Television makes it look so easy. Within 30 minutes, an ordinary home is “magically” transformed with just the right exterior products and colors. Supported by celebrity designers, homeowners manage to create a home that reflects their personal style all the way up to the roof.

Alas, in the “real world,” homeowners frequently lack the confidence that comes with a famous designer guiding their choices. While they may want to make a bold, colorful statement on the exterior of their home, they simply don’t know how to do it. Consequently, homeowners often play it safe when it comes to roofs. Greys, blacks, or browns are perceived as safe default colors and the shingle color becomes a “one-and-done” decision, checked off the list.

Despite the proliferation of color used in home interiors, front doors and landscaping, a home’s roof is often the last frontier when it comes to design and color. But considering that the typical home’s roof represents about 40 percent of its exterior, it’s prime real estate to integrate color and create a look inspired by the homeowner’s personality and style.

So why aren’t contractors having more colorful conversations when it comes to roofs? Instead of talking about curb appeal, resale value and the roof as a design element, roofing contractors often direct their homeowner conversations to product performance, roofing system components, warranty and scheduling. 

But it’s 2016, and some experts believe it’s time for the roofing discussion to evolve beyond necessary repair to functional and fashionable style. A home’s roof not only seals a home, defends it from the elements and provides ventilation to help the home breathe, but it’s also one of the easiest and most effective areas to enhance curb appeal and add resale value. The “Remodeling Impact Report” conducted by the National Association of Realtors and National Association of the Remodeling Industry in 2015 found that realtors ranked the roof highest in terms of projects likely to add value to the home for resale. A new roof outranked new vinyl or wood windows, a new fiberglass or steel front door, new vinyl siding and a new garage door.

Considering Colorful Possibilities

While the design and architecture of a home may limit the “style” of a roof replacement, the opportunity to introduce color at the roofline is limited only by the imagination. Even subtle hues can transform a home’s aesthetic. Owens Corning Roofing recently worked with Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color InstituteTM , to pair PANTONE® fashion colors with its Duration® shingles. This shingle line incorporates subtle yet vibrant multi-colored granules, which provide homeowners with a solid color foundation for showcasing their favorite colors on the exterior of their home. And because of these shingle color granule blends, there’s a spectrum of versatility for the homeowner as their favorite colors change over time. The seasonal fashion color and shingle pairings are meant to inspire homeowners to think about color in a different and unexpected way, encouraging them to embrace color and show how a roof can play an integral part of their home’s aesthetic. 

A Designer’s Perspective

Design and décor authorities around the country are working with homeowners to think about color in new ways. Chad Esslinger, owner of Chad Esslinger Design in Downers Grove, Ill., was recently featured on HGTV’s “House Hunters,” and said more of his clients are thinking about exterior colors. “Today’s homeowners are very design savvy and they have so many design outlets that highlight countless inspirations and examples,” he said. “Color for curb appeal used to be limited to landscape, but today we are seeing color used in many creative ways on the exterior.” 

Esslinger added that a homeowner’s personality should not be sacrificed in favor of what’s fashionable at the moment. “I try to encourage my clients to put a personal spin on every area of their home, including the exterior,” he explained. “I want to steer them away from the cookie-cutter mentality. Adding unexpected pops of color is a great way to give a home a personality.”

To help clients envision color changes, Esslinger snaps photos of their homes and uses software to digitally apply the new color. “It’s essentially a no-risk way for homeowners to experiment with color and try out a new shade before committing,” he said.

The Color Conversation

Applying color at a home’s highest level is an opportunity for forward-thinking roofing contractors to tap.

At Baltimore-based Brothers Services Company, style is considered in every roof project. “The roof … it’s a canvas, and we understand what an opportunity that presents,” said Senior Vice President Dave MacLean.

Multiple design centers around the metro area assist homeowners in selecting shingle colors and provide an opportunity for customers to become familiar with various options, MacLean explained. A sales team consultant also photographs the home and begins to consider the roof’s unique features while generating ideas to discuss with the customer.

Brothers Services Showroom Manager Stacey Turskey said it’s important to consider the many variables unique to each roof replacement.

“In most exterior remodels, the homeowner needs to consider existing brick, stone, siding or other building material,” she said.

“We’re here to make those decisions easier and give our customers the confidence that what they are choosing for their home looks fantastic. Every project is different and every customer is unique and their homes should exude the same characteristics.”

By bringing color into the roofing conversation and integrating visualization and other design tools, roofing contractors can inspire homeowners to look beyond the status quo. The roof can be a true design element evoking a homeowner’s personality and style through the power of color and need no longer be the “final frontier” of home remodeling.