Meet the Judge: Color Expert Kate Smith

I’ve always enjoyed taking a walk in the middle of the day. It is a great way to clear my head after a full morning of work and get ready to jump back in refreshed after lunch. These walks helped me to keep my sanity when I worked as an executive in the high stress apparel industry. They also served to unwittingly hone my skills in selecting exterior colors.

Color Expert and Contest Judge Kate Smith

As I would walk through a neighborhood I would look at each home and critique everything from the overall color scheme to the landscaping and choice of outdoor furniture. I’d make mental notes of what I thought worked well and what missed the mark. It was even better when I had a walking companion who shared my passion for good design.

We would share our observations, unabashedly voice our opinions, have lots of laughs and come up with solutions for how the homeowner could improve the appearance of their home. I admit this might seem odd to those that don't love to pick apart design schemes the way I do. I'll also admit that there was a bit more to my interest than just being a design geek.

At that time, in addition to my corporate career, I bought, fixed up and sold distressed homes. I was very good at it because I had a keen eye for a home with good bones and great potential. I also understood the importance of a great exterior.

Imel house with Vineyard slate
At home in an Iowa neighborhood this home is topped with Bellaforté Slate (DaVinci Slate on Turret) in a Custom blend

In order to quickly sell a home I had to first sell the potential buyers on coming inside. The inside might be spectacular but I knew that if I didn’t get them excited before they ever walked in the front door; my chances of a quick sale were greatly reduced. Creating an appealing exterior became almost an obsession and thus the focus of my noontime walks.

It paid off and the results I got spoke for themselves. I never bought a home that had been on the market for less than 6 months and yet I resold every one of those same homes in 10 days or less. I developed quite a word-of-mouth reputation and began having both homeowners and real estate agents asking me for advice on their properties.

Historic Texas home with multi-width Slate Gray DaVinci tiles
DaVinci Multi-Width tiles in Slate Gray on a historic home in Texas

My expertise in color that up until that point was mainly focused professionally on apparel and trend forecasting was quickly expanding to include color for the home. Unlike most color consultants, however, my focus has always been first on using color to add value rather than as just a way of making something more personally appealing. Today that is still true and it is what sets me apart from others in the industry.

As the President & Chief Color Maven of Sensational Color, I put my expertise to work showing companies large and small how to become a go-to resource for color knowledge and know-how by providing exactly the color information, tools and services that their customers are looking for.

I am fortunate to work with some of the best companies in the home industry including DaVinci Roofscapes as well as Fypon, Simonton Windows and Therma-Tru all who have joined together to launch the “Shake it Up” Exterior Color Contest.

Exterior Color Contest Shake It Up

Each of these companies is an industry leader and I am privileged to be helping judge the contest to determine five finalists. I will also be working with a professional artist to create renderings and product wish lists of how the five finalists can transform their home’s exteriors by adding colorful products.

Then the tables are going to be turned as I go from being critic and creator to having my recommendations being critiqued on Facebook. The original photo submission and the artist’s renderings for the five finalists will be posted on the contest site for two weeks of online public voting from May 13 – 26, 2013.

Throughout the process I will be sharing my thinking and giving insight into why I make the choices I do in my blog on "Color from the Top Down". So even if a homeowner isn’t one of the finalists, I hope to be able to help them feel confident when choosing colors that will shake up their home exterior.

Online entries will be accepted from March 18 – April 21, 2013. To enter the contest, visit the DaVinci Facebook page.  After “Liking” the page, you can enter by submitting a digital photo of their home’s exterior along with up to 250 words describing how you want to “shake up” the exterior of your home with colorful products by the contest sponsor and partners.

So go now and get in on the action. I can’t wait to see how you want to “shake up” your home!

Kate SmithColor Expert Kate Smith lends her expertise to DaVinci Roofscapes; a company that has manufactured award-winning synthetic slate and shake roofing since 1999. The polymer roofing tiles are virtually maintenance free and far more cost effective than the natural product. DaVinci leads the industry in tile thickness, the tile width variety and the greatest selection of subtle earth-toned colors. Company products have a 50-year warranty and are 100 percent recyclable.