a harmonious palette pleasing to the owner, and acceptable to the association. We’re at the building site on a northside Santa Fe subdivision, and the owner wants a color that will blend well into the landscape, rather than stand out. I’ve always found the really light shades stand out much more in the landscape, and always recommend the medium to darker shades. So that is what we proposed here, the one in my right hand, and it was accepted. Along with similar hues for concrete, and exposed steel beams with a natural patina.


Blending Interior and Exterior Palettes: At the same time, because the integral colored concrete floors will usually spill out the doors onto all the portal patios, we are choosing concrete colors that complement the exterior stucco walls. As in this home.


interior palette ground up construction
An interior palette flooring that flows through to the exterior.


Designer and owner are in agreement! It’s been a good warm sunny winter afternoon looking at the mountain through the lens of exterior stucco and concrete “Santa Fe” colors.


Check in next week for Step 2. Although steps 1 and 2 will be posted one after the other, this series “How to be a designer for the ground up construction projects” will be an intermittent series due to it taking place in real time, right now. Thank you for your patience.

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