The winning projects chosen each year for the Custom Home Design Awards (CHDA) survive round after round of scrutiny from the judges, so something about their design and execution keeps them in the running as others fall away. For several past CHDA winners, one such quality is a thoughtfully placed touch of bold color that enlivens elevations. Used judiciously, color is an eye-catching option to spice up traditional or contemporary exteriors. Eric Logan, principal at Jackson Hole, Wyo.-based Carney Logan Burke Architects, suggests that "it's a small move that has a great impact."

"In Jackson Hole it's very difficult to get something built—especially in a subdivision—that doesn't look like everything else," Logan says. "And color is one way to give a strictly controlled exterior pizzazz." For example, he selected a deep red finish to outline the glazing for the Peaks View Residence, which won a 2011 Merit Award in the Custom Home, More Than 5,000 Square Feet category. Peaks View sits in a neighborhood with rigid design restrictions, so the use of color gives it individuality. Designing a house that fit cookie-cutter regulations and satisfied the owners' strong desire for something different was challenging, explains the architect. The red trim creates contrast in an otherwise earthy material palette and adds a graphic element to the clean, conservative facade. "It was an opportunity to do something daring given the neighborhood," Logan says, "and it gives the owners a sense of rebellion."

Fritz Embaugh, co-founder and CEO of +one design and construction in Baton Rouge, La., likes to include a punch of color to most of the firms' projects. For him and partner David Baird, bold accents allow them to temper sleek contemporary forms and muted materials with warmth and personality. "The vibrant colors brighten projects and add a touch of whimsy," Embaugh says. Sometimes it takes a little convincing with clients because the shades they select are so strong, he adds, but with the Kiwi House— winner of a 2011 Merit Award for Custom Home / Less Than 3,000 Square Feet—the clients were excited at the suggestion. Electric green paint on front and rear elevations as well as the interior trim for those same views makes the simple shotgun form pop. Inside, everything is a shade of gray, explains Embaugh, so "we made a statement using the exterior." How they chose the statement-making color wasn't a normal part of their process, however: "This house is a little more gritty then our typical work, so we compared it to a kiwi fruit with a rough, rustic exterior but smooth and elegant inside, so the vivid green accent was a given once we named the house."

See how successful the addition of color is at energizing Kiwi House, Peaks View Residence, and other past CHDA winners in the accompanying slideshow. Then take a look through your portfolio and submit your most colorful projects (by June 3) into the combined and revamped 2013 Builder's Choice and Custom Home Design Awards.