By Ariel Valli
The attractive use of color in self-storage building design can add an important dimension to the overall curb appeal of the finished structure. Most casual observers would agree the majority of buildings visible in everyday life look somewhat routine. A monotone and bland color scheme with little variation does little to improve a structure's appeal.
The exception to this uniform look along our streetscapes is often found in commercial retail buildings: fast food outlets, restaurants, theatres and shopping centers, for example. These types of projects rely on a stylish presentation, often including bold colors, to lure customers onto the premises. As a retail-type product, self-storage can definitely benefit by being designed to fit into this group.
So how do self-storage projects use design, including color, to get their image across to the renting public? There are three primary ways: through branding, building aesthetics and landscaping.
Color for Branding
Those of us working in the self-storage industry are familiar with the use of a specific color by a particular operator. Public Storage orange, Extra Space green, StorQuest Self Storage red and the blue-grey of A-American Self-Storage are good examples. All the buildings owned and operated by these entities consistently use these base colors in their advertising and buildings.
Architects designing projects for these operators are directed to include their “image color” prominently in the design. With the prevalence of tight design regulations in virtually every city and town across the country, the use of bright branding color is often closely controlled by the planning departments, planning boards and design-review committees that approve or disapprove projects at the land-use entitlement phase. While it’s often difficult to achieve large expanses of these colors on a project, it’s still very important to integrate the color into the project’s accent elements, trim and signage.
Color and Building Aesthetics
Aside from using the attention-grabbing bright colors associated with branding, a self-storage designer must also use color creatively on the main building components such as walls and roofs. Contrast with branding colors is important, but so is complementing them with base colors that do not compete or clash. Warm colors associate well with colors in the earth-tone, brown theme—from light tan to darker yellows and browns. Cool colors associate well with non-chromatic colors such as off-white and the wide range of light to dark grays. Some of the coloring methods used by designers include:
Use of multiple colors on building walls. The long expanses of wall planes common to self-storage development can be articulated, or “broken up,” by using offsets in the wall planes, horizontally and vertically. This can be accomplished by changing materials and colors at projecting/receding wall planes, or by changing material and colors along a variable parapet height.
Long, undecorated walls are simply not acceptable for self-storage projects on quality commercial streets. Wall articulation can be improved by the varied use of color. Stucco color banding is a good example of this. While the underlying stucco material can remain the same, the colors can change from place to place on the wall.